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Key Elements that can Make or Break Virtual Instructor-led Training (VILT)

There has never been a better time for virtual training than the present. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic playing havoc with work and training everywhere around the world, it was video conferencing that kept us going the past year, and demonstrated the huge impact and benefits of Internet-based learning. Virtual instructor-led training is delivered online, in a virtual environment where learners and the instructor participate in the training at the same time (synchronous), albeit from separate locations.

It is not easy to train people virtually. To be successful, the training process needs a lot of interaction. Hence, it is important to make virtual instructor-led training sessions as interactive as possible, giving participants the opportunity to actively collaborate and engage in group activities.

→ Explore how to design virtual sessions that replicate the liveliness of physical classrooms.

Key Elements of VILT

The virtual classroom differs from the conventional one in a lot of aspects. But the effectiveness of the virtual classroom hinges on these two pillars:

(1) Content

(2) Technology


Keeping learners engaged in the learning process is important in any format of training, more so in the virtual classroom. And that depends a lot on the content of the training program. Whatever bells and whistles you incorporate in the program, they will all go waste if the content is not designed properly.

Creating engaging content is an art that gets better with practice. Whether you want to build a VILT program from scratch or want to use existing material, these are some of the things you will need to create:

  • Facilitator guides – help instructors by providing a step-by-step process for each activity
  • Participant handouts – help learners complete individual/group activities
  • Participant guides – help learners seamlessly participate by providing clear instructions
  • Reference material – a guide for both learners and instructors to become familiar with the platform

Points to Remember

  • You cannot use the material from the physical classroom as is in the virtual classroom.
  • Try and configure content and implement collaborative activities to engage learners. You can have breakout rooms with moderators and additional facilitators to help presenters deliver content. 

Pro Tip

Partner with a vendor experienced in both classroom and online training for better training outcomes.


VILT is based on a scalable collaboration software that offers functionality, availability, and ease of use. Out of the numerous technology platforms that can be used for virtual instructor-led training, popular ones that offer information sharing and collaboration include:

  • Microsoft Teams
  • Cisco WebEx
  • Adobe Connect
  • Vedamo
  • Google Classroom
  • Zoom

Leading VILT platforms incorporate a range of engagement tools to increase effectiveness of training. Here are some ‘Must-Have’ features:

  • Chats – private/public to enable communication between learners and the instructor
  • Polls – to collect feedback from learners and recap/summarize what has been taught
  • Raise hand – enables participants to clarify their queries if any
  • Whiteboard – allows instructor to draw, highlight content, and learners to share their learning
  • Breakout rooms – enable learners to participate in group activities

Pro Tip

Select a tool that ensures confidentiality of data and is also easy to use.

That was all about the two major elements to help build your VILT program.

What next?

Well, the next step is to think about learner engagement during the training program.

It is quite a challenge to keep learners focused and motivated in a virtual instructor-led training session as there is no direct face-to-face interaction. So, what can you do?

6 Best Practices for Effective Virtual Instructor-led Training

1. Provide Engagement

Set expectations well in advance of your virtual training session so that participants join the session knowing that they must participate. Design your modules to engage learners from the start. Use all features offered by the platform and plan for some interaction once every 4 minutes via poll, chat, etc.

2. Deliver Focused Modules

Small virtual sessions, each dealing with one topic, help increase understanding and retention. Even in these shorter sessions, don’t forget to include virtual and conventional breaks – you can always use the breakout rooms for fun activities and discussions.

3. Battle Distraction

Participants in a virtual instructor-led training session face a lot of distractions – they may be switching tabs, checking their email, surfing the Internet, or even shopping online! You can avoid this by setting some ground rules (to turn off office and cell phones, not send or respond to e-mails), and having an activity right at the start of the session for immediate engagement. You can also:

  • Send advance messages – let participants know about the interactive session
  • Invite immediate engagement – have an on-screen activity for meet and greet or icebreaking
  • Build rapport among participants – create a social experience right at the beginning

4. Prioritize Value

One minute of classroom training does not really equal one minute of virtual instructor-led training. When it comes to time, VILT is all about delivering information efficiently, in the quickest way possible. So, a full-day classroom training can be divided into multiple VILT sessions spaced over a week.

It is important to add value to the content so learners are benefited – design the material to suit the virtual space, converting classroom activities to online collaborative activities. 

5. Measure Learner Understanding

To know if your virtual instructor-led training is meeting its objectives, you need to assess the learners. With VILT platforms, you can:

  • Ask questions between topics
  • Use annotations for quick responses
  • Launch polls and gather responses
  • Ask participants to summarize topics in 10-15 words via chat

6. Choose Outsourcing

Outsourcing your VILT program helps keep the training on track. Hiring a vendor experienced in both classroom and online training will help ensure quality and learner engagement as they will combine instructional design with technology to give you the best possible output.

To Sum Up

Successful VILT requires a seamless interplay of two important factors – content and technology – to create training that effectively engages learners. It is important that participants engage in the training, learn from it, and apply it at their job.

Performance support in VILT provides simplified content that enables learners to recap concepts taught in the training and apply back on the job. These may be in the form of:

  • Whiteboard Animations
  • Infographics
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • Interactive PDFs/eBooks

Explore which microlearning assets work well as performance support tools.

Virtual training has become the new normal in corporate training. Choose the right platform for your VILT program and ensure you implement all the practices mentioned in this blog. For more insights, check this Beginner’s Guide for VILT and get started already!

Virtual Instructor-led Training Beginner’s Guide