Is Virtual Instructor-Led Training a Sustainable Learning Solution for Corporates?

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At the end of the year 2019, L&D teams across the world would never have imagined the crisis that would affect them a few months into 2020. L&D leaders who had painstakingly prepared training and self-paced learning programs for different employees saw all their plans collapsing as the global pandemic saw companies down-sizing and also a complete transition to “work-from-home”. It became the new normal. 2020 thus became the most challenging year for L&D teams to figure out a way to deploy learning solutions for their employees. One solution that has come to the rescue of L&D teams is the use of Virtual Instructor-Led Training to educate employees. Our previous blog post examined how companies could make an effective transition from normal instructor-led training to virtual instructor-led training. In this blog post, we will examine use-cases for virtual instructor-led training or VILT and see if it can work as a sustainable and long-term solution to meet the growing demands of corporate training.

Is Virtual Instructor-Led Training a Sustainable Learning Solution for Corporates?

Traditional Instructor-Led Training vs Virtual Instructor-Led Training vs Self-Paced eLearning 

Corporate learning and training falls into three categories:

  • Instructor-Led Training or ILT
  • Virtual Instructor-Led Training or VILT 
  • Self-Paced eLearning

Instructor-Led Training

This is the traditional learning format wherein the learners and the instructor are at the same place and the instructor guides the learners to complete the training program. This could be a combination of hand-outs and web-based learning and the instructor validating the progress of the learners by assessing their skills with a graded test at the end of the training program. This learning/teaching format presents multiple challenges. One instructor cannot offer dedicated guidance and training to more than 20 or 25 learners at any given time. It might also be difficult to get all 20 or 25 employees to be present on the chosen date or dates for the duration of the training program. If an expert instructor has to be brought in from another city; his or her transport and accommodation costs have to be borne by the company along with the professional fees quoted by the instructor. The training could be created by the instructor and customized as per the needs of the audience. Or, the instructor could use the existing training content available in the company and use it to train the audience/learners with his/her expertise.

Virtual Instructor-Led Training

Also known as VILT – this form of training replaces the physical presence of an actual instructor during the training session with a virtual instructor that can be an instructor who is available online and guiding the learners or could be an interactive animated character or AI-powered chatbot that is programmed to guide the learners. In case of an actual virtual instructor, the instructor could use Skype or Google Meet or Zoom to interact in real time with the learners. Alternatively, the LMS or LXP used to deploy the training program could have its own real-time video-based communication tool for two-way feedback and discussions.

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The other form of a virtual instructor is the AI-powered virtual chatbot that is already being used to great success by banks to help guide customers navigate their websites and use their services. Similarly, product-driven companies and retail businesses are using AI-powered chatbots to improve the customer experience on their websites and boost business. Be it responding to basic queries regarding the availability of a product, a complaint, or queries regarding how to use a specific feature or function; AI-powered chatbots are redefining virtual instructor-led training and the overall customer experience. This article published on the Forbes website offers more insights on how companies are using AI to enhance the customer experience. 

Self-Paced eLearning

This is the most common and popular learning format for corporates. Designing and deploying an eLearning solution that can be accessed by the employees or learners at any given time, which they can complete at their own pace and convenience. Self-paced eLearning programs are designed in such a way that they do not require the presence of an instructor to guide the learners to complete the program. Completely self-explanatory with detailed instructions to complete each module; self-paced eLearning programs have been around for some time and were considered as a quick and easy way to train employees. One key problem that these programs have is that all learners or employees may not be at the same level of intelligence and a common program for everyone may not have the right impact. Self-paced eLearning may work for Health & Safety Training courses or for Statutory Compliance Training. But this format may not work for complex technology-based training solutions.

What is a Sustainable Learning Solution?

A sustainable learning solution can be defined as a learning solution that can last for a long period of time and with minor updates meet all training requirements for a period of 3 to 5 years. Typically, this works well for employee training and induction programs, safety and health training programs, and regulatory compliance training programs. A sustainable learning solution is a solution that can be customized and deployed with ease and would need minimum intervention from the original course/program developers during the course of its usage. From a financial perspective, such a learning solution should not be too expensive and companies should be able to derive benefits from it once the solution is deployed for employee or customer learning. The next section will present some use-cases for using virtual instructor-led training programs.

Use Case-1 for Virtual Instructor-Led Training

Employee Induction and Orientation Training

Before the pandemic a traditional employee induction and orientation training program would mean that the employee would be clubbed together with other new employees and made to attend a series of sessions by different department heads. These sessions would be supported by videos and PowerPoint presentations and employees would just frantically wait for the sessions to end quickly. What the pandemic has effectively done is to move the induction and orientation programs completely online. This is a brilliant use case for a virtual instructor-led training program. Once all joining formalities in terms of paperwork are completed; the employee can be made to attend a virtual employee induction program online. Employees can be given access to the company LMS or Intranet where the online program is hosted and be supported by the presence of a senior member from the HR team who can do a walkthrough of the program. Instead of explaining all the key rules of the company an employee handbook in eBook format can work effectively. Allow the employee to explore the official intranet and get necessary information. The HR person guiding the new employees during the virtual induction program plays the role of the virtual instructor.

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Use Case-2 for Virtual Instructor-Led Training

English Language Training Programs for Working Professionals

The English Language Learning Market is expected to be worth $49.93 billion by the year 2027. Asia and Africa are largest markets for English Language Training (ELT) and there are several companies who have invested heavily in coming up with easy learning solutions ranging from mobile apps to self-paced online learning programs, and in-person training centres. 

For corporates having skilled employees with excellent communication and English skills is an important element of doing business. This holds great importance for people in sales, customer support, client relations, and those in a PR-oriented role in larger companies. Alternatively, if you are a company that is focused on designing learning solutions as a revenue stream then it is important for your content team to be thoroughly trained. A virtual instructor-led training program for English Language Training that is structured as per roles; example – Business Communication and Email, Customer Support Speech Training, Basic English 101 can be really helpful. Augmented with useful practice exercises and assessments a VILT English program can help your company save on costs significantly and train your employees faster.

Use Case-3 for Virtual Instructor-Led Training

Health and Safety and Regulatory Compliance Training  

Most countries have stringent rules regarding mandatory health and safety and compliance training for companies having more than a specific number of employees or if they manufacture specific products in chemicals, pharma, or food and beverages. Typically, these training programs are heavily template-based and offer very little customization as they have to cover specific rules and laws laid down by the government or regulatory authority. On a given day, employees are asked to take a couple of hours from their regular work and complete these programs. But one always has a bit of suspicion about how much of the information is retained by the employees. 

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A virtual instructor-led training program focusing on health and safety or regulatory compliance can really work if companies put thought and effort into designing these programs and make them interactive and learner-friendly. By creating simulations of actual threat-based or dangerous events and asking employees how they will respond in such situations is a great way to reinforce learning. What this does is that in case of a real threat or dangerous situation; employees will know what steps to take to ensure their own safety and those of their colleagues. 

These are just three different use-cases for building a virtual instructor-led training program. There are opportunities to build VILT programs to meet a variety of training needs. Our previous blog post clearly explained how a VILT program can be cost-effective and built much faster than a regular self-paced learning program or a traditional ILT. As the world continues to battle the pandemic and we look at an uncertain future in terms of when things will return to normalcy and everyone works from their offices without fear. In such a scenario, the focus is on companies to reinvent themselves in terms of how they can train their employees, customers, and channel partners. A VILT may not be the ideal solution for all purposes but it definitely can help meet most training requirements as indicated in the earlier paragraphs. Blended learning solutions work quite effectively where companies mix different learning delivery models to train their employees.

Conclusion

It is evident that virtual instructor-led training programs are indeed a sustainable learning solution. It depends a lot on the actual requirement for the VILT and what the company intends to achieve by deploying the VILT program. A good L&D leader or team will know which learning strategy and model to adopt to meet a specific training need. We believe that by opting for a VILT your company can definitely save time, effort, and money.

Are you looking to convert your existing ILT or self-paced online training program into a virtual instructor-led training program? Don’t worry, we have got you covered. We offer a variety of services ranging from regular course conversion to program analysis and restructuring your training before converting it into an engaging and interactive VILT. Reach out to us at info@originlearning.com with the subject line – “Virtual Instructor-Led Training” or “VILT” and one of our team members will respond to your email.

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