The Case for Virtual Training

Virtual Instructor-Led training blends the social benefits of classroom training with the speed, agility, and cost effectiveness of e-learning. These are the seven ways that virtual training has become the new standard for an impactful learning experience.

In-Classroom Training Doesn’t Always Cut it

Few would contest that the most powerful learning experience includes dynamic in-classroom training with collaborative breakouts and experiential learning elements delivered by a talented, passionate instructor.

In-classroom training is perhaps the very best overall emotional experience for participants. This is in large part due to the social element and personal interaction with the trainer. However, classroom-based instructor-led training is both expensive and inefficient when compared to its alternatives.

Often, the investment in the trainer (and licensing if applicable) does not outweigh the other non-training expenses that arise, such as:

  • Travel and meals
  • Lost productivity while participants are out of the field and in the classroom
  • Training venue (the dedicated space in your building or rented space at a hotel or conference center)
  • Printed materials (name tags, tent cards, hand-outs, and workbooks)
  • Liability insurance
  • Indirect environmental costs – energy consumption and carbon emissions

In fact, we surveyed our clients and found that between 50-80% of classroom-based instructor-led training investment is spent on non-training expenses like those listed above. Because so much money is wasted on expenses that are unrelated to training, it is more challenging to squeeze ROI out of in-person training programs.

Why Not e-Learning?

In the case of self-directed e-learning, people can consume a series of videos, online modules, and assessments and learn on their own terms anywhere, anytime, on any device. It is a cheap and easy way to rapidly train lots of people. But most people, left to their own devices, abandon the training. As such, otherwise competent people take an easy online course and fail the end of course assessment.

They clicked through the content on the LMS without paying attention and retained none of the valuable information. The fact is that people learn better and training tends to stick when learning and collaborating with other people, which is an experience that self-directed e-learning does not provide.

The Shift to Working From Home

The global coronavirus pandemic accelerated the widespread adoption of virtual training. As organizations shifted from working together in office buildings to working from home, the entire education, training, learning and development apparatus pivoted in an instant from classroom-based training to virtual training.

Additionally, travel budgets always get slashed during recessions, which is generally devastating to private training companies and corporate learning & development departments. But when times are bad, elevating and training talent gives organizations a competitive edge.

Virtual Instructor-Led Training blends the social learning benefits of classroom-based training with the speed, agility and cost effectiveness of e-learning – without the wasted expenses associated with the physical classroom.

These conditions gave Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) its rise to fame, and rightfully so.

7 Ways That Virtual Instructor-Led Training Has Changed the Game

Agile and Flexible

Virtual training can be delivered in almost any configuration over any duration. For example, an eight-hour virtual training might be delivered (sequenced) in eight one-hour or four two-hour sessions with time in between for practice, homework assignments, and blended e-learning content.

Low Risk and Rapid Iteration

Experimenting and piloting virtual training initiatives makes more sense because the risk and cost of failure is low. Likewise, virtual training deploys fast and continuously improves with little risk to the organization or negative impact on the learners.

No Walls and Few Limits

Learners may access virtual training sessions from almost anywhere with an internet connection on any device. There are many accommodation options to make virtual training sessions as accessible for as many learners as possible, and the simple truth is that classroom training which requires any kind of travel is not inclusive for all learners.

Virtual training offers opportunities for auto-captioning and editing the captions for accuracy to support English language learners, deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals, and others who may benefit from being able to access the content through more than one sense.

Session Review

Instructors can record virtual sessions and make them available for learners to review in the LMS. Therefore, if a participant misses a session, it is easy to catch up and stay on track. This also enables studying and practice of the material outside of the virtual session.

Enhanced and Extended Communication

Interactive breakout groups and discussion boards make it easy for participants and instructors to collaborate, get feedback, and communicate both inside and outside of the classroom. This helps the learned material stick and offers the shared community and experience of a classroom cohort.

Structure and Freedom

Virtual instructor-led training provides the structured, social learning environment that humans require for true behavioral change. It also maintains the freedom from the confines of the physical classroom that is so appealing with e-learning. It lets the participants learn the way humans learn best, in short sequential chunks of information.

Learning outcomes improve when there is time between sessions for participants to practice their new skills in the real world. Learning by doing, followed by instructor coaching, is impractical with most classroom-based training.

Experiential learning reduces the likelihood that learners will abandon the training or fail to apply the information they’ve learned. This makes virtual training a more profitable investment for organizations.

Virtual is Green

And last but not least, virtual training is also green. Most modern organizations strive to reduce their overall carbon footprint. Similarly, many employees are concerned about climate change and sustainability. According to an Open University study, virtual training consumes nearly 90% less energy and produces 85% fewer CO2 emissions than classroom-based training.

Virtual training offers a fantastic alternative to traditional training, which involves extensive travel and printed materials. For organizations who make environmental consciousness a cornerstone of their business, virtual training aligns with their values.

Virtual Training is the Future

The scheduled live training sessions, in-classroom activities and breakouts, homework assignments, blended self-paced learning, and accountability make VILTs far superior to e-learning and most classroom-based training.

Trying to re-create the social and collaborative environment of the physical classroom in a virtual setting presents many challenges. Yet, virtual training makes up for this shortcoming in its cost effectiveness, accessibility, structure, flexibility, and opportunities for extended communication and experiential learning.

In Jeb Blount’s new book, Virtual Training, he gives you a step-by-step guide to delivering a legendary virtual learning experience.

About the author

Jeb Blount

Jeb Blount is one of the most sought-after and transformative speakers in the world…

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