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Much of the recent discussions on Learning and Development (L&D) involves the mode of training to accommodate the modern learners and their evolving needs. The shift from Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) is inevitable, and has been an ongoing trend even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, 10% of training hours were managed through virtual means in 2018, and this increased to 15.4% in 2019. It was expected that from 2020 to 2027, the global adoption of virtual learning will hit 17.5%. Given the unprecedented circumstances and shift in thought process created by the pandemic among businesses, this global adoption of virtual learning is reaching numbers upwards of 50% – making ‘learn-from-home’ a necessity.

For managers and business leaders who recognize this evolution in L&D, one of the main areas of concern lies on turning their ILT content to VILT.

Below is a set of pointers to keep in mind to make this transition swift and effective.

The Challenge of Converting ILT Content to VILT

The extent of possibilities and limitations brought about by the scenario of learners and instructors not being in the same place physically is mind blowing – opening up concepts such as multi-geography, multi-timezone, multi-lingual, online collaboration, social learning etc.

For example, group activities won’t be as easy to facilitate, so is asking questions to promote engagement and discussion with the learners.

So to make VILT as effective if not more effective than ILT, L&D teams must look at the training and content from a whole new perspective.

The Key Benefits of VILT

Despite the challenges and considerations when converting content, the paradigm shift to VILT comes with the following key benefits:

  • Flexibility– Learners can be offered the flexibility to learn from wherever they need to be
  • Scalability– Trainings originally designed for small teams can be easily scaled to support the growing learning needs of an expanding workforce
  • Accessibility– Compatibility with multiple devices and operating environments makes VILT more accessible
  • Customizability– Easily customizable for various roles instead of a one-size-fits-all approach
  • Affordability– Eliminates travel expenses and additional cost of learning materials and venues, which usually grow as the number of employees being trained increases

How to Successfully Turn Your ILT Content to VILT

Converting your ILT content for VILT purposes requires a well-designed strategy. Here are the things that you should keep in mind during the transition process:

Understand current state

VILT is not just about digitizing all existing content. Some need to be redesigned or revamped to fit VILT.

So the first step is to audit your existing learning assets, understand how updated and current they are and evaluate how much of it can be reused. This is also a good opportunity for you to review the structure of your curriculum and tweak it for the new mode of training.

Focus on the learners and learning outcomes

Probably one of the major challenges in VILT is keeping learners as engaged as they would be in face-to-face training. By providing a great learning experience, the training will also yield the planned outcomes.

Rethink engagement and design your content such that there will still be active participation from the learners. Make sessions interactive through polling, Q&A, whiteboard brainstorming sessions, and as simple as chat. Simple games and activities can also promote discussion and collaboration among the learners.

Think about the best way to deliver the content.

An important part of the process of turning your ILT content to VILT is deciding on how content will be delivered or presented to the learners.

Do you want to make a webinar series, live conferencing, short videos, self-paced training modules, or perhaps a mix of these? You need to carefully evaluate the most appropriate learning methodologies based on who your learners are and the topic area.

Develop a roll-out strategy.

It is recommended to convert your ILT content to VILT in phases. Keep in mind that you’re shifting to a new paradigm, so rolling out all your content or the entire curriculum through an untested conversion strategy may lead to a major setback. Carefully test the effectiveness of your VILT content and the tools and platforms before rolling out more courses.

Assess if an ILT content can be presented as-is, shortened, or lengthened when you convert it for VILT purposes. Sometimes you’ll find a way to present it more concisely, while in other cases, it makes more sense to expand the content to provide greater value.

Breaking it up into “bite-sized” modules can also prevent learners from losing focus and getting bored, especially if the topic may be hard to digest in a single session.

Tools are just means to an end and yet critical

When we talk about VILT, we are talking about technology-enabled learning. This involves the use of tools for various aspects covering:

  • Content authoring (e.g., Adobe CC, Canva, PowerPoint, Google Slides, Articulate 360, etc.)
  • Learning/meeting facilitation (e.g., Zoom and MS Teams)
  • Learner engagement and assessment (e.g., MURAL and Kahoot)
  • Learning Management Systems or Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) (e.g., Google Classroom, Disprz, Teachable, etc.)

Keeping the tech simple while ensuring it’s aligned with the overall learning strategy will allow you to appeal to the spectrum of learners and learning needs.

Redesign assessments of learning.

Traditional assessments of learning or using the same ILT assessment sheets in a VILT environment won’t ensure that results will be accurate and authentic. It’s recommended to develop a pre- and post-training assessment specifically for VILT to validate learning retention. You may also issue a digital certificate or a badge after successful completion.

Integrate offline assignments, worksheets, activities, and learning materials.

Not because it’s virtual, everything should be done online or in live sessions. Learners may not be keen on sitting in front of the webcam or the screen the entire time. So adding a good mix of offline work such as reading learning materials or answering worksheets before and in-between live VILT sessions may be a great idea.

Prepare instructors, tech support, and learners for the shift to VILT.

VILT content will only work if the people that will be involved are receptive to the change. So before rolling out your VILT initiatives, it’s crucial to prepare your L&D teams, instructors, tech support, and the learners themselves.

Invest in training your team on how to properly facilitate VILT sessions, including learning the ins and outs of the tools and systems to be used. By running mock sessions, instructors will not only practice operating the technology elements in place, but also the delivery of the content.

Further, sending out user-friendly guides for facilitators and learners before the transition and providing information about what will be covered ahead of each session will help them prepare for success.

You won’t get everything perfect the first time – the key is to get started.

Remember that you’re dealing with a new frontier within L&D, so manage your expectations. You don’t have to spend too much time changing things around and revising before rolling it out.

Trust me, you won’t get everything perfect the first time. You’ll only know what works and what doesn’t once you’ve launched it and captured feedback from the actual learners.

So adopt an iterative approach and continuously improve your VILT initiatives. Be open to criticisms and tweak your VILT content accordingly. Learners will be of great help in identifying which elements don’t translate well to an online format and which parts of the syllabus must be changed to fit the new normal.

Explore partnerships with VILT content design and delivery experts.

Turning ILT content to VILT is far from a simple task. Your organization might have to spend countless hours and huge expenses before you get it right. However, there’s a practical and effective approach to transition to VILT and scale with greater ease.

By partnering with the right professionals who have extensive experience in VILT content design and delivery, you’ll be able to tap into their expertise and access their wide range of learning and engagement strategies.

Final Thoughts

Right now, the world is still in the middle of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, even after the dust settles, at least 25 to 30% of the global workforce will continue to work from home.

In other words, whether we like it or not, remote working and virtual training are here to stay. Hopefully, the points discussed in this article will help you pivot and develop VILT initiatives that will resonate with your learners.

APEX Global is a leading training solution provider in the region with the experience of training 1M+ professionals in 300+ topics across a variety of modes – classroom, self-paced, and virtual learning. The onset of increased adoption of VILT among companies in the last 18 months has led to APEX Global developing 100s of hours of VILT just in this period.

But how can you really determine who is the right partner for your ILT to VILT conversion plans? We’ll follow this up with key factors to consider while outsourcing your VILT content development requirements.

Reach out to us today for any questions or inputs and our team of learning specialists can guide you in the right direction.

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