There’s nothing funny about Fun

There's nothing funny about fun

The concept of eLearning should be a fun experience. Does an interactive talking dog or a messy office where you click on objects to read a point really make your eLearning course fun? To an extent it does, but it does not challenge or motivate learners in any meaningful way.  According to gamification techniques, fun is created by connecting to the learners’ or players’ emotion. Let’s have a look at how to create fun in your eLearning course.

It is important to first understand your audience is. This will allow you to determine what type of fun your course should offer. What appeals to one person might not necessarily appeal to another. Some may enjoy challenging tasks, some may enjoy exploration, whereas others may enjoy competition. eLearning and other digital technologies allow you to collaborate different types of fun into a single course.

Once you know your audience, you need to determine how to create an emotional connection between these learners and the course. According to Nicole Lazzaro, President of XEODesign, there are 4 keys to fun that unlock emotion in game players. We can apply these 4 keys to our learning material to unlock emotion in our learners.

  1. Hard fun: Players like the opportunities for challenge, strategy, and problem solving. This “Hard Fun” frequently generates emotions and experiences of frustration. To create hard fun in your course, we recommend using problem solving tasks or real-life scenarios where the learner needs to strategically apply their knowledge, choose the correct responses and deal with the consequences.

  2. Easy Fun: Players enjoy intrigue and curiosity. “Easy Fun” generates emotions and experiences of Wonder, Awe, and Mystery. Create easy fun in your course by allowing your learner to explore the content and create their own learning experience.

  3. Serious fun: players find relaxation and excitement in completing a level or task that are meaningful to them. Your learner will find more enjoyment in completing a task that is relevant to them and which they can apply immediately in the workplace or in their life.

  4. Social fun: Players use games as mechanisms for social experiences. These players enjoy the emotions of amusement coming from the social experiences of competition, teamwork, as well as opportunity for social bonding and personal recognition that comes from playing with others. Add this element in your course by linking in discussions on social media, forums and community chats.

In situations where learners or players desire more than one of these levels of fun when playing a game, try to incorporate at least 3 of the keys in your course and give your learner the opportunity to choose what suits them best. Try to identify what each learner responds positively to, and emphasize those elements, while removing the ones they do not enjoy. For example, you could present a scenario – the learner can choose to complete the questions and earn points in a competitive manner or they can choose to enter a discussion forum and post their comments and thoughts.

The next time you design your course, remember the following:

  1. Identify your audience.

  2. Identify the 4 keys to fun and which key/s will suit your audience.

  3. Design your eLearning course accordingly.



Lazzaro, N. (2004). Why We Play Games: Four keys to more emotion without story. California: XEODesign,®.

Lazzaro, N. (n.d.). Nicole Lazzaro. Retrieved from

TOIKKANEN, T. (2014, November 21). The art of engagement design (previously known as gamification). Retrieved from Tarmo.Fi:



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