How to convince your learners to learn with virtual training

An image of wooden blocks spelling 'LEARN' which representing convincing your colleagues to learn with virtual training.

Virtual Training, or VILT (Virtual Instructor-Led Training) is on the rise with 86% of organisations either using VILT or intending to use it soon. This is according to the Association of Talent Development (ATD) State of the Industry Report 2017. VILT offers all the benefits of face-to-face (F2F) classroom training with learners logging into a virtual classroom from around the globe to learn together with their virtual coach. Maybe you’re getting started with using virtual training to educate your workforce ,or are already in the process of making the move. With this in mind, are your colleagues also ready to embrace this change and learn with virtual training?

When you build belief in the merits of VILT, learners are much more likely to approach workshops with an open mind and positive outlook helping to create learning transfer success and cost savings.

To help motivate learners, you can make use of the ‘Five key change sentiments model’ explored in multiple studies over 30 years by Dr Achilles Armenakis, professor at Auburn University, USA. Dr Amenakis helps us understand the concerns individuals may have about an organisational change and how to create belief sets that overcome them.

5 beliefs to address to convince your colleagues to learn with virtual training

To create buy-in for change Armenakis proposes that there are 5 beliefs that need to be addressed. These (with updated language) are as follows:

  1. A belief that a change is needed.
  2. A belief that VILT is the appropriate solution.
  3. A belief that VILT workshops will work and be successful.
  4. A belief that appropriate support will be provided.
  5. A belief that VILT will be advantageous to me as an individual.

If you find that some of your colleagues are not 100% convinced of VILT, it is likely that one or more of these 5 beliefs are unmet.

Let’s consider each of the beliefs below in more detail below and how you would facilitate them for your work colleagues.

1. A belief that the change is needed

When we have a clear belief that a change is required, then we are more likely to move from the status quo. If we see VILT as a passing fad rather than addressing a need that your organisation has, we are less likely to buy in to it.

What is the need for change in your organisation? Are you prioritising wellbeing, reducing costs, going more digital? Be clear on a need that your organisation has that VILT can help to address and share this with your colleagues.

2. A belief that VILT is an appropriate solution

If it’s clear that change is needed, the next step is to convince our colleagues that VILT is the answer (or part of it) and it will help to meet that need effectively.

It is helpful here to present a balanced, researched account of how you concluded that VILT will help address the change needed. It is likely that you will be introducing more VILT and less F2F, or a blended approach, rather than removing F2F altogether. You may choose to share:

  • The pros and cons of the different solutions you researched.
  • Situations of how you intend to incorporate VILT with examples of how it will help to meet change objectives, i.e. how it will help to reduce costs, increase inclusivity etc, depending on your organisational priorities.
  • A presentation of the benefits that VILT can bring to your organisation.

3. A belief that VILT workshops will work and be successful

This step focuses on convincing our learners that VILT will work in delivering results such as learning transfer, learner satisfaction, cost reductions etc.

The following are ways to help convince others of the merits of VILT approaches:

  • Offer to demonstrate a VILT workshop for them (using a skilled VILT trainer).
  • Show that the platform you have chosen for your VILT has been tested and approved by your Tech Department.
  • Share case studies from other organisations that demonstrate the power of VILT.
  • Use feedback and results from an internal pilot to show you have tested VILT in your environment with your colleagues.

4. A belief that appropriate support will be provided

With change there is often concern for individuals that they might fail, or struggle with the new way of doing things. Reassuring your colleagues that the right support will be in place to ensure they are able to thrive in a VILT environment is important to build confidence in this new way. These 3 approaches may assist:

  • Share how your internal trainers have been up-skilled to design and deliver in the virtual world.
  • Explain that there will be somebody on hand to help them log in and deal with any tech issues.
  • Provide guidance on how to learn in the VILT workshops, along with FAQs and helplines available.

5. A belief that VILT will be advantageous to me as an individual

Now we are addressing concerns at an individual level, so the questions and challenges received will vary due to individual situations and personalities.

Be empathetic – VILT might be familiar and attractive to you but for many it may be the first time they are being asked to learn virtually and online.

You might choose to address their concerns with some of the following reassurances:

  • Bringing VILT into the L&D offering doesn’t mean losing F2F altogether. There will be some blended learning still, and other opportunities to network at head office.
  • VILT often allows interaction with an even broader group of people as it is more accessible to colleagues across different regions and countries.
  • A personal benefit for many is the ability to enjoy VILT from their local office or even home, taking away unnecessary travel and time away from colleagues and family.

Final Thoughts

The recommended approach to convince your colleagues to learn with virtual training is to build belief around all 5 key change sentiments. Do the ‘belief’ work upfront and success may become a whole lot easier.

Bring people along with you. Include them early. Communicate openly. Listen empathetically. Show your belief in them.

Good luck.

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