“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin
Given the current global COVID-19 lockdown – with businesses closed, staff working reduced hours, or sadly laid off altogether – learning new skills is a priority for many people right now.
While some may be keen to upskill and add new strings to their proverbial bows, others may be more focused on getting a qualification. 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, the way in which they learn matters a great deal. In short, delivery counts. And where offline education isn’t possible, given that classroom settings are off-limits for now, more and more people are turning to online education providers.
These include MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses: available via platforms such as Udemy, TedX, Coursera, and FutureLearn); eLearning 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’ setting and traditional method of delivery. They also provide broader scope for collaboration, discussion, and interactive learning too.
Let’s see how this type of learning 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 digital functionality, VILT programs are, at their core, live learning sessions. They’re delivered in real-time by an instructor who connects with trainees remotely, via a technology platform: primarily a video conferencing tool with a whole host of additional features, such as a corporate LMS.
This allows lessons 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 clear.
Remotely Accessible Anytime, Anywhere
With VILT programs, training can be delivered to anyone, anywhere – and accessed at any time, as long as sessions are recorded for posterity!
While this isn’t unique to VILT programs per se, it is an important aspect of their growing popularity, particularly when the structure they follow is relevant to a specific learning need. For example, consider a large international company needs to roll out a new cloud-based software system: to 5,000 people across 10 international 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 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 learning. Depending on who you speak to (!), many 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 give learners the opportunity 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, teaching staff also have a variety of digital content elements they can use to make the learning experience more interactive. 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 types of digital or real-world education – including MOOCs, eLearning, and other forms of training.
Creating 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 training and development needs and budgets.
Here are some of the main considerations to keep in mind when reviewing what Virtual Instructor-Led Training programs have to offer.
Organizational & Learner Considerations
Every education initiative has to start 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 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 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 videoconferencing functionality and the ability to share documents and online resources, VILT programs offer a whole host additional tools. Chat windows and virtual breakout rooms give learners the opportunity to work in smaller groups for more focused work, to compare notes, and to discuss topics. Features such as interactive whiteboards and annotation tools are ideal for highlighting particular ideas – whilst helping learners engage with the topic at hand.
Perhaps, most crucial of all, aside from having the right delivery platform, 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 be able to encourage learners to make best use of it.
While training tutors on how to use a VILT platform is simple enough, what’s more important is that they feel confident enough to take the lead in a classroom setting and can listen and respond to feedback and ideas. After all, VILT learning is no different to in-person teaching in that respect.
This is also why those delivering training need both knowledgeable about the subject matter
and the syllabus itself. They should also be objective and outcome-driven – to ensure learners make the progress needed.
What We Offer
As the COVID lockdown lifts, 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 make sure that employees are given every opportunity to develop skills, and both 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 – in the New Normal and beyond.
Here at Raven360, we offer a full range of employee and customer-focused training and development programs – including Virtual Instructor-Led Training programs. Like our eLearning and LMS 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. To find out more, contact us on 1-508-786-0500.