Research has found significant benefits in taking short breaks during the working day or during learning. Breaks can prevent stress, reduce and help patients recover from it in the long term and maintain consistent performance throughout the day, increasing energy levels and reducing exhaustion. In short, taking breaks has been found to improve work efficiency over a period of time.
According to Cornell, “taking study breaks can actually help you study smarter”. Purposeful breaks help refresh both brain and body. However, it’s important that you use the right kind of break. Social media or other passive screen-oriented activities do not provide the activity and creativity needed to classify as a ‘purposeful break’.
What kind of activities serve as purposeful breaks?
Some suggestions include:
4. Power naps
5. Deep breathing
6. Yoga or other physical activity
7. Creative activity like art, music, dance or cooking
8. Games and other activities
9. Even daydreaming could help!
Gamification, game-based learning and breaks
A game or lighthearted activity that gives learners time off from work is one possible way to take a purposeful break. An interesting way to work around this requirement is to incorporate gamification in your e-learning.
When you’re immersed in a game-based learning environment, your brain is actively engaged with the game and doesn’t realize that it is, in fact, occupied with learning!
This can be more effective than actual learning breaks, since your online learners are free to take breaks and resume learning at their own pace. That means there’s no way to restrict the length or frequency of breaks during e-learning.
In addition, if you’re using traditional instructional design or learning media, gamification in micro-assessment can similarly provide a break without taking time away from the learning itself.
The physical requirement for breaks from virtual reality
While cognitive overload is a concern, it’s especially important to take regular breaks when you’re in an immersive VR learning environment. That’s because too much time in an immersive VR environment can cause sensory overload. After all, the human body is not designed to experience three-dimensions by viewing a glowing two-dimensional screen!
Though VR tells your brain that you are immersed in a three-dimensional environment, your body understands that the apparently far away objects are actually very close by, visible on the screen. As a result, overuse of virtual reality can cause disorientation, dizziness, nausea or myopia in case of sustained overuse.
That’s why it’s recommended that when you’re in an immersive learning environment, you should take short breaks every 30 minutes, or sooner if you feel unwell. You can also follow the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes, VR users take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away. This helps with the physical strain on your eyes.
Whether in your e-learning, game-based learning or immersive learning, it’s important to take regular breaks to refresh yourself and maintain your health and energy levels. Keep breaks in mind when planning your e-learning instructional design. Speak to the experts before you get started.