Does Engaging Learning Always Need to Equate to Fun Learning?

It can at times. But learning – in an Enterprise Learning Context – something that the learner knows is authentic/ real/ performance-based is almost by itself engaging. But does it have to be fun?

Fun is good – as long as it does not “fool” the learner into thinking the job is also fun – unless, of course, it is fun.

I recall learning from my boss and co-workers in 1979 their lessons learned when they both (in a previous job with another employer) experienced the following:

Turnover was high “in class” for one job group. Students were dropping out “during” their initial job training. This was seen as adding expense to the organization – training people only to see them leave in the middle of it. They were having to hire and train in excess of their needs so that they would actually have enough people to send into production. So it was decided to enhance the learning experience and making the class more fun.

They did that and drop outs during training dropped big time. Hurray!

But drop outs after training increased dramatically. Oops. That actually made the total costs go up. The opposite of their desires.

Exit interviews done for those who actually made it into the job – found that employees in training were hugely disappointed when the actual job did not match their expectations (created during fun training). Turnover once the trainees were in the job – was actually more disruptive – than not having enough performers coming through the training pipeline in the first place.

The training was re-engineered once again, this time taking the fun out – and making everything about the job training much more real – or in today’s terms: “authentic.”

Drop outs increased during the training again, and lessened post-training… saving the firm a lot of money and disruptions in the workforce due to turnover there – versus turnover in training. Training was again now weeding out those who self-determined that they were perhaps “round pegs for the square holes” of that particular jobs (or vice-versa). It was actually a win-win for everyone.

They then went to work on better screening in the recruiting and selection processes…as training/ learning – was not the intervention needed to solve the real issue.

I learned from their experiences well enough to make sure that instruction that I designed/ developed – especially for new hires – was “performance-based” – so that if a learner self-determined that this was not the job for them – they could decide ASAP and save themselves a lot of unhappiness – and save the Enterprise from additional costs and issues once they got to the real job.

Another example was when my clients started using one particular Module/Event from the early portion of a T&D Path – the PM Novel – to help people thinking about going into Product Management self-screen – before pursuing this particular job – which happened to be chock full of ambiguity – which many are uncomfortable with and would have avoided in the first place – “if they only knew.”

Here is a post from 2007 about that effort.

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4 comments on “Does Engaging Learning Always Need to Equate to Fun Learning?

  1. Pingback: T&D: Fun Fun Fun – Until Daddy Takes the T-Bird Away | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  2. Pingback: If You Are More Relaxed – You Remember More? | EPPIC – Pursuing Performance

  3. Pingback: Fun – Fun – Fun – Until the Learning Research Data Takes it Away | EPPIC – Pursuing Performance

  4. Guy, I have always noticed that if you have to make a learning process fun or pretty to engage the learners, then more than likely they have no deep motivation to learn.If the learners see a real need to learn, they will learn. It basically starts with ensuring the platform is on target as you noted, and ensuring that the learners know what will be expected of them when they return from the learning process (which should normally come from their managers).

    Liked by 1 person

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