“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin
If global COVID-19 lockdown with businesses closed, staff working reduced hours, or laid off taught us anything, it’s that learning new skills should be a priority for a lot of people. While some may be keen to upskill, become more tech-savvy, or add new strings to their proverbial bows, others may be more focused on getting a new certificate. Some might just want to get their head into something entirely different – a new language, an alternative profession, or a subject they’ve wanted to explore for a while.
In all cases, how they learn matters a great deal. In short, delivery counts. And where offline education isn’t possible, given that traditional classroom training is off-limits for now, more and more people are turning to the virtual environment and online education providers. These include MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses: available via platforms such as Udemy, TedX, Coursera, and FutureLearn); online learning modules (which, like most self-directed learning, can be a solitary endeavor); and Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) programs.
VILT programs don’t simply recreate the ‘instructional’ traditional classroom setting and method of delivery. They also engage learners by providing broader scope for collaboration, discussion, and interactive learning.
Let’s see how this virtual environment works and how it continues to evolve – for both learning institutions and corporate training and development.
What is Virtual Instructor-Led Training?
Offering the perfect fusion of in-person learning and online training sessions, VILT programs are, at their core, live learning sessions. They’re delivered in real-time by an instructor who connects with participants remotely, via eLearning tools or technology platform: primarily a video conferencing tool with a whole host of additional features, such as a corporate learning management system (LMS).
This allows virtual training sessions to be recorded and played back by learners as they’re needed – to help with assignments and other associated tasks. But look more closely at this type of training, and a whole host of other benefits quickly become apparent.
Benefits of Virtual Instructor-Led Training
Remotely Accessible Anytime, Anywhere
With the VILT program, a training session can be delivered to anyone, anywhere – and accessed anytime, as long as the session is recorded for posterity! While this isn’t unique to VILT programs per se, it is an important aspect of their growing popularity, mainly when the structure they follow is relevant to a specific learning need.
For example, consider a large international company that needs to roll out a new cloud-based software system to 5,000 people across ten global offices. Engagement is critical. While the easiest way to ensure employees familiarize themselves with the new system is to send an email, create a video, or even devise an eLearning module that they can complete “when they have the time,” a more effective way to ensure the skills gap is bridged is to use a VILT program.
Caters To Different Learning Styles
Although VILT learning can be both generic in scope or highly tailored to specific needs, the functionality many platforms provide is better set up to cater to multiple types of virtual training. Depending on who you speak to (!), some education practitioners have long posited that there are three main learning styles: visual (watching), auditory (listening), and kinesthetic (doing).
In practice, VILT programs enable all of these. Live and recorded classroom sessions and instructor-led training allow learners to engage by watching, listening, asking questions and making notes – while a whole suite of digital tools provide them with opportunities to interact on a one-to-one or one-to-many basis (see ‘Delivery In Practice’ for more info below).
Blended Learning Is Key To Success
In addition, the virtual instructor also has a variety of digital content elements they can use to make the learning experience more interactive and learners engaged. These include things like surveys, polls, and quizzes. They can also share graphs, videos, and other resources easily – and at scale – to all students at once.
VILT’s success is, without a doubt, a result of its ability to blend different elements of human-centered and technology-based learning – interaction plus instruction. It can also be used in conjunction with other digital or real-world education types, including MOOCs, eLearning, and other forms of training.
Designing & Implementing a Virtual Instructor-Led Training Program
It’s not just mainstream learning providers offering Virtual Instructor-Led Training as a mode of education. Increasingly businesses are also exploring VILT programs as part of their employee, partner, and customer training initiatives – both large and small companies are championing them, including software giant Microsoft.
For those starting from scratch, simply researching the VILT program market is a step in the right direction. There are lots of providers out there offering a variety of different services. However, for companies with legacy eLearning software commitments, transitioning to a VILT program may mean reviewing current virtual training and development needs and budgets. Here are some of the primary considerations to keep in mind when reviewing what Virtual Instructor-Led Training programs have to offer.
Organizational & Learner Considerations
Every education initiative starts with the learner’s needs – whether they’re C-suite execs, graduate interns, or software developers. Their needs have to come first. And if it seems as though a VILT platform will provide the right level of engagement and interaction needed to deliver virtual instructor-led training effectively, then it’s a no-brainer.
However, the decision to use a VILT platform also needs to fit with an organization’s learning and development strategy. Any potential investment also needs to sync with budgets, existing software/hardware and must deliver a decent return on investment.
For example, if a business already has a corporate LMS in place, will a VILT platform be added on top of the existing technology? Will users be open to using yet another virtual training and development solution? Will it provide the functionality needed for a range of education-based initiatives? Can other departments in the business make use of it for related schemes – such as customer onboarding or sales training? Is the solution scalable – or does it only allow for a certain number of users at any one time?
Ultimately, deciding to adopt a Virtual Instructor-Led Training platform means carefully considering whether it actually supports your needs, aims, and objectives: from both strategic and practical perspectives.
Delivery In Practice
In terms of more hands-on, practical considerations, the learning and development tools offered by VILT programs are a fusion of different elements – all designed to enhance the learning experience. As well as straightforward video conferencing functionality and the ability to share documents and online resources, VILT programs offer a whole host of additional tools.
Chat windows and virtual breakout rooms allow learners to work in smaller groups for more focused work, compare notes, and discuss topics. Features such as interactive whiteboards and annotation tools are ideal for highlighting particular ideas – while helping learners engage with the issue at hand. Perhaps, aside from having the right delivery platform, the most crucial is the need for a skilled tutor. A teacher or virtual classroom facilitator is essential.
However, as well as being adept at navigating the VILT platform itself, they need to encourage learners to make the best use of it. While training tutors on using a VILT platform is simple enough, what’s more important is that they feel confident enough to take the lead in a virtual classroom setting and can listen and respond to feedback and ideas. After all, VILT learning is no different from face-to-face teaching in that respect.
This is also why those delivering virtual trainings need knowledge about the subject matter and the syllabus itself. They should also be objective and outcome-driven – to ensure learners make the progress required.
Virtual Instructor-Led Training Software From Raven360
Nowadays, more and more full-time employees, as well as freelancers and contractors, are keen to maintain remote working as a regular practice. With workforces more decentralized, companies will need to do more to ensure their teams continue to be engaged and accessible.
This applies to training and development as much as it does to other areas of business operations. In fact, where education’s concerned, engagement matters even more – in efforts to ensure that employees are given every opportunity to develop skills and participate and interact with new training initiatives, regardless of where they are.
User-friendliness, low-effort accessibility, and room for maneuver are half the battle in any learning program. But given that Virtual Instructor-Led Training programs offer all of these and more, they could well be adopted by companies of all kinds to deliver education.
Here at Raven360, we offer a robust learning platform for customer-focused training and development programs – including Virtual Instructor-Led Training programs. Like our eLearning and learning management system solutions, VILT programs can be tailored to individual user needs at scale – helping learning and HR professionals deliver a consistent, on-brand education experience to their growing teams: anywhere in the world. Don’t hesitate to get in touch or schedule a free demo to find out more!