At a recent networking event, I introduced myself to another student as a Virtual Instructor. “Now that’s what I want to do,” she smiled “train from home!” The biggest misconception about Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT) is that we simply take classroom materials and put them in the online classroom.
Think back to the last time Hollywood turned a TV series into a movie. You didn’t show up at the theater and watch 120 minutes of TV episodes, did you? The creative people behind the scenes understand that movies and television are two very different delivery systems. So why do we, as trainers, take materials from a live classroom and try to push it out to a virtual classroom?
Below I’ve listed some best practices for Virtual Instructor Led Training. Try incorporating some of these into your next session.
- ID still rules. Big blocks of text, overly complicated graphics and an abundance of images fly in the face of Cognitive Load Theory and can send your learner into sensory overload. Create a solid and consistent design that enhances the learning experience. Be creative, but not at the expense of the content.
- Practice makes perfect. Many people underestimate the skill it takes to conduct training while clicking buttons, reading the screen and making sure everything is running smoothly. There was likely a learning curve when you began speaking in front of groups, expect the same virtually.
- Know your tools. Many of the platforms today are filled with options to create interactivity. Options such as annotation tools, polls, breakout rooms and white boards can enhance each stage of Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction. Reimagine live activities with your new tools. In a 2010 survey, VILT instructors who rated their programs very effective used more engagement tools during and after training than those rating their programs as slightly or less than effective. Used properly, they can be really effective.
- Realize that your competition is steep and keep it moving. As I’m writing this, I have 8 programs open on my tool bar, not including the 7 unique windows open in my browser. In a live classroom, most learners won’t be rude enough to pull out their phone or computer and start doing something different (you hope). But the social stigma attached to those actions doesn’t occur in the virtual world. If you’re not keeping their attention, something else probably is.
- Continue Learning. Our industry is filled with incredibly creative people willing to share their experiences and best practices. The folks at Mondo Learning have a great blog (blog.mondolearning.com) covering a variety of VILT topics. For great articles and a host of amazing resources, check out the website for Cindy Huggett (cindyhuggett.com). I use a couple of her checklists all the time.
What techniques have you seen used effectively in VILT? What missed the mark? Do you have your own best practices to add to the list?
General Physics Corporation and TrainingIndustry, Inc. (2010). Survey results: Delivering virtual instructor-led training (VILT). Retrieved from http://www.salt.org/weblink/industry/gp_trainingindustry_survey_results.pdf