Education is a process that promises to develop the mental ability of people in various ways. Some students consider learning as easy and some difficult. Once learning is enjoyed by the children as fun, education can become ‘edutainment’. Regardless of the age and level, education must be made meaningful, and it becomes meaningful only if the learners are motivated to it. Motivating learners is both a technical and pedagogical function. Technically, a teacher can deploy radio, television, films, video games etc. in her/his teaching. Pedagogically, the same teacher can link the media and other programs to the teaching in such a way that students are motivated towards learning, and they can experience both learning and entertainment at the same time.
In the past, although, the term ‘edutainment’ was not in use, teachers used various forms of stories, poems, songs and jokes to motivate learners to their teaching. However, they might not be directly linked with the kind of learning the students should have. In other words, edutainment existed from time immemorial but in the real sense it has been used since the late 1940s. Approaches may be different, but they must relate directly with the learning process of the students. Sustainable learning only occurs when students learn the content in a meaningful way. Edutainment is one of the successful means to make learning meaningful to the students. And it is also true that only meaningful learning will have relevance in the society. These days, there are many production houses of edutainment in developed countries. They prepare learning packages in such a way that students can experience learning as if they are part of it. The producers of the package incorporate deliberate educational messages in the program to entertain students while educating.
Besides regular classes, edutainment is found to be used extensively in non-formal learning purposes. For example, the United States and Britain started using edutainment to address health and social issues like teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse etc. There are now many big houses operated just to produce materials of edutainment. The Walt Disney Company is one of the famous production houses for edutainment. It does not mean that one should have high-tech production for edutainment. A teacher can have even small ideas to make education entertaining. The only crucial matter is that a teacher must always be alert how her/his learning can be made socially meaningful. Edutainment is a form of communicating with students in such a way that they unknowingly involve themselves in the pedagogic process. Therefore, the teacher as an ‘edutainer’ must have a fundamental understanding of how to blend communication theories with entertainment pedagogy.There are some relevant communication theories to deal with edutainment. Aristotle through his Persuasion Theory believed that the psychological characteristics of a person very much affect her/his response to the messages. He also confirmed that the message and its source influence a person’s response. Simons (1976) defines persuasion as “human communication that is designed to influence others by modifying their beliefs, values, or attitudes”. Persuasion, basically, involves three important elements. One, it involves a goal; two, communication is used to achieve the goal; and three, the message recipient must have free will to receive the message. In another theory Aizen and Fishbein (1975) believes “Reasoned Action predicts behavioral intention, a compromise between stopping at attitude predictions and actually predicting behavior. Because it separates behavioral intention from behavior, Reasoned Action also discusses the factors that limit the influence of attitudes (or behavioral intention) on behavior”. This theory tells us that behavior of a person is determined by her/his intention to perform. And the intention is fully dependant on the attitude of the person towards the behavior. In other words the blend of subjective norms and attitude form a behavioral intention.
Now, talking about pedagogy that is related with entertainment and education, a teacher must be aware of certain facts and principles of learning. One, we live in a technological world and if we can not relate our pedagogy with technology, the learning of the students will be of no relevance. Two, it is also true that different people learn in different ways, thus learning must be made distributive. Three, when a teacher becomes able to provide information to the students based on their individuality, the absorbing capability of the students will increase. Moreover, the pace of learning for each individual is different. The schools should design their pedagogy accordingly. For this kind of pedagogy, edutainment would be one of the most promising programs for the students. In today’s market one can find programs on edutainment dealing the school and college courses in an interesting way. The only thing is that the teachers must know the accessibility and the usability of the programs. Teacher education programs of the MOE can easily address these issues. Once teachers are educated towards this, our classroom will also be filled with edutainment.
Dr. Wagley is an educationist