Education Can Be Entertaining, But Don’t Lose the Message

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on e-learning and educational games while trying to sort out my goals for the next phase of my life. The one thing I keep reading over and over again is that learning objects should be light in entertaining components as those tend to distract from the learning objective.

This point is being made through case studies, research stats released, and countless blog posts sharing this information ad nauseum.

The funny thing is, for all the talk of how entertaining elements should be minimized from technology-based learning opportunities, it seems to focus on technology. One would hope that any educator, formal or informal, low tech or high tech, would read each of these and realize that the message isn’t strictly for those creating e-learning curriculum.

It also seems to shut out the possibility of embedded entertainment actually having some educational value. How many of us start singing Schoolhouse Rock for everything from grammar to social studies to the planets? I have a silly regroup song that I’ve been known to teach to kids who are struggling with that concept.

When there’s a point, a bit of knowledge wedged into the entertainment, it can be a useful learning device. When it is there merely to dress up a lesson, then it becomes a distraction whose inclusion should be rethought.

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