19 Replies
Andrew Winner

I definitely think it's a great idea to add humor and quirkiness into courses, when appropriate. Often, the perception of e-learning is that it's boring; anything you can do to counteract that and make it more engaging is a win. 

That said, you'd have to take the temperature of your audience and see what's appropriate. Not to generalize based on age, but for an audience of millennials, this might make a lot of sense and help keep their attention. 

Matthew Bibby

Agreed. I also think it is important to find the right balance.

I try and use what I consider the 'Pixar' approach...  Where I have included jokes and references that some people get and find amusing whereas others don't notice them at all  (I used to watch people take these courses for the first time to see how many people picked up on the hidden humor).

This approach seemed to work effectively and those who discovered the jokes would often have a renewed focus on the content as a result.

Cynthia Lewis

I often use humor in bits scattered throughout the eLearning modules. Safety can be a dark topic so showing some short video clips (like Seinfeld fire with George Castanza pushing over the old lady) or some "fail" photos helps keep the topic from being depressing (do this or die/lose a finger/eye). When people laugh, they are getting more oxygen and endorphins, and, yes, now eLearning is not boring!

Bruce Graham

Agree with Cynthia..
*"Just because it is deadly serious does not mean it has to be deadly
dull".*
So many people acre scared of having fun even when learning "serious"
topics. Sometimes I think we all need to lighten up a bit.
I can still remember most of the facts from the "sloth" video originally
quoted - surely that is (in part...) proof that this concept works?

Matthew Bibby

Stop thinking about it...  

(Sorry, can't help myself, it's been a running joke in my house since we first saw the sloth video a couple of years ago)

On the note of deadly serious not meaning deadly dull, I came across a suggestion that Bruce made in another thread a couple of years ago. The question was regarding compliance training (a deadly serious topic) and Bruces suggestion was to create a 'un-compliance' course, e.g.

"Welcome folks, and today we're going to show you how to poison your staff, reduce productivity by 32% per year, AND get yourself a fine of between $4m and $6m....ALL in 20 minutes!"

I can see how this approach would result in a better learning outcome compared to a lot of compliance training.

Bruce Graham
Matthew Bibby

On the note of deadly serious not meaning deadly dull, I came across a suggestion that Bruce made in another thread a couple of years ago. The question was regarding compliance training (a deadly serious topic) and Bruces suggestion was to create a 'un-compliance' course, e.g.

"Welcome folks, and today we're going to show you how to poison your staff, reduce productivity by 32% per year, AND get yourself a fine of between $4m and $6m....ALL in 20 minutes!"

LOL - I had forgotten about that :)

I still try and use that technique as often as I can in courses. I created a Videoscribe course on Creativity a few months ago, and had the pilot in a 747 saying "Please fasten your seat belts, stow your tray tables and make sure your seat is upright - we're about to try and loop-the-loop". The point being....sometimes creativity is a really bad idea...it depends on the situation completely.

Glenn Wills

I think adding humor is a great way to make the subject matter more memorable.  I'm not sure how many classes I've taken where I had to go over the course multiple times to retain all the information just because it was so boring. Humor makes studying more fun!

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Alexander Salas

This would be a great icebreaker intro (if we don't get all caught up on ISD theory and adult learning principles).  The effectiveness of its use would depend largely on the target audience.  For example; teenagers would find it entertaining but, children may get lost with all the extra information (the jokes).  I don't see this approach doing too well in high power distance cultures. I personally love it though.

Daniel Brigham

Hey, Alex:

Funny for sure, but some of the asides go a bit too far afield for my taste. I'd probably script a minute or two of this stuff and then see what the client thought. I'm not sure I've ever worked on a project that has this tone, but maybe you've had the luck to.

Kim Hannan

YES!!! I love it!

A few years ago, I started introducing humor in our learning solutions and got an overwhelming positive response. While there will certainly be people who don't appreciate that approach, they will likely be in the minority. And given that you'll have people who don't like it if you go with a serious, straight-forward approach, the benefit of getting people talking about (and loving) the humor and cheese far outweighs the few naysayers.