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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Is Social Learning Fun?

Robert Kennedy recently posted 100 Conversations and Hot Wheels where he addressed one of my 100 Conversation Topics that you can find aggregated on eLearning Learning as 100 Conversations.  He chose to write about how he works differently from 10 years ago … one of my favorite topics.  Some good stuff in his post, but something that caught my eye was:

Have my work skills changed? Well, I use different tools now and I think my general approach to things has morphed slightly.  However, I still look to incorporate the “oh that was fun” factor into learning.  As I learn new software and new technologies, in some cases that becomes a bit more difficult.  The video game factor has made it harder to have the “wow” factor in some learning software.  But there are still ways to include some fun still.

This is always a good reminder to make sure that while we are moving towards smaller pieces of content, self-directed learning, informal learning support, social learning solutions, etc. – we don't lose one of the aspects that I believe learning professionals often possess.  They know how to make learning fun.

It also made me realize that I've not thought a whole lot about social learning and fun.  Do I even need to make it fun?  Isn't it already a kind of fun – interaction and conversation?  But maybe that's me?  What do you think?

Is Social Learning Fun?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for reading my thoughts Tony. I thought about the "fun" part because in talking with a colleague the other day, she noted that sometimes you get sucked into doing so much for the "client" that you end up doing things a certain way simply because that's how the client wants it. Now, while that gets them to pay us :-), she misses some of the creativity. Many corporate pieces are straight forward and serious and "fun" is almost offensive and looked at as being juvenile in some cases. But I guess in an overall sense, we have to balance it out. If I do a not so "fun" project, I've gotta go play a video game or make a nutty status update on Facebook. Something to keep my "fun factor" stoked! :-).

Paul Angileri said...

I think social learning can be fun, but isn't necessarily by nature. I think it comes down to the design of the session and the participants. Having just read Montessori's Handbook, many elements of social learning cross over from her work neatly for adults. I can see the fun aspect in the social learning activities, and SL can provide a positive atmosphere for learning new skills and information. I think the session can easily end up dull though. I think the risk of a boring session is somewhat lower than your typical instructor-led affair, but it's still possible.

Sue Waters said...

There is conversation and then there is "conversation!".

f2f who are you more likely to interact and engage in conversation? A person who is always just gives you the facts or a person who makes it fun by sharing great stories, mixed with humor while also sharing the facts.

Online social interaction is not really that much different from f2f - the fun aspect of the whole conversation helps the relationship which aids the learning. (There is a reason why I talk about chocolate :) ).

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Tony

Nothing new here.

Piaget recognised the essential importance of play in learning situations. The processes of accommodation and assimilation are assisted when the learner is having fun. Frankly, and in my opinion :-) and experience, adult learning is just as assisted with this factor as junior learning.

Catchya later
from Middle-earth

Mike Vandall said...

If someone comes away from a learning experience and describes it as fun, they are more likely to come back. Just like a party, a baseball game, or anything else. Social networking clearly has a fun component, it's why people come back, so Fun Social Learning should stick on...Shouldn't it?

Tony Karrer said...

I'm leaning towards Paul & Sue answer on this. While there's great opportunity for fun, it's not inherently fun. You have to design it the right way.

On the flip side, because of my infovore nature - this kind of exchange is inherently fun. I love having people stretch my thinking.