Comedians are amateur environmental psychologists who obsessively worry about the “feel” of a room. A physical setting also influences learning.   Instructors should also be OCD about how their virtual classroom impacts instruction and pedagogical humor.

Blackboard and other instructional platforms suffer from strip mall syndrome – they all look the same. For students, switching from course to course is a mind-numbing blur.

Instructors can make their learning stage more distinctive with simple cosmetic changes, such as adding a course banner and relabeling the menu items. Adding photos and videos will personalize and differentiate the course. Teacher self-disclosure should occur throughout the course and not be limited to the instructor page.

The other problem is that designers of instructional platforms often follow the “kitchen sink” approach – automatically uploaded in the initial course setup is every possible option. As a result, the standard online course template is like a strip mall on steroids.

In contrast, comedy clubs are minimalist – the Second City uses a bare stage with six chairs. The “less is more” principle also applies to learning. Instructors should do a “Marie Kondo” and purge items to make course navigation easier and keep humor in the spotlight.

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