Instructor-led Training, eLearning, Learning Management-System

Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) Guide & Best Practices

7 min read | Jun 27, 2023
Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) Guide & Best Practices cover image

Say goodbye to the days of commuting to a physical space for training sessions, and say hello to an engaging learning experience that brings everyone together, regardless of their location. With Virtual Instructor-led Training (VILT), the world becomes your classroom since learning happens online with virtual classrooms.

As of 2020, an impressive 90% of corporate training teams use VILT to make training more accessible and flexible. But what exactly is VILT? And how can you set up a successful VILT program of your own?

In this post, we’ll be answering these questions and more.

What is Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT)?

VILT stands for virtual instructor-led training. As you’ve probably gathered from the name, VILT is a virtual take on instructor-led training (ILT), but let’s unpack what that actually means:

  • Virtual: Learners and instructors meet virtually on a digital platform or virtual learning environment (VLE).
  • Instructor-Led: Instructors deliver training sessions in real-time, so learners can ask questions, interact with peers, and receive instant feedback. The alternative to instructor-led is on-demand courses which can be accessed by users whenever they feel like it!
  • Training: Learners acquire new skills or build on existing knowledge.

VILT programs rely on learning management systems like Academy of Mine (AOM) to create content, deliver sessions, offer feedback, and report on progress.

Take Paragon Compliance, for example, they use AOM to create compliant HR course materials and deliver the information via large online group classes.

What are the different types of Virtual Instructor Led Training

All kinds of training formats can fall under the VILT umbrella, including:

  • One-to-One: A virtual 1-on-1 training between an instructor and student (great for individualized learning).
  • Small-Group: A small group of learners (usually 3-20) can interact with both the instructor and each other via a video conferencing tool or virtual classroom.
  • Webinar: A large-scale virtual event where one or more presenters share information with many viewers. Webinars are great marketing tools to attract customers.
  • Lecture: A virtual classroom-style training where an instructor presents information to students (usually taking questions at the end).
  • Workshop: A high-interaction environment where instructors and students collaborate on a project or task virtually.
  • MOOC (Massive Open Online Course): A large-scale online training course with hundreds if not thousands of participants.

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Why Is VILT Important?

There are tons of reasons why so many businesses are turning to VILT programs for onboarding, upskilling, compliance training, and beyond:

1) Reduces Costs

In-person training can come with a range of costs: travel expenses, room and board, venue fees, lost time, and more. Switching to VILT saves money by cutting out these expenses.

How much? Well, one study found that switching from ILT to VILT saves $9,550–$15,870.

2) Boosts Engagement

VILT is a happy medium between more expensive ILT programs and self-paced learning programs, which tend to be more cost-effective and scalable (but they’re less engaging for learners). Since VILT is synchronous and interactive, student engagement rates tend to be nearly as high as traditional classroom training!

3) Offers Greater Convenience

VILT is a highly accessible training format. Students from any location can join sessions and hone their skills, regardless of time constraints and ability to travel.

How To Create a Successful VILT Program

Ready for your step-by-step guide to creating and running effective VILT programs? Let’s dive right in.

1) Choose the best LMS

Not all LMSs have the core features needed to run VILT programs. Even those that do, may not have the additional capabilities, integrations, and extras needed to run them well.

The first step in choosing an LMS to handle your VILT programs is looking for specific features.

  • Content Management: VILT programs rely on training materials and assets just like any other kind of training—look for a tool with native authoring features and the ability to upload SCORM-compliant course materials.

  • Interactive Tools & Features: On a similar note, you need to be able to supplement your live instruction with interactive classroom elements like polls, discussions, written assignments, and assessments.

  • Video Conferencing: This can either be through native video features or integrations with video conferencing tools like GoToMeeting, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams.

Image of AOM features

  • Scheduling & Reminders: Since VILT happens live, you need the ability to schedule courses in advance, assign instructors (and enroll students), and send notifications about upcoming sessions.
  • Reporting: Most businesses will also need the ability to track employee progress, attendance, and completion through dashboards and reports.

The goal is to find an LMS that at the very least supports all these tools and hopefully more!

For example, Academy of Mine arms you with all the tools listed above, plus a whole host of additional features like visual platform branding and feature customization. It’s an all-in-one tool designed to make creating and delivering VILT programs as simple as possible.

2) Learn Your Platform Before the Session

Even easy-to-use LMS platforms take some getting used to. To minimize day-of issues and enhance the trainee experience, you need to learn the ropes well before you start scheduling sessions using your learning management system.

Not sure where to start? Have a few teammates create accounts and work through the following checklist:

  • Create a lesson (include multimedia and interactive elements)
  • Create a course or program
  • Integrate your video conferencing tool
  • Invite students and instructors
  • Schedule a Virtual Instructor-led Training (VILT)
  • Assign instructors and students to the session
  • Run the session
  • Mark attendance and completion
  • Generate reports, certificates, etc.

Ideally, the LMS you’re using will also offer onboarding services to support this process.

At Academy of Mine, we make sure to help all our users learn their way around the platform quickly and efficiently with free onboarding support for all and a dedicated customer success manager available on some plans.

3) Identify and Understand Your Audience

The demographics, location, and size of your audience (i.e., the people who will attend your program) are hugely important factors in course design.

To give a simple example, face-to-face time with the instructor is one advantage that VILT has over self-paced learning. But if you enroll too many students in a single session, you’re effectively canceling out this advantage.

To avoid issues like this, consider the following:

  • Class Size: What is your ideal class size? Once you answer this question, you can work out how many sessions you’ll need to schedule to accommodate all attendees.
  • Assessments & Activities: Not all assessments and activities will work in all contexts. You need to think about class size and audience preferences when you’re creating both.
  • Location: Time zone differences may make it difficult for some attendees to make certain sessions. Offering alternative times or supplementing with self-paced learning options are potential solutions.

4. Establish Clear Goals

visual of learning goals

The final step before we start creating training materials is establishing a clear goal (or goals) for your VILT program. These can take many forms—including learning objectives, business goals, or even personal benchmarks.

It’s important to make sure goals are measurable, achievable, and time-bound to keep everyone on track.

5) Create Student Lesson Guides

Since VILT sessions are live, students run the risk of losing out on important information if they step away for a minute or zone out. Creating supplementary guides for each lesson is an easy way to ensure that information isn’t slipping through the cracks.

To create these, pull out key action items from your lesson materials and break them down into step-by-step instructions. Then simply add visuals and supporting materials, and upload them to your LMS. You can also record VILT sessions and include them in a course for learners to access on demand after a VILT session is over.

6) Convert Content to Match the Virtual Environment

VILT programs are at their most engaging when the content is interactive. That means you can’t necessarily just upload old training materials as they are—it might take a bit of work to get them ready.

Some kinds of content translate well to the VILT format. For example, a PowerPoint presentation allows learners to follow along while the instructor presents new information.

That isn’t always the case, though. Long-form texts, videos, and other materials may need to be either adapted (e.g., broken down into smaller chunks) or replaced (e.g., videos might be replaced with interactive quizzes). One way to freshen up old learning content and transform it into effective material is with an external authoring tool. Speaking of which, we’re currently developing a game-changing authoring tool that will be available soon!

7) Use a Wide Variety of Media Formats in Your Courses

visual of the difference types of media formats for online learning content

VILT gives program creators a ton of freedom to experiment with different media formats to enhance the learning experience. The main benefit of using different media and assessment formats in a course is this adds a range of dynamics for students to enjoy.

Some media formats include:

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Interactive modules
  • Documents
  • Presentations
  • Role-Plays
  • Assessments, like quizzes and tests.
  • Writing assignments, and more.

As a general rule, variety is good since it keeps learners excited and on their toes. For example, if you have a 6-week course that meets once a week, instead of lecturing for the full session, use some videos and presentations to spice things up.

Different formats have pros and cons depending on the training context (i.e., a self-paced course vs. a VILT session). If you're running a virtual instructor-led compliance training program, assessments will be good for ensuring employees have completed training. However, you probably don’t need to give as many assessments to new hires enrolled in an onboarding program.

8) Collect Feedback

Collecting feedback is the easiest way to fine-tune your VILT program. It gives you quick insights into how trainees are perceiving training materials, program structure, and more.

Collecting feedback is easy with a tool like Academy of Mine thanks to built-in survey and feedback management features. You can send out a range of question types—including star ratings, short answer forms, and multiple choice—to get the feedback you need.

gathering learners feedback

Want to analyze your data? Either analyze it directly inside AOM or export it to your favorite analytics tool.

9) Track and Measure the Success of Your Training

When monitoring your VILT program, there are plenty of areas you could monitor but these three are the most important:

  • Trainee Outcomes: How employees perform post-training vs. pre-training, You can dial into this using LMS reports.
  • Trainee Feedback: How employees feel about their experience (as we covered above).
  • Business Outcomes: How the training is impacting business metrics and KPIs (e.g., employee retention, customer satisfaction, etc.).

In addition to monitoring the success of your training, you should also be conducting regular training evaluations to identify gaps that are hindering the program’s success.

Support Your VILT Programs With the Right Tech

Running a successful VILT program is very much dependent on the tools you use. Make the wrong choice, and you may wind up impacting the trainee experience.

At Academy of Mine, we arm businesses with an all-in-one tool for delivering engaging training programs—whether they’re VILTs, ILTs, self-paced, or blended. From course creation to reporting, you have all the tools you need to make a positive impact.

Book a demo to see how Academy of Mine simplifies virtual learning.

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