How to Combat Virtual Fatigue with Interactive Games
Corporate Trainers; Learning & Development; K-12 Education | By: Erin Patrick-Proza
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How often do you meet virtually for your work? Do you also have virtual training sessions? Did you know these types of meetings can dramatically reduce your cognitive functions? Of course you do, because we’ve all felt this sometime in the last two years when many of us switched from boardrooms to virtual spaces. We’ve adapted pretty well, all things considered, but there is definitely room for improvement in areas of fun and interactivity. In this blog, we will discuss how to reduce fatigue and increase engagement, through the use of games.
What causes virtual fatigue?
Virtual fatigue is the psychological effect of feeling mental exhaustion that is often a result of a series of virtual meetings. While there are still some studies needed to determine the exact methods that cause virtual fatigue, most scientists agree that it has something to do with the way virtual meetings deplete the brain’s storage of glucose, which is our brain’s fuel for cognition and is usually restored physiologically with sleep. This means that our cognitive load is higher, for extended periods of time, which leaves us feeling very drained.
Continuous Partial Attention (CPA), is a concept first introduced in 1998 by Linda Stone, a former manager of Apple and Microsoft. CPA continues to be studied today to measure the effects of technology and our cognitive capacity. She states that CPA is different from multitasking in that CPA is an automatic process that happens when we are constantly scanning for information, and that this can create an aroused state that is okay in small doses only. Multi-tasking is done with very little demand of our cognitive capacity, and they’re easily done to completion, such as talking on the phone while doing the dishes. The difference between them is the motivation and the results, or lack thereof:
“To pay continuous partial attention is to pay partial attention — CONTINUOUSLY. It is motivated by a desire to be a LIVE node on the network. Another way of saying this is that we want to connect and be connected. We want to effectively scan for opportunity and optimize for the best opportunities, activities, and contacts, in any given moment. To be busy, to be connected, is to be alive, to be recognized, and to matter. We pay continuous partial attention in an effort NOT TO MISS ANYTHING. It is an always-on, anywhere, anytime, any place behavior that involves an artificial sense of constant crisis. We are always in high alert when we pay continuous partial attention. This artificial sense of constant crisis is more typical of continuous partial attention than it is of multi-tasking.”
This is especially important today with eLearning and virtual spaces, when our learner’s time and attention are constantly being divided.
How to use games to combat virtual fatigue
When we can integrate interactive games into training or virtual meetings with a consideration of the effects of CPA, we can leverage the split of attention our learners already have by reducing the eyes-on-the-screen effects using other tools, boosting engagement, and increasing knowledge retention…all in just a few minutes. Here’s how:
1) Break up your content and lecture to include something interactive
The 90/20/8 rule states that adults can listen with understanding for 90 minutes; they only listen with retention for 20 minutes; they need to be involved every 8 minutes.
Be intentional about when and how you meet virtually. Make sure you are allowing enough time for interactivity that people will want to participate in. Intrinsic motivation is not always implicit nor is it easy to produce, but games are a wonderful way to connect all the dots and keep the engagement levels high.
2) Use games to revisit information (every 8 minutes) as a mini-module
Using a microlearning approach to how you deploy the games is a winning strategy to reduce the cognitive load while delivering your content. Playing a game as a revisiter, instead of a comprehensive review at the very end, can help reduce the fatigue by keeping the learning participant-centered and interactive. Games can be short and easily consumed to avoid information overload while packing a punch for actually absorbed information. A little bit can go a long way.
3) Make Hybrid Learning your friend
Combining live training sessions with self-paced learning is a game-changer. But making the self-paced learning fun and interactive (and not something they have to get through) is sometimes a challenge. But, what if you learned that you could make a game or a quiz that your participants could access as part of a learning module- even assigned to them- perhaps right in your own Learning Management System? Maybe you want to send out a competency check, but want to keep it fun, while getting the necessary data and feedback. Gamification achieves this (and more!) in a safe learning environment that keeps your participants actively involved in their own learning. Play our most recent sample game which is a self-paced quiz about the different New Year’s traditions from around the world as a fun example.
4) Get creative and remember the power of play
There are many tools available as a means to achieve more interaction and engagement, so selecting the right ones is key. But the end result is what’s most important to keep in mind: that your learners stay engaged, energized, and educated and not feel drained with their involvement with that day’s activities. This is a tall order, to be certain, but it’s easily realized when we remember to keep things fun and allow space for levity. When we create a company culture that welcomes this kind of environment, we benefit from more productivity, more creative problem-solving, and better health of our organization and the people in it.
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