The Virtual Trainer: From the classroom to the virtual world

Guest Author Amy Lyons 2014 MATD graduate and currently Corporate Training Specialist at Wonderlic, Inc.

Guest Author Amy Lyons 2014 MATD graduate and currently Corporate Training Specialist at Wonderlic, Inc.

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 ( covering a variety of VILT topics. For great articles and a host of amazing resources, check out the website for Cindy Huggett ( 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

Posted in assumptions, Careers, E-Learning, Guest Student Post, Instructional Design, Learning Theory, online learning, Technology, Training, virtual classroom | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Graduation and Spring 2015


The Graduate Program in Training and Development is proud to announce the following fall 2015 graduates:

  • Elizabeth Ball
  • Maya Beaudette
  • Diana DiMeo
  • Maxine Garcia
  • Lynda Hurwitz
  • Debra Knight
  • Amy Lyonsthefuture2014
  • Paulina Merino
  • Kellie Mount
  • Jenny Patrick
  • Courtney Paretzkin
  • Gina Passanante
  • Fraser Smith
  • Winter Viverette
  • Rhonda White
  • Kandis Williams
  • Maureen Yacovac

 Back to class

We are excited to welcome new and returning students alike to spring 2015 semester. We hope you had a wonderful holiday season. As we move ahead please keep these things in mind.

-apply for graduation by January 16th

-important dates for the semester such as withdraw dates, start and end dates and grade due dates

Learning in action

It’s always interesting to see how our graduates will go on to use their master’s degrees. One fall graduate, Dr. Fraser Smith, has been applying what he learned to his role as associate professor and assistant dean at the National University of Health Sciences. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Master’s in Training and Development Program, he now has the tools he needs to make learning in the Naturopathic Medicine Program he oversees more interesting, accessible and cutting edge. Learn more about the new graduate here

Image | Posted on by | 1 Comment

Major League Executive Coaches

major_league_logoWe all know the most famous major league coaches past and present–Phil Jackson, George Halas, and Vince Lombardi to name a few, but how do we identify top Executive Coaches? Here are several on my personal “Who’s Who in Executive Coaching” list:

First on my list is Bill Campbell, coach to many tech giants like Steve Jobs and the founders of Google and Twitter.  Watch this video and learn more about his transition from sports coaching to executive coaching.  Be sure to open the link in a new window if you are viewing this through Blackboard.

Next is Marshall Goldsmith, author of several popular books on leadership and coaching.  He has coached execs at major organizations and  has been named by The Wall Street Journal as one of thetop 10 executive educators and by Forbes as one of 5 most respected executive coaches.

Steven Berglas made a successful transition from medicine to executive coaching and has written a number of very well received books.  He has a diverse client list that includes top business execs and award-winning professional athletes, Grammy winners, Oscar winners, and internationally-ranked chess Grandmasters.

Help me extend this list by adding your top pick.  Add a comment to tell us the name of a coach–executive, life, career, or organizational–that you think has merit.  If possible, include a link to his or her website.

Posted in Careers, Coaching, Mentoring | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beyond Corporate America: Non-traditional career paths for training and development graduates

Kathleen Iverson, Roosevelt University Training and Development Department Chair

careerpathIf you visit the RU Training job board, you’ll find many opportunities for instructional designers and e learning specialists. In fact, instructional design was listed as No. 38 in
2012 in Money Magazine’s list of best jobs. Many MATD grads work for major organizations in Chicago and nationally including Allstate, Hewitt & Associates, Grainger, United Airlines, ADP, Ritz-Carlton, Hilton, and McDonald’s Hamburger University, to name just a few. Historically, opportunities in large, multi-national organizations are the bread and butter career paths for learning and development. Big companies have lots of employees to train and have the financial resources to support corporate wide training and performance initiatives. But what about those who are interested in putting their T&D skills to work in the non-profit sector, academia, or even in another field or career entirely? Although it may take a bit more time and effort to uncover opportunities, the jobs are there. Start by reading a previous article, “Training and Development for Non Profits” for specific examples of our grads who are currently working in this sector.

Find your place
Where to look for those non-traditional gems of opportunity for T & D grads:

Academia: Due to the explosion of online learning in higher education, most universities have a staff of instructional designers and instructional technologists who take existing curriculum and redesign it for online delivery, much like the rush in the corporate arena to redesign traditional training for e learning delivery. Opportunity for online teachers has also grown rapidly. If you are considering a career in higher education, check out HigherEdJobs for career opportunities in online teaching and instructional design.

Association Management: Chicago and other major cities including New York and Washington D.C. are home to large, successful associations that provide education and certification to professions. Several recent graduates have been drawn to career opportunities in association management, enjoying the opportunity to design and deliver curriculum in very specialized fields including medicine, law, and actuarial science. For career opportunities specific to this field check the job board at the ASAE. 

Community Based Organizations: From grass roots organizations to churches to social service agencies, many graduates have pursued careers focused on service to others. Opportunities for instructional design and delivery are prevalent as the basis for much work in social service organizations lies in education and performance improvement. For opportunities in non profit organizations you might check

Right where you are: Other grads have built careers in finance, teaching, career development, coaching, consulting, even, fashion design, and have shared with us that the skills they developed in our curriculum have helped them to become better managers, leaders, supervisors, and planners. After all, good design is good design, regardless of the purpose.

Share your story
If you are a current or past student and working in or pursuing a “non traditional” ISD, training or organization development career path, please share your story with us—what led you to this career? How do you apply what you are learning or have learned in our program to your job?


Posted in Careers, Human Performance Improvement, Learning at Roosevelt, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Winners and a New Name

We are thrilled to announce, Eric Hahn, TRDV student and graduate assistant, was awarded the 2014 Dr. Deborah Colky Scholarship. Dr. Michael Colky, scholarship founder and Deborah’s husband, presented Eric with the award at the CCASTD holiday and volunteer recognition party held last week. The award honors a student who has excelled at contributing to the local training and performance community.

Mary Ann Kowalczyk (Hagemann), MATD 2010, was also recognized at the party. Mary Ann was awarded 2014 Volunteer of the Year. Currently she serves as the chapter’s Director of Social Media.

While Eric and Mary Ann were surprised with awards, all guests were surprised by CCASTD President Joe Tota’s announcement. Mr. Tota was happy to share that CCASTD is now ATDChi. Following in line with the national organization, who changed its name from American Society for Training and Development to the Association for Talent Development in May 2014, the local chapter has changed to Association for Talent Development Chicago Chapter or ATDChi. For more details please visit their Website


2014 Dr. Deborah Colky Scholarship recipient Eric Hahn along with (from L to R) his wife Monica, Tara, and Dr. Michael Colky.

2014 Dr. Deborah Colky Scholarship recipient Eric Hahn along with (from L to R) his wife Monica, Tara, and Dr. Michael Colky.

2014 ATDChi Volunteer of the Year- Mary Ann Kowalczyk.

2014 ATDChi Volunteer of the Year- Mary Ann Kowalczyk.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Training and Development for Non-Profits: The Road Less Taken?

by Vince Cyboran, Ed.D.

Once upon a time, there was a New Yorker cover entitled “View of the World from 9th. Avenue.” It depicted a map of the United States with detail of NYC extending to the Hudson River, and then a vast almost-no-man’s-land extending west to the Pacific Ocean. Mental maps–or models–of T&D locales are often analogous: the detailed corporate world on one side extending to a rather murky charitable organization nether land on the other. While it is true that much T&D work understandably occurs in the for-profit, corporate world, a closer look reveals that there is much T&D activity involving paid employees of and volunteers with non-profit organizations. Following are just a few of our graduates who are gainfully employed in non-profit organizations here in the Chicago area:

 annie g-j Annie Garvey Jagielski  

Instructional Designer and Teacher at the Downers Grove Public Library





Director, Educational Development at the Association Forum of Chicagoland

 IsabellKyrk-Group  Isabell Kyrk  

HRIS Analyst at Rotary International




Jay Semla


Professional Development Manager at Society of Actuaries


Lynette Washington


Distance Learning Program Specialist at Roosevelt University


We have also had students from all over the globe employed by museums and zoos, and, of course, by the government (municipality, county, state, and federal levels).  These students add much to our classes, offering a much-needed and expansive perspective of workplace learning and development. When casting your job-search net, consider including non-profits. You may just find the right fit for you.

Are you a graduate of one of our programs currently working for a non-profit? Please share your experiences by posting a comment.

Many thanks!

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Remembering Deb Colky

Deb Colky was one of my best friends. She was intelligent, personable, hardworking, and down right funny. Those who had the great fortune of first hand experience with Deb know exactly what I mean.  Most of all, Deb loved the profession of Training and was a highly skilled presenter and designer. I feel fortunate to have known and worked with her for nearly 7 years. deb-colky1

In her honor, CCASTD and her husband, Mike Colky sponsor a scholarship (see earlier post and link to the application).

As I remember Deb, I’d like to share with you the content of a professional interview that Deb gave one of our TRDV 400 students back in 2006 that really explains her passion for training and her love for learning.  Here is the interview content:

Interview with Professor Deb Colky, Program Director of the Graduate Program in Training and Development at Roosevelt University

Can you explain the path you followed to get to the T & D field?
It was a circuitous route! I started out as an English major and high school teacher. I moved into Higher Education Administration and stayed at the college level where I enjoyed adult students and adult education. Being an educator in different educational fields I was asked to speak to groups and that lead to being asked to train! Back then there were no expectations for “trainers”.

Would you choose this field again?
Yes! Training is very much needed! There have been great strides into making this a respected profession. And, trainers are working hard to get the recognition and respect they deserve.

What do you like best about T & D?
It’s exciting! It’s always different! I like the fact that it is helping people learn and making information easy for them

What do you like least about T & D?
The profession is misunderstood and this leads to it getting cut from the budgets.

If this is generally the first thing to be cut when businesses are cost cutting, where does that leave the trainer? What options do they have?
Most businesses are not really cutting their training budgets. Only those businesses that are not forward thinking! We have been moving away from a manufacturing economy and are now moving into a service industry which is people important. Most training occurs in the workplace where “Learning Departments” are being led by performance professionals. There is a big boom in training and from what I read and hear, I believe training is in good shape.

What skill sets are developed in this field and to what areas can these be transferred?
The communications skills, speaking and writing are very important. Business understanding and strategy and an understanding of learning and teaching also are good skills to have. These skill sets can transfer very easily into sales. I also see them being used by coaches. Not physical trainer coaches but life or job coaches.

How much difference is there between online teaching/learning and training?
As a teacher you are more of the expert, you develop thinking skills and the effect is more long term. As a trainer, your goal is different, it is skill based. You provide the tools and the solutions. Training needs to make behavioral changes and changes in attitudes. The end goal is to help people perform better. It is a short term solution. It is on the job and informal.

A trainer’s job is to train. The trainer is not the expert and generally is not the subject matter expert. You have the Designer, the Instructional Designer and then the Trainer.

 Today, how much training is face to face as opposed to computer based?       And, how quickly do you think that percent will change?
Face to face training used to be the norm. But now, computer based training has finally surpassed that and is now used for over 50 per cent of training. There is a saying: “High tech needs high touch.” I believe the trend is for training to be blended.

 Where do you see this field going in the future?
The trend for the future is in blended learning. We must have a seat at the table in business. Our job is to help humans learn how to work.

What is an average day like for a trainer?
On an average day the trainer will rise early to check out the presentation area. He will go over his notes and then train for ½ or a full day. After that training session it is back on the road (traveling can be a big part of training) and back to work to begin working on the next training session.

Comments from student interviewer:
I appreciated the time that Professor Colky spent with me and the insights into the Training and Development field that she shared. What I wasn’t expecting was her joy and enthusiasm for this field and this profession.   Having attended my first professional meeting and having conducted my first T & D professional interview in the same week, the enthusiasm shown by all of these T & D people was overwhelming.

It has become very apparent that people who work in this field LOVE their jobs and it shows! Positive Mental Attitude is a must! Their joy is contagious!

Like a few other students, I too found it hard to capture all that was said as the conversation moved more rapidly than I could write. When you find a person who is so excited about their job/career and is so willing to talk about it, you get drawn in and start soaking up their enthusiasm and wisdom. After these two assignments, it has become very apparent to me that this is a field well worth looking into!

As we remember Deb, please take a moment to share a story or an experience if you had the great fortune of knowing this wonderful teacher and friend.

Posted in Careers, Instructional Design, Training | 1 Comment