Playful Pedagogy: Using Humor to Increase Social Interaction Online

Playful Pedagogy: Using Humor to Increase Social Interaction Online

Melissa L. McCartney (Queens University of Charlotte, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2132-8.ch013
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Intentional humor used in online classes develops classroom community, creates student-faculty relationships, enhances peer-peer relationships, and increases student engagement. A learning environment with humor helps students and faculty engage with others, apart from their roles, and constructs a genuine sense of connection. When intentionally embedded into course content, humor has been seen to increase student satisfaction and motivation. When used effectively, humor reduces anxiety and a sense of threat, which helps students learn more effectively. The use of humor acts as a stress relief, which aids in cognition and long-term memory. Additionally, student perception of faculty who use humor is positive. In the online environment, humor can be embedded in a variety of technology-enhanced forms such as videotaped lectures, discussion threads, and posted as memes and gifs. This chapter reviews best practices for implementing humor into course design for online higher education.
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Benefits Of Humorous Instruction In Online Courses

Humor is the quality of making something funny, sometimes, but not always, eliciting mirth and laughter. Humor has two elements: content and structure, i.e., what the joke is about (Is the content funny?) and the way that it is told (How does one say this in a funny way?) (The Off Camera Show, 2019). Several theories offer some explanation as to why humor related to content would correlate to increased student learning and positive experiences in the classroom.

Effective use of humor as an instructional tool benefits students and instructors in several domains, including social, cognitive, emotional, and psychological. Humor helps develop a more supportive learning environment, enhance students’ attention, increase students’ pleasure from learning activities, support divergent thinking, and improve students’ attitude toward the subject matter (James, 2004).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Memes: Memes are funny images, videos, or gifs that contain text and can spread virally across the Internet, but memes can also be a beneficial tool in the classroom.

Edutainment: Entertainment, like television shows, video games, and other media that provides educational content.

Humorous Instruction: Using humor deliberately in direct instruction or instructional materials to effect learning and the classroom experience.

Incongruity Theory: Humor is experienced when one perceives something like a shift from reality, providing a shock or surprise because the shift is significant enough from the expected to be remarkable.

Arousal Relief Theory: Theory that humor releases tension from other areas of our lives by taking pent up in sexual or aggressive inhibitions and releasing it through laughter.

Disposition Theory: Theory that posits the target of the joke matters to the emotional reaction and interpretation of the receiver.

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