Bristol (UK), December 2022 - (by Liz Selman, Head of Learning Strategy, Sponge) Sponge's recent virtual roundtable put digital learning fatigue under the spotlight for interrogation. In light of this important discussion, featuring input from some of the top learning and development (L&D) minds from the likes of Google, AstraZeneca, Deloitte, and more, we have complied some key takeaways and top tips to help your organisation overcome digital learning fatigue.
What is digital learning fatigue? Digital learning fatigue can be thought of as a sort of mental exhaustion specifically related to digital learning. As workplaces and learning environments became increasingly digital during the lockdowns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, digital learning quickly became an integral element of workplace training. With the versatility and social benefits of traditional in-person training absent, digital learning experiences can often fall flat and leave employees drained and disengaged.
Onboarding processes, in which employees are required to take in a lot of information rapidly, can be especially draining in a digital context. This is particularly true if new hires are hit with a tsunami of videos to watch and documents to read. Moreover, digital learning fatigue isn't limited to onboarding, as any digital workplace training can expose employees to dull or overwhelming streams of forgettable information.
However, digital learning isn't going anywhere. Often proving to be a more sustainable option than in-person learning, digital learning limits the need for travel and is easy to access. It also allows for detailed data to be collected on learning offerings, which can provide demonstrable ROI and improved iterations of training programmes.
With digital learning providing substantial benefits to organisations, it is essential for any L&D teams to ensure they are providing engaging and relevant learning content in order to overcome digital learning fatigue.
Top tips for overcoming digital learning fatigue
- Make digital learning content relevant. Who is the learning for and why are they accessing it?
- Creating a digital learning resource with a 'one-size-fits-all approach' is a sure-fire way to induce digital learning fatigue. Learning experiences that are great for entry-level employees won't necessarily work for an organisation's directors, as there will be different levels of knowledge or availability to cater to. This means that different learning opportunities may need to be tailored to fit the groups for whom they are being created.
- Similarly, learning should be designed to target skills or capabilities that are necessary for specific roles so that learners can clearly see how the training will benefit them.
- Linking digital learning experiences to career growth can also help make digital learning feel relevant, as it directly relates to the learners’ personal and professional growth. In short, thinking about who the digital learning is for and why it should be used ensures the experience is relevant and helps to avoid digital learning fatigue.
- Keep learners engaged. What is the learning experience like and how do the learners interact with it? Reusing the same tired video content to deliver outdated messaging that employees simply sit and watch will often lead to a lack of engagement and disinterest.
To combat digital learning fatigue, it is essential that training offerings are learning experiences - not just instructions. Learning games and VR experiences are a great way to get learners to fully engage with digital learning, as hands-on learning is more impactful and memorable.
Bearing in mind what the learning experience is like and how it can be interacted with allows for more exciting and engaging digital learning offerings.
- Create the time and space for learning. Where and when can learning be accessed?
Digital learning is often easier to access than in-person learning. However, it can still be difficult to fit in digital learning into a busy work schedule. Ensuring that your organisation's employees have the time and space to engage in learning is vital to overcoming digital learning fatigue. Microlearning is a great way to help learning fit into the workday, while ensuring learning modules are easily accessible can help break down any barriers to entry.
Moreover, if managers make it clear that there is space and time dedicated to digital learning within an organisation, employees are more likely to engage with these opportunities. By considering where and when learning can be accessed, organisations can ensure there are as few barriers to learning as possible.
Ultimately, by keeping learning engaging, relevant, and easily accessible, digital learning fatigue can be overcome within your organisation.