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Distance Learning with a Creative Flair
by Dr. Laura Hurtienne, Adjunct Professor

Working from home has had its share of benefits and struggles, for people of all employment backgrounds.  Some were refreshed by the change of pace, the five-second commute, the ability to forgo showers without anyone being the wiser.  Others miss people, have contempt for technology, or realize how much quieter the office is without the sounds of toddlers or four-legged friends.  Regardless of the emotions associated with attempting to work from home, many can agree on one thing; we are Zoomed out!  While the ability to have meetings (and all the dogs, kids, and background noises that has accompanied them) has been incredibly beneficial, and often entertaining, there comes a point where the screen is no longer one’s best friend.  When your optometrist becomes a favorite on your contact list, you know you need a screen break; however, many of us aren’t done yet.  So, where do we go from here?  How do we continue to engage in the work that needs to be done, while accounting for the screen burnout that seems to be occurring? 

As we look to the unpredictable future, leaders need to unleash their creative side.  If the word creative causes you to see spots, it’s okay; screens have the same effect, so you’re in the same boat as the people you support.  Consider ways in which technology can be placed to the side, and learning can become more hands-on.  Maybe reach out to your friend who teaches Kindergarten or the local pre-school for ideas.  In the meantime, I have a few suggestions that might help get employees away from screens and still engage in training. 

Consider mailing books, a notebook, and some new pens to the homes of employees.  This is a win-win.  First of all, it feels like Christmas when a package is delivered that wasn’t the result of binge shopping on the employee’s part.  Secondly, they can curl up with the book, putting down the computer for a bit, and write down their thoughts, using their new hands-on tools.  Although this ultimately might result in screen-time, the majority of the work can be done prior to any meeting time that might be needed.  Another screenless option is to have employees search their homes to develop models, or to create something in search of a new way of considering a concept that is currently in the works.  While there might be a moment of employees thinking you’ve lost your mind, they will eventually see the value, and perhaps even engage family members in the endeavor.  Although these are only a couple of ideas, hopefully they spark something creative in your mind that will allow employees to take a break from their flat-faced friends and get their hands a bit dirty.    
 
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