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January 25, 2024
|
5 mins to read

The role of joy in learning design

Discover the indispensable role that joy plays in effective learning, and how you can create experiences to support it.
Alex Mullen
Web Content Writer

As L&D professionals, humans are at the core of everything you do.

The ways in which their minds work, process information and remember what you've taught them forms the basis for your work - and you're probably always trying to centre them in your learning.

So, how can you be sure that your learning strategy supports this? How do you create learning that centres the human experience?

It’s our opinion that in order to centre the human, you first need to centre their joy. In this blog, we’ll explore the role that joy, fun and humour play in effective learning experiences - and how you, as L&D professionals, can tap into these emotions in order to help your learners excel.

Why is joy important?


The impact of joy, surprise and delight on the learning journey can’t be overstated. The fact is, joy is not just a “nice to have” - it is absolutely essential.

Think back to when you were a student in school or university. Which teachers or lecturers do you remember; the ones who blandly delivered the requisite information as if they were being forced to do so at gunpoint, or the ones who filled their lessons with colour, humour and storytelling? And of that first contingent, how many of their teachings are still in your head?

If you need any more convincing, here are just a few of the proven ways that joy positively impacts learning.


Retention and recall


R.L. Garner’s 2006 study titled “Humour in Pedagogy: How Ha-Ha Can Lead to Aha!” found that simply injecting humour into learning led to better retention and recall. “Humour activates the brain’s dopamine reward system, which is crucial for both goal-oriented motivation and long-term memory. This activation can improve retention in students of all ages.”


Motivation


Another study from Zippia saw 67% of students agree that gamified learning is more engaging and motivating than traditional classes. It promotes interactivity, friendly competition, and motivation.

Ease and ownership


When people feel a sense of ease and ownership over their own development, it promotes continuous learning - because why wouldn’t you want to continue something that is joyful and easy?

Although the research paper “Joy in Learning” by Marita Cronqvist was actually observing the learning process of children, the wisdom can also be applied to adults in the workplace. As stated in the paper:

“It is joyful to learn. [Joy] appears when children understand, “own” and get support in their learning process. Either they gain insight into and understand their learning through their own discoveries of having learned something, or by someone else advocating progress or praise.”


How can I create joyful learning experiences?


Now we’ve made the case for joyful learning, let's break down a few practical elements of “joy” as it pertains to workplace training.

Gamification


We’re big fans of gamification at Thrive, and our learning platform is purposely set up to facilitate it.

As stated in the same gamification study we cited at the top of this blog: “Incorporating gamification into everyday work and training helps make mundane tasks fun, which, as a result, increases employee skill retention by approximately 40%.”

Not only is this tool fun, but it’s effective. So how can you incorporate it into your learning strategy?

Gamification works through creating a sense of earned achievement. This is set up through short-term and long-term awards, such as badges and leaderboards - the latter of which also helps to inject some friendly competition into the proceedings.

For an example of gamified learning in action, look no further than Thrive customer Inspired Entertainment. As gaming experts themselves, Inspired knew from the get-go that their learning platform had to reflect the same sense of fun, competition and achievement as their own product portfolio.

Inspired made sure to introduce a sense of gamification from the very beginning, kicking off the launch of their platform with a competition to choose its name. This led nicely into their use of leaderboards within the platform, which has resulted in 112,368 content views since launch and 80% of their workforce having an active licence.

Storytelling and the real world


Humans love stories - whether it’s a piece of history, a grand adventure taken by a group of unwitting hobbits, or the local neighbourhood drama about the bins. From small but intriguing to grand and sweeping, stories of all shapes and sizes have been keeping us entertained - and educated - for centuries.

That’s why it’s such a valuable part of learning. Using storytelling and real-world examples to illustrate your points will not only keep your learners engaged, but it will help them remember the information by enabling them to apply it to their own lives.

Take mandatory compliance content, a necessary element of company training. Which of the following is more compelling to you?

“Phishing involves deceptive tactics where attackers pose as trustworthy entities to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial details. Falling victim to phishing can lead to unauthorised access to company systems, data breaches, and financial losses. To protect oneself, employees should remain vigilant and be cautious when receiving unsolicited emails, especially those requesting sensitive information. Verifying the legitimacy of email sources, avoiding clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources, and regularly updating passwords are essential practices to fortify defences against phishing attacks.”

Or:


“Eleanor has always prided herself on her diligence; it’s one of the things that got her this new job. She’s running late this morning, and quickly rushes to her desk after a stressful commute. Anxiously making her way through her emails, she comes across a message marked urgent.

It claims to be from the IT department, requesting an immediate password update for security purposes. The email looks legitimate, with the company logo and familiar language. Without hesitation, Eleanor clicks the provided link and enters her login credentials.

Little does she know, this is a malicious phishing attempt.

Eleanor’s compromised account becomes a gateway for cybercriminals to access sensitive company data.

The company suffers a data breach. This leads to financial and reputational damages. Eleanor faces disciplinary action, and her colleagues have to spend countless hours mitigating the fallout.

Eleanor resolves to be vigilant in the future, remaining cautious when receiving unsolicited emails - especially ones that request sensitive information like passwords. If she had avoided clicking the link, and verified the legitimacy of the email by reaching out to IT separately, all of this could have been avoided.”


The passages are delivering exactly the same key lessons, but in markedly different ways. One of them is a dry, technical block of text that your brain stops registering after about three sentences, while the other is a real-world story about a human being, and the consequences her actions have on herself and the company.

The latter example allows your people to concretely apply these lessons to their own lives. Of course, you need to ensure the pertinent information gets across - but if you can do so with believable, lifelike characters and scenarios so much the better.

Humour


As we mentioned at the beginning, there is a tangible link between humour and effective learning. We’re not necessarily advocating for all L&D professionals to moonlight at the local comedy club (unless that’s your thing, of course) but everyone has a sense of humour, and harnessing it in the right way can be the key to setting your learners up for success.

Humour helps to create a relaxed environment, one in which people feel more receptive to taking in information. It also creates a common language between “student” and “teacher,” making connection and communication that bit easier.

It’s all about infusing your learning experiences with the appropriate amount of humour in a way that reinforces your learning, as opposed to overshadowing it. There are a few things to keep in mind in order for humour to be used effectively. The first is: Is this the right moment? While humour is a brilliant tool - and our lives would be very boring without it - it’s not evergreen for every single topic. Certain content calls for sensitivity.

Secondly: Is this an appropriate joke? Just like finding the right moment, finding the right tone for your humour is paramount; not only for the sake of creating a safe environment for your employees, but for the effectiveness of the learning itself. A 2009 study of roughly 400 college students found that while appropriate humour increased retention, cruel or inappropriate humour did not. (Meaning that not only is inappropriate humour - well - inappropriate, it’s simply not effective.)

The next thing to consider is your audience. If your organisation is global and requires content to be translated into multiple languages, it’s possible your attempts at humour will get lost in translation.

Going back to our point about storytelling, the two are often interwoven. Kicking off a training session with a funny personal anecdote that relates to what’s being taught is a great way to introduce humour from the beginning, and create a fun, interactive environment. Speaking of which…


Interactivity and collaboration


You probably won’t need much convincing of the fact that one of the best ways for learners to engage with the material is through a sense of ownership, collaboration and interactivity.

Infusing your learning experiences with these elements from the beginning sets your learners up to actively take part, learn from their colleagues, step outside of their comfort zone, and receive positive reinforcement from their peers - which in turn encourages continuous learning. Returning to the Joy in Learning research paper:

"Collaborating with others, being able to create, fantasise, think independently, or make different choices bring joy and are different ways to “own” the learning process.”

A great way to inspire a sense of ownership is to allow your people to post their own content to your learning platform. By posting User Generated Content (UGC) and interacting with other people’s, they take learning into their own hands.

A learning platform that enables social interactions like comments, shares and likes will further encourage this, and hopefully create a snowball effect that leads to everyone learning from one another.

Thanks for reading our guide to joyful learning experiences.


We hope you’re able to use some of these ideas in your own strategy - and for tips on how we could help you further, why not book a demo today?

More Stories

See all

See Thrive in action

Explore what impact Thrive could make for your team and your learners today.

January 25, 2024
|
5 mins to read

The role of joy in learning design

Discover the indispensable role that joy plays in effective learning, and how you can create experiences to support it.
Alex Mullen
Web Content Writer

As L&D professionals, humans are at the core of everything you do.

The ways in which their minds work, process information and remember what you've taught them forms the basis for your work - and you're probably always trying to centre them in your learning.

So, how can you be sure that your learning strategy supports this? How do you create learning that centres the human experience?

It’s our opinion that in order to centre the human, you first need to centre their joy. In this blog, we’ll explore the role that joy, fun and humour play in effective learning experiences - and how you, as L&D professionals, can tap into these emotions in order to help your learners excel.

Why is joy important?


The impact of joy, surprise and delight on the learning journey can’t be overstated. The fact is, joy is not just a “nice to have” - it is absolutely essential.

Think back to when you were a student in school or university. Which teachers or lecturers do you remember; the ones who blandly delivered the requisite information as if they were being forced to do so at gunpoint, or the ones who filled their lessons with colour, humour and storytelling? And of that first contingent, how many of their teachings are still in your head?

If you need any more convincing, here are just a few of the proven ways that joy positively impacts learning.


Retention and recall


R.L. Garner’s 2006 study titled “Humour in Pedagogy: How Ha-Ha Can Lead to Aha!” found that simply injecting humour into learning led to better retention and recall. “Humour activates the brain’s dopamine reward system, which is crucial for both goal-oriented motivation and long-term memory. This activation can improve retention in students of all ages.”


Motivation


Another study from Zippia saw 67% of students agree that gamified learning is more engaging and motivating than traditional classes. It promotes interactivity, friendly competition, and motivation.

Ease and ownership


When people feel a sense of ease and ownership over their own development, it promotes continuous learning - because why wouldn’t you want to continue something that is joyful and easy?

Although the research paper “Joy in Learning” by Marita Cronqvist was actually observing the learning process of children, the wisdom can also be applied to adults in the workplace. As stated in the paper:

“It is joyful to learn. [Joy] appears when children understand, “own” and get support in their learning process. Either they gain insight into and understand their learning through their own discoveries of having learned something, or by someone else advocating progress or praise.”


How can I create joyful learning experiences?


Now we’ve made the case for joyful learning, let's break down a few practical elements of “joy” as it pertains to workplace training.

Gamification


We’re big fans of gamification at Thrive, and our learning platform is purposely set up to facilitate it.

As stated in the same gamification study we cited at the top of this blog: “Incorporating gamification into everyday work and training helps make mundane tasks fun, which, as a result, increases employee skill retention by approximately 40%.”

Not only is this tool fun, but it’s effective. So how can you incorporate it into your learning strategy?

Gamification works through creating a sense of earned achievement. This is set up through short-term and long-term awards, such as badges and leaderboards - the latter of which also helps to inject some friendly competition into the proceedings.

For an example of gamified learning in action, look no further than Thrive customer Inspired Entertainment. As gaming experts themselves, Inspired knew from the get-go that their learning platform had to reflect the same sense of fun, competition and achievement as their own product portfolio.

Inspired made sure to introduce a sense of gamification from the very beginning, kicking off the launch of their platform with a competition to choose its name. This led nicely into their use of leaderboards within the platform, which has resulted in 112,368 content views since launch and 80% of their workforce having an active licence.

Storytelling and the real world


Humans love stories - whether it’s a piece of history, a grand adventure taken by a group of unwitting hobbits, or the local neighbourhood drama about the bins. From small but intriguing to grand and sweeping, stories of all shapes and sizes have been keeping us entertained - and educated - for centuries.

That’s why it’s such a valuable part of learning. Using storytelling and real-world examples to illustrate your points will not only keep your learners engaged, but it will help them remember the information by enabling them to apply it to their own lives.

Take mandatory compliance content, a necessary element of company training. Which of the following is more compelling to you?

“Phishing involves deceptive tactics where attackers pose as trustworthy entities to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial details. Falling victim to phishing can lead to unauthorised access to company systems, data breaches, and financial losses. To protect oneself, employees should remain vigilant and be cautious when receiving unsolicited emails, especially those requesting sensitive information. Verifying the legitimacy of email sources, avoiding clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources, and regularly updating passwords are essential practices to fortify defences against phishing attacks.”

Or:


“Eleanor has always prided herself on her diligence; it’s one of the things that got her this new job. She’s running late this morning, and quickly rushes to her desk after a stressful commute. Anxiously making her way through her emails, she comes across a message marked urgent.

It claims to be from the IT department, requesting an immediate password update for security purposes. The email looks legitimate, with the company logo and familiar language. Without hesitation, Eleanor clicks the provided link and enters her login credentials.

Little does she know, this is a malicious phishing attempt.

Eleanor’s compromised account becomes a gateway for cybercriminals to access sensitive company data.

The company suffers a data breach. This leads to financial and reputational damages. Eleanor faces disciplinary action, and her colleagues have to spend countless hours mitigating the fallout.

Eleanor resolves to be vigilant in the future, remaining cautious when receiving unsolicited emails - especially ones that request sensitive information like passwords. If she had avoided clicking the link, and verified the legitimacy of the email by reaching out to IT separately, all of this could have been avoided.”


The passages are delivering exactly the same key lessons, but in markedly different ways. One of them is a dry, technical block of text that your brain stops registering after about three sentences, while the other is a real-world story about a human being, and the consequences her actions have on herself and the company.

The latter example allows your people to concretely apply these lessons to their own lives. Of course, you need to ensure the pertinent information gets across - but if you can do so with believable, lifelike characters and scenarios so much the better.

Humour


As we mentioned at the beginning, there is a tangible link between humour and effective learning. We’re not necessarily advocating for all L&D professionals to moonlight at the local comedy club (unless that’s your thing, of course) but everyone has a sense of humour, and harnessing it in the right way can be the key to setting your learners up for success.

Humour helps to create a relaxed environment, one in which people feel more receptive to taking in information. It also creates a common language between “student” and “teacher,” making connection and communication that bit easier.

It’s all about infusing your learning experiences with the appropriate amount of humour in a way that reinforces your learning, as opposed to overshadowing it. There are a few things to keep in mind in order for humour to be used effectively. The first is: Is this the right moment? While humour is a brilliant tool - and our lives would be very boring without it - it’s not evergreen for every single topic. Certain content calls for sensitivity.

Secondly: Is this an appropriate joke? Just like finding the right moment, finding the right tone for your humour is paramount; not only for the sake of creating a safe environment for your employees, but for the effectiveness of the learning itself. A 2009 study of roughly 400 college students found that while appropriate humour increased retention, cruel or inappropriate humour did not. (Meaning that not only is inappropriate humour - well - inappropriate, it’s simply not effective.)

The next thing to consider is your audience. If your organisation is global and requires content to be translated into multiple languages, it’s possible your attempts at humour will get lost in translation.

Going back to our point about storytelling, the two are often interwoven. Kicking off a training session with a funny personal anecdote that relates to what’s being taught is a great way to introduce humour from the beginning, and create a fun, interactive environment. Speaking of which…


Interactivity and collaboration


You probably won’t need much convincing of the fact that one of the best ways for learners to engage with the material is through a sense of ownership, collaboration and interactivity.

Infusing your learning experiences with these elements from the beginning sets your learners up to actively take part, learn from their colleagues, step outside of their comfort zone, and receive positive reinforcement from their peers - which in turn encourages continuous learning. Returning to the Joy in Learning research paper:

"Collaborating with others, being able to create, fantasise, think independently, or make different choices bring joy and are different ways to “own” the learning process.”

A great way to inspire a sense of ownership is to allow your people to post their own content to your learning platform. By posting User Generated Content (UGC) and interacting with other people’s, they take learning into their own hands.

A learning platform that enables social interactions like comments, shares and likes will further encourage this, and hopefully create a snowball effect that leads to everyone learning from one another.

Thanks for reading our guide to joyful learning experiences.


We hope you’re able to use some of these ideas in your own strategy - and for tips on how we could help you further, why not book a demo today?

More Stories

See all

See Thrive in action

Explore what impact Thrive could make for your team and your learners today.