ATD Blog

Fun for Learning's Sake

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

By now you’ve probably heard about studies that show learning in a positive emotional state stimulates the brain to take in more information. Fun makes intimidating, perplexing material engaging and easier to comprehend.

Adult learning is also most effective when it is immediately relevant to the learner and respects each individual’s prior knowledge and experiences, something that cannot be accomplished with standard, off-the-shelf learning. With this in mind, fun can become a vital component of any learning solution to ensure understanding, retention, and results.

Whether the goal of your training program is to teach a new skill set, meet compliance guidelines or help a team effectively use new resources, the goal is the same: to have learners understand and absorb the material. While there are many tried-and-true ways to achieve those goals, there is one method that should always be considered: Fun.


The trick then, is to incorporate fun into high-quality instructional design and content in a way that is both meaningful and impactful to your learners. Here are Six Secrets to Success that can ensure learner engagement no matter the learning solution.

  • Social connections: Social connections make learning meaningful. Social media channels such as Sharepoint, Wisetail, Facebook and other collaborative environments all add social interaction to learning solutions, creating a lasting impact.
  • Stories: Through meaningful material, music, compelling characters and engaging narration, learners become emotionally connected to what they are learning. Learners then tie specific plot points and emotions to specific content, making it easier to recall.
  • Surprises: In an age when e-learning audiences increasingly face screens of text with “Next” buttons, the unexpected can become the unforgettable. By adding little surprises throughout any type of learning solution, learners stay engaged and alert.
  • Six-second rule: How long is the adult attention span? Some say that today it is as short as six seconds – or roughly equivalent to that of a goldfish.  Mixing up content and visuals on the screen every six seconds keeps the learner’s attention focused on the material.
  • Safe place to explore: Discovery learning increases engagement and provides safe areas to learn from failure. The “learn by doing” method allows learners to chart their own paths to “aha” moments without the fear of getting something wrong or making a mistake.
  • Stunning visuals: Bold visuals and motion art make e-learning fun and exciting. The “wow” factor keeps the material easy to access for the learner’s mind.

Remember: it’s not fun for fun’s sake, it’s fun for learning’s sake!

About the Author

Ian Huckabee is co-founder and CEO of Weejee Learning. Ian’s focus is on innovations in learning.  He is a digital strategist and technologist specializing in social strategy and training and has formed partnerships with leading technology companies in the learning and social media spaces to deliver custom enterprise-wide e-learning solutions to corporations, NGOs, associations and nonprofits. Weejee is a global provider of learning solutions that combine the latest technologies and techniques with a high degree of creativity to make learning fun and more effective. To learn more, visit

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