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,
- 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,
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.