Because platforms for Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT) provide a very useful platform for many types of presentations and because there has been a lack of clarity around nomenclature in this platform, many people run the risk of determining that VILT is NOT a viable training platform. They end up ‘shooting the messenger’ or determining that VILT cannot work before they’ve seen it delivered as it’s meant to be delivered.
VILT can be a highly effective classroom platform for all kinds of training: technical, soft skills and everything in between. But most of what is dubbed training is not in fact true training (the goal of training is to impact one’s performance – in other words as a result of the training, the individual can do or say something new.) In order to do that, the learner must have the opportunity to practice and apply their new skills, AND they need to get feedback on how they are using the skills.
The other challenge is often what actually is training has not been optimized for the virtual platform. So a great instructor led class, ported over into a virtual platform, simply doesn’t work. So with these two factors combined, we’ve set a bad precedent for Virtual Online Training. We have learners disengaged with the learning process and facilitators frustrated with trying virtual delivery and swearing it off forever! And we end up shooting the messenger, before we can see what the promise of Live Online Training really can deliver.
So what is, and what isn’t Virtual Instructor Led Training?
Well, it is NOT a webinar. A webinar is a presentation where one person takes the platform and delivers some kind of knowledge. This could be a CEO delivering a new branding message, a technical expert providing specification to a sales team on a new product but a webinar is designed as a one-to-many presentation. Hundreds of people can join such a presentation because no interaction is necessary and there is no new skill performance to apply after the training. I think of this as ‘knowledge transfer.’ All you really need is the expert providing his/her knowledge and an audience to receive it.
We’ve all taken these kinds of webinars: seduced by a compelling title but soon into the presentation, we know we can tune out because no one is expecting us to DO anything with our new knowledge at the end of the webinar. So, we jet off a quick email, text someone, catch up on an article that’s been sitting on our desk for a while, or dash off to get a drink of water, tea, or coffee. Come on, we’ve all done it!
So, if you’ve been to something that was called a training but was just a knowledge transfer, don’t let that taint your view on VILT.
The other area of confusion is that ‘online’ training is often confused with Virtual training. Online training is defined as any training done on your computer. Live Online Training, the other term for Virtual Instructor Led Training. However, online training is another term for ‘eLearning’ which is self-paced training where the participant progresses through the content at their own pace. There is no facilitator or instructor available and again there is confusion in the nomenclature.
With all this confusion about what is and what isn’t VILT, many people have had a less than inspiring experience in the virtual platform and may have written off VILT for good. So let’s give it a fair chance. Consider that true Virtual Instructor Led Training – is a very small group 10-12 people, participating in learning that will help them improve their performance on the job. In this virtual platform they have a chance to try the skills, practice them, get feedback and to reflect on those skills. If we use that definition of learning, then we can make a pretty compelling case for virtual Instructor Led. Let’s not shot the messenger without giving virtual training a fair try!