Canada Association of Tourism Employees

What Is On-line Studying Fatigue?

What is learning fatigue?

It is very common for companies to skimp on or exaggerate employee training and development needs during certain months of the year. With remote working becoming the norm rather than the exception, this has spawned a new phenomenon called online learning fatigue.

L&D teams and HR professionals try to impose so many training, retraining, and continuing education requirements on their employees that it leads to virtual learning fatigue.

Too much of a good thing can be bad!

What Causes Learning Fatigue in Distance Learning Programs for Employees?

In today’s remote work environment, learning overload and fatigue are the result of a combination of factors, including the following:

Pressure from the company for further training / retraining

The world is highly competitive and companies are constantly reinventing themselves to stay on top. As a result, they are constantly retooling their workforce to stay competitive, which then pushes employees into a continuous retraining and training loop, leading to learning fatigue.

The overwhelmed remote worker

Contrary to the misunderstandings out there, most teleworkers find it difficult to “pull the plug” or to establish a work-life balance in the new WFH paradigm. As a result, they end up taking on more responsibility and working more hours than at “normal times”. Taking the time to undertake mandatory training is even more overwhelming for them.

Remote work fatigue

Working remotely without regular support networks in the office has its drawbacks that add to the strain on the remote workers’ day. When management pushes already stressed employees to provide additional training for remote workers, it can create fatigue points for the workforce.

Inability to apply new learning immediately

The fact that most training is geared towards preparing workers for situations they may / may not face in an uncertain future only adds to virtual learning fatigue. Employees feel exhausted when they give everything to master a subject / course without knowing exactly when they will be able to apply what they have learned.

Focus on compliance about the substance

Overworked and overwhelmed remote workers accumulate a lot of compliance-based training – just to tick off checklists. The race to complete the prescribed course loads within the set deadlines contributes to the fatigue of remote training of employees.

Extended training time

Conventional e-learning in companies does not meet the exhaustive requirements of everyday WFH work that remote workers are confronted with today. Remote workers attending eLearning often do not have the traditional backfill of “occupying their desks”. The long curricula and extended deadlines put additional pressure on workers who have to attend training and do assigned (often additional) remote work tasks at the same time.

How do you overcome learning fatigue when training employees remotely?

The following learning design practices are key to building learner engagement and keeping learning fatigue at bay. Here are 3 learning design strategies to help you combat learning overload:

Strategy 1: Access and Flexibility

  • Enable pull-based learning
    Rather than enforcing training, give remote workers the opportunity to explore what is available and let them choose what suits their learning needs and work-life plans.
  • Balanced blended learning
    Instead of preferring a specific training mode, pre-recorded sessions, live streaming, or video chat-based training, use a moderate mix of synchronous and asynchronous (also known as polysynchronous) training to make your staff training program more flexible.
  • Learning in the workflow (LIFOW)
    The need for learning often arises during an employee’s normal workflow, for which the distance learner strives to find learning content that corresponds to the specific work requirements. By giving virtual learners access to app-based learning and short format content such as micro-videos or learning in FAQ format, this aspect of online learning fatigue can be addressed.
  • On-demand learning
    One understandable cause of learning fatigue is that employees have to wait for learning to provide the answers they need, rather than having access to learning when they need it. Offering on-demand learning alleviates this problem.
  • Regular short breaks
    Structure your learning with suitable short breaks to recover from virtual learning fatigue.
  • Offer comprehensive learning
    Remote workers often feel stressed and tired when they struggle to understand the right context of their learning. Rather than delving directly into the specifics, providing the learning background and context can reduce the stress of learning new / additional concepts and ideas.

Strategy 2: Social and Collaborative Learning

  • Informal learning to drive learning and collaboration
    Adding informal learning such as chat groups, discussion forums, and learning networks to your arsenal of online learning tools can help alleviate virtual learner fatigue. Although teleworkers are more comfortable in such informal settings, they continue to learn stress-free from interacting with their colleagues.
  • Interactions moderated by learners
    Learning under teacher-moderated models can sometimes feel overwhelming and cause learners to become fatigued. When involving small to medium-sized study groups, it helps to nominate a few (2 or 3) learners who will also act as moderators. The learning group is more likely to feel comfortable in this model of collective learning.
  • Encourage break-out sessions
    In larger groups, learning fatigue can easily creep in, as the sessions stretch endlessly due to the extensive interactions between students and teachers (even 10 minutes with each of the 20 students can extend the session to 3.5 hours!)! Using breakout rooms / sessions (3 rooms with 5 to 7 learners) allows for less stress and more meaningful sharing and collaboration.
  • Use curated content
    In addition to digitizing existing training content, add targeted and curated new content [1]including infographics, videos and relevant internal content, as well as a select selection of external resources. Using User Generated Content (UGC) is also a great way to combat training fatigue among remote workers.

Strategy 3: Developing Better Learning Programs

  • Immersive learning for more engagement
    A more in-depth and engaged learner is a less stressed or fatigued learner. Immersive learning strategies such as branching scenarios, gamification and next-gen strategies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) alleviate online learning fatigue instead of making it worse.
  • Experience-oriented learning
    Using techniques such as interactive storytelling, role-playing, real-world scenarios, and workplace-related use cases can help capitalize on learning based on previous experience [2]. This provides more relevant learning for teleworkers and leads to less fatigue for learners.
  • personalization
    The more rigid a learning environment, the more difficult it can be for the learner to get involved. The introduction of personalized learning paths and learner-controlled adaptations to the environment make learning less strenuous.
  • Micro-learning
    Consuming extended learning content such as long videos or one-hour presentations contributes to learning fatigue and burnout. The introduction of shorter, more targeted forms of learning in the form of micromodules addresses this problem.

Farewell Thoughts

Today, coaches and L&D teams are eagerly pushing for a variety of training options for remote workers. This creates a learning overload that overwhelms already stressed employees. As they grapple with the many training needs for remote workers, they reach an endpoint where learning fatigue kicks in. In addition, the law of diminishing marginal returns from training sets in; Fatigued learners can no longer exercise or absorb no matter how hard you try!

Hope this article will help you apply the recommended strategies and approaches and successfully overcome online learning fatigue in your remote employee training.

In the meantime, if you have specific questions, please contact me or leave a comment below.


[1] 10 content curation strategies for corporate training

[2] 8 strategies for integrating experiential learning into training programs in the workplace

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