The ABCs of Sensory Overload: B is for Blended Learning

2/1/2021

Blended learning is definitely not a new concept in the world of training and education. However, dealing with a pandemic in 2020 has given us a new perspective on it. The sudden shift to all things virtual means the need for blended solutions has become not only preferred, but essential. The effects of sensory overload, especially those that come from virtual burn out or a sense of isolation, are very real and can have negative effects on performance and behavior.  

A blended learning solution is one of the best ways to ease the virtual load while still offering valuable learning experiences. Getting the right mix of non-virtual offerings in your training plan gives learners the best opportunity to avoid sensory overload.  

What are some creative ways you can provide non-virtual options? Let’s dive into a few.  

GUIDED DISCOVERY 

Guided discovery is an effective way to facilitate the learning experience but let the learner find the insights on their own learning path. This method is one of the best ways to offer the learner something personal and unique from the learning process.  

Here are a couple of specific examples for ways you can put this into action: 

  • Near the beginning of the learning journey, have learners take pen to paper and write out their own personal goals for training 
  • In virtual instructor-led settings, encourage learners to think of examples or scenarios from their own experiences before you take a screen break. Then when participants return, the learners become the teachers by sharing their experiences.  
  • Challenge your learners with a scavenger hunt to locate elements of your content in different locations.

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING 

Experiential learning is an extremely valuable methods for learners because it just does just what the name says – allows for learning through experiences. Often there's no better replacement for hands-on learning.  

Here are some ideas for how to give your learners the benefit of learning through experiences but still maintain a safe and socially distanced experience: 

  • Provide your learners the opportunity to shadow someone doing the job or process they are learning. 
  • Field trip! Send learners out on their own to experience what you are teaching them. For example, if you are conducting training for customer service, have them pay attention as they venture out to any places of service like a grocery store or barber shop. Challenge them to observe the customer service practices used by the employees and compare them to what they're learning 

EXPLORATION 

Exploration is a much more informal strategy, which is a largely learner-determined process. Its outcomes are much more unpredictable because they are so unique to each learner, but that’s also why exploration is so valuable.  

Here are a few examples for how you can blend exploration into your learning strategy:  

  • Have learners maintain a learning journal throughout their training journey. Depending on the situation, it could be something personal that only they see, shared with just the facilitator, or something they share with an entire group of participants.  
  • Add an appropriate book to your curriculum. Reading is a great way to break up screen time but while still providing valuable learning insight that fits with your learning journey.  
  • Provide a worksheet for learners to complete on their own time. Ask thoughtful open-ended questions that challenge the learner to think outside -the -box about the training content.  

GET MOVING 

It's taxing to sit in front of a computer screen for hours at a time and can really take a toll. Encouraging physical activity is good for the mind and body.   

Think about these creative ways you can incorporate movement in your learning: 

  • Find a good podcast or audio clip that relates to your content. Encourage learners to take a walk around their neighborhood while listening. 
  • When virtual screen time is a necessity, incorporate five-minute segments of stretching or breathing exercises to ease the sensory stress 

A blended solution is all about making the experience as successful and adaptable as possible for your learners. They'll appreciate that their learning journey doesn’t involve eight hours in a chair in front of a computer chair – and ultimately, they'll learn better. 

Our team of industry experts is ready to partner with you and help you think about the best way to execute a blended learning strategy. Click here to contact Megan, our Vice President of Business Development and find out how Ardent can complement your L&D team. 

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