:sync: The Value of Fun in Online Learning: A Mixed Method Study During COVID-19

Author: Alexandra Okada
Institution: The Open University
Country: United Kingdom

Topic: Applications of Open Education Practices/Open Pedagogy/Open Education Research
Sector: Higher Education
UNESCO Area of Focus: Building capacity
Session Format: Presentation


Understanding components that influence students’ enjoyment of distance higher education is increasingly important to enhance academic performance and retention. Although there is a growing body of research about students’ engagement with online learning, a research gap exists concerning whether fun affect students’ enjoyment. A contributing factor to this situation is that the meaning of fun in learning is unclear, and its possible role is controversial. This research is original in examining students’ views about fun and online learning, and influential components and connections. This study investigated the beliefs and attitudes of a sample of 551 distance education students including pre-services and in-service teachers, consultants and education professionals using a mixed‐method approach. Quantitative and Qualitative data were generated through a self-reflective instrument during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings revealed that 91% of participants valued fun in online learning; linked to well-being, motivation and performance. However, 17% mentioned that fun within online learning could take the focus off their studies and result in distraction or loss of time. Principal component analysis revealed three groups of students who found (1) fun relevant in socio-constructivist learning (2) no fun in traditional transmissive learning and (3) disturbing fun in constructivist learning. This study also provides key recommendations extracted from participants’ views for course teams, teaching staff and students to enhance online learning experiences with enjoyment and fun.


Okada,A.; Sheehy, K. (2020) Factors and Recommendations to support students’ enjoyment of online learning with fun: a mixed method study during COVID-19 (under review).

Okada, Alexandra and Sheehy, Kieron (2020). The value of fun in online learning: a study supported by responsible research and innovation and open data. Revista e-Curriculum, 18(2) pp. 319–343. http://oro.open.ac.uk/71012/

OKADA, Alexandra. Distance education: do students believe it should be fun? 2020. Disponível em: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/education-development/learning/distance- education-do-students-believe-it-should-be-fun. Acesso em: 12 maio 2020.


fun, online learning, covid-19, teachers' professional development, students' enjoyment, emancipatory education, optimal experience, constructivism, socio-contructivism, open education

Hello Dr. Ale, I am Maday, a PhD student in Mexico. I want to congratulate you I was at your presentation and I liked it very much, you showed your passion about the subject and your analysis is very complete. I consider that the motivation of the student increases in the flexible models centered in the student, as you mention, it is necessary to give more flexibility to the student so that he can adapt the curricular content to his interests, so that he discovers that usefulness of the knowledge from his context. I believe that challenge-based learning and project-based learning are clear examples that encourage motivation and fun in learning.

Session recording:

Dear Maday,

I have just noticed that you are studying with María Soledad Ramírez Montoya… We had lovely time last year in Italy at the OE Global 2019. So your topic is very relevant “cultura de investigación de docentes con el desarrollo de las competencias de estudiantes”…

Thank you very much for your comments! Education 2030 agenda focuses on knowledge skills attitude and values… real-life problem-solving … local and global socio-scientific issues that matter for individuals and society … and FUN is part of a meaningful learning journey!

Lets keep in contact! My very best wishes, Alexandra