Videagogy: Using Humor and Videos to Enhance Student Learning

Videagogy: Using Humor and Videos to Enhance Student Learning

Peter M. Jonas, Darnell J. Bradley
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3962-1.ch010
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Capitalist economics posits that increased competition between entrepreneurs in an economy leads to better, more consumer friendly products. As colleges compete for students, the same could be said for how modern learners have driven traditional pedagogy to new heights. In the last 30 years, education has witnessed the transformation of distance learning via the internet and home computing, the growth and inclusion of non-traditional learning methods, and most recently, the growth of a ubiquitous video culture via the usage of digital video recording, phone cameras, and web vehicles such as YouTube. This chapter attempts to connect research with the practical components of using technology in the form of humorous, short videos as a new teaching technique called videagogy: from the words video and pedagogy, pronounced vid-e-ah-go-jee. Using humorous videos and allowing students to select video content brings self-directed learning to students in a non-threatening way that actually makes them laugh out loud.
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Introduction: What Is Humor?

In 1964 Justice Potter Stewart wrote that he could not succinctly define pornography, but that he would know it when he saw it. Humor may fall into the same category because it not only differs by individual, but because it also has many variables affecting it. There may be as many definitions of humor as there are researchers in the field. This chapter attempts to not only define humor but to provide the research behind humor and more importantly to connect humor to classroom instruction.

In 1970, J. Davis and A. Farina found humor to be “a whole composite of different behaviors rather than a single one, and any explanation which attempts to explain them equally would appear to be doomed to do so by explaining them marginally” (p. 175). Others have attempted to define humor by using examples, descriptors, or even through philosophy, like Sorell (1972) stating, “laughter lifts man above his animalistic state, sets him free, and gives his spirituality another dimension” (p. 11). Still others use basic characteristics of humor in their definitions, such as social, cognitive, physiological, or psychological aspects. The operational definition of humor for this discussion is defined as a verbal or nonverbal activity eliciting a positive cognitive or affective response from listeners. Another key element is that humor must be connected to context in order to be truly funny (Meyer, 1990). For this chapter, humor will include jokes, funny words, physical activities, exercises, stories, or even videos.

Humor is somewhat elusive partially because it changes over time with each new generation. Some things are timeless, but have you ever heard a joke on TV from a show 20 years old and it just was not funny? For example, having Ralph Cramden threatening to hit Alice by saying, “Pow, Zoom, to the moon” is not as funny today as it was years ago because of the rising concern in domestic abuse. Humor evolves as times change and new information is discovered. Each generation develops its own nuances within the culture. Today, we think it is funny to suggest that the Ethernet (a noun) is something used to catch the Ether Bunny.

There are many theories about change in history; however, Plato argues that the things people perceive to be real and permanent in life are actually not. Plato wrote that most individuals believe inanimate objects like tables, chairs, or desks are real. On the contrary, this is not true because in 100 years these items will probably not be in existence. According to Plato, the ideas or conceptualizations of a table, chair, or desk are real because they will be the same after 100 years. The idea of a table is more real than the table itself because the idea can last forever. Similarly, the idea of humor is much more real than exactly what is humorous. Humor is forever and an innate response with which humans are born.

Humor is very difficult to define. The root of the English word “humor” is the Latin “umor,” meaning “liquid, fluid.” Humor flows within us and courses through us with the ability to see what is incongruous in life—the juxtaposition of the expected and the surprising, the sublime and the ridiculous. Our sense of humor makes us notice the irregular and bizarre in human nature and human behavior. Humor is shrewd observation on the behavior of eccentrics. Through humor we understand, appreciate, and even embrace the puzzling, curious, and mismatched events and occurrences that take place in our daily lives. (Wilhelmsson,

Humor not only involves the fluids of the body, as mentioned above, but it has to do with connections to the brain, the heart, the soul, and spirit of individuals as well as the social, spiritual, emotional, and relational aspects of people. The impact humor has on the brain partially explains the expression “growing weak with laughter.” Humor as a state of mind can create balance in one’s life with body, mind, and soul.

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