You could think of Virtual-Instructor-Led Training (VILT) — in which employees log in and participate in live training with an instructor via videoconferencing tools — as the hybrid of live, traditional, instructor-led training and video-based e-learning.
VILT blends the best qualities of both methods: the up-to-the-moment relevancy and customization that only a live instructor can provide, with the convenience and cost-savings of e-learning.
Of course, there are still challenges to contend with when you use the VILT method. Screen-to-screen still isn’t a complete replacement for face-to-face. Tech tools can present some obstacles, for example. Participants may find it more difficult to pay attention, and it’s not easy for instructors to “read the room” like they can in person.
But by taking care to design your VILT course properly, you can reduce the impact of some of these potential downsides.
Here are a few of the best ways to make your VILT training more effective:
1. Consider the hardware requirements carefully.
We’ve all had experiences with video conferencing that hasn’t felt anywhere close to a face-to-face conversation.
Common problems include things like video delays and spotty audio. These types of interruptions are annoying and distracting during personal use. But when they interrupt employees who are trying to learn something new, they can be especially damaging. Interruptions can throw off trains of thought and even cause employees to miss key points in the instruction.
VILT only works well if your company is willing to invest in the equipment and software that make this online communication easy and clear.
Depending on which VILT program you use, the training company might handle the hardware for you. Today’s VILT platforms available today can be impressive, especially compared to what you may have experienced with free video conferencing apps.
If your employees will be using their own devices for the training, you’ll need to make sure that they’re equipped with whatever hardware and features the instructor requires. That could include cameras, microphones, screen-sharing abilities, and the ability to download the meeting app. You’ll also have to ensure that your internet connection is strong and reliable so employees can stream high quality audio and video with no problems.
Beyond the technical streaming quality, you should also consider technical ease of use for employees.
Employees shouldn’t have to jump through too many hoops when it comes to logging in for training, for example. If the login and setup is difficult, it will set the wrong tone for the rest of the training that follows.
Letting employees use their devices that they’re already familiar with and that they can use conveniently in their own office or at home can be an advantage in this case.
2. Tailor the VILT program for people with short attention spans.
Live instructors have more options when it comes to keeping their instruction engaging and sensing when there are lulls in the material. To make up for that ability to read the room, VILT training should be structured in shorter bursts to ensure that students don’t start to zone out.
Try to limit sessions to just as long as you think it takes to get a key point across effectively — say, 30 minutes or so. You can break up lessons with breaks and mini breakout sessions for employees.
In between instructional sessions, participants can do things like take quizzes, discuss the content, practice the learned skills together, or simply introduce themselves or get to know each other better.
These days, it certainly seems like we all have shorter attention spans thanks to social media and the internet. But even before the internet, students appreciated simple, to-the-point instruction that educates clearly without wasting time.
That’s why a key part of keeping VILT sessions engaging is keeping the slides as simple and uncluttered as possible. Remove any unnecessary text or images from each slide. Adding occasional media elements like videos can also be a good way to re-engage students in the middle of a presentation. (They can also be a helpful for illustrating some of your finer points more clearly).
3. Make the VILT training as interactive as possible.
Interactivity is another factor of live training that can take a backseat in VILT, but not if you choose a training tool that makes it easier for participants and the instructor to interact.
In fact, live trainers rarely have opportunities to do things like poll the audience or ask the entire group of students to chime in with their thoughts in the chat app. In some programs, instructors can even ask students to share screenshots, notes or other content via virtual whiteboards.
With these technical tools, VILT can become even more interactive than live training.
It’s also worth mentioning that some of the most effective interaction in a training are when instructors interact with students one-on-one — something that’s certainly possible in the VILT world. Instructors can call students personally or arrange to video chat with them to ensure that they’re understanding the material in the course.
4. Take advantage of VILT’s flexibility.
One of the biggest perks of VILT is the fact that employees don’t have to make special travel arrangements to get to the training. They can participate from anywhere in the country or even in the world with their colleagues without the cost of plane tickets, hotel stays, or rental cars.
This can lead to some serious cost savings compared to live, in-person training. Plus, training fees are often less expensive, too, since the instructor also saves on travel expenses.
You can consider leveraging the power of this flexibility and cost savings to break the virtual training down into multiple sessions for smaller groups.
Employees will appreciate being able to choose from among several time slots to find the one that works best for them. This just might help to get the training started on an even more positive note.
And depending on your organization’s needs, you could also tailor the content of each session to more specific groups, such as by organizational tier or by department. This will make the content more relevant to their needs and even more engaging.
5. Reinforce the lessons over time
If you have a career in the world of workforce education and training, you’ve probably heard the term “microlearning” at least a few times by now. You can learn more about what microlearning is on our blog post devoted to the topic.
It doesn’t take a new industry term, though, to intuitively recognize the fact that we can all remember newly learned concepts more easily when we have more time to review them — and when they are reinforced more frequently over a longer period of time.
You can follow up on your VILT sessions with personal follow-ups from the instructor, e-learning videos, or even something as simple as email reminders of key lessons.
Once-a-year, one-and-done training isn’t likely to result in any real change. Would you consider only meeting about product development or sales goals just once a year? We didn’t think so. And we think civility initiatives are just as important.
Civility initiatives deserve the same level of attention as other critical business efforts.
Choose an instructor and a training program that’s invested in long-term change and accountability over time and can help you meet your workplace civility goals.
At ELI, we approach all workplace compliance and civility issues in a holistic way. Teaching your employees about good behavior at work can encompass everything from harassment prevention to eliminating bullying and hiring bias. Discouraging all forms of bad behavior requires the same combination of awareness, empathy, and the skills of listening and apologizing.
ELI offers civility training courses via live instructors, virtual instructors, or in the form of e-learning. We work with organizations of all sizes and types to find solutions that work the best for their workforce and budget. To learn more about ELI’s Civil Treatment Workplace training, start here.
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