Should learning be fun?

I've seen many trainers stand up at the start of a course and (in their best kids' TV presenter voice) exclaim "And we'll also have lots of fun!" You can feel the groan, even if you can't hear it.

Learning is about developing knowledge, skills and attitudes. For businesses, learning is also about motivating and retaining staff. If we want to develop, motivate and retain people, training must engage people, in the classroom and in their memories back in the workplace. Sometimes fun can help.

Amusing anecdotes, silly mneumonics, far-fetched role-play, crazy visual aids... they all spice up a day in the classroom. They grab attention and provide useful hooks on which to hang the learning. On a long day with complex topics, participants often need a mental breather. And fun can extend some learners' concentration spans. Whatever the 'fun' is, it must meet the learning objectives and the audience's needs. Do activities deepen the learning? Will they appeal to your audience? Is there a purpose to the 'fun'?

Fun is not essential for people to learn. It's all about making learning engaging, be it through varied activities, stimulating discussion, powerful reflection, interesting examples, attention-grabbing delivery or plain old fun. So you can have a laugh - but make it purposeful!

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