“Can you all see my screen?”
“Sorry about this, I’m still trying to figure out how to unmute myself.”
These are all common messages during online presentations and virtual instructor-led training sessions. And while, more or less, we’re all used to them, they can still cause distractions and turn learners off. But it’s not impossible to deliver a great instructor-led training session online. Its success lies in good preparation.
With organizations turning to remote work, and making it the new norm, virtual instructor-led training (VILT) has gained great popularity. In fact, there has been a 8.6% increase in web traffic on Training Industry’s website in 2020, with an 8,135% increase in topics related to remote learning, and virtual instructor-led training (VILT). More and more businesses are switching to online training rather than choosing traditional classroom training.
But online instructor-led training comes with its challenges, as trainers must always be on the lookout for generating and retaining the learners’ attention, curiosity, and interest. Let’s see step-by-step how your L&D team and instructional designers can deliver fascinating VILT sessions for your learners.
Classroom training vs. Online training
First, we need to examine the main differences between online and in-person training. The concept is actually similar, but online training offers some benefits worth discussing. Also, there are key factors you need to consider if you want to succeed when hosting virtual instructor-led training sessions.
The first difference between VILT and in-person training is the perception that human interaction is lacking during online training. However, this perception is not completely right. VILT sessions actually lack physical interaction, but there’s still human interaction.
In classrooms, physical interaction is present between teachers and learners, while in VILT, the learning process happens in a virtual environment. Human interaction is still present, as learning happens during lectures, virtual discussions, workshops, conferences, etc.
Learning material availability
In traditional classroom training, learners have to attend the physical location in order to have a discussion with the trainers, only during their available hours. On the contrary, during online courses, learners have 24/7 access to the training content. This may vary from online sessions, assignments, discussion boards, podcasts, video sessions, etc.
One of the biggest differences between traditional training and virtual instructor-led training is accessibility. Classroom training demands physical presence in a physical location at a specific time. VILT can happen anywhere, no matter the time zone or location, so even the busiest people can attend the session from the comfort of their own home, from any place in the world. Thus, it’s no longer necessary to travel long hours or spend money on transportation to attend a lecture or a conference.
Even if the benefits of online training seem to outweigh the perks of classroom training, it’s essential to understand that VILT must be carefully planned and conducted so that it’s successful. All of these advantages it has to offer can disappear if learners are not engaged, the connection is not stable, o the instructor hasn’t received proper training in advance.
Running an effective ILT session online
Are you looking for tips and tricks to boost your already-set virtual instructor-led training sessions? Are you thinking of investing in online instructor-led training for your business? Is it the right time for you to take the leap to the virtual world for good and cut costs and enhance engagement levels? Below we have collected everything you need to know on how to run a successful ILT session online.
Convert the content to match the virtual environment
You can’t just throw a PowerPoint presentation into the VILT session and expect that it grabs learners’ attention. Learners need a variety of formats, like worksheets, PDFs, videos, presentations, and quizzes, which will enhance the overall learning experience and keep them engaged. You can always convert traditional collaborative tasks (discussions, Q&As, debates) to virtual sessions in your online instructor-led training. Learners will have the chance to do some teamwork and bond with each other.
Of course, you need to examine your target audience’s needs and preferences, the learning environment, and the type of content you need to deliver first. For instance, millennials will be amazed to see memes appearing in their VILT material, but boomers will never engage with this. They need a different approach to the format. PDFs, charts, and infographics might work better for this audience.
Focus on delivery by using the right tools
Conducting seamless virtual instructor-led sessions is essential for both your trainers and learners. A hassle-free delivery of the content elevates the learning experience and makes training stick. Trainers don’t lose focus from sharing the learning material the way they intend, and there are no interruptions to the flow of the course. Learners continue being fully engaged and devoted to what they are learning.
As your challenge is to keep the liveliness of the traditional training which happens in the classroom, what will help you is the right LMS that can host VILT sessions with any type of content and integrated video conferencing platforms. You also need your LMS to have progress metrics functionalities, user management options for instructors, and mobile compatibility. Make sure the conferencing platforms include screensharing options, whiteboarding, and chatboards, too.
Trainers should be fully prepared for virtual instructor-led training
Instructors have to make sure that their virtual instructor-led training sessions are as much effective as possible. As we mentioned, the right delivery tools are important, but how they treat the content and the overall training experience needs careful consideration. Here are some tips trainers can follow:
- Know your platform well before the session: After you pick the right platform to host your VILT, you need to master it before the session starts and not after. Spend some time getting to know it well, and record yourself to see how you look to the learners and adjust your background and sound. Get accustomed to the actions you need to take while hosting the session, like how to share your screen, and make sure you have a stable internet connection.
- Design content for the VILT: It’s no use just copying the training material you would use in a classroom and then transferring it to the virtual environment. Online instructor-led training gives you a handful of options to create super engaging sessions by leveraging the right type of content for this purpose. So, organize your lessons and make them more digestible. Design interactive exercises that put learners into the thinking mode and not just into passive listening. Scenario-based videos, whiteboard animations, and infographics are some ideas you could implement into VILT.
Keep trainees engaged
After you’ve prepared yourself for the upcoming virtual instructor-led training sessions, it’s time to think about keeping your learners engaged throughout the session. Let’s see how you can do that.
- Encourage active participation and feedback: Kindly ask your learners to switch on their cameras, as it makes the session more lively, plan breaks so they know when it’s time for them to relax, and implement gamification whenever possible to keep them engaged and interested via healthy competition. Also, it’s important that you have already prepared a post-training feedback form which will give you valuable insights into what you can change to fit their needs. Then, let them know from day 1 that you expect them to provide feedback so that they keep an eye out for areas of improvement throughout the training session.
- Provide certifications and awards: There’s nothing better than acknowledging the efforts of your learners! Everyone feels extra confident while learning when they know that at the end of the session they will receive a certificate or a completion award. You can provide them after they successfully complete their assignment, or right after the VILT ends. Either way, this will keep them engaged and willing to participate actively. Then, they can share their certificates on Linkedin or other social media platforms. Chances are they will be willing to participate in the next VILT sessions you might host in the future, too.
Leveraging VILT the right way until the end
Online instructor-led sessions can bring lots of benefits to your business. All you need to do is carefully plan it from the beginning so that it’s effective and brings the results you expect. Keep in mind that a successful VILT session doesn’t end when participants sign off.
It’s necessary to share useful resources to reinforce learning, besides designing them to fit the virtual environment. It doesn’t matter how cool your material looks if it’s not suitable for your learners’ needs. SMEs can collaborate with instructional designers in this process if necessary.
Last but not least, don’t underestimate the power of collecting feedback. It’s never a waste of time, as you can gather valuable insights that will help improve future sessions and make both trainees and trainers more content with the overall experience.
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