Dressing up a chicken is a lot of fun. And I don’t mean putting paper frills on cooked poultry legs à la Julia Child. I’m talking clothes, hats, and jewelry on a live, squirming chicken.

At EPI, we’re all about fun things like dressing up our animals. In fact, we feel so strongly about fun that we put it right into our manifesto.

But while fun is an enhancement to any training – like a pearl necklace on a chicken – it isn’t a substitute for what’s important: the learning itself.

Well-designed training is more than bells and whistles. It drills down to the essentials of what the learner needs to get the most out of any course, eLearning or instructor-led. When you design effective learning – learning that “takes” and stays taken – keep in mind the following principles:

  • Involvement and choice. Everyone wants some say into what they learn and how. Learners need organizational context, sure; however, when you provide them with choices you increase buy-in.
  • Recognition of uniqueness and experience. We all want to be taken seriously and to be recognized for our unique qualities. Plus, we like to share our hard-earned wisdom. Take advantage of SME knowledge when developing a course, but also provide opportunities for leaners to see and hear how their peers handle various scenarios.
  • Intrinsic motivation. Help learners figure out what’s in it for them. It’s a simple thing that boosts intrinsic motivation and thus improves learning.
  • Integration of new learning and old. Find ways to make new learning build on the old to increase its chance of sticking.
  • Immediate use and continued practice. Use it or lose; it’s that simple.
  • Chunking information. Present information in organized short bursts and summarize it frequently to reinforce retention and prevent brain overload.
  • Fun. Well-placed fun strengthens positive emotions. And our brains actually work better when we are experiencing positive emotions.
  • Encouraging the Use of a “More Knowledgeable Other.” Lev Vygotsky, a founder of social development theory, posited the theory of zone of proximal development. ZPD is the range between what learners can do on their own and what they can do with assistance from a “More Knowledgeable Other.” This can be a parent, a teacher, a coach, a leader, an accountability partner, a friend, a peer – anyone with more knowledge of and experience with the task at hand. It’s a little assistance when we need it, until we get it on our own.

So, yeah, we can make training attractive and fun. We should make it attractive and fun, in fact. We can even dress it up in pearls.

But a well-designed training program is more than cool interactions; it requires a strong foundation.

After all, a chicken is still a chicken. The pearls are just a finishing touch.


EPI's CEO and founder, Michelle Kelly

Michelle Kelly, CEO (Chief Enjoyment Officer)

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