act 1 — scene 3

The 3.0 Formula

The most impactful projects in Edutainment 3.0 all share a few key elements. We call it the Edutainment 3.0 Formula.

The Four Elements

  1. Pedagogy
  2. Community
  3. Gamification
  4. Story

Let’s break ‘em down.

via Wavetable


This is how people learn. But we’re not talking just dusty old lectures and dictation. It’s active learning principles. Multiple modes of delivery. Today it includes diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility.


Games are powerful. However, Edutainment 3.0 doesn’t need to include full-tilt gaming experiences or game-based learning. Simply a sense of exploration and potential rewards can be magical.

What do we mean by “gamification?”

At its core, gamification can be thought of as:
Consciously creating experiences similar to those when playing games in order to motivate and engage users

For example, gamification can be as simple as a streak in apps like  Duolingo or Strava, through to quests in video games that can take hundreds (or thousands...) of hours.

Another way to think about this is through the lens of mechanics: elements like pacing, obstacles, and triggers that create a richer and more interactive experience. A good example of mechanics is the use of 'chapters' in YouTube videos.


Even the most active of learning isn’t enough on its own. There needs to be a true sense of community that facilitates real connection. Community also offers partnership and accountability - and these are crucial for any kind of learning experience.


Humans love stories. They’ve been around as long as we have. Stories help us believe, understand, communicate, and share.

How do we define 'story'? Here's a definition we like, courtesy of our friend Brian Dell: the conceptual dramatization making underlying concepts familiar, meaningful, and relevant to the community.

But what’s new?

All these elements have been around for a while - a couple of them for as long as humans have roamed the earth. The combination of all 4 elements is where the magic lies, and what constitutes a uniquely Edutainment 3.0 project.

To illustrate this, here’s what happens when the formula becomes unbalanced:

  • Without pedagogy, there’s little structured or outcome-based learning.
  • Ignore mechanics, and it’s difficult to get the stickiness and motivation that modern audiences need to go further.
  • If there’s no community, there isn’t an opportunity for peer learning and less scope for diverse perspectives and conversation.
  • Leaving out story removes much of the entertainment part of the portmanteau, and makes the educational aspect feel flat.

There’s one other element we’re very excited about. We haven’t included in our formula as it’s not yet clear how it will exactly impact Edutainment 3.0, but we believe web3 will be a huge part of many of tomorrow’s most successful projects.

Who’s already using the formula?

As a sneak-peek, here are a few examples of Edutainment 3.0 projects applying the formula:

Via Olympikus
A Brazilian footwear brand is empowering entrepreneurs through educational programming.
A Norwegian teen drama highlights social issues through mixed media formats (and is now being syndicated by Facebook’s new Watch platform).
via Scott Frances for Spyscape
A spying and espionage museum in New York feels more like an interactive funhouse than a traditional museum.

We’ve outlined over 100 case studies and project showcases in our premium edition

The way we see it (look - no blinders, ma!)

At Wavetable, we have a studio full of theories, ideas, and strategies for successful Edutainment 3.0 projects. Here are a few primers to get you started.

  • Not every project needs to include all the Four Elements of Pedagogy, Gamification, Community, and Story - but many of the most exciting ones do.
  • Edutainment 3.0 is both an Art & a Science. To combine the two effectively, every project must have a story. We believe this with our whole heart because...
  • Stories can bring seemingly irrelevant or unrelated ideas closer to who we are, what we do, or even why should we care about a topic in the first place. In fact, many of the best learning experiences are themselves a story. And let's not even get started on the importance of story in an entertainment setting.

The fall of early Edutainment

As we’ll discover in the next act, much of Edutainment 1.0 fell down on Pedagogy. Meanwhile, Edutainment 2.0 sometimes found balance but was largely one-way traffic - lacking Community.

Success in Edutainment 3.0 will be found by combining multiple elements and taking advantage of broader macro trends that are opening up opportunity that just wasn’t available previously.


The formula needs to be balanced, but not precisely. There’s art to this, not just science. Besides, even though it’s a formula, the results shouldn’t be formulaic. That wouldn’t be very edutaining.