Although VILTs have been around for some time now, there still is a lot of ambiguity around what exactly constitutes a VILT. To leverage this format optimally, it is important to have clarity on what it is and equally importantly, what it is NOT.
Virtual instructor-led training (VILT) is a form of synchronous online training that is delivered in a virtual environment with the instructor and learners participating in the session at the same time, but from different locations.
What VILT is NOT
- VILT ≠ Webinar
- VILT ≠ Online presentation with polls
- VILT ≠ Conducting a classroom session using a conferencing facility
What Is Virtual Instructor-Led Training?
Virtual Instructor-Led Training or VILT is a form of synchronous online training that is delivered in a virtual environment with the instructor and learners participating in the session at the same time, but from different locations. It offers learners all the benefits of human interaction in a brick-and-mortar classroom without the hassles of travel, logistics, and space.
Organizations often use VILT as part of a blended learning strategy for employee training, especially for product and sales training and employee onboarding.
The main advantage of VILT is its ability to connect learners of different backgrounds from different locations on one platform. Other advantages of VILT are its:
- Convenience and flexibility (learners can engage at work, at home, or on a mobile device, wherever they want)
- Ability to upskill employees
It’s a fact that classroom training can be highly engaging. But the good news is it is possible to replicate that experience in VILTs as well. Like the physical classroom, virtual classrooms also give participants the opportunity to:
- Participate and collaborate actively
- Engage in group activities
- Share their learning
What Is NOT Virtual Instructor-Led Training?
Virtual instructor-led training is neither a webinar nor presenting classroom material in a videoconference. Why not?
Though a webinar is also a synchronous training format, it is mostly a one-sided communication from the presenter to participants. Participants are encouraged to share their opinions, feedback, or answer questions through polls, but the main essence of virtual classrooms – collaboration – is missing in webinars.
The 2 Pillars of the Virtual Classroom
The effectiveness of virtual classrooms hinges on 2 elements – Content and Technology
Content: Content is the most important component of the virtual classroom. If you already have classroom training material (PPTs, facilitator guides, manuals, etc.), you need to identify important need-to-know content from them to be included in the virtual session. It’s important that classroom material is not used ‘as is’ as the virtual classroom needs to factor for the absence of the instructor and collaboration. What you need to do is to organize the content and activities to be used:
- Before the training session – to build rapport and trust
- During the training for effective teaching – with different instructional activities
- Collaboration activities – to be used throughout the session
Technology: Several technological platforms are available to help conduct your virtual classroom sessions. Popular ones include:
All these platforms offer a variety of tools to enable information sharing and collaboration (replicating the environment of a physical classroom) – each with its own limitations and strengths.