Blog - Development

Looking to Improve Virtual Learning? Switch on the Endorphins!

03/19/2013

Delivering quality training goes beyond talking at the front of a room. It requires significant forethought into how each individual will learn the information, and then developing a well-rounded curriculum that supports every learning style. If there is no physical room and the training occurs virtually, understanding different learning styles is even more critical.

To ensure solid knowledge transfer, you must engage learners in a multitude of ways. Whether it’s calling on someone to answer questions, using role play or creating games, make sure that every aspect of a learning environment meets a need for the learner. And then go the extra mile.

Even the most interesting courses will fall short if the people taking them are not in the best state to learn. Let’s face it – in our fast-paced world coupled with the convenience of virtual learning, we are most likely not getting the most fresh-faced learners.

One of the easiest and best ways to improve the learning environment is to ensure the learners are happy and open to the information. The trick? Switch on their endorphins!

What are Endorphins?

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that pass along signals from one neuron to the next. They play a key role in the function of the central nervous system and are produced as a response to certain stimuli. That is the scientific definition, but what does that have to do with improving learning capabilities?

Basically, it is utilizing our own brain chemistry to improve the learner’s mood and ability to learn. Our bodies will release endorphins when we are in pain, under stress, exercising, or even laughing. These endorphins create a sense of well-being and happiness. Ever heard of a “runners high?” Endorphins are the reason. Happy, calm people simply learn better.

Why Endorphins Help

When we feel stress, chemicals block learning pathways to short-term and long-term memory. Stress can come in many forms, including a lack of sleep or being exhausted after a long day. Since virtual learning can occur any time, it is reasonable to assume that much of the training occurs outside normal business hours, into late nights or perhaps very early mornings. It is great that education can be more convenient for the learner, either from a timing perspective or through self-paced learning modules. What is important is to understand the potential learning pitfalls that can occur with this type of convenient education and overcome them with appropriate activities.

Create Active Learning Environments

Incorporating activities into your learning environment will provide a more engaging experience while also giving you an opportunity to increase the endorphin levels of the students. There are multiple activities that cause the body to generate endorphins, including exercise (even just standing and stretching), dancing, art activities, games, even singing. One of the best ways to generate endorphins in a learning environment is through laughter. Encouraging laughter through appropriate jokes, cartoons and dialogue not only improves the state of the learner, it makes the environment much friendlier.

Improving any learning environment, virtual or in person, does require a solid knowledge of the different learning styles. It also requires an understanding of the state of mind that learners will have while in the training. Infusing fun activities will generate endorphins that improve the state of the learner, ensuring better retention, more effective learning, and frankly, a significantly improved training environment.

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