Session 12 – Thursday 9th September 2010

Title of Session:
Making Learning Fun

Summary of Session:
Overall, it was an excellent hour’s discussion with educators from all sectors engaging fully with the subject.
Initial tweets identified the importance of making the learning relevant to students’ and teachers’ interests. If you (as teacher/educator) are enthused and passionate, learners will catch the enthusiasm – it is contagious. It was also pointed out that it is often the role of the adult to set the tone and model asense of playfulness and fun.

It was @fkelly who pointed out a flaw in this week’s topic with this tweet: ‘Is there something wrong with the question perhaps? I don’t need to ‘make’ learning fun for my 1 year old, it just is’. What followed was a discussion about whether we should be ‘making’ things fun and the nature/definition of the word ‘fun’ itself. Can one plan for fun to occur? Isn’t fun something that occurs spontaneously? One person’s fun may not be another’s and so on.

There was considerable discussion around what we actually mean by ‘fun’ with the word ‘playfulness’ being introduced by @joga5 and ‘delight’ by @richardmillwood. The following words then followed in subsequent tweets: experimentation, exploration, creativity, engagement, enthusiasm, engrossed, enhancing, enjoyment, energetic. @moodlemckean pointed out that OFSTED describe a ‘buzz’ in the lessons they judge to be outstanding. Does buzz=fun? The consensus seemed to be that engagement was an essential to effective learning. There was also agreement that things didn’t have to be fun and learning about serious/weighty matters didn’t necessarily involve fun; as @didactylos put it ‘…learning about concentration camps is NOT fun but emotionally engaging’.

@joga5 raised a concern about fun sometimes being an excuse/cover for ‘unplanned and therefore little learning. This was recognized as a concern and it was pointed out by @kvnmcl that ‘fun’ should not just be about ‘having a laugh’

Another strand of discussion was around the role of the educator in bringing about fun in the learning space and many contributors pointed out the dangers of ‘edutainment’ (the notion of an all-sing & dancing show for learners to be entertained by). It was felt that there is a case for entertaining, full-on, front of the class showmanship but in moderation and part of a ‘balanced diet’.

A few advocates of project/problem based learning emerged as did a recognition of the importance of outdoor learning, educational visits and residentials. There was also many advocates for the place of drama, singing, role-plays and multi-sensory approaches.

Another familiar #ukedchat theme emerged – the fact that fun in learning may involve a degree of risk taking and the relinquishing of control. @foresterjo pointed out this can only really happen when relationships have been established.

It was another stimulating discussion leaving me (and many others) with plenty of food for thought.

Notable tweets, some great links and further reading to follow up can be found below!

Notable Tweets:

@mrrainford Making learning fun is about it being relevant to student interests, which aren’t always what you think! You need their input

@lordlangley73 Always try and pick themes or topics that you may be intersted in. If you’re enthused in the first place it can be contagious

@foresterjo @dailydenouement #ukedchat I think a teacher who has a sense of humour and can laugh at themselves always helps!

@duckinwales #ukedchat @dailydenouement encourage play – even (especially) in adults.

@tonycassidy Does all learning have to be relevant to be fun! Does all learning have to be fun… #ukedchat

@foresterjo #ukedchat I also think that learning with and alongside the children can make it fun – letting them be the experts 😉

@knikidavies #ukedchat Not all learning is fun, we often tackle weighty topics that need a serious approach, but a good dose of fun is always good.

@smichael920 #ukedchat never underestimate the importance of role play. At any age!

@didactylos #ukedchat fun=challenge+relevance+pressure+sense of achievement+play+emotion+imagination

@knikidavies #ukedchat Drama is really good too! Very engaging and motivating. Also letting chn choose their own topics to write about, they love that.

@knikidavies #ukedchat Think you need clear behaviour expectations before you can have too much fun or some will take it too far.

@joga5 Could I be honest & admit that I struggle at times with the use of the word ‘fun’ when it can mean unplanned & little learning? #ukedchat

@SusanElkinJourn Fun has a habit of arriving in lessons unexpectedly

@dawnhallybone children at school describe learning with games as ‘secret learning’ #ukedchat

@davestacey Not everyone will enjoy one activity or style the same – variety is vital to keep learners engaged #ukedchat

@joga5 The word which is perhaps missing in this is (having a sense of) playfulness #ukedchat

@john_at_muuua @fkelly learning can also be fun when we’ve left the syllabus behind and are heading in an unexpected direction. no script. #ukedchat

@cjs76: #ukedchat a danger that ‘fun’ becomes a demand. “If it isn’t fun then I’m not doing it.” Learning should be engaging and relevant.

@joga5 @didactylos So playfulness, experimentation, engagement are coming out as important parts of the fun lexicon #ukedchat

@malcolmbellamy its not teachers as entertainers but the setting of a fun atsmosphere and approach to learning that counts #ukedchat

@didactylos not sage on stage but a good host or a good party planner? #ukedchat

@didactylos: #ukedchat can we agree that we learn when our minds actively engaged – which requires emotion and imagination and participation and empathy

@curricadvocate @Laura_987 #ukedchat residentials are one of the most engaging experiences, remembered 4ever. can’t be much deeper learning than that?

@altrudrama: Fun is fantastic but challenge is more rewarding and when the two go together it can be brilliant. #ukedchat

@lordlangley73 I think children should lead staff meetings at school every so often and tell the staff what they have enjoyed. #ukedchat

Tweet of the Week
@colport My philosophy is that if you make yourself and your classroom fun, then the learning comes along a lot easier.

Notable Weblinks Identified During Session

Host Details:
I am currently an e-learning consultant supporting 200 schools in a Local Authority in West Yorkshire. I was a Primary school teacher for 14 years and part time lecturer in Primary ICT at The University of Leeds for 4 years.

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