Virtual instructor-led training (VILT) allows companies to train their employees and business partners. It offers the immediacy of instructor-led training minus the fuss and cost of on-site training. Sometimes, middle solutions are the best, right?
Virtual training how-tos, step by step
There are three key components that make up a successful VILT experience: tools, content, and delivery. This article is divided into three sections, each one of which explores one component. If you have no experience with instructor-led online training, this step-by-step guide will walk you through planning and implementation in a way that makes sense and is easy to follow.
First, you’ll discover the training tools necessary for a fully collaborative online classroom, then the best online training content to engage your learners. In the third section, you’ll find practical tips on training delivery, which will help you conduct training sessions that run smoothly and appeal to all learners.
Welcome to virtual instructor-led training best practices 101. Let’s begin:
Online training tools
The very notion of virtual instructor-led training wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for technology and the tools that make VILT possible. Too many to choose from? This list will sort things out for you:
1. Videoconferencing tools
Pairing a videoconferencing tool with your online training software will help you conduct virtual instructor-led training sessions with top-quality audio and video. Communication between the online instructor and the participants is painless, with options to communicate as one group, in separate groups, or one-to-one. You can also use video conferencing tools to host and record webinars, or to facilitate collaboration and interaction using the whiteboards, screen sharing, and chat rooms available.
2. Interactive whiteboard
One of the most traditional teaching tools in a modern, tech-enabled version. Whiteboards facilitate active participation and increase interaction while creating that small-classroom feeling. Using an interactive whiteboard, the instructor can write down key points or questions and save them for later reference. As for learners, they are able to jot down their ideas during discussions or group assignments.
3. Communication tools
In virtual instructor-led training, an easy-to-use communication tool is without exaggeration the equivalent of a multi-purpose tool. An instant messaging app is first and foremost useful for reaching out to the instructor with questions that need to be answered on the spot. Creating different workspaces and forming separate groups, you can also use communication tools as breakout rooms, discussion forums, and workspaces for group assignments.
4. Screen sharing software
Sometimes, you might just want to share a presentation, a web page, or a file that is complementary but not essential to the lesson. Occasionally, you’ll need to walk learners through a process or quickly check their progress on an assignment. In all these examples, screen sharing software comes in handy. It saves time and memory space while facilitating instruction and collaboration.
5. Learning Management System
An LMS offers features that will help you better organize your sessions and keep track of training. Some of these features include learner profiles, easy setup, reminder notifications, attendance tracking, and reporting. It also integrates with video conferencing tools, helping you achieve uninterrupted communication and offering flexible collaboration options.
Using an LMS, you can store and distribute additional content that employees access in their own time. The combination of real-time instructor-led training with self-paced learning is known as blended learning. And blended learning deserves your attention, because training can’t get more effective than that. All in all, an LMS is the answer to creating a first-rate virtual training experience.
Unless you have the comedy skills of Robin Williams or the charisma of Martin Luther King, you do need to make your content engaging for learners. Online learners are tempted by a number of distractions, and “serving” them plain PowerPoint presentations is a good way to invite boredom and lose their attention.
Slides and presentations are rather entertaining if you add color, images, and graphics. The trick is to use visual elements with moderation, otherwise they can be distracting or even annoying for some. (Though — let’s be honest — you can’t go wrong with a cute, fluffy kitten popping up with its eyes wide open!)
Another element you don’t want to overuse is bullet points. Filling your presentations with blocks of text won’t help you engage learners, and it might be confusing for nonvisual learners. Interesting alternatives to bullet points are charts and diagrams.
Another idea is to add animated videos and colorful infographics. Both of them can liven up your presentations and help you summarize and simplify complex information. What’s more, videos and infographics are excellent learning aids that can be used for a quick memory boost.
Virtual instructor-led training is a demanding training delivery method. The success of a virtual training course relies on the online instructor’s skills and the learning environment they set up. But even the most talented instructor might fail to captivate a virtual audience if they have no experience teaching online. Paying attention to the following details will help:
1. Always be prepared
Speaking to the camera is awkward and needs some getting used to, so new online instructors need to practice… before they preach. Reviewing the material right before a session can help tremendously. You’ll be able to maintain your flow without awkward pauses and deliver the lesson with confidence.
You must also be comfortable with the tools you’re using and know how to troubleshoot technical issues. Always do a test run to make sure that everything’s working, especially if you don’t use a moderator.
2. Rules are rules
Because a virtual classroom is still a classroom after all. Sure, adult learners don’t “misbehave” the same way young students do and are unlikely to pick a fight in the middle of the session. But they still need to know what’s expected from them and how your training sessions are organized.
Basic class rules should include putting cell phones on silent, closing irrelevant tabs, and attending the class in a quiet room. You also need to provide clear guidelines as to when and how learners can contact you.
3. Use a moderator
When teaching larger groups, it’s best to add a moderator. Moderators assist with practical aspects of the course, like monitoring incoming questions and bringing common ones to your attention. They also help less tech-savvy learners use the tools or resolve technical issues. This enables you to continue teaching uninterrupted and the learner to quickly catch up on the lesson.
4. It’s all about those communication skills
Online instructors need to be first-class communicators. That’s because they lack the advantages that sharing the same physical space offers. Like the ability for non-verbal communication through eye contact or body language is limited.
To make up for this lack of immediate interaction, you need to hone other communication skills. You need to be approachable, pleasant, and energetic. A sense of humor is also welcome. Online instructors should also be very articulate and exhibit confidence, delivering the lesson at a pace that’s comfortable for everyone to follow.
5. Interactivity and collaboration are key
It’s no good offering lessons during which you’re rambling on while learners are passively listening. When it comes to virtual instructor-led training, interactivity and collaboration should be your mantras. Your online training tools can help you achieve both.
For example, you can use screen sharing and live whiteboards to ask for input and encourage discussions. Open-ended questions will additionally facilitate learning and improve retention. Using video conferencing, you can do role play to reinforce skills and practical application. To shake learners up a bit, ask them to complete a brief quiz. Quizzes will also help ensure that everyone is on the same page and reveal shared knowledge gaps among learners.
6. Keep sessions short
It’s important to keep each session under three hours and to take breaks so that learners can chat or rest. Avoid creating lengthy sessions or condensing a course. Give learners time to process the information, or else they will get overwhelmed and won’t be able to retain it. If a training is urgent and needs to be completed fast, it’s best to look for another solution, like microlearning, whenever possible.
There’s a good reason why virtual training is gaining momentum as a delivery method for training. If you, too, want your employees to enjoy the effectiveness of instructor-led training with the flexibility of online learning, you should seriously consider VILT.
Still unsure about what’s best for your company? With multiple features supporting all the modern delivery methods, a versatile LMS, like TalentLMS, will enable you to offer employees a great VILT experience while keeping the option of going fully online open.
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