In the modern era of hybrid work environments, a significant shift towards online corporate training has been witnessed worldwide. However, it is imperative to acknowledge that the migration process necessitates more than merely transferring classroom content to digital platforms without appropriate revisions. Moreover, the misconception that exceptional face-to-face instructors effortlessly transition into proficient virtual trainers must be dispelled. Substantial disparities exist between these two instructional approaches, particularly concerning the integration of technology, learner engagement strategies, and multitasking requirements.
VILT, an abbreviation for Virtual Instructor-Led Training, represents a distinctive learning delivery format that amalgamates the appeal of Instructor-Led Training (ILT) with the potency of eLearning technology. VILT embodies a remarkably engaging and efficient training methodology grounded in synchronous learning. In many instances, VILT projects emerge from transforming ILT initiatives aimed at meeting contemporary learning demands.
In Cloudshare’s 2023 Usage Report, they noticed that self-paced courses grew by 20%, and VILT courses grew by 51%. This aligns with a broader trend we’ve been observing for a while. Blended learning, a mix of self-paced and VILT training, is becoming increasingly common. Consequently, the question arises as to whether all ILT projects can seamlessly convert into VILT sessions, prompting a need to evaluate key factors and delineate the roles involved in the conversion process.
Factors to Consider When Transitioning from ILT to VILT
When you’re converting from a traditional in-person training session to a virtual training session (VILT transition), there are some essential aspects that the team needs to pay close attention to:
- Content Assessment: Take a good, thorough look at the content and ensure it’s just right – not too overwhelming or too little – for the online format. You want to ensure it meets the seamless online learning experience standards. Break the content into manageable portions and adapt it to fit the virtual setting.
- Materials and Support: Consider anything you want to include in the VILT course. Create support materials, guides, and resources to assist facilitators and moderators. These could be engagement support docs, reference materials, checklists, and other formats that jazz up the VILT experience. It wouldn’t hurt to organize a mock webinar for hands-on practice. We developed an onboarding program for an IT consulting and staffing firm that features our AI chatbot, Leyla, to help new hires access learning resources quickly and 24 hours a day in a personalized manner.
- Format and Design: Tailor the course content and materials to fit the virtual tools used. Spice some gamification to make the learning experience more enjoyable and interactive. And don’t forget to make the design scalable so it can work smoothly in different virtual environments.
- Embrace Technology: The secret to a memorable learning experience lies in embracing the technology available. Facilitators ought to maximize the use of virtual tools to craft a captivating and immersive learning environment.
- Thoughtful Activity Planning: Plan your engagement activities strategically so they’re easy for participants to dive into. Get familiar with the features of the virtual tools to execute activities with finesse. Sprinkle interactive options like polls, breakout rooms, annotations, and channel chats to get people involved at various levels. And always encourage participants to share and summarize their learning to spark meaningful interactions.
- Optimize Engagement: Remember that online learning fatigue is real for a successful VILT program. Virtual learners may need more breaks than in-person sessions. Plan engaging activities thoughtfully, schedule periodic breaks, check in with participants, and use simple tech tools like reactions, questions, and polls to boost involvement.
Strategies for Successfully Converting Classroom Training to VILT
According to Skilljar’s 2022 Customer Education Benchmarks and Trends Report, there has been a significant surge in VILT sessions, experiencing a remarkable fivefold increase. The rise in numbers can be credited to the extensive acceptance of remote work and decreased travel. Therefore, emphasizing and prioritizing VILT experiences will remain crucial for education and training.
Converting classroom training to VILT involves a 3-step approach and is as follows:
1. Start by Defining the Project Scope. This includes learning objectives, deliverables, tasks, timelines, and training materials, described below:
- Learning objectives: What do you want learners to be able to do after completing the training?
- Deliverables: What tangible products will be produced due to the training?
- Tasks: What are the specific steps that need to be taken to complete the training?
- Timelines: When will each task be completed?
- Training materials: What resources will be used to deliver the training?
- Virtual training platform: What platform will be used to deliver the training?
- Facilitators: Who will lead the training?
Once you understand the project scope, you can look for a virtual training platform and facilitators. Some popular platforms include Teams, Meet, and Zoom.
2. Content Selection, Review, and Enhancement. Decide which content is best for immediate virtual training and find materials for later stages to use as additional resources. Then, thoroughly evaluate the selected content, whether presented as a PowerPoint or PDF, to ensure it flows well and covers everything necessary. Seek out any areas that might benefit from enhancement or further details. Once the core content is arranged, explore ways to make the learning experience more exciting and effective by adding captivating animations, interactive activities, and other engaging elements.
3. Finalizing and Ensuring Quality of Presentation Content. The design and development phase concludes with the presentation’s content preparation. This encompasses addressing gaps, streamlining activities, enhancing engagement and relevance through content rewrites, incorporating assessments, and creating the ultimate presentation slides. A thorough quality assurance check should also be conducted to ascertain the absence of errors and alignment with the specified objectives.
Tips for Equipping Your Facilitators for Virtual Instructor-led Training
Virtual training is different from in-person training. Instructors have to learn new ways to engage and motivate learners online. They still need their professional training skills, but they also need to upskill in a few areas. Here are five things to focus on:
1. Multitasking: Virtual training sessions demand that instructors multitask effectively. They must present the material, answer questions, and keep track of the chat. It is imperative that they can execute all these tasks with flawless proficiency and efficiency.
2. Technology: Instructors need to be familiar with the virtual training platform and how to use it effectively. They need to possess the capability to identify and resolve issues while ensuring the seamless continuation of the session.
3. Engagement: Keeping learners engaged in a virtual training session is harder than in an in-person session. Instructors need to find creative ways to keep learners interested and involved.
4. Communication: Instructors need to communicate effectively with learners online. They must project their voice, make eye contact, and use body language to connect with learners.
5. Assessment: Instructors need to be able to assess learners’ progress in a virtual training session. They must be able to ask questions, give feedback, and track learners’ progress.
In the age of remote work and digital learning, transitioning from traditional in-person training to VILT requires careful planning. Mastering the VILT transition requires a strategic approach, embracing technology, and employing effective teaching methods. By incorporating these best practices into VILT sessions, instructors can create engaging, interactive, and impactful learning experiences that empower participants to thrive in the digital age.