VILT (virtual instructor-led training) refers to any kind of training led by a lecturer that’s presented in a virtual, or digital, environment. Forbes took a look at virtual learning and found, when done right, it can improve learning by 600% compared to in-person training (yes, you read that correctly). Unfortunately, they also found that a majority of companies who use VILT are not leveraging this potential. These companies simply take in-person courses, or ILT, and put them online—which could make already boring training even worse.

VILT is an especially good option for remote companies since learners can access training from anywhere. But how you implement VILT is just as important as whether you implement it. While simply copying and pasting a textbook online may feel like the path of least resistance, it will ultimately let learners down. Instead, use the shift to VILT as an opportunity to take a holistic look at the needs of your learners and assess how virtual instruction can best benefit them.

We'll share some tips below, or you can get the full story with our blended learning ebook, below:

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While simply copying and pasting a textbook online may feel like the path of least resistance, it will ultimately let learners down.

Leverage digital features to make VILT more engaging than in-person training

In-person lectures (and bad VILT) fail when a lecturer rambles on and on to a passive audience. So, un-boringify your VILT by keeping lessons short and including interactive virtual features like quizzes and games.

According to a report from Microsoft, the average attention span is “shorter than that of a goldfish” at just eight seconds long. Considering the average person also spends about seven hours every day consuming digital content, it’s a safe assumption that the content we’re seeing on digital screens is shaping the way we learn.

Even more, your employees retain information differently in person than they do in a virtual environment. During an ILT lecture, for example, attention will drift in and out, even if the learner is interested in the materials.

In order to make the most out of VILT, you need to adapt your curriculum into content that learners will use first and foremost in a digital space. Focus on developing interactive lessons that keep learners committed to finishing a course, or webinar. This could look like:

  • Interactive quizzes to reinforce learning
  • Presentations with dynamic components like pop-up windows and short videos
  • Games like virtual escape rooms or treasure hunts

Related: 6 Ideas for How L&D Teams Can Use Genially for Interactive Learning

Blend asynchronous and synchronous virtual learning

Old-school blended learning approaches went extinct during COVID-19 and—if you ask us—for the better. Traditional corporate training takes place in a classroom setting, combining boring in-person training with boring online training. Instead, design a blended learning program that combines collaborative synchronous learning with interactive asynchronous learning.

Asynchronous learning lets employees learn on their own schedules

Asynchronous learning gives employees more flexibility and independence in their training journey by letting them choose when and where they can complete coursework.

One simple way to implement asynchronous learning in your VILT strategy is to develop a video-based curriculum. A Voodle study showed 80% of surveyed workers would be willing to watch short, asynchronous videos in lieu of traditional, face-to-face learning methods like lectures. And asynchronous doesn’t mean isolated: Employees can leave questions, comments, or plain-old general feedback for instructors in the comments after completing the video.

Synchronous learning lets employees engage with their peers about course materials

Consider approaching synchronous learning from a new perspective, one that decentralizes the importance of an instructor in favor of peer learning. This doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating an instructor. Instead, include interactive training sessions, like group role-play or peer-to-peer workshops that make learning a collaborative effort.

If videoconferencing is the norm at your company, you can still facilitate in-depth conversations about coursework by using virtual breakout sessions and setting aside time for peer-to-peer feedback on projects.

Read more: 6 Best Practices for Better Virtual Facilitation in L&D

Gather employee input on learning preferences to make sure it aligns with your company’s needs

Without taking the time to understand what your workers need, you won’t fully know what their skill gaps are. Digital technology has grown at a rapid pace since 2020—no doubt bolstered by the expectation that 40.7 million American workers will be remote by 2025. An abundance of new and quickly developing technology has accelerated the need to reskill and upskill the workforce to support an effective work-from-home experience.

Rather than blindly building educational content that might not be useful for your employees, take time to ask them the areas in which they want to grow and how you can facilitate that growth. Do this by creating a survey—or, even better, a training needs analysis—to present your employees with the power of choice and gauge their biggest needs. A training need analysis is a bottom-up approach that lets you see, firsthand, any skill gaps your employees might have. If you’re already using 360Learning, this is a function that is built into the platform.

Create digital lessons that are short and focused

Without the practical application of new knowledge, we tend to forget 50% of what we learn after just 20 minutes. Hence the rise of microlearning, which allows learners to quickly train on one topic at a time, right when they need it.

Because the format of microlearning is focused on sharing tiny bursts of information, it can take place through a variety of mediums, like images, videos, or other forms of visual media.

There are plenty of effective microlearning environments you can adopt for your company, including:

  • YouTube channels for creating and sharing bite-sized video content
  • Infographics to serve as a visual tool for fast, quippy pieces of information
  • Short, interactive quizzes to keep learners engaged and thinking critically about content
  • Simple, short courses, or modules, that can easily be built using a learning platform like 360Learning

Include social features to reinforce learning

Online training doesn’t mean asocial training. Social features like Q&As, forums, and video interactions strengthen employee relationships and learning, even while virtual.

A majority of respondents from LinkedIn’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report cited wanting collaborative and social learning experiences. Even more, L&D professionals reported that social learning will increase in importance within their organization by 36% over the next five years.

Studies clearly show the link between workplace knowledge and social activity among colleagues. A lot of information can be obtained by observing or interacting with colleagues across an organization. This kind of peer-driven learning supports quality skill-building through social interaction.

Certain digital tools have features that make peer-to-peer knowledge transfers even stronger, like the 360Learning tool that allows employees to upvote certain comments or pin important information at the top of a chat. These kinds of interactive, social features give employees a space to engage with colleagues about information that’s critical to their roles. It also ensures the most important information shared in an online forum stays front and center.

Measure course effectiveness on the quality of learning, not by tallying completed tasks

L&D workers cite the need to measure the impact of learning as a top area of concern. Completing a training course means very little if the employee isn’t able to retain the things they’ve learned. And, unfortunately, taking a look at data from your courses is only half of the equation. You need to be able to fully measure the impact your training programs have on your employees.

Take, for example, a digital course with a 99% completion rate. Just because most employees are finishing that course doesn’t mean that they are learning, or retaining, the information being presented in it. It also doesn’t show that they are engaged in the material. They could be simply fast-forwarding through to the end of a video or tapping through all of the slides.

In order to gauge success for this course, it is more effective to use feedback from employees about their experience, whether through surveys, in-course comments, or word of mouth. These qualitative findings give you insight into how your employees perceive specific lessons, quizzes, or the content itself.

Verizon developed a virtual training for their customer support employees that focused on quality of support rather than simply following a script. This mimicked the experience of being on the phone with a difficult customer. Employees also were able to leave feedback in real time—for example, if the training referenced a service that’s no longer available, or was guiding them towards an outcome that was unrealistic. The experience reduced the employees’ training time from 10 hours to 30 minutes.

Related: 3 Data-Based Ways To Prove Training ROI (+ Free Training ROI Calculator)

Use a tool rooted in Collaborative Learning to carry out your virtual instructor-led training

VILT is only going to continue growing in importance alongside the trend for hybrid and remote work choices. VILT also works better when learners are able to collaborate with each other.

Leverage 360Learning (a learning platform that combines collaborative tools with the power of an LMS) to create instructor-led courses that are engaging, interactive, and easy to use. It’s an intuitive tool for people at all skill levels to quickly develop coursework to elevate your team’s knowledge and skillset.

Interested in learning more? Book a free demo today.