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Virtual instructor led training benefits and tips for success

Virtual instructor led training and traditional face-to-face training have one thing in common: they both require an instructor to deliver a training session live to a group of participants. But the ideal session length, methods of engagement, software and technology needed to ensure the course is a success differs vastly between the two. 

Virtual instructor led training (VILT) has gained momentum in recent years – bringing together the benefits of both instructor led training and the flexibility of remote, online learning. But for traditional training providers who are used to face-to-face, classroom-based training, adapting to a virtual environment can have its challenges. 

Here we cover the meaning of VILT, its benefits, tips for ensuring your virtual training is a success, and the software you’ll need to deliver it.

What is virtual instructor led training?

Remote training, live online, webinar, virtual training. It’s called many things, but put simply virtual instructor led training is training that’s delivered in a virtual environment rather than in a traditional classroom setting. The training is delivered in real-time by an instructor, just as you would expect in a classroom, but is usually delivered via a video conferencing platform, like Zoom. This method combines the effectiveness of instructor-led training with the convenience and flexibility of remote learning.

Many training providers have moved to this type of training because they can reach a larger, more dispersed audience without the cost of travel or accommodation. Furthermore, it gives learners more convenience and flexibility of where and how they learn. The delivery of this type of training has grown in recent years, driven by the impact of the pandemic, with many having to switch to VILT when face-to-face training was no longer an option.

Now, many are extending this approach to include complementary eLearning elements. Which, when combined with face-to-face and or VILT, is known as blended learning. For learners, this provides more collaboration, discussion, and interactive learning, while catering to a wide range of learning styles. It is also proven to increase learning outcomes and knowledge retention. For training providers, blended learning further increases the value of a course, increases scalability, and further reduces the amount of time a trainer spends teaching.

Virtual training sessions are usually much shorter from 60 minutes to 2 hours max, compared to classroom-based training which can be a full or half day session. The biggest challenges with virtual training lies in keeping students engaged and connected.

Related article: The Ultimate Guide to Instructor-Led Training

What are the differences between VILT and other forms of training?

There are several key differences between virtual instructor led training and other forms of training, here’s a breakdown:

Physical presence vs. virtual presence

Traditional face-to-face training relies upon the physical presence of both the instructor and the learners, enabling direct, immediate personal interaction. This setting allows for an intuitive reading of body language and other non-verbal cues, which enhances the communication process.

Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT), however, takes place in a virtual environment where the instructor and learners are not co-located but interact in real time through video conferencing tools. Adapting to this format requires different engagement techniques to foster a comparable level of interaction and effectiveness.

Cost and logistical differences

Any form of virtual training offers cost-saving benefits compared to traditional classroom training. It removes the necessity for travel and accommodation for both trainers and participants, which can be particularly advantageous for large groups or frequent training sessions.

Also, virtual training doesn’t require physical training facilities, reducing overhead costs related to renting or maintaining a training space.

Comparison with self-paced eLearning

Self-paced eLearning allows learners to access course materials and complete assignments at their own pace without real-time interaction. This format is flexible and convenient but can sometimes lead to lower engagement and motivation.

In contrast, VILT offers real-time interaction, where learners can ask questions, participate in discussions, and receive immediate feedback from instructors. A virtual learning environment mimics the dynamics of a traditional classroom, fostering a more engaging and interactive experience.

Comparison with blended learning

Blended learning combines different learning modalities, including face-to-face instruction, VILT, and self-paced eLearning, to create a comprehensive learning experience. By incorporating different training delivery methods, blended learning caters to diverse learning styles and needs, promoting better knowledge retention and application.

Many training businesses look to adopt a blended approach as their business grows. Training providers can reach a wider audience and scale their programs more effectively by using a mix of online and in-person methods.

Types of virtual instructor led training

Virtual instructor-led training (VILT) can be tailored to meet various educational needs and settings, ranging from individual training sessions to large-scale lectures. The primary types are:

One-on-one training – this personalized format involving trainer and learner is ideal for individualized attention and customized learning paths. It allows trainers to focus solely on one learner’s needs, adapting the pace and content specifically for them.

Small group sessions – small group VILT provides an excellent balance between personal attention and collaborative learning. These sessions typically involve a handful of participants, fostering interaction and discussion while still providing tailored guidance from the trainer.

Webinars – webinars are designed to reach a larger audience and are often used for delivering lectures or presentations online. Participants can interact through Q&A sessions and polls, but the interaction is less intensive than smaller settings.

Lectures – similar to traditional academic lectures, these VILT sessions are geared towards large audiences. The focus is primarily on the dissemination of information rather than interactive participation.

Workshops – these sessions are highly interactive and are designed to engage participants in hands-on activities, discussions, and problem-solving exercises. Workshops in a VILT format often utilize breakout rooms and other collaborative tools to mimic in-person workshop environments.

Design and content requirements for effective VILT programs

Creating effective VILT programs requires thoughtful design and content preparation to ensure that the educational goals are met and the learners remain engaged throughout the process.

Here are key considerations to think about:

Interactive elements – incorporating elements such as quizzes, polls, and interactive discussions can improve student engagement and help leaners absorb the material they’re learning about.

Clear objectives and structure – each VILT session should have clear learning objectives and a structured outline that guides the learners through the content effectively and coherently. These can be clearly outlined at the beginning of a training session.

Quality content – trainers should aim to make sure their content is informative, but engaging and well suited to online delivery. The content should not only be informative but also engaging and suitable for online delivery. Ideas for this includes using multimedia elements like videos, infographics, and animations to

Adaptable and flexible – VILT programs should be designed with flexibility in mind, allowing for adjustments based on learner feedback and the varying needs of participants across sessions.

Technical accessibility – its may seem elementary to point out that a trainer should make sure there are no tech problems before they launch any session, but we all know they can be the bane of any form of virtual training. Trainers should ensure that all participants have access to the necessary technology and that the VILT platform used is user-friendly and reliable, and that technical support and resources are in place to help mitigate any issues that might come up.

Instructors should be well prepared – trainers should be well-prepared not only with the subject matter but also in the delivery methods specific to VILT. This includes training on how to use VILT tools effectively and how to engage an online audience.

What are the benefits of virtual instructor led training?

There are plenty of benefits virtual instructor led training offers, both for training providers and learners:

For training providers:

Reach a larger audience – virtual training enables training providers to deliver their courses with no geographic constraints. Scaling your courses globally means you’re reaching a much larger audience than you would offering local face-to-face courses.

Increase capacity – face-to-face training has restraints in terms of how many students can be in the classroom at once. With no limits on how many students can attend virtual training, you can increase course capacity.

Reduce costs – virtual training removes the need for venue or catering costs

Investing in Virtual Led Training (VILT) courses is a cost-effective way to provide high-quality training courses for employees, ensuring professional development while keeping overall company costs down.

Increase course profitability – aside from the reduced fixed costs, virtual training also gives training providers opportunities to increase profits. Providers can add new modules to existing courses, offer course bundles, special offers and other discounts.

For learners:

Flexibility – Virtual training gives learners the ability to learn at a time and place that best suits them. Face-to-face training would traditionally be delivered in full or half-day sessions. Where virtual training is often delivered in 2-3 hours and spread over multiple sessions.

Time-efficient – Learners often struggle to find time to fit a course into their already busy work and life schedules, let alone travel to a course that is outside of their usual location. VILT gives learners the opportunity to take a course without the stress of added travel, accommodation, and time out of their busy lives.

Learn at their own pace – VILT gives learners the opportunity to revisit course content from a recording if they need more time to absorb or understand a concept. Adding in eLearning modules further caters to different learning styles. By giving learners different ways to absorb material, and at their own pace.

Great for employee training – VILT plays an important role for companies who need to provide crucial company-wide training initiatives, enabling companies to offer training to hundreds or thousands of staff all at once.

What are the disadvantages of virtual instructor led training?

Like with any type of training, there are some disadvantages:

Technology dependence – VILT relies heavily on technology, which means that both instructors and learners must have access to reliable internet and appropriate devices. This dependency can be a barrier for participants who do not have consistent access to high-quality internet connections or the latest hardware.

Engagement and interaction challenges – maintaining learner engagement in a virtual environment i often more challenging than in face-to-face sessions. Without the physical presence of an instructor, participants may feel less compelled to stay focused or may find it easier to become distracted. The lack of physical cues and presence can also make it harder for instructors to gauge participants’ understanding and engagement level in real time.

Limited hands-on practice – for subjects that require practical, hands-on learning experiences, VILT can be limiting. While virtual simulations and remote setups can offer some alternatives, they might not fully replicate the nuances of a physical, hands-on experience. This limitation can be particularly noticeable for training programs in fields such as healthcare, engineering, or other technical disciplines where skills are learned through practical instruction.

What do successful virtual instructor led training sessions have in common?

Strong technology infrastructure:

Reliable internet – any successful VILT session requires a stable and fast internet connection to facilitate uninterrupted streaming and interaction.

Video conferencing tools – high-quality video conferencing tools are crucial for clear audio and video transmission, which help in mimicking the in-person classroom experience as closely as possible. Platforms such as Zoom are great for this.

Interactive software – the use of robust interactive software that supports various features like screen sharing, virtual whiteboards, and real-time file sharing improves the interactivity of the session.

Engaging content:

Visually appealing – content that is visually attractive keeps participants interested and aids in better retention of information.

Interactive – content should encourage interaction among participants through embedded questions, scenarios, or problem-solving activities.

Well-structure – a well-organized content structure helps learners follow the flow of the course easily and understand the learning objectives more clearly.

Skilled instructors:

Proficiency in online communication – instructors need to be adept at communicating effectively over digital platforms, which includes maintaining clarity, pacing, and engagement through a screen.

Engagement techniques – instructors should be skilled in using various online engagement techniques such as storytelling, humor, and questioning to keep the session lively and engaging.

Interactive elements:

Polls and Q&A sessions – these tools help in making the sessions interactive and allow for real-time engagement and feedback.

Breakout rooms – small group activities in breakout rooms can facilitate peer interaction and deeper learning.

Collaborative tools – utilizing collaborative tools enables participants to work together, fostering a sense of community and teamwork.

Virtual classroom features:

Breakout rooms – for group discussions and activities that simulate smaller classroom interactions.

Gamification – incorporating elements of games, such as point scoring, competition, or rules of play, to increase engagement and learning motivation.

Assessments – regular use of formative assessments helps in gauging the participants’ understanding and retention of the material taught.

Continuous Improvement:

Regular feedback collection – gathering feedback from participants regarding their learning experience to identify strengths and areas for improvement.

Course adjustments – using the feedback to make necessary adjustments in the course design, content, delivery methods, or instructional techniques to enhance the effectiveness of future sessions.

How to design a virtual instructor led training session (Step by step guide)

There’s a lot that goes into designing virtual instructor led training programmes and individual sessions, and while we can’t cover everything involved, there are a few key steps that are worth being aware of:

Step 1: Define learning objectives

Start by clearly defining what you want participants to learn by the end of the session. Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Step 2: Select appropriate technology

Choose reliable video conferencing and interactive tools that are robust and user-friendly. Ensure these tools support features like screen sharing, virtual hand-raising, and real-time polling. Consider also the accessibility and compatibility of these tools across various devices that participants might use.

Step 3: Develop engaging content

Design content that is visually engaging to keep the audience interested. You can incorporate multimedia elements such as videos, infographics, and animations to break the monotony of text-heavy presentations. Also try embedding interactive elements within the content, including clickable tabs, embedded questions, or interactive scenarios that participants can explore during the session.

Step 4: Plan the session structure

Organize the content into structured segments that are easy to follow. Each segment should cover a specific topic or objective and should ideally be digestible within a set timeframe. This helps in maintaining the participants’ attention and facilitates better content retention.

Step 5: Prepare for interaction

Plan to use techniques like polls, Q&A sessions, and breakout rooms to foster interaction. These elements make the learning experience more engaging and allow for real-time feedback and participation.

Step 6: Test the technology and content

Before the actual session, conduct tests on all the technological equipment and the content. This includes checking internet connectivity, audio-visual quality, and the functionality of interactive tools. Testing helps identify and mitigate potential issues that could disrupt the training session.

Step 7: Collect and implement feedback

After the session, collect feedback from participants through surveys, asking about their learning experience, the effectiveness of the content, and the technology used. Use the feedback to make necessary adjustments in future sessions. This might involve tweaking the content for better clarity, upgrading technology for smoother delivery, or modifying interaction techniques to improve engagement.

Software you’ll need for virtual instructor led training

Video conferencing (webinar) tools

Video conferencing software is essential for delivering virtual instructor led training. Zoom, as you probably are aware, is one of the leading video conferencing tools on the market. It allows people to connect virtually from anywhere, across any device. This lends itself to running webinars and hosting online training perfectly for training providers. It’s super easy to use and you can get going in minutes. 

It also comes with a tonne of features to help foster collaboration and increase engagement. Ask learners for a simple yes/no response in a poll or post a survey and view the results live. Emulate classroom breakout sessions in a live online environment. Allow small groups of participants to work on a topic, then pull everyone together and share the results. 

To find out more, check out the complete guide to Zoom for training providers.

Interactive whiteboard

Interactive whiteboards are becoming increasingly popular in VILT sessions. This is due to their ability to increase collaboration and facilitate active participation – helping to overcome arguably the biggest hurdle of VILT. Tools like Miro can be used for anything from a basic whiteboard for taking notes. Annotating content, sharing ideas, brainstorming and planning. To design with fellow participants during group discussions or assignments.

Learning Management System (LMS)

eLearning modules can add value to your virtual training by extending it to become a blended learning course. An LMS allows you to create eLearning modules that people can complete in their own time, online, from anywhere. These include quizzes, on-demand video, SCORM modules, forums and online activities. You can record scores, view results and track completion rates.

Training Management System (TMS)

Are you running a large number of courses? Perhaps with a high number of registrations, multi-session, public and private? Virtual instructor led, face to face, or a mixture of all of the above? Then a training management system is essential to simplify the running of your business. A training management system will automate processes and remove the need for many disjointed and manual systems. Move away from excel sheets, web forms, manual invoicing and more, to one unified system for course management. You can also check our insights on some of the top training management systems available for more information.

Final thoughts

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into virtual instructor led training, but its a very effective type of training when its carried out correctly, and can offer great benefits to trainers and learners alike.


What is Virtual instructor led training?

Virtual instructor led training is training that’s delivered in a virtual environment rather than in a traditional classroom setting. The training is delivered in real-time by an instructor, just as you would expect in a classroom, but is usually delivered via a video conferencing platform, like Zoom.

What are the benefits of Virtual instructor led training?

For training companies, VILT can increase profitability and scalability while reducing costs and time. For learners, virtual training has been proven to increase knowledge retention and learning outcomes, whilst providing a more flexible and inclusive way of learning.

What is the difference between VILT and ILT?

Instructor led training (ILT) is traditional training in a face-to-face, classroom, environment. Virtual instructor led training (VILT) is delivering training online, via a Zoom webinar for example.

What software is needed for virtual instructor led training?

A robust, secure and reliable video conferencing platform, like Zoom, is required for delivering virtual instructor led training. If you intend to add eLearning modules, then you’ll need an LMS. If you have a large number of courses and registrations then a training management system will help you to save time by automating many of your course management processes.

Want to learn more?

Check out the Ultimate Guide to Virtual Training.

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