Stepping out of a training room, be it physical or virtual, with a sense that you’ve left a group of learners both happy and inspired is a great feeling, one of the professional highs that make working as a facilitator such a buzz.
What’s also a buzz is leaving a training room with the sense that you’ve offered your learners a big challenge, (be it cognitive, affective, physical, whatever) and they have risen to that challenge and acquired the learning you structured the session to deliver.
Are these two conditions mutually exclusive? Are they equally desirable? Can you aspire to delivering learning which leaves learners both happy and measurably better educated? And, if so, are there ways of planning your sessions to achieve these dual deliverables?
These are some of the questions that have been going through my mind during the past month. I’ve been thinking about the range of responses I’m hearing to how corporate learning is currently being delivered and wondering if, under the pressure of needing to deliver effective learning despite the severe restrictions that we’ve all faced over the past 18 months, we’ve placed more emphasis on ‘getting the job done’ rather than monitoring our students to see if the buzz of happy and inspired learners is there?
But is this important? What does the science tell us about happy learners?
In one study of Australian adult learners* the author, Dorothy Lucardie, determined that:
“experiencing positive emotions such as fun and enjoyment link with successful learning and self-perception of increased well-being.”
The study linked these positive learning attitudes to:
This research proposes that a greater focus on the affective domain of an adult’s learning experience, in particular fun and enjoyment, could prove to be as beneficial and important as it is currently considered to be in children’s learning. A different approach to the design of adult learning experiences and methods that incorporates greater use of fun may mean that more adults are encouraged and motivated to participate in learning with enthusiasm for the journey and optimism for the outcomes.
None of this is any surprise to anyone familiar with RSVP Design learning tools. We’ve known for many years that fully engaged learners are likely to acquire the greatest learning from a given session, so we’ve had engagement as a key design criterion since we started. We’ve worked hard to integrate into our tools a whole range of elements such as progressive challenge, distributed cognition, implied competition and team-determined standards to keep participants continually interested in the current activity. Our physical activities are well known for the level of challenge they offer, and we often debrief them along the lines of “If your initial perception was that ‘this is impossible’, how did you move beyond that to achieve the outcome you did?” This always makes for a very insightful review!
Over the past year we’ve been working hard to take experiential learning into the virtual world, and we were determined that, in doing this, we wouldn’t allow this emphasis on fun and engagement to fall away. That’s been a challenge at times, offering on-line experiences that people feel are both worthwhile and enjoyable, but feedback has been good and we’re building our on-line portfolio and the customer base for these type of tools.
It’s still possible for learners to have fun whilst learning, whether groups are face-to-face, on-line or a combination of both. If you still need convincing take a look at our tools: Click here to learn more about our physical and digital products
*The impact of fun and enjoyment on adult’s learning” by Dorothy Lucardie
Procedia - Social and Behavioural Sciences 142 (2014) 439-446