Training Industry

Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT)

  • Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT)

DEFINITION

Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) refers to training that is delivered in a virtual or simulated environment, or when instructor and learner are in separate locations. Virtual instruction environments are designed to simulate the traditional classroom or learning experience. VILT can be conducted synchronously or asynchronously. The term is also referred to as Virtual Classroom Training (VCT).

OVERVIEW

VILT is one of the fastest growing methods of internet-based learning delivery. Steady increases in bandwidth and collaboration software technologies have promoted VILT to a practical and inviting solution for reaching widely dispersed learners efficiently and cost-effectively. 

Virtual instructor-led training is transforming the way millions of people learn, both on and off the job. Increasingly, businesses are employing it as part of broader blended solutions for training and development. Other common business-related uses include customer and product training, professional development, sales training and onboarding.

The growth of virtual instructor-led training in academia is equally robust. Many colleges and universities offer established online graduate and undergraduate degree programs based on VILT technology. More recently, schools have begun launching Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platforms to provide free education courseware to a global audience, often in collaboration with other institutions.

There are two schools of thought surrounding virtual instructor-led training; one school of thought suggests that virtual instructor-led training should simulate the traditional classroom or learning experience, while others believe it should have a unique, customizable design and experience.

FACTORS OF SUCCESSFUL VILT 

Within business, VILT is principally driven by the need to effectively train a growing and more dispersed population at a controllable cost. Its use enables organizations to provide valuable learning experiences for employees, customers, and channel partners while avoiding travel and lodging costs and valuable time spent away from the job.

VILT provides an engaging experience in which participants can connect with the content and interact with both the instructor and other classmates. Successful implementations, visible through high retention rates and satisfied learners, demonstrate that VILT delivery can be both effective and efficient. Successful VILT requires the seamless interplay of three important factors: technology, content and delivery.

Technology

VILT technology is based on comprehensive and scalable collaboration software that features functionality, availability and ease of use. A full range of engagement tools typically includes live conversation, chat, polls and quizzes, all controlled and monitored by facilitators. Leading VILT platforms also incorporate tools for webinars, remote labs, and video conferencing.

Content

The design of VILT programs requires a different approach than classroom or online asynchronous programs. The instructional designer must provide the instructor and student with mechanisms to communicate frequently, and must keep the content engaging and collaborative. Learning content must be developed with maximum student engagement in mind. To capture learners’ interest and promote retention, VILT must be designed around a comprehensive learning strategy. Visuals and interaction are paramount to promoting engagement and increasing training effectiveness.

Delivery

Facilitators, whether trained instructors or subject matter experts, must also be skilled communicators in order to deliver compelling VILT.  The principal limitations to successful VILT implementation are the failure of facilitators to interact with students and manage their classrooms effectively.

BENEFITS OF VILT

    • Reduced cost.  Due to the nature of VILT, travel and lodging costs can be reduced or eliminated completely.
    • Convenience.  VILT students can choose when and where they would like participate in training courses – whether they are at home, in the office, or on their mobile devices.
    • Modular design. To appeal to busy students and professionals, many VILT programs offer training content in short, incremental modules, which can be completed independently or in combination with other courses or curricula.
    • Increased capacity and scalability. VILT can accommodate large numbers of students without increasing the amount of materials or space needed in typically classroom settings.
    • Increased diversity. Because of the reach that VILT provides, students and instructors from a variety of culture and geographic backgrounds can participate simultaneously.

RELATED RESEARCH

In a recent study conducted by TrainingIndustry.com, learning leaders cited the ways in which their organizations use virtual instructor-led training, along with challenges and best practices for implementing VILT. Some of the primary findings are listed below.

    • Of the learning leaders surveyed, 73% believe their organization’s VILT is very effective or somewhat effective.
    • The majority of organizations are increasing their use of VILT.
    • Engagement tools are more frequently used during VILT sessions than after the session has concluded.
    • Organizations currently use VILT is most often for customers, professionals and sales staff.
    • The average class size for VILT is 20 learners or less. 

Written for TrainingIndustry.com

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