The Dos and Don’ts of Using Humor in eLearning

Dos and donts - 2013 Sept 9

Humor is a valuable technique to master for your e-Learning course. Remember that e-Learning doesn’t always have to be serious! Not only can humor make the learning process more enjoyable, but it can also reduce anxiety. Reducing your learners’ stress will also help improve job performance after online training is over.

Humor is a great way to lighten up super serious content and provide a brief break, but it takes some practice. To help you out, here are a few of the biggest dos and don’ts of using humor in e-Learning.

  • Do know your audience. The goal of an e-Learning course is to educate, not entertain. Look for humor that relates to subjects your learners will be interested in. Be intentional and professional with your humor. Think of what will help your audience best learn the course information, based on their backgrounds and jobs at your organization.
  • Don’t offend anyone. Of course, use common sense when choosing what humor to add to your e-Learning course. Be aware of cultural differences too. Even if your e-Learning course won’t be translated, learners in a different country that speak the same language may still be offended by something that your culture would find funny.
  • Do carefully place humor. Learn to recognize the optimal points in your course where humor will be the most effective. For example, you could include humor after a test or quiz to provide a brief break and to relieve any stress or tension from the quiz.
  • Don’t use humor excessively. Overuse of humor is dangerous. If your e-Learning course has more humor than valuable, informative content, your learners won’t take it seriously. They can also become distracted or lose focus on the overall goal of the course.
  • Do relate to your learners. Make all humor directly relate to the content you’re presenting. You should use humor as an aid, not just an accessory; this will help learners understand the material. Unrelated humor is just as bad as unrelated content—and both are a waste of your learners’ time.
  • Don’t be annoying. The goal of using humor in e-Learning is to be engaging, not annoying. Avoid going overboard with humor that could annoy your learners. User test your e-Learning course ahead of time to make sure none of your humor is annoying. When in doubt, leave it out!

Keep this list of dos and don’ts in mind, so you can create a course that provides a positive and engaging learning experience. When used correctly, humor is a powerful technique that can help to make your e-Learning course a success!

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Christie Wroten writes for the Lectora e-Learning Blog, sharing Lectora tips and researching the latest industry trends. You can also find her articles on eLearning Industry, Learning Solutions Magazine, Learning Technologies Blog and HR.com. Christie graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University, where she studied English and Writing. When Christie’s not writing blog posts and e-Learning news, she enjoys piano, guitar, interior design and sushi.

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