Opinion: How Video Calls Neglect Learning Diversity

Opinion: How Video Calls Neglect Learning Diversity

Video calls became de rigueur during the COVID pandemic but while everyone’s new favourite(?) way of communicating has allowed for working at home, it may be leaving some people behind, writes James Evans (pictured), planning director at EssenceMediacom Sydney.

Video calls may inadvertently sideline diverse learning styles, significantly impacting workplace inclusivity, especially for auditory and kinaesthetic learners. But, before we go further, let’s examine the different learning styles.

Visual Learner: Prefers visual presentations like images and diagrams.

Auditory Learner: Excels in verbal communication and benefits from spoken instructions or discussions.

Kinaesthetic Learner: Learns best through hands-on experiences, movement or exercise.

Challenges in the Workplace

The transition to video calls has brought about specific challenges for auditory and kinaesthetic learners.

The expectation of having the camera on during meetings makes it difficult for individuals who thrive in phone or conference call settings to fine-tune their senses effectively. The continuous stream of video meetings, often with minimal breaks in between, can lead to sensory overload, hindering their ability to fully engage and contribute.

Find out more: Dyslexia “A Hidden Gem” For Brands & Agencies

Moreover, the static nature of video calls limits movement and hands-on activities, which are essential for kinaesthetic learners. Being confined to a desk next to a computer increases distractions, such as having to manage background messages, and ignore incoming emails. This environment can be particularly challenging for auditory learners, who excel in verbal communication but may struggle to process visual information effectively and quickly during video calls.

Consequently, there is a need to recognise these challenges and implement strategies to accommodate diverse learning styles in virtual meetings.

Personal Experience

In my journey, I’ve encountered the challenges of conforming to societal norms, especially for those with diverse learning styles.

As someone who favours auditory and kinaesthetic learning, I’ve found solace in stepping away from screens. Embracing a phone call while walking not only nurtures creativity and problem-solving but also offers relief from the constraints of video calls and the barriers they can impose on innovative thinking.

Strategies for Adaptation

To adapt effectively, workplaces must acknowledge that video calls shouldn’t be the default mode of communication. Understanding your working style is crucial, and there are ways we can easily pivot in the workplace.

For instance, status update and decision-making meetings may not require camera presence for auditory learners, while problem-solving and information-sharing meetings may benefit from visual cues.

Businesses, individual teams and any clients would benefit from imposing a structure that lets people be more accepting of different learning styles and this needs to be ingrained into business culture.

Top five tips below:

Include Meeting Guidelines: Educate your team about the option to have the camera off by including this information in the meeting invite.

Collaborative Note-Taking: Enlist a colleague to assist with note-taking so you can listen and or walk during meetings.

Establish Meeting Norms: Agree with your team or clients on regular meetings where camera usage is required and set clear expectations.

Flexible Meeting Structures: Speak to your manager or HR representative about implementing a more flexible meeting structure that accommodates diverse learning styles, such as alternating between video and audio-only meetings.

Personalised Accommodations: Explore personalised accommodations for yourself, such as requesting a mix of meeting formats or additional breaks to mitigate sensory overload during video calls.

Making employees feel valued

Embracing cognitive diversity isn’t just about accommodating different learning styles; it’s about creating an environment where every individual feels valued.

How can we actively cultivate such a culture? By recognising diverse perspectives, we unlock creativity and innovation. Let’s challenge ourselves to ensure every voice is heard and every talent recognised.

Together, let’s not just talk about embracing cognitive diversity; let’s practise it in our interactions and decisions. By doing so, we build a workplace where diversity isn’t just celebrated but embraced as integral to success.

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