Moving from ILT to VILT is the right L&D strategy for organizations. Virtual instructor-led training has proven to be cost-effective and maximizes return on training investment. Further, it also boosts learner engagement, learning flexibility, and learning outcomes. However, in order to reap the benefits quickly, follow these best practices while transitioning from ILT to VILT.
An effective Virtual Instructor-led Training supports lesson objectives with a combination of content and presentation. This blog post provides a clear four-step process to ensure your transition is successful.
Step 1: Adapting ILT to VILT
In order to create an excellent learning experience, instructor-led training (ILT) material needs to be remodeled for a virtual training environment. Identify the components that make up your existing training material. This allows for curating the content and helps determine what to keep, rewrite or eliminate, along with sound instructional design. Establish training goals and break down a course into smaller chunks or learning sessions. A Virtual Instructor-led Training session should be no longer than 90 minutes. Think about using microlearning modules that can be revisited by the learners. These best practices are handy when moving from ILT to VILT.
Step 2: Set up VILT Interactions
Perhaps the biggest challenge of a Virtual Instructor-led Training session is to ensure that the participants are as engaged as they would be in a classroom session. Interactions with the trainer/other learners along with interactivities within the course can play a key role in resolving this challenge.
Here are a few methods to boost engagement:
- Polls: ask more questions and create discussions using chat and timed break-out sessions
- Whiteboard brainstorming sessions
- Live Q&A
- Visually appealing media through images and videos to drive key points
- Gamified sessions and role-plays can be introduced either individually or for a group of learners.
Providing opportunities for collaboration can drive active participation and engagement with the course material. Creating social learning opportunities in this era of networking platforms is bound to motivate learners.
Step 3: Strategic Assessments
Knowing your learners can help create better content and hone teaching methods and practices. Include a pre-assessment in your course. This ensures that learners meet the prerequisites to take the course and if not, they can be directed to a preliminary or foundation course.
Even during the course of a program, assessments become an integral part of keeping track of learner progress. Live micro-assessments during the training session will allow the instructor to find out which key concepts are most difficult for learners to grasp. Not only will the current set of learners benefit from this analysis, but these metrics are a gateway to invest further in the content and presentation for future batches.
Step 4: Train the Trainer
This could perhaps be the most important step when moving from ILT to VILT. In a VILT class, the effectiveness of the instructor is critical for success. Much like face-to-face instructors, online instructors need to be strong in content, communication, interpersonal interactions, and assessment. The instructor needs to be savvy with the tools and technologies that are used for training. Such reasons make it essential that instructors are trained beforehand. VILT typically uses modern technology and tools such as virtual labs, conferencing software, chat, and polls among others. Without fully understanding how these tools work and expertly navigating through the platform’s functionalities, it may be difficult for an instructor to hold the learner’s attention.
The personality and skills of the instructor and the connections they create with their students become critical to ensure a healthy teaching environment. Choose experienced and competent virtual instructors.
Now that we have a clear plan of action when it comes to moving from ILT to VILT, take stock of the five common mistakes during this transition.
1. Not establishing training goals
Training goals are an important pre-requisite—skip them at your own peril!
- What is the purpose of the training?
- What are the objectives and outcomes sought?
Without these definite answers, you must consider whether there’s merit in pursuing the training program at all.
Break down training goals to fit short learning sessions or small learning activities. It’s also important to note that training goals should not only focus on the needs of the enterprise but how the learners can benefit from engaging with the training. Clear training goals also allow the learner to understand what the performance expectations are, post-training.
2. Training content is neither engaging nor interactive
In a traditional classroom setting, even a bland session with a progression of visually unappealing slides still forces participants to remain seated and present. However, in a virtual environment, it is tempting to “zone out” or disengage from the session. This makes it all the more important for the highest attention to be paid to audience engagement.
Here are some tips to this effect:
- Keep every session no longer than 90 minutes. Build in a break every 45 minutes.
- Add multimedia elements: attractive video and audio clips, infographics, animations, games, etc.
- Foster a collaborative environment—breakout rooms, activities, brainstorming sessions, etc.
- Use a community space on social media—Pre-class activities such as reading, questionnaires, and expectation-setting. Create post-class quizzes and games.
Pro-tip: To keep learners engaged and satisfied with the training (in your move from ILT to VILT), they should be allowed to use their newly learned skills as soon as possible in a rewarding environment.
3. Not managing the training session effectively: the instructor-moderator paradigm
The skills needed to facilitate a classroom session are significantly different from those of facilitating in a virtual environment. Virtual instructors must be able to understand cues, body language, and beyond to quickly establish a rapport through the screen! Here are some tips:
- The trainer must get acquainted with the software platform, its tools, and its functionality.
- Leverage communication and collaboration through the chat, Q&A feature, video feed, etc. Do consider a moderator for the session.
- Camera awareness and etiquettes are a must! Check ahead for appropriate screen settings and lighting.
4. Cognitive Overload
Effective instructional design must adhere to the principles of cognitive psychology. The fundamental tenet here is that the quality of instructional design will be greater if consideration is given to the role, and limitations, of working memory. Cramming too much content and aiming to achieve too many training goals in a short period can lead to poor uptake. Here’s how you can avoid cognitive overload in Virtual Instructor-led Training:
- Distribute content and learning goals between sessions.
- Adopt a blended learning approach, where reading material is provided to participants before and after a training session and discussed during a session.
- Make microlearning modules available to learners.
5. Failing to implement assessments/gather feedback from participants
This is relevant in your move from ILT to VILT, and beyond. Gathering information from participants allows the instructor to understand the needs and level of training required for participants and model their content and delivery accordingly. Ideally, every training course must include three types of assessments: pre-training assessment, post-training assessment, and participant surveys.
Do you want to move from ILT to VILT for your L&D needs? Do you want to see real-world examples of successful transitions? Let’s get in touch, we are here to help.