When it comes to online corporate training, measuring and retaining learner engagement is a challenge L&D teams must overcome. Many companies still doubt the effectiveness of training employees over screens. They often worry if employees would retain knowledge as efficiently as in classroom training. Additionally, they believe the lack of physical instructors would result in low engagement and low performance. However, when COVID-19 forced the world indoors, L&D teams stepped up the game of online training. Interactive eLearning solutions emerged to engage learners and offer sticky learning. However, no technology can replace the role of the instructor, one-on-one conversations, and real-time problem solving. This led to the rising popularity of virtual instructor-led training (VILT).
VILT programs proved to be extremely successful over the past couple of years and it’s to be expected that VILT will show the highest compound growth in the eLearning market over the next decade.
Want to Rollout a Successful VILT Program?
Don’t miss these 5 crucial steps:
- Choosing the right content
- Choosing the right platform
- Choosing the right class capacity
- Inculcating spaced learning
- Maximizing interaction
What is VILT And Why Choose it?
Virtual instructor-led training is the closest alternative to instructor-led training, providing a virtual simulation of a classroom setting for in-person training. Training is conducted over the internet using video calling or conferencing tools. It allows the instructor and trainees to connect remotely at a predetermined time to have personalized interaction and learning, providing most of the benefits of the physical classroom training at home.
Inculcating virtual instructor-led training into a blended learning corporate training program can help companies in many ways. Here are a few benefits of VILT that maximize your training ROI.
Incorporating VILT cuts down several training costs that accumulate over time. For example, your company saves a considerable amount paid for the logistics and the travel of your instructors and employees. It even saves on producing hard-copy training materials and overhead costs of running a physical training center.
High Engagement and Interaction
VILT allow an ILT-like atmosphere where the instructor is responsible for maintaining high engagement levels of trainees with increased interaction. VILT provides opportunities for social learning with group activities, open forums, chats, etc. It also allows learners to immediately clarify their doubts by posing questions.
Personalization of Learning
Direct communication with learners over VILT allows trainers to understand the learning needs of each employee. Instructors can modify delivery to meet these needs for an efficient learning environment.
For example, if the instructor notices a dip in engagement, he/she can take regular intervals to give trainees a quick break to refresh. Instructors can even revise or repeat difficult concepts in different ways to allow learners a better understanding during the course.
Accommodate Many Learners
Unlike a physical classroom, VILT can accommodate an infinite number of learners. Organizations don’t need to invest in renting or modifying space to increase the number of seats in each class. However, it is necessary to pay close attention to accommodation as some training modules demand more attention from trainers for each trainee, which cannot be achieved with a large group of learners.
5 Things That Ensure a Successful VILT Program
Transitioning from ILT to VILT needs careful planning and strategizing as keeping learners interested and engaged over video conferencing is a challenge. Instructors need to use interactive learning activities to measure learner engagement as most visual cues such as body language, facial expressions, and eye contact are absent over VILT. Here are a few things that every successful VILT program should incorporate to increase learner engagement.
1. Choosing the Right Content
When learning transitions from in-person training to video conferencing, the learning material also needs a transition. Instructors can no longer follow the same format they followed in the classroom. Instructors of successful VILT programs organize content to align with the learning outcomes. To encourage interactions, content needs to be covered with different activities, discussions, interactive media, videos, handouts, etc.
2. Choosing the Right Platform
Live video conferencing was available long before the wave of COVID-19 enforced the transition of ILT to VILT. While VILT can be simply conducted over generic video conferencing tools available online, successful VILT programs are mindful of the platform they choose. Today, many VILT platforms provide different features such as WizIQ, Vedamo, and Adobe Connect. They allow interactive ways to convey content. To ensure the success of your VILT program, understand the kinds of tools your program will utilize such as polls, whiteboard, etc., before selecting a platform to conduct the course.
3. Choosing the Appropriate Capacity for the Class
VILT offers increased reach and scalability by increasing the accommodation capacity of the class. However, one must be careful about increasing the class size. A lecture-type VILT program can afford more learners in attendance; however, certain concepts need interaction and engagement for sticky learning, which is best conducted in smaller classes. Successful and highly engaging virtual instructor-led training programs allow limited students in each virtual class as it allows the instructor to pay more attention to learners’ needs.
4. Inculcating Spaced Learning
Spaced learning modules have proven to increase retention of knowledge among learners. Inculcating spaced learning in the VILT program not only helps efficiency but also promotes regular assessment of acquired knowledge. Assessments allow instructors to understand the progress of learners and their grasp of different concepts.
5. Maximizing Interaction
Successful VILT programs are good at engaging learners with different methods. Instructors understand that interaction is crucial in VILT, even more than it was during in-person learning sessions. When learning is over screens, instructors are competing for learners’ attention with many distractions, such as social media apps, entertainment channels, and online games. The best practice of a successful VILT course is to include an interaction every three minutes to keep the learner’s attention on the instructor.
Steps for Creating a Successful VILT Program
Now that you know the best practices of successful VILT programs, let us understand some crucial steps of building a VILT program:
1. Build a Team to Support the Instructor
Before transitioning to VILT, build a team that can support a virtual learning program. Once you decide on a platform for VILT, train your instructors on its features. Instructors who can use the platform and its tools well are better at delivering content virtually, as they understand what works with the platform and what does not.
Buddy each instructor with a facilitator. These supporting roles could handle many responsibilities, such as managing the schedule, handling technical difficulties, and controlling the digital environment.
2. Care for Content
As discussed earlier, VILT courses need to organize content differently from ILT programs. Lecture-based training is not a great module for virtual instructor-led training. Create, curate, and organize content to deliver the course’s learning outcome with increased interaction.
Determine the target audience for your program and personalize content based on their learning needs. Divide the content to accommodate spaced learning, prioritize delivery points, and include different mediums of learning.
Do not breeze through the learning material but allow enough time for learners to grasp the concepts. The content should allow instructors and learners to have a back-and-forth conversation, assessments, and activities to make your VILT engaging.
3. Lead the Team with Clear Guidelines
After designing the material, ensure your team is on the same page as you when it comes to delivering it over video conference. Create a learning guide for them to understand the learning outcomes and ways to achieve them. Practice it with team members to ensure they get better at delivery with time and provide constant feedback through the process.
4. Guide Learners to Use the Platform Efficiently
While your team needs to be fluent with the platform, it is also crucial for learners to know how to use it. Create a guide or offer ‘Getting Started’ webinars to help them understand the platform. If both employees and learners know how to use the platform, the virtual instructor-led training program will run on time and efficiently.
5. Offer Class Materials Early
Another way to increase the efficiency of the program is by allowing learners early access to the material. It would be counterproductive and a waste of time if learners cannot download handouts or activity sheets on time. Additionally, if employees brief themselves on the study material, they can set their expectations from the VILT course and present themselves with a positive learning attitude.
VILT has proved to be an efficient tool to ensure effective, uninterrupted corporate training during the pandemic. As discussed above, VILT comes with many benefits when incorporated into a blended learning program. It can save companies big bucks and make training increasingly scalable. However, transitioning from ILT to VILT requires careful planning and strategizing for the delivery of expected outcomes. If you are ready to migrate from the classroom to VILT, check our eBook.