Virtual Instructor-Led Training – The New Reality of Learning

COVID- 19 has altered the learning mechanism across the globe. Right from schools and colleges to corporate organizations, the entire learning setup has moved online, in a matter of few weeks.

Transitioning to Virtual Instructor-Led Training

COVID- 19 has altered the learning mechanism across the globe. Right from schools and colleges to corporate organizations, the entire learning setup has moved online, in a matter of few weeks.

Although life has now started getting back to normal at some places and governments are encouraging people to gradually moving back to the physical world taking all due precautions, it may still take some time for classroom-based Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to restart. Some of the reasons are obvious,

  1. In view of the fear surrounding the pandemic and no vaccine availability yet, employees will prefer to work from home for some more time, at least until workplaces get ready with facilities per new norms of social distancing and hygiene protocols,
  2. Trainers, experts, and presenters, who are at varied locations, may not prefer to travel until the threat of COVID- 19 spread is minimized.

This brings us to a question, ‘Will this pause or slow down the pace of learning and training?’ Well, my answer is ‘No, perhaps never’.  In-fact, at today’s crossroads, I see a golden opportunity for L&D professionals, talent managers, trainers and subject matter experts to formulate a best understanding of “How to choose an appropriate modality of training and learning to improve performance and achieve results?’. Before this pandemic, many of us were already in the process of doing it but COVID- 19 has (thankfully) pushed us to make these decisions sooner. So, let us evaluate our options and see what works and what does not.

What Works Better – ILT or Virtual Instructor-Led Training?

Virtual instructor-led training or eLearning for all its benefits (which we all know) picked up well and many people enjoy self-paced learning very effectively. There are many ready off-the-shelf courses providers and they carry a wide variety of course titles, spanning across almost all verticals and skill sets needed in professional world.

But despite ample availability of such courses, Virtual instructor-led training could never drive out ILT completely. Some of the reasons are very genuine and real. There are some It is observed that subjects like new-hire training, leadership training, customer service or soft skill training are best suited for classroom delivery via an instructor. There are some challenges like how to make virtual instructor-led training interactive for learners? Research also shows that ILT is optimum for changing behavior and conveying values as part of training. What is common in all these is the need to observe the facial expressions and body language of  learners and that is what a classroom instructor can do well. ILT does have some limitations when it comes to ease of retention and recall of the material been taught in the class, but I will keep that discussion for some other time.

Today, when delivering ILT is almost impossible and there are restrictions on face to face meetings, what should trainers do? Well, technology shows the way. Moving to virtual classroom platforms to deliver training can resolve most of the challenges that trainers and learners are facing today. To effectively use these platforms, trainers can use a variety of modalities like integrated media, coaching, quizzes, knowledge checks, simulations, job aids, discussion boards, polls, chat tools, and facilitated micro-learning. This blended learning approach, where eLearning is coupled with ILT, can improve learning effectiveness to a large extent. And believe me, Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) will be useful even beyond COVID- 19, especially when you are looking to cut costs and overcoming some of the limitations of in-person training.

Hereafter, I would not debate on which one is better – ILT or eLearning. Choosing an appropriate blend of both, along with a virtual classroom platform, is the right way to move ahead. VILT, instead of traditional ILT, is the new reality of learning. What are your thoughts? Has your organization shifted to designing and delivering VILT? How has your experience been? Write to me at to share your thoughts or to initiate a discussion.

In my next blog, I shall talk more about designing an effective VILT. Until, then stay safe. Keep learning.

Hospitals Count on Digital Healthcare Training Amid COVID- 19

Digital Healthcare Training

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages across the globe, most industries are facing unprecedented challenges. The healthcare industry is no different. Hospitals are struggling to find additional beds, ventilators, and creating new space for patients. Amid all this, hospitals have started relying on digital healthcare training modalities to protect patients and healthcare workers from contracting the disease. Remote monitoring, telehealth platforms, and Artificial Intelligence(AI)-powered assessment apps and devices have become the new norms.

Following are some ways hospitals are leveraging digital healthcare training to educate their staff as well as patients.

  1. Synchronized Just-In-Time Digital Healthcare Training

In order to prevent and reduce coronavirus exposure to emergency first responders and other hospital staff members (who are at higher contraction risk through their work duties), hospitals are offering synchronized just-in-time digital training in the form of micro-learning videos and simulations.Some popular training topics are:

  • How to monitor patients for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
  • How to keep patients, visitors, and healthcare professionals safe by using correct infection control practices including proper hand hygiene and selection and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • How to properly clean and disinfect environmental surfaces and equipment
  • Recommended actions for unprotected exposure (e.g., not using recommended PPE or an unrecognized infectious patient contact)
  1. Telehealth and Telemedicine Training

Telehealth and telemedicine have undoubtedly become mainstream during this period of crisis. Hospitals have been very quick to train their doctors and nurses to adjust to this change, as patients are now more accepting of this comparatively safer and more convenient form of care.

Doctors and nurses are virtually trained on topics like,

  • Telemedicine modes- audio, video, chat, store-and-forward, Prescription of drugs over telemedicine
  • Using technology to conduct nursing and deliver care from a remote location, Monitoring a patient’s oxygen levels, heart rate, respiration, blood glucose, and more in a telenursing setting.
  • Patient safety and informed consent in telemedicine
  1. Augmented and Virtual Reality for Healthcare Training

Hospitals have increased the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to train patients and healthcare professionals in slowing down and preventing deadly outbreaks.

For instance, there is specialized AR/VR training being designed for pathological scenarios, which is immensely useful.  New AR innovations are helping doctors and surgeons to diagnose, treat, and perform surgeries on their patients more accurately by giving them access to real-time data and patient information faster.  With the help of AR/VR, doctors can precisely study their patients’ anatomy by entering their MRI data and CT scans into an AR/VR headset and overlay specific patient anatomy on top of their body before actually treating them. 

  1. Nudge Learning

In the current situation, sharing updated and accurate information with required stakeholders as quickly as possible, is crucial. Hospitals are looking at smart tools to nudge their staff on latest safety measures, updates on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), government regulations, and other best practices. These nudges are basically short micro-learning nuggets which use various media elements (image, text, audio, or video). Nudge learning can also be used to reinforce learning from critical training modules by quizzing the learners and redirecting them to a micro-learning video or a course in case they answer incorrectly. For example, if a nurse takes a quiz on donning and doffing of PPE and gets a step wrong, they will be redirected to a video to correct their understanding.

With no clear end to the COVID- 19 crisis in sight, hospitals are strategically evaluating innovative approaches to fuel their digital training initiatives. Are you working in a hospital? What digital training initiatives have you being working on? Write to me at to initiate a discussion.

7 Tips to Make your Virtual Instructor-Led Training Sessions Interactive

As organizations adapt to remote working as the new normal, Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) is on the rise. However, VILT comes with a huge challenge of learner engagement. Trainers constantly need to look out for ways to generate and retain learner attention, curiosity, and interest.

How to Make Virtual Training Interactive?

Here are 7 tips that I personally recommend to driving engagement in VILT sessions.  

  1. It always helps to generate curiosity and interest amongst learners before the actual session. So, send out a teaser or a small learning nugget to learners ahead of time. A short video that talks about the content or an infographic about ‘what is in it for me’ will kindle interest in the learners and will make them want to know more. Remember that binge-watching after seeing a promotional snippet?  
  2. In times of increasingly short attention spans, visual engagement becomes extremely important to convey meaning and intent. Work on the visual appeal of the slide deck – use tools like Prezi to present neat and aesthetic visual material.   
  3. It could happen that there is not much that can be done with the session content and monotony becomes a threat. Introduce some interactive and lighter fillers to address this challenge. Play a video or present a set of images and follow it up with questions. It may deviate from the content slightly, but you have grabbed the attention you needed.  
  4. Include logical breaks in the session. Use inbuilt polls to take a pause and gather insights. Share the responses right away with the group. They would know what the group is thinking, and the collaborative learning environment will come alive.  
  5. Reflection and collaboration are often the most effective ways to involve learners in the content. Use your online meeting tool’s breakout rooms feature to create small groups and enable learners to collaborate. The timed discussion could focus on a quick problem to be solved or a scenario to be analyzed. Once the groups are back from breakout rooms, you can ask the group leaders to present their findings and conclusions.  
  6. Avoid performance grading during VILT sessions. In my experience, this inhibits participation. This is one thing which should be avoided at any cost to encourage maximum participation.  
  7. Do you think the training is over once the VILT session is over? Well, no. Remember the good old forgetting curve? It is applicable for VILT too. Create micro learning nuggets and push them for learning reinforcement periodically, after the session is over.  

In order to make virtual training interactive, when arranging for VILT, learners should be the center of all your planning and activities. You are sure to accomplish the learning objectives when you understand what the learners need to keep them engaged and committed to the learning experience.  

What are some things that you have you been doing to make your virtual training sessions interactive? Please comment below.

5 Ways Pharmaceutical Sales Reps Can Engage Better with Physicians Virtually

In my previous blog, I touched upon the impact of coronavirus pandemic on life sciences training. Within the life sciences ecosystem, the pharmaceutical industry is facing unique challenges as its popular in-person sales model has almost become non-existent. In-person meetings had their own advantage as the sales reps could convey the desired message more efficiently and connect better with physicians. But now, with the changed sales dynamics, there is a chance that sales reps will have lesser influence over physicians, which can eventually impact business. In order to minimize this impact and ensure business continuity, pharmaceutical sales teams are now switching to digital engagements, advanced analytics, and virtual training.  Sales reps are getting trained on digital channels via micro-learning videos, simulations, and scenario-based role plays. Their objective is not only to be effective on virtual sales calls but to go an extra mile in building deeper bonds with physicians.

Tips for Online Pharmaceutical Sales

Let us look at some approaches that a sales rep can use, to sell to physicians in a virtual environment:

  1. Playing a Consultative Role – It is important to understand the challenges that physicians might be facing in the current situation and suggest potential solutions. For e.g. a physician may be struggling to determine how to distinguish patients with existing chronic diseases from the ones who are actually affected by coronavirus. In such a case, the sales rep could suggest a solution like an AI powered chatbot, which can help to determine the actual health issue based on the patient response and in-turn schedule appointments.
  2. Personalizing Content – In the current times, it is normal for physicians to get flooded with generic solutions to their problems which could get too overwhelming. Sales reps should use this opportunity to work closely with their marketing team to identify new channels and draw strategies to cater to behavior and preference of each customer. Nudging physicians with personalized content should help to create a positive impression and get an edge over competitors.
  3. Supporting Patients – Sales reps can instill trust and confidence in their key customers by delivering medicines to home-bound patients and ensuring that supplies are not disrupted for specialty medications for patients. Such acts are generally valued and appreciated by customers, which eventually helps the sales rep – physician relationship.
  4. Sharpening Skills – Sales reps should get trained on delivering effective sales pitches virtually, product training, role plays, and more. Knowledge on market, competitors, innovative technologies, and customer pain points will help engage physicians better.
  5. Keeping Customers Engaged – “Keep your customers engaged” seems to be mantra for success in these tough times. Pharmaceutical sales reps must leverage new technologies and try innovative ways to keep their customers engaged as part of their long-term strategy.  Although some companies have launched ‘return-to-work’ policies, sales reps should still be ready and armed to sell virtually and build informal relationship with physicians. This would not only add value to the current engagement but also ensure  business continuity beyond COVID- 19.

Are you from the pharmaceutical industry? What are some challenges you have been facing in virtual selling? Write to me at to initiate a discussion.


6 Key Things to Consider as Universities Plan to Go Online

Universities across the globe are seeing a huge drop in number of students enrolling for campus education. They are also facing a higher drop-out ratio due to student inability to pay fees in wake of COVID- 19. It is being predicted that many universities and higher-ed institutes may have a sustenance challenge in the coming months if they do not act fast. Mid-tier and small universities, which always had a campus curriculum, are suddenly under a pressure to completely go online.

Going online does not only pertain to delivering classes online using zoom or WebEx; but instead, a complete digital transformation of academic operations and delivery. It affects everyone in the university. And such a transformation can take years to be successful. But do universities have that amount of time in hand? The obvious answer is NO. Then how can a university get this done right rapidly?

Here are few short-term solutions that a university can consider while going online:

1) Use Google Meet or Zoom to take online classes.

2) Use default Moodle with minimum customization to host all your online class details. It does not take more than a couple of weeks to get this up and running.

3) Add some engagement in your online sessions through interactive games, quizzes, exercises, and more.

4) Use a simple nudge system like short emails with key points, concepts, and definitions to reinforce learning content

5) Offer a few free online sessions to attract new registrations to your classes

6) Try and create some marketing collateral such as student success testimonials, parent experiences, and more to promote on social media and university website. Marketing it right would help you get more online registrations to classes and eventually sustain the university.

To get this all streamlined and implemented rapidly, perhaps the most appropriate thing would be to interact with a consulting company which has been into the online learning industry for a considerable period of time and has enough experience in the following fields:

– Technology selection

– Systems to go online

– Tools for teachers, students, administrative, and support functions

– Content development expertise to convert Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to online-friendly sessions

– Rapid yet effective innovative solutions to reduce dropout

– Student engagement solutions for pre- and post-class

Once your short-term system is set, then you can start planning the long term. Do ensure you consider all aspects stated above.

What are some interesting solutions you have used in your university which can be shared with other fellow educators? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.