- Definition of virtual instructor-led training (VILT)
- What is virtual instructor-led training (VILT)?
- The 6 benefits of virtual instructor-led training (VILT)
- Virtual instructor-led training vs. instructor-led training
- How can virtual instructor-led training (VILT) be used to its best advantage?
- 12 top tips for virtual instructor-led training (VILT)
- What are the 4 best platforms for virtual instructor-led training (VILT)?
- 8 steps to designing virtual instructor-led training (VILT)
Definition of virtual instructor-led training (VILT)
Virtual instructor-led training or VILT is a training method in which a virtual environment is used by a trainer/coach to explain, discuss, demonstrate and help participants learn.
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What is virtual instructor-led training (VILT)?
Virtual instructor-led training (VILT) takes the fundamentals of face-to-face (F2F) training and replicates the experience online and live.
- The instructor and participants log into a chosen virtual training (VILT) platform (such as Microsoft teams or Zoom) from different locations.
- The workshop is run live with all learners participating at the same time.
- Virtual workshops are interactive. Everyone joins in on discussions, shares experience, practises conversations and asks questions. They may choose to use a webcam. Quality VILT workshops should be a conversation and not a presentation.
- Virtual workshops are usually bite-size, 60-180 minutes.
- Groups of up to 12 participants are typical for a VILT workshop, keeping the sessions small and personal.
- VILT can be combined with F2F training and other approaches, like e-learning or webinars, to create a blended learning programme.
The 6 benefits of virtual instructor-led training (VILT)
The VILT approach offers a wide range of benefits, that physical classroom training cannot match, such as:
- Enhanced flexibility
- Bite-sized learning
- Accessibility for all
- More inclusivity
- Cost effective
We’ll explore each of these benefits in detail below:
1. Enhanced flexibility
65% of employees say that meetings prevent them from completing their own work. However with VILT, the ability to join training sessions easily and quickly with no commute and no need to attend a physical venue is a great advantage. Running virtual learning workshops allows learners to return to their daily duties with minimal disruption to their working day, with meetings slotting easily into calendars.
2. Bite-sized learning
Most virtual training programmes deliver their learning material in bite-size chunks. The lack of travel and preparation time results in an ability to train more regularly yet for shorter periods of time. This streamlined approach creates a more effective learning environment, with more time in between workshops to digest information, models and approaches learned.
3. Accessibility for all
Training in virtual classrooms allows much greater accessibility for all employees, due to having no physical, centralised location where the training takes place. Participants who may have struggled to attend a traditional co-located workshop are now easily able to attend as anyone with access to a computer and internet connection can take part. This leads to a much more diverse virtual classroom, creating rich, varied conversation which invariably is massively effective, and developing insight and a deeper understanding of key issues.
4. More inclusivity
People learn in different ways. The virtual classroom fosters an enhanced capability to facilitate and cater for the needs of many, by offering a myriad of ways in which to learn. Vocally, visually, by using colours or video in presentations, the only limit is time and the facilitator’s imagination. This inclusivity means that the sessions really can be adapted to suit how the learners work best, meaning knowledge gained from the sessions is retained long term.
The virtual setting may feel like a much safer environment in which to contribute, meaning that many employees who might have been previously daunted by the large meeting room now feel able to speak up, fostering more creative and innovative ideas coming from the meeting. According to the 2021 state of remote work report, 66% of those surveyed said remote meetings make participation more equal, and that the meetings were more inclusive.
Furthermore, those colleagues sited in remote locations get equal access to the opportunities for development as do those at HQ.
5. Cost effective
Once the travel, venue costs, accommodation, and the productivity loss caused by time away from work are removed, training can become much more budget-friendly when undertaken virtually. It renders many of the additional costs associated with providing organisational training obsolete. In fact, companies can save between $9,950-$15,870 by moving just one course from a classroom to VILT.
Virtual training is easily integrated into the working day and does not require any travel. This means that participants can apply the skills learned during a virtual workshop immediately into their working environment.
Virtual programmes are often delivered through numerous bite-sized workshops which allows participants to practise working on a set number of the tools and techniques before they move on.
This way of learning improves retention and provides an on-the-job application that improves outcomes for learners.
Virtual instructor-led training vs. instructor-led training
Virtual instructor-led training (VILT) and instructor-led training (ILT) both deploy training techniques to deliver learning transfer to a cohort of participants — but where do they differ?
VILT takes place ‘live’ entirely online, using a platform, such as Microsoft teams or Zoom, and allows participants to take part regardless of location, in an office, remotely or nowadays when working from home.
ILT is traditionally conducted in a physical classroom, meeting room or conference space, often with participants who have travelled to a central location in order to attend.
VILT offers major benefits compared to ILT, such as being more cost effective, more accessible and genuinely inclusive for a wider selection of participants.
How can virtual instructor-led training (VILT) be used to its best advantage?
Here are 5 tips to get the best out of your virtual instructor-led training (VILT):
- Have participants turn on their webcams.
- Build rapport and trust through real conversation and information sharing.
- Get expert on the technology before running virtual deliveries on it.
- Encourage the minimisation of distractions.
- Be engaging and interactive to uplift participant focus.
We’ll explore each of these tips in greater detail below:
1. Have participants turn on their webcams.
Creating visual contact is important, allowing facilitators to better connect with their learners. Body language and facial expressions are an essential part of communication and when available through the virtual medium enhance the experience and understanding for all attending.
2. Build rapport and trust through real conversation and information sharing.
Getting to know participants is key for facilitators especially in a VILT setting. As well as being an icebreaker, it allows the facilitator to really get to know their learners and tweak their delivery style to suit them. In order to develop this relationship, facilitators need to allow time for introductions at the beginning of a workshop. Ensuring the trainer is friendly, personable and authentic really adds to outcomes for participants.
3. Get expert on the technology before running virtual deliveries on it.
Trainers who are fully versed in their platforms are better equipped to deal with occasional technical hiccups and can prevent them from occurring altogether in some cases. By understanding the technology, they really have all the power at their fingertips, and can harness all it’s advantages to ensure their training is the best it can be.
4. Encourage the minimisation of distractions.
Encouraging participants to focus their concentration by choosing a dedicated work space in which to log in, putting other devices on silent and using techniques that create engagement and immersion in the learning from the get-go will enhance their learning experience.
5. Be engaging and interactive to uplift participant focus.
Designing interesting and involving content will go a long way to keeping participants on task and enhancing the learning transfer.
12 top tips for virtual instructor-led training (VILT)
Here are our 12 tips for VILT:
- One device per person.
- Breaks in long sessions.
- Audio is key.
- Foster inclusivity.
- Keep an eye on the time.
- Polling and voting.
- Ask for feedback.
- Make eye contact.
- What do the participants see?
- Keep a learner log.
- Bring personality.
We’ll explore each of these tips in more detail below:
1. One device per person
Virtual training works much better when it is attended by one participant per device. This minimises distractions, and ensures each participant contributes equally.
2. Breaks in long sessions
For longer sessions, it is worth scheduling in regular breaks, allowing participants to grab a drink or just stretch their legs for a moment. They then return refreshed, with their concentration levels restored.
3. Audio is key
Audio is integral to the success of a virtual workshop, as it is the main tool of communication. Participants should be encouraged to manage their mute, if for example they are dealing with excessive background noise, or feedback.
4. Foster inclusivity
By making sure that whole group discussions are a part of the workshop, engagement is immediately boosted. Some of the best conversations happen when a wider array of people are involved. Keep a log of participants’ contributions and encourage equal and regular inputs to prevent over or under contributing.
5. Keep an eye on the time
We have noticed that everything seems to take longer in the virtual setting. Factoring in extra time for breakout groups, tasks or small group conversations breaks up the time and keeps participants engaged.
Want some extra time tips? Watch our short video — learn 3 different time tips to make your virtual workshop brilliant — for some helpful tips for managing time during a virtual workshop.
6. Polling and voting
This is a great function to give participants the opportunity to contribute to discussions or display their understanding with the poll function — it is a great way to break up long dialogues and keep participants on their toes.
This one always goes without saying, but practice is key. The practice trainers get, the smoother the delivery experience will be.
8. Ask for feedback
It is important to ask for feedback on the sessions, especially when first starting out, which can help to identify the areas of the workshop that are working well and those needing improvement.
9. Make eye contact
Ensuring the facilitator is looking directly into the camera gives participants the feeling of true eye contact with and can help to increase connectivity and communication.
Check out our blog on how to rock using your camera?
10. What do the participants see?
It can be worthwhile to test the set-up and practice the delivery with a second device prior to the actual live learning session. This allows trainers to see what the participants see, as their screen and set up can be different. In order to facilitate a smooth experience, it can be helpful to know how their screen may be displayed.
11. Keep a learner log
For many virtual trainers, a learner log is a golden tool. It helps trainers to remember key pieces of information about participants, from how engaged they have been, to details about them that will help them to encourage and tailor their learning on an ongoing basis.
Investigate how to use a learner log in this short video — it will change the way you interact with participants forever.
12. Bring personality
Remember, a trainer who brings their own personal flair to their delivery will engage with their participants much better. If they can see that the trainer is enjoying themselves, this will translate across the screen and they will too.
What are the 4 best platforms for virtual instructor-led training (VILT)?
Choosing the right VILT platform software for your organisation is vitally important. It’s key to the success of any virtual training programme and your learners’ experience, so investing the right time and effort to ensure your chosen platform suits your organizational requirements is a must.
The following are examples of the more widely used and available platforms we have experience of.
Zoom is an online audio and web conferencing platform. It can be used to make phone calls, or to participate in video conference meetings.
While there is a basic option that is free, in order to run virtual training workshops via the platform, there are a couple of upgrade options, such as zoom pro, zoom business or zoom enterprise. Each of these adds a substantial set of additional features to the solid basic plan, such as the ability to have a conference of more than 100 people at a time, or most importantly, extend a learning session beyond a standard 40 minutes.
It offers a host of tools on the platform like screen sharing, the ability to record, on screen annotations, breakout groups, chat, emojis and most recently in their 5.2 update, the ability to present from your slides like a weather reporter.
It has grown in popularity rapidly in recent months and is a serious contender for virtual training due to its wide range of capabilities but also down to it being a reliable, high quality conference tool that is easy to use.
Check out our video on zoom 5.2 August update, and let Catherine show you all the cool things you can now achieve.
2. Microsoft teams
Microsoft teams is a communication and collaboration platform that many trainers find easy to use for training purposes. It is also used for video and audio meetings, file and app sharing.
There is a free version, but also two upgrade options with more security and administration facilities which benefit businesses, Office 365 business essentials or Office 365 business premium.
It offers a wide range of tools such as integrated apps such as forms or excel, powerful video conferencing and extensive chat options including GIFs and emojis, and the ability to create side meetings to function as breakout rooms.
It is a regularly updated virtual platform which enables colleagues to communicate effectively from any location.
3. Cisco WebEx training centre
Cisco WebEx training centre is an online platform that allows you to deliver live instruction to anyone, anywhere and is widely used by many virtual training companies.
It offers high definition video, breakout groups, polling, whiteboards and chat functions as well as the standard video and audio functions.
It is a paid for platform, offering a host of benefits for users, but compared to other, less expensive options can be a little clunky and less user friendly.
4. Adobe connect
Adobe connect can provide a virtual classroom for your virtual training. It is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection and works across a range of devices. It is a versatile platform, and while the more expensive of the platform options, offers a large amount for that investment.
Unlimited and customisable meeting rooms, breakout session, standard audio and video conferencing ability, recording capabilities, enhanced whiteboards, chat and polling are amongst the many functions that adobe connect can offer.
Once the best platform for the organisation has been decided, now it is time to design the training to best fit the platform of choice. A platform could have endless numbers functions, but without a skilled facilitator and a workshop tailored to fit it, they would have little use.
8 steps to designing virtual instructor-led training (VILT)
Simply lifting a slide-deck from a face-to-face (F2F) workshop and presenting it in a virtual one just doesn’t deliver the best results. Delivering virtual training requires adaptation to really allow participants to benefit. Virtual workshops are bitesize in nature, so choosing the correct content to make time work best for you is critical.
Here are our steps for designing virtual instructor-led training:
- Start with the end goal in mind
- Brainstorm content early.
- Decide on the content.
- Work out the processes.
- Bring the content to life.
- Create the introduction.
- Create the slides and materials.
We will go into the details of each of these design steps below:
1. Start with the end goal in mind
- What should participants come away thinking, feeling, doing or knowing as a result of this workshop? It’s an important question to allow the session to be focused on the outcomes throughout.
- It’s not possible to design a focused, outcome-driven workshop if the end objectives are not in mind.
- Starting with the result the workshop is aiming to achieve, and then working back from there makes it much easier to edit and decide on content that is aligned with the end goal.
2. Brainstorm content early
- What are the key messages that participants should take away from a session? What key skills, models or processes need to be included to ensure these messages are delivered?
- Taking the time to really consider what could be included in a workshop over what already exists ensures that the workshops remains bite-sized and focused. Making the most of this step gives content a refresh and ensures a F2F workshop can successfully work for the virtual environment.
- Harnessing creativity and brainstorming features that could be implemented to achieve the result, will really help to create an exciting and innovative workshop. The idea is not to include it all, but to create a smorgasbord of different ideas to choose from.
Want more virtual design tips. Click here to watch our video for virtual instructor-led training best practices — VTT’s 6 principles for virtual design.
3. Decide on the content
- This is the ruthless step — deciding on what must stay in and what can and needs to be dropped.
- Come back to the purpose of the virtual workshop. If there is content or processes that don’t move learners towards that outcome, then it can be removed.
- Everything takes a little bit longer in the virtual environment compared to F2F —how much time is available needs to be factored in.
- Virtual workshops are often best delivered in bite-sized format — somewhere between 90 minutes and 2 hours. It is often worth considering delivering 2 separate workshops that give time to explore all of the ideas.
4. Work out the processes
- How will each section of content be achieved? What processes, materials and activities will deliver this? This is the area where timings should be considered.
- Ideally, variety is best, but still with purpose. Considering best practice for each model and how it feeds back into the overall purpose will ensure the workshop remains focused.
Check our case study on how we helped to design a virtual global vision and values programme:
An engineering consultancy wanted to deliver results through their people on a global scale with training available to all. VTT designed interactive virtual workshops focused on vision and values for managers and also provided supporting materials.
5. Bring the content to life
- What stories, examples, imagery, or science will add appropriate flair to each section?
- This is about what makes the content interesting, memorable, and fun — which will in turn boost engagement and imprint the learning. Including stock photos to use or case studies/examples will bring the content to life and really put it in to context.
- Flair and fun can still be achieved — alongside the purpose!
- Think about sequencing, timings and order. By deciding what needs to be said to link each section to the next, each section will contribute to the overall purpose of the workshop.
- Examine the whole flow of the workshop. Look at it from the participants perspective. Is it interesting and engaging? Is the overall message clear?
- It can also be helpful to consider alternative options to adapt for different groups or if there are any timing issues. Where can cuts be made? Where are their opportunities to be flexible?
7. Create the introduction
- One of the last things to do is to consider how to kick off the virtual workshop. The idea is to immediately prick the participant’s attention, setting the tone for the whole workshop so that they begin feeling intrigued and ready to learn.
- What will go on the welcome slide? It needs to grab the participant’s attention, getting them interested and ready to engage with the workshop.
- The welcome slide is the opportunity to begin creating context for the participants and getting them into the zone of the topic at hand, providing a “feel” for the workshop. Putting the thought in and really considering how to get things started, can ensure your virtual workshop gets off on the right foot — and set the tone for the whole workshop.
8. Create the slides and materials
- Finally, everything can be pulled together into a seamless, flowing, simple to follow, slide-deck with extra materials on powerpoint.
- Powerpoint should be the last point after the design mastery is complete!
Virtual instructor-led training is an incredibly versatile and increasingly popular tool for learning and development teams around the globe.
If you would like help with your virtual training, train the trainer programmes or virtual design, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.
As a dedicated virtual training company, we would be happy to talk through your virtual training requirements and help you to get on your way to virtual success.
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