It was my first day in a new school. The environment was new with new teachers, and new classmates. It was mathematics class, and I used to hate numbers. The teacher came and began the class on ‘subtraction’; I was least bothered and was scribbling in my book. The teacher noticed my disinterest and called me up. He asked “What is the answer for 5-1?”
I was staring at him without any answer, the class became silent. He immediately took out 5 chocolates from his pocket and counted them, then told me to have one, the class started giggling. He encouraged me saying “Come on have one, you will get the answer for 5-1.” I took it, and he said “Here, from 5 chocolates we subtracted 1 and we are left with 4, so 4 is the answer.” That was my most memorable class, and an excellent teacher who I can never forget. He was the best because he added HUMOR in his class, relieved my fear, and made learning easy. I hope many of you had such wonderful experiences in your classrooms. Such fun and games take learning deep into our brains, eliminating stress, anxiety and boredom.
Humor helps in learning, and this applies not only to school and college classrooms, but also in eLearning. Through research Dr. Ronald Berk states that sharing a laugh helps students learn more. He states that to be effective, comedy must compliment, not distract from course material. This research was formally published in 2007 in the book Humor as an Instructional Defibrillator.
HUMOR in eLearning
A drab eLearning course can be transformed into an interesting and enjoyable course when humor is added appropriately! Let’s look at a few ways to add humor in eLearning.
Humorous Proverbs: This is a simple and effortless way to add humor in an online course. Add famous axioms that you are sure your learners know. They will surprise the learners, relieve the stress, and motivate them to continue with the course.
Funny Sounds: Funny sounds to break the silence grab learners’ attention every time. They can be used while displaying key points, formulas, tips, etc. A simple way to start is by adding sounds in feedback – sound of applause when the learner is correct, and sound of sigh or ‘oops!’ when the learner is wrong.
Cartoon Characters: Add well-known cartoon characters such as Calvin & Hobbes, Dilbert, etc. in the course to make it interesting and colorful. Use them as characters that are playing or explaining a situation, asking a situation or providing feedback. Before including them in the courses, please check the copy right issues.
Please make a note that humor is good as long as it is appropriate and gels with the culture of the learner. As most of the global organizations offer eLearning courses for employees all over the world, the humor in the courses should be culture neutral and should never offend any group of employees. For more information refer our free eBook: The Realities of Cross Cultural E-learning.
Take the first steps to add humor and fun into your eLearning courses to engage the learners. Please share your thoughts or suggestions.