act 4 — scene 6

Higher Ed has Serious Fun

Imagine... Madea (aka Tyler Perry) linked up with a university to create a Modern Civics syllabus focused on real-life problem-solving techniques.

What’s happening?

“As education becomes dematerialized, demonetized and democratized, every man, woman and child on the planet will be able to reap the benefits of knowledge. We're rapidly heading toward a world of education abundance.”
- Peter Diamandis, founder of Singularity University

Formal education institutions are too often geared around the same old methods for learning - using teaching methodologies that haven’t changed much since the Industrial Revolution (and even further back...). Relying on lectures and note-taking leaves students painfully bored, most doing just enough to get by.

However, there are inspiring pioneers who break the pattern and venture into the world of experiential learning.

We envisage a world where professors become facilitators and improvisers, storytelling takes the center stage, and games, simulations, escape rooms, and real-life projects become the norm.

Why this trend matters

Experiential learning creates more engagement, spaces that nurture and encourage co-creation, and intrinsically motivate and empower students.

By injecting Serious Fun into the higher education game, professors are making the classroom accessible and inclusive which makes students life-long learners who learn and retain knowledge more effectively.

In Action: Higher Ed has Serious Fun

Acton Academy & School of Business

Students living their hero’s journey is a unique MBA program alternative where teachers facilitate lessons through Socratic discussion, case-study analysis, bootcamps, sales challenges, and the design of a next great adventure (NGA).

Teachers ask more questions than they answer, letting students develop the skills to become life-long learners and lead a life of meaning.

UFM’s Learning Innovation Center

UFM is a private university with campuses in Guatemala City, Panama and Madrid. Their Learning Innovation Center has the mission to amplify professor’s toolboxes to facilitate meaningful learning experiences. They cover anything from workshop design, facilitation skills, improv, games and project-based learning.


This online education platform wants to make quality education available to people without causing them to go into massive debt. Created by the co-founder of MasterClass, Outlier offers for-credit college classes delivered by leader professors. Its classes are engaging, there are digitally-native active learning course materials, flexible exam windows, a dedicated student success team, and cohort chat so students can have peer-to-peer help.

Additionally, Outlier recently partnered with Amazon provide free college preparation courses.

Key Themes for Edutainment 3.0

Globalization, accessibility, and inclusivity

Higher education becomes more accessible. Instead of traditional note-taking lectures, classes will feature games, simulations, escape rooms, technology, and real-life projects that are diverse and inclusive for all types of learners.

Structure and outcomes, rooted in reality

Focusing deeply here differentiates from platforms like MasterClass. Instead of passive on-screen lectures, create hands-on experiences that foster thought-provoking ways to solve real-world problems.

Courses and content will be designed with clear learning outcomes that can be amplified by using the principles of Edutainment 3.0.

Academics becoming entertainers

Academics will be encouraged to have Serious Fun in the classroom. The best will become DJs of the classroom by transforming into facilitators, improvisers, and storytellers.

In Action: Ones to Watch

MRU (Tyler Cowen’s Marginal Revolution University)

The MRU is an online “university” that wants to provide accessible and engaging content to educate people on various subjects around economics.

To teach you economics, it devised a way to...

  • Develop your inner economist with engaging, thought-provoking ways of looking at everyday problems.
  • Entertain you! No boring lectures here. Be prepared to laugh, ponder, and actually want to learn econ.
  • Cut through the noise to bring you viewpoints from top experts in their field.

One of MRU’s innovations is a course using cartoons with clear story arcs to teach lessons.

Mastering Econometrics: The Path from Cause to Effect

Cartoons take the main character through a hero’s journey of discovery and learning. This approach transforms some of the blandest and heaviest concepts in economics into an entertaining and engaging adventure.

Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Migration

This book by Brian Caplan based on migration issues is presented as a comic (almost in its entirety). It showcases his idea that opening all borders could eliminate absolute poverty worldwide and usher in a booming worldwide economy. Between the research, conversational tone, and illustrations, Brian creates a compelling argument through Edutainment.

University of Texas: Be a Longhorn

Visiting a college during the Coronavirus pandemic was impossible. But it’s clear that a meaningful visit is invaluable for prospective students can set the stage for their long-term success.

To stand out from the pack of colleges all clawing for the attention of digital-first 17-18-year-olds, The University of Texas (UT) created a virtual visit using AR. Prospective students could experience everything from living on campus to the academic experience to the long-lasting traditions and history of the 40 Acres. Through AR mailers, AR tours, and an AR photobooth, prospective students could envision campus life and be confident that UT is the right choice for them.

Guidelines for Greatness

Wavetable's TIPS

  • Student-centered design is just that - the student and participants are at the center of the experience regardless of the methods or teaching approach  
  • Fun and engaging doesn’t mean easy or plain
  • Be clear about the goals and learning outcomes of every active learning experience by explicitly communicating them

  • Utilize Simulations and Video Games: There is huge potential here - particularly because of the power of story in both mediums. The screenwriting teacher Robert McKee wrote in his bestselling book Story, "Story isn’t a flight from reality but a vehicle that carries us on our search for reality." When students are part of the story, they’re far more likely to remember lessons.
  • Incorporating improv into the classroom. It encourages students to step out of their comfort zone, laugh, ponder, and makes them actually want to learn.
  • Dull subjects transformed. Finance, economics, and even math can be dry subjects to teach. Creating accessible and engaging content to educate people on these various subjects that cuts through the noise is huge for learners and teachers alike.

  • Creating accessible and inclusive Edutainment experiences can be troublesome for learners if clear goals and objectives aren’t established at the beginning.
  • When done right, making students part of the story can help them retain information and identify more deeply with a topic. The challenge is that personalization is a big undertaking, and definitely not an exact science. Be aware of how much you may be taking on.
  • Pandemic-style learning is making students crave face-to-face interaction. Reinventing your content and keeping it fresh will be difficult if your students are tired of virtual learning.

Spark Your Creativity

Ideas to jumpstart your imagination and help you include Edutainment 3.0 in your endeavors.

  • What if you took a single class or or component of your material and designed it as completely student-centered? How would it differ from now?
  • If you could bring a simulation into one of your sessions, what would it be?
  • Who are the heroes of your topic or practice? How could you bring them to life more vividly?