If you’re having fun, you can’t possibly be learning

If you subscribe to the official ASTD T+D blog, you may have seen the most recent post from their editorial staff entitled, “Improv….As a Training Tool.

The blog post begins:

“Years ago, workplaces used to hesitate to use improv  as a form of skills training because there was a stigma attached that anything fun and entertaining is not proper in the workplace. Just as games and simulations are becoming accepted and preferred training methods, improv is gaining in popularity.”

It was the assertion that “games and simulations are becoming accepted and preferred training methods” that jumped out at me. Are becoming accepted and preferred training methods? Really?

The truth is, games and simulations have been considered an accepted method for developing new skills for, oh say, 30 years.  Maybe more. Take the bestselling team-building game Jungle Escape, for example. It was first published in 1980. It’s still our most popular game, and it has ranked in HRDQ’s top ten ever since it was released. And now it’s in its fifth edition.

That’s because the game works.

Fun and play in learning are essential. Not for their own sake, of course. But when paired with structured, sound instructional principles, and content that’s relevant to both the individual and the organization, games and simulations greatly enhance the learning experience.

The fact is, learning games (or any other experiential methods, for that matter) that encourage play, inquisitiveness, curiosity, experimentation, trial and error, and safe practice long ago earned the right to be considered “accepted and preferred training methods.”

Speaking of games, HRDQ is about to launch a new game called, Rocket: The Project Management Game. The game is designed by Lou Russell, author of Project Management for Dummies and a regular presenter at the ASTD national conference. It provides an opportunity to practice effective project management skills—not the project management of Gantt Charts and Critical Path Analysis, but of the everyday kinds of projects that have become a regular feature of working life. Did I mention it’s also great fun?

Does the issue of having fun while learning ever comes up in your organization? Let’s hear what you have to say.

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