Virtual instructor-led training (VILT) combines online tools with real-time instruction, offering interactive, flexible, and cost-effective learning experiences.
Virtual learning and training are here to stay. Most businesses have adopted virtual training in some form or another. However, many still need to optimize their strategy to include the most effective blend of training styles for better learning outcomes.
Virtual instructor-led training (VILT) is a powerful strategy that blends eLearning with the familiar parts of the traditional classroom experience. When VILT is part of your workplace training strategy, training initiatives have greater depth and effectiveness. Plus, your learners tend to enjoy it more!
Significant differences and important choices about delivering VILT exist, so we’ve written your complete guide to virtual instructor-led training. We’ll discuss what it is, its biggest benefits, some best practices, and the tools you need to do it well.
Grab your pencil and notebook; class is in session!
What is Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT)?
VILT is training or education delivered online by a teacher or facilitator for a group of participants. VILT is a form of synchronous learning that recreates an online classroom, with an instructor or facilitator interacting with students for maximum comprehension and positive learning outcomes.
Video conferencing platforms are ideal for hosting VILT. They provide remote access and two-way interaction between learners and the teacher, distinguishing VILT from other types of workplace training.
VILT is one approach that modern organizations are blending into their overall L&D strategy to offer employees valuable training and professional development opportunities. Virtual training has become popular for its convenience, flexibility and because it accommodates a wide range of learning styles. And VILT provides the social benefits of training, making it more engaging and enjoyable than clicking through slides solo behind the computer screen!
Types of Instructor-Led Training (ILT)
Instructor-led training can be used in several different ways to support your L&D goals and initiatives. These are a few types of virtual ILT:
This is the online iteration of a traditional classroom learning experience. A trainer, manager, or subject matter expert leads a group of learners through the material to achieve a specific learning objective. Various formats and activities convey the new information and help it stick.
Mentoring and coaching sessions
These sessions can be smaller (as small as 3:1 or even 1:1) for the targeted purpose of mentoring or coaching. Similar methods to large courses can still be used, but the session is highly personalized to help learners achieve professional development goals.
This popular VILT format is less interactive since generally, participants send their messages or questions in the chat rather than interacting live. But webinars still involve one or more instructors presenting information live to a group of learners.
Different strategies can be used during a VILT session to go beyond a pure lecture or slideshow. A few examples include:
- Watching videos with a guiding question to answer while watching
- Using a digital whiteboard to map concepts or encourage feedback
- Instant survey tools to poll learners and gauge engagement and comprehension
The Benefits of VILT for Employee Development
There are lots of general benefits of VILT in the workplace (general accessibility, cost savings, and scalability). But employee development and upskilling are currently a high priority for organizations, and VILT is also a great way to achieve those specific goals and invest in your teams.
These are a few benefits of VILT for developing your employees.
1. Promote & provide upskilling
Travel, venue rentals, food, and other materials for in-person training add up quickly. VILT provides more frequent and consistent opportunities for upskilling and ongoing training. Joining a one-day conference or session virtually is easier than blocking off 1-3 days in-person.
Whether the training is done in-house or by bringing external experts, VILT is something you can easily promote to your teams & encourage their participation.
2. Access to experts & diverse voices
VILT allows learners to connect with experts in various fields – all without leaving their office or home office! Virtual training has broadened reach and accessibility so more employees can learn new skills and explore areas of interest in a way that fits busy schedules.
The beauty of the online format allows instructors to be based anywhere in the world, increasing the diversity and range of expertise. Sometimes we get in a professional echo chamber, and learning in a new group can shake up assumptions to try things in a new way.
3. Ultimate flexibility
It’s a catch-22: time for workplace training is contested and scarce, but training and upskilling are more necessary than ever! VILT offers flexibility in 3 big ways:
- Environment – Learners can participate in training courses wherever they have an internet connection. That also means learners from anywhere worldwide could participate, making for a more diverse group. This is a big advantage of virtual training!
- Pace – Incorporating microlearning into VILT helps learners to digest information and better absorb course material. The live teaching sessions can also be recorded and made available for repeat viewing using an LMS. VILT can also be mixed into a larger eLearning course or learning track, with required reading, videos, and assessments between the live teaching sessions.
- Learning Styles – virtual instructor-led training caters to many learning styles. For example, webinars tend to give less time to interactive elements, but VILT emphasizes frequent collaboration and interaction between the instructor and students. With a multimedia approach, learners will absorb the information faster and be able to put it into practice on the job.
Best Practices to Deliver Virtual Instructor-Led Training
Because of certain limitations with virtual training, keep these tips in mind as you plan and deliver VILT sessions.
1. Choose the right LMS
A dynamic online learning platform provides the ideal foundation for your VILT. Select an LMS that makes enrollment, taking attendance, sending reminders, and messaging participants much easier.
2. Incorporate varied media formats
Use a range of content formats to help learners meaningfully engage with the materials. Instead of talking through a slide deck the entire time, incorporate infographics, videos, and activities in breakout rooms, and take questions throughout.
3. Prepare for technical difficulties
We’ve all experienced frozen Zoom screens, audio glitches, and other video conferencing struggles. Unfortunately, we’ve also realized these are usually out of our control!
Stay prepared by sending out important materials to learners beforehand, so they’ll have a pre-lecture activity to work through, a quiz, or links to relevant articles if there is a technical issue and the class needs to take a break.
4. Use microlearning and interactive elements
Spotting boredom or low engagement during virtual learning can be more difficult. Split up longer lectures with features like:
- Breakout sessions
5. Consider a co-teacher
Virtual training requires extra administration (like moderating comments or responding to private messages), and having a co-teacher or facilitator can make those tasks much easier to manage. Co-facilitators can also share the teaching burden and keep things fresh with a different style and perspective.
6. Don’t forget to follow-up
A simple check-in can do wonders for learner satisfaction and learner engagement. Follow-up with course attendees to:
- gather feedback
- answer any questions
- inform them of upcoming courses & learning opportunities
Online Tools for Instructor-Led Training
Any other video conferencing platform or software can allow you to facilitate VILT, but some offer better features than others!
At the most basic level, you’ll need a tool like Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams to support the live group teaching and discussion. These offer features like:
- Video & audio conferencing
- Screen sharing
- Live chat
- Breakout rooms
- Recording capabilities
Certain administrative aspects of teaching over Zoom can be more difficult if you’re using the tool in isolation. That’s why a Learning Management System (LMS) is a powerful tool to support VILT.
An LMS offers the scaffolding and tools to support all your workplace training. Integrations with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet make it effortless to:
- Plan VILT sessions
- Create course materials
- Invite or assign users to join a VILT session
- Automatically send meeting links and attendance reminders
- Distribute pre-session materials
- Track attendance
- Administer follow-up assessments
Plus, live sessions can be integrated into a longer learning track or Journey alongside asynchronous modules and self-paced content.
What is the Difference between Virtual Instructor-led Training and Online Learning?
The biggest difference is the live component of VILT! General online learning may include recordings from instructors or experts explaining a topic, but those won’t be live sessions. Training modules can be taken whenever the learner has time instead of a set course meeting time. Most online learning is done alone, without a live group or fellow learners to interact with.
VILT, however, provides real-time interaction with a teacher and other learners on the same platform simultaneously.
How long should instructor-led training be?
Generally, VILT sessions should last 1 - 2 hours (maximum). As you’re developing your training sessions, honestly evaluate the areas where learners may drop off – and remember, they’ll be clicks away from other distractions on their devices during the training session anyway. Keep your pace quick enough and the material plentiful enough to keep things fresh.
For this reason, VILT is great to be broken into smaller chunks and interspersed throughout a longer eLearning course, with follow-up studies or assessments between live sessions.
What is the advantage of instructor-led training?
There’s a bonus advantage of virtual training that we didn’t mention above: adaptability! During VILT, instructors can pivot on the spot to answer questions, re-word, or explain topics differently to accommodate the real learners in the virtual room.
In contrast, learners who work independently without the live teaching component may be less likely to raise questions and have fewer opportunities to check their knowledge as they’re learning.
Is instructor-led training better than self-paced learning?
There are benefits and drawbacks to both! That’s why most L&D teams incorporate some instructor-led and some self-paced parts to workplace training.
Instructor-led (or synchronous training):
- Provides structure and real-time feedback
- Provides the social interaction and motivation of a group setting
- Allows for personalization when the instructor adapts material for learners on the spot
Self-paced (or asynchronous training):
- Fits around busy and unpredictable work schedules
- Saves time and money as training materials can be re-used and re-played indefinitely
- Good fit for independent learners, remote contractors, or others who prefer solo training
Continu reading: Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning
Virtual Instructor-led training offers some great benefits to enhance your workplace training. Chances are that you’ve incorporated some type of VILT before. But now you’ve had a refresher on the distinctiveness of the technique and some best practices to consider.
What will you be taking to implement into your next VILT session?
As we explained, an LMS is one tool guaranteed to take your VILT to the next level. Why?
- You can easily incorporate live training sessions into longer learning tracks.
- Powerful automations make it simple to assign users, send meeting links, track attendance, and share materials.
- Deep integrations with essential tools like Zoom, MS Teams, and Google Meet save you time and effort in planning and delivering VILT sessions.
Continu is the LMS partner you need to integrate VILT into your workplace training strategy seamlessly.
Instructors will love the ease of administration and data-rich reporting tools. Learners will love the simple reminders, straightforward interface, and organized training content libraries.