Virtual instructor-led training, or VILT, is education facilitated by an instructor that can occur in a synchronous (live) or asynchronous (self-scheduled or reviewed) virtual format. This saves valuable time and money for the utility, the instructor, and the student. Industries use VILT to train and onboard employees and colleges offer undergraduate and graduate VILT programs. Certificates from Udemy or Coursera? Those are VILT as well. Most of us have experienced a form of VILT at some point in our academic or professional careers, and as I’m sure some of you have experienced, not all virtual training (instructor-led or not) is engaging. I don’t know about you, but a locked slide with a timer has been present in a few of my nightmares. Accelerant Solutions has a solution for boredom and burnout in virtual training: PLANT™. PLANT™ is a web-based authoring tool and application that allows editing, revising, and organizing all training content in a centralized location.
What does an effective, student-focused, engaging VILT program need aside from good intentions?
Instructional Design with Impactful Interactions. This is more important in a virtual environment than in a traditional classroom. Virtual learners have unique needs and require a different design plan. A lesson that lasts too long or does not provide engagement opportunities can quickly lose student interest. Be sure that the platform you are using to develop the program has interactivity features to encourage engagement and keep students motivated. Consider including adaptive learning, peer groups, polls, quizzes, and virtual labs in the instructional design. PLANT™ includes engagement activities, interactive knowledge checks, and other features to enhance the student experience and increase retention.
Customized Content for the VILT Environment. Content used in a traditional classroom can be used in a VILT environment, but adjustments will be necessary. For example, a VILT course will be graphic and media-rich, and should not be overloaded with content elements. A slide overrun with material can induce cognitive overload and lose student focus. The instructor should provide guidance and highlight important points with audio or scripted material, there is no need to read a slide to the class. Speaking of the script… It’s okay to “read the room” and take cues from students, especially in a synchronous course. Deviating from the script to go over a concept in more detail or to encourage critical thought is never a bad idea. A passionate and knowledgeable instructor is the greatest tool a student can access, so an effective VILT course should be student-focused, with solid instructor support.
Opportunities to Collaborate. A VILT course gives students opportunities to share information, participate in group projects, and peer teach. These opportunities are great ways for students to practice application, communication, collaborative learning, and other 21st-century skills while instructors gather feedback on student progress and identify potential areas of need. Knowledge retention is increased when students are actively engaged in their learning experience, so consider what content areas should include the collaborative component.
There are many possibilities in virtual instructor-led training; try a blended learning approach or flip the classroom and cultivate a learning community at your utility. With this newfound knowledge of virtual instructor-led training, do you have questions about implementation strategies and/or platforms for consideration? Do you have design or development questions? Can your instructors benefit from professional development in this area? Please reach out to me or Doug Henderson to learn more about PLANT™ and other products, services, and expertise Accelerant Solutions has to offer to enhance and innovate your training environment!