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 it’s 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.
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. COVID-19 accelerated this shift – 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 an instructor 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.
Benefits of virtual instructor led training
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. Reduced or removed costs for travel and accommodation for presenters. And no venue or catering costs.
- Save time. With reduced travel for presenters, you can save time on delivering face-to-face courses and fit more courses into your catalog.
- Increase course profitability. Aside from the reduced fixed costs of delivering your VILT, you may also choose to increase the price of your course if you’re smart about finding ways to add extra value. Additional benefits could be anything from eLearning modules to forums to resource libraries.
- Flexible. Virtual training enables the ability to learn at a time and place that best suits the learner, and often in much shorter bursts. 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.
- Save time. 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.
- Better knowledge retention. We are seeing promising results in terms of knowledge retention when VILT is paired with video recordings, resource libraries, forums and quizzes to give learners the chance to revisit content and learn at their own pace.
- Inclusive. 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.
Tips for effective virtual training
- Create an engaging environment
Use robust, secure video conferencing software and ensure your internet connection is reliable. Remove, or limit, any distractions from your environment, such as pets, posters and photos in the background (use a virtual back-drop or blurred background if necessary), and loud noises outside. Turn your mobile phone off, and mute any desktop notifications such as emails and calendar reminders. Make sure you’re well presented and professional-looking, and your camera is centered and focused.
- Practice good learning design
Traditionally, a face-to-face course is delivered in half, or full-day increments. That doesn’t work for virtual training, where it’s harder to maintain attention and engagement for long periods of time. It’s also not necessary. One of the key benefits of VILT is that it can be delivered in short, incremental modules. Which make it easier for the learner to fit into their busy schedules, and helps to reduce information overload and increase learning outcomes.
But one of the biggest challenges is adapting a face-to-face course to a VILT course. Chunking down a large course into shorter modules that fit together seamlessly and flow in a logical sequence. Creating content that is suited for online delivery. And creating a VILT course that fosters connection, collaboration and engagement. That’s where a learning designer can help.
Arlo’s learning design team have a combined 25+ years of experience designing and developing successful learning solutions for training businesses of all shapes and sizes. To find out more about the methodology, check out this article on good learning design.
- Foster collaboration
Host Q&A sessions, use polls and breakout rooms and create online forums and resource libraries. By encouraging active audience participation and connection they’ll be more engaged with the subject at hand and have better knowledge retention.
- Get the right technology
We’ll cover software in a minute, but you should also ensure you have the right technology – such as a reliable internet connection, good audio input and speakers, and a good camera and lighting. For more on this, check out these technical tips for hosting a webinar.
- Collate feedback
Seeking feedback from your learners not only gives you an opportunity to review and improve your course, but an opportunity to understand the desired outcomes of your learners so you can cater the course accordingly. Consider sending them a survey prior to the course. This helps you to gauge their level of understanding on a certain topic and ask them what they’d like to learn in the course. This allows you to cater to their specific needs and manage expectations. After the course has finished, collect feedback with a post-course survey. And use the insights to improve your courses in the future.
Software 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 you 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 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.
A good TMS, like Arlo, will integrate with other software. Like an LMS or video conferencing platform for a seamless delivery of training. For example, when you create the webinar in Arlo, Arlo will then use these details to create the Zoom meeting. Including automatically adding presenters and support staff to the webinar. These details will be sent to registrants along with the webinar join link, instructions and details, including the date and time.
Other TMS features include online registration, website, finance and invoicing, reporting and CRM. Check out all of Arlo’s features here.
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.
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.
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.
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.