Is "fun" necessary in your instructional design?

February 24, 2019

One of the best parts of my job is to facilitate a monthly leadership development forum. We get together, eat cookies, and do some managerial skills development or boosts.  And though (I would argue) the most important and solemn work that we do is to manage people, that doesn't mean we can't have a bit of fun when we are upskilling our managers.

 

So in February, I used the famous "more cowbell" skit from Saturday Night Live to help managers identify the five characteristics of a cohesive team, then report on the characteristics they would need to work on to grow their own team cohesion. There were a lot of chuckles as we watched  Christopher Walken...uh, I mean THE Bruce Dickenson...give direction to the group he was managing. It was easy for our managers to view the skit, then identify what was and was not working for this group. 

 

That said, I am not a fan of fun for fun's sake.

 

Fun in L&D has had quite a vogue - for a while there, it seemed like every elearning had to include gamification, and every ILT session had to include a gameshow so that your participants will engage. I am not convinced (nor does the research show) that fun is indeed a necessary requirement, however. "Fun" may even get in the way for transferring skills from the training to the workplace. (Because really, how many times are you really going to have a gameshow when you need to coach an employee through an unclear path? )

 

But when you use fun for a purpose - fun that enhances your instructional design rather than as fun for fun's sake - well, that's a different kettle of fish. In the SNL example, we used it the way you may use a case study...but just as an amusing one, featuring Will Ferrell in a too tight shirt, and of course, more cowbell. 

 

How do you use a bit of fun (for a purpose) in your instructional design? 

 

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