9 Hurdles To Using Humor In eLearning

9 Hurdles To Using Humor In eLearning
Summary: Is there a way to effectively use humor without alienating or offending your online learners? In this article, I’ll share 8 obstacles to consider, as well as tips to overcome them.

Using Humor In eLearning: 8 Hurdles To Consider

Humor has the power to lighten the mood and provide memorable eLearning experiences. Laughter may be the best medicine, but it’s also an amazing cure for the forgetting curve. However, there’s a time and a place for funny anecdotes and taglines, especially if you want to avoid off-putting eLearning content that makes online learners feel uncomfortable. Here are 8 hurdles to think about when using humor in eLearning.

1. Diverse Online Learner Backgrounds

You need to do your homework to find the right level of humor in eLearning. Research your audience to figure out how much humor they’re comfortable with and which style they prefer. For example, certain online learners may misconstrue hints of sarcasm and click away from the eLearning course. Conduct online surveys and polls to determine the ideal approach based on online learners’ backgrounds and beliefs. Even their educational and professional histories come into play. For instance, humor that involves complex technical jargon might not be suitable for those who are new to the industry.

2. Forcing The Fun Factor

You can’t force a laugh out of your online learners. There’s a time and a place for humor. The secret is finding out where it fits into your eLearning course design. Avoid blatant jokes and puns that take it one step too far, or leaving little pauses in your presentation so that online learners feel obligated to chuckle. There’s no room for a laugh track in your eLearning course design.

3. Alienating Individuals From The Group

This is yet another reason why you must research your online learners before incorporating humor in eLearning. Everybody has their own definition of funny. Subtle touches of humor are more likely to appeal to your entire audience, while over-the-top or controversial content tends to alienate certain individuals. Avoid topics that are divisive and crude wit. The goal is to make online learners feel connected to the eLearning course and each other, not to isolate members from the group.

4. Conflicts With The Brand Image/Subject Matter

Your eLearning content is funny, but it also conflicts with the image you’re trying to portray, as well as the subject matter. The humor you use for your eLearning course must fall into place and mesh with the existing eLearning content. It has to align with your brand identity and support the topic, instead of serving as a distraction. You want online learners talking about the subject matter, not the off-color joke that made them feel uncomfortable.

5. Entertainment Takes Precedence Over Education

Getting laughs from your audience should never trump the educational value of your eLearning course. You want to foster a positive mood and engage online learners on a personal level, but that must never come at the expense of your desired outcomes and learning objectives. For example, online learners are so enthralled with your funny anecdote that they forget the primary purpose of the eLearning course.

6. Relying On Clichés And Campy Jokes

Clichés are familiar and instantly recognizable, while campy jokes are usually harmless and less likely to cause offense. However, you should opt for fresh content over oft-used puns. Online learners are there to explore new materials that offer a different perspective or share unique insights. Clichés and camp can make your eLearning content feel dated or stale. This is why it’s crucial to get creative when adding humor in eLearning. Catch online learners off guard, in a good way, and let them know they’re in for something entertaining and innovative.

7. Homogenous Humor

As is the case with all eLearning content, you need to mix things up when incorporating humor into your eLearning course design. Using one type of humor throughout the entire eLearning activity/module will eventually bore online learners and exclude certain members of the audience. Namely, those who don’t find the approach funny or are unable to grasp the nuances. Include a diverse range of laughable elements, from topic-centered jokes to subtle sarcasm. You should also switch up the delivery methods. For instance, create a humorous cartoon to go along with your funny text-based tale.

8. Failing To Blend In Funny Elements

One of the biggest challenges associated with using humor in eLearning is meshing it with your existing eLearning content. In other words, letting the humor stick out like a sore thumb instead of blending it organically. An example of this is a standalone pun or one-liner that has nothing to do with the other data points on the page, or cartoons that loosely relate to the topic but do little to enhance comprehension. Do a final check before launching the eLearning course to ensure that every hint of humor has its place. Can online learners relate to your brand of humor? Does it fall in line with the idea or concept? Or is it going to draw attention away from the topic so much so that online learners cannot assimilate the information?

9. Going Overboard

Your eLearning course is humor-heavy but short on value. Online learners get a good giggle from the eLearning content. However, they can’t use the information in real-world situations, except for possibly repeating the jokes or funny stories around the water cooler. There should be a good ratio of subject matter to humorous elements. For example, stick with the facts when creating bullet lists or imparting the key takeaways, and save the funny example or anecdote for later, when it’s time to reinforce the main discussion points.

Injecting a bit of laughter and levity into your eLearning course design can work wonders for the overall tone. Not to mention, keep distracted online learners fully focused on the task at hand. The trick is to use it sparingly and with the needs of your audience in mind. Otherwise, you may end up causing offense instead of creating favorable learning conditions.

Want to make sure that learner retention rates are not falling short of expectations? Read the article Get Them Hooked: 6 Tips To Improve Learner Retention In eLearning Courses And Avoid Drop-Outs to learn how to direct learners’ attention, so you can improve their retention rates and avoid drop-outs.