More LOL = More Learn III: all teachers are entertainers

Mark Eggers, 2 min read
Seneca balancing books on his head

Hello and welcome back: it's Part 3 of More LOL = More Learn presented by me, Mark, I-wish-I-was-a-comedian, Eggers.

In case you missed the first two instalments, allow me first to give you a recap:

- More LOL = More Learn I was all about the way humour affects how learners understand content. Humour is powerful! It can make even the driest of content enjoyable, and easy for the learner to understand. (Note, any questions about my qualifications as a comedy-spirit guide are addressed in this one, thank you very much.)

- More LOL = More Learn II was all about how humour aids knowledge retention. If a learner is struggling to pay attention in class, it's usually a problem with the training content, not the learner. Spoiler alert, humour can help with this!

Right, so we've established that humour is important. Here we are at part 3. And this time we're getting down to business: how can you use humour to make sure your learners keep learning?

An average of  just 15% of learners who start an online course will actually complete that course. Low, right?

At Yarno, we have an average completion rate of over 85%. We put this down to our laser focused approach in making learning content that is as enjoyable as it is informative.

While there's not much learning to be done in 1001 Best Dad Jokes on its own, adapting jokes to be relevant to the training will make learning all about that new product range much more entertaining for the learner.

It's about hitting that sweet spot. Teaching is serious business, but learning should always be enjoyable.

Teachers are entertainers

Every plane landing is a credit to the pilot (and if they're on auto-pilot it's a credit to the engineers!). And you'd probably feel a lot safer with a pilot (or system) who knows what they're doing. The pilot doesn't need to be funny, but they need to know how to land the plane. Now, let's stop landing planes, and let's think about landing jokes.

Like it or not, if you're a teacher, you are an entertainer. You might not be a practising stand-up comedian or anything like that, but if you are delivering learning content, you are capturing the attention of your learners. If you're not, I hate to break it to you, but you're probably not actually teaching anything.

But there are so many ways to inject humour into your teaching that don't require Seinfeld-ing your way to the lectern. Introducing humour to your learning modules could be as simple as including a meme to illustrate a question. Using a popular reference to explain a concept. Not everyone is a natural comedian, and that's okay! It's just about thinking smarter, not harder.

Put yourself in their shoes. If you were sitting in front of a teacher, who is droning a bullet list of facts, you'll probably eventually tune out - whether the learning topic interests you or not!

My favourite and most memorable teachers at uni were always the ones who had funny stories, or laughed along with the class. I loved these classes, because I was having fun while also understanding the content.

It also meant I was more likely to make those 8am tutorials on the other side of campus (even those ones at the end of the semester) and built rapport with the teacher. This was enormously helpful during exam time, where I knew I could approach the teacher if I had any questions, and it would be an easygoing conversation, rather than a lecture on why I haven't studied enough.

And when I was picking my subjects for next semester, I'd always check what they were teaching and if I could enrol. This is because I found their classes more engaging, and I found I was understanding the content better.

Which brings me to my main point here, that engaging students through humour will improve ongoing engagement and help you hit that 85% completion rate.

When I was in uni, I was actively seeking out teachers that made the content funny and engaging. In a sea of black and white textbooks and stern lecturers, a joke goes a long way.

But Mark, you're now thinking, university is over (you're almost 40 mate), why are you bringing all this up again?

Well, because this logic is true of any learning, whether you're in the classroom or the workplace.

Teachers are entertainers: the learning never ends

Delivering a training module online is a daunting task. How do you know people will complete it? How do you know people are engaged with it?

Well, think about me in uni: looking for teachers who were going to make the content fun and engaging, so I could learn better.

It's a concept easily translated to workplace learning. If your learning is engaging and fun, learners will see it through and continue to the end. They will remember the content better, and be able to apply it to a workplace setting - no matter how dry the content!

Let's say we're needing to refresh staff on a new safety procedu -yawn... oh sorry. A new safety procedure. Not a super action-packed topic on its own, but very important information to get across. If the content is boring, and the way you communicate it is boring, learners are not going to see it through. That's where you've lost the 85% of learners that don't complete the online course.

But, if you open with a joke, a meme or a video, you'll get your learners' attention, create a way to engage them, and help them see the learning module through. It also relieves the stress of a learning environment (stressful learning environments have a nasty tendency to isolate learners and make it more difficult for them to learn!).

Think the folks at Dunder Mifflin would've had trouble learning that safety procedure with Michael Scott delivering the learning?

Once you've delivered a (funny) training module, your learners will remember the content, and be able to apply it to their work. It will also make it easier to deliver the next training module, now your staff know that it's not all rulers and protractors, but memes and TV references.

So there you have it.  If you're struggling with your learner completion rates, maybe it's time to go to the Saturday Night Live school of entertainment. Next time you're looking to introduce some workplace learning, remember to take a step back and put some More LOL in your Learning.

Mark Eggers

Mark Eggers

Mark heads up the Sales team at Yarno. He loves to chat, which is fortunate because he’s very good at it. He's our digital Swiss Army Knife, always armed with a solution to any problem.

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