Humor is important, we have to address this seriously!
Speaking of irreverent, I’ve argued, in the past, that we don’t use comics enough in learning. In general, I mean serious comics, graphic novel formats, to tell dramatic stories. However, we can use comics for humor, as well. In particular, to accomplish our motivation goals on opening. So here I ponder comic openings.
To start, as I mention in talking about making learning meaningful, I believe you need to open up people emotionally. Even before you open up cognitively! We know that activating relevant knowledge is important cognitively, but I suggest that it won’t stick as well unless you’ve piqued their awareness. I’m arguing that we need a visceral awareness that this is relevant.
It doesn’t take much, but I suggest it is worth doing. I like to use the consequences of having, or not, this ability is what’s key. There are things you can do that you couldn’t without it. Making that clear is, to me, a WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).
I believe you can do this dramatically or humorously. That is, you could make a dramatic story of saving someone because of the information you have, or the bad outcomes from not having it. Then there’s the alternative.
You can also have humorous aspects of having the info. For instance, saving the day not because the hero knows it, but the sidekick happens to, instead. However, my favorite approach is to humorously point out the consequences of not having the knowledge. (OK, admitting my predilection for sarcasm. ;) This can be done with just a simple comic! I’ve done so in content we developed for a client, and am doing so again in a demo we’re creating.
It might also set the tone for the learning. It can help learners relax, trust that the environment’s safe, reducing anxiety.
I suggest this is easy to create, easy to develop, quick, engaging for the learners, and effective. Now, I don’t have specific research on that (I’d love to: anyone got pointers or want to do the study?). However, I think it’s a plausible inference from what we do know from learning science.
I’ll also acknowledge that there are times this won’t be the best approach! Certain topics probably aren’t good candidates, similarly certain audiences might similarly not match. However, I do think it’s more broadly applicable than we think. Even for modules within an overall topic. If they’re inexpensive and high impact, use them liberally. So I’ll suggest we use comic openings liberally!