InstructorInge Teblick
TypeOnline Course
Buy NowBook Now

I found this to be a quite intense course. A lot of information, and I really mean a LOT. (…) The course caused a lot of light bulb flashes and more questions. It’s a course I’d like to recommend to everyone, even when you don’t have any interest in clickertraining at all.

Carolien Hendriksen, followed the Theory of Fun course
Nederlandse versie hier.

How does motivation theory differ from learning theory? Why does my horse get frustrated or bored? Where do control and choice fit within training? Can my horse have fun? What is play? What is a game? And what can a horse trainer learn from a game designer?


What students say about this course
  • “I love the fun delivery of the information, and also how easily behaviours can be altered by altering the approach to them.”
  • “Looove it so far :))) I have used & studied conditioning for the last 10 years more or less, but always felt that some things just didn’t add up… So far this makes a lot of sense to me & helps me tie a few loose strings together.”
  • “Well Inge, your course has made a HUGE impact.  I have followed it like I would read a favourite novel – every spare moment I can grab I have been glued to the screen – your game plan  has worked to motivate me and I don’t want the course to end! There have been too many lightbulb moments to mention.”
How this course happened into existence

It took me a while before I could get myself to try clickertraining. Not in the least because I found the theory behind it so hard to understand. And then of course all those prejudices I had. But I did hang on, worked through the hazards, and my world changed.
Ever since then, the science behind the practical work started fascinating me. I finally fully understood that weird learning quadrant of operant conditioning while working through a whole lot of clickertrained exercizes with all kinds of horses. I thought I got it. From now on, everything would just work.
But of course, it didn’t.
I already knew a lot about the ethology of the wild horse, and had delved into stuff like biomechanics. Meanwhile I discovered that stuff like classical conditioning was a lot more than what even renowned clickertraining instructors had told me. I started understanding the difference between habituation and habits, and the importance of social learning. I thoroughly worked at an in-depth understanding of loops, chains and green light-cues… . That led to the ‘Denkwerk’-book.
The book didn’t have enough pages though. With all its 377 pages, it still is a very limited introduction to learning and motivation. There is so much more happening in the heads of our horses. If we, clickertrainers, cling on to a literal understanding of operant conditioning and 1:1 ratios (1 click = 1 reward), we will get stuck.
So here it is, the sequel to the Denkwerk book, yet in a different form: the movies, links and downloads of the “Theory of Fun” course.

Course content
1Your horse, you, and the Red QueenIntroduction
2The unicorn and the clickertrainerCritique and Self-critique
3Motivation theories, death traps and conundrumsAnimal Ethics
4Control, control, my kingdom for control! Self-Determination Theory and its Siblings; when to reward or not reward
5Black bile and carrotsPersonality Theories
6It's all fun and games until someone loses an eyeGamifying Training
7What is that, this fun, and can my horse eat it?Fun & Emotions
8Horse playHorse Play
9Let's sneak into Panksepp's home and move the furnitureWhy play?
10The brain as a playful learning junkieThe brain is hardwired to learn
11The paradox of choiceGame Mechanics: choice
12FlowGame Mechanics: between boredom and frustration
13ScaffoldingGame Mechanics: scaffolding, arcs, loops
14Boss encountersGame Mechanics: grokking
15The power of uncertaintiesGame Mechanics: how to reward - applying schedules of reinforcement
16FeedbackFeedback Loops
17TribesSocial Learning bis
18Shaping habitsHappy Athletes: habit formation
19Shaping attitudeHappy Athletes: grit, learned industriousness
20Shaping performanceHappy Athletes: deliberate practice; when does it stop being fun?
21World of HorseCraftGame Design Lessons

Estimated workload
This course contains 15 hours of movie lessons, plus additional readings, viewings and assignments. Gaming is hard work!
You maybe think you can binge-watch it, but I bet you won’t make it all the way through. It’s just way too much info and your brain is guaranteed to sizzle and fry within the first half hour. Most people need… 3 to 4 months.

There’s a closed facebook group available for online discussions or questions about this course. You’re free to join it, but only if you’re actually following the course and are putting the effort in it  to grasp the concepts. The group also serves as an extention of the course, with links to new articles and movies that are about the topics of the course. Since science research happens every day, this course needs this regularly added info.

Come prepared
Find a game you like. Or games. Any will do. It could be a tabletop game, but maybe try an mmo (the gaming techniques we’ll learn from are most clearly applied in games like World of Warcraft) or any other online game, or some silly Facebook game… Play it! – and observe yourself (but not too much: enjoy the experience first).
Don’t like games? Think about why that is. Now imagine your horse and his uneasiness with the games you want to play with him. If you can’t pinpoint the why, this course will make it more clear.

Although there will be many references to clickertraining (starting point and end conclusion are formulated towards clickertrainers), this isn’t a course about clickertraining, but rather about ethics, play, and the impact of motivational theories on learning and training.

This is not a beginners course. An understanding of different learning procedures (operant conditioning, classical conditioning, social learning, cognitive ethology, habituation) will make the impact of the course topics more clear. If not, you may struggle a bit with some topics where you need to have some background.
You don’t have to be an expert, but if you just started clickertraining and you don’t have any clue about what the operant quadrant is, just focus on that for a while. You’re not ready yet for the depth of this course.
If you’re not a clickertrainer, but you have a good understanding about the basic science of what you’re doing, then this course is for you as well. Not only will you get more understanding of what you are doing (and why it does or doesn’t work), you’ll also get to understand more about why and how clickertrainers clickertrain.

Did you see the Equine Clicker Conference lecture (either during the 2013 Conference or at Connection Training)? Then you have had an introduction to some of the topics of the lecture. Some of the materials will be the same as in the lecture, but all the ideas presented there are expanded on in this course, nuanced, put into context, and explained in more detail.

Clickerbadges, course badges, certificate
The content of this course is compulsory knowledge for the clickerminded 3 badge. You don’t have to follow this course, but you do have to take a test about the topics in this course.
This course does not offer a course badge or certificate.

*Theory of Fun title shamelessly stolen from Raph Koster.