There was a discussion on social media this week around the necessity of fun in training. I stared at the post for a long time and trying to decide if, in fact, fun is something that should be included in all training. I spent a lot of time thinking about this over the last 24 hours, and think this is an interesting conversation we should be having in L&D.
What is Fun?
What I do for fun is unlikely to be what you see as fun. The bigger the training room, the more diversity in how fun is characterized. This is good, we want diversity in our training room whenever possible. Beyond what we like to do for fun, there is also a level of comfort people have to participate in certain activities and participants tend to approach training with a certain attitude and that can affect what happens during the course time. Walking into an interactive training that lends itself to entertaining activities with a room full of friendly participants is bound to be a different experience than teaching a group of people about inappropriate behavior after disciplinary action.
I think people have an oversimplification of the word fun. Things needn’t be funny to be fun, nor does the training need to be overly light-hearted. Fun is about stimulation and engagement. While I love training that involves games, dancing, and laughing, I know that not all training lends itself to those things. I do aim, however, to have several moments where participants are smiling and nodding leading to participating in earnest because they are engaged and learning. That is how I see the fun in training.
Why can’t all training be fun?
Is every training I write fun for every person who takes it? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean I am going to give up trying to infuse fun in every course. One of the most fun I’ve ever had in training outside of this job was in a diversity workshop. We laughed, we cried, and I left feeling engaged with every participant in that training. There were uncomfortable moments, and then we broke down those walls. It was fun, and it inspires me often when I design.
In sum, maybe not all training IS fun, but I believe it is more engaging when it is designed to include fun. What are your thoughts on the fun in training? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.