Climbing the stairs and learning have one thing in common – both can be fun 1

Coming from a marketing communication background I have learned that when you tell people that they should do something either because it is good for them, for the society as a whole or simply because you are asking them to do so, it will most likely lead to unsatisfactory results. So what you need to do instead is make the desired action attractive to them.

Let’s look at the following example. A choice we face practically every day: Shall I take the elevator or I climb the stairs? Despite the fact that elevators may take long time to arrive on the floor of your location, most people still prefer to wait rather than climb those stairs. Climbing the stairs is usually the option only if the elevator is out of service. »Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator and feel better« is something we often hear. We also acknowledge that skipping the elevator is good for the health but in real life few actually follow that advice.

To get people to use the staircase rather than the escalator that runs alongside it, the Swedish division of Volkswagen has sponsored an initiative that they call The Fun Theory. Play the video to see how making walking up the stairs fun made more and more people choose the stairs over the escalator.

As the video shows, by transforming the stairs into a piano-style keyboard they managed to make using the stairs fun. They also found that the use of stairs increased by 66 percent.

The very same principle applies when you are designing learning initiatives. What I have learned running tax related learning initiatives here at the CEF is that when we involve people in role play exercises, we play introductory games and get them to take part in experiments, which participants find enjoyable and fun. Moreover, they usually walk away with a message that we wanted them to leave with. It is also more probable that the message will stick with them longer and the likelihood of sharing it with other fellow colleagues is far greater than when we present this very same concept through lengthy PowerPoint presentations.

Adults like to have fun in learning too! Keep this in mind as this will help you make learning initiatives not only a pleasant but also a highly memorable experience.


Note: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the CEF. 


About Tina Žagar

Shrinking training budgets, time constraints, rapid developments in educational technologies, and new learning generations demanding quick and on-the-go supported learning solutions are just a few trends shaping the modern learning and development industry. Tina is interested in exploring ways of turning CEF knowledge exchange initiatives into unique, fresh and sharp experiences with direct relevance and immediate practical application for public finance officials in South East Europe.

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One thought on “Climbing the stairs and learning have one thing in common – both can be fun

  • Tamara

    Thanks, Tina, for this post. I agree with you!
    Dr. Antonio Damasio from California once said “we are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think”.
    I would translate these words into the following: we may be forced to do something, but once we feel good or excited about it, that is when we do it BEST.