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focus_Virtual Impact: Converting to VILT
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Virtual Impact: Converting to VILT 

In today’s environment, there is a growing need to think of alternative ways to deliver effective training programs. One way to meet this need is to convert an instructor-led training (ILT) class to a virtual instructor-led training (VILT) class.

The first step in this process is to determine which classes could potentially be converted. This decision should be primarily driven by the content of the class. There likely will be some content that you will want to keep in live training, but many of your classes could potentially be converted to a virtual environment. One factor that can help drive this decision is to consider content that can easily be “chunked” out, into time blocks of no more than four hours per session. In addition, by leveraging pre-work assignments, homework and post-class pull through, you can ensure all the content from the live class is built into the virtual experience.

Current Content

Once you determine which class to convert, you will need to update the live class content to an interactive virtual environment. During a live class, the facilitator has the advantage of picking up on the learners’ cues and the learners can work off of each other to increase dialogue within the class. In the virtual class, depending on the software that you are utilizing, you may have to think about other ways to run specific activities to create the same level of participation and dialogue. Some tools that may be available are chat feature, radio buttons, white boards, poll questions and breakout rooms. The tools available will depend on your software, so you may have to be creative in how to run certain activities within your virtual environment.

With an understanding of the tools that are available, you will want to build in some type of activity every three to five slides or every five to 10 minutes. In the virtual environment you need to think about placing activities in more places in order to keep the learners engaged. Leveraging tools, like polls and white boards to help facilitate discussion, can help keep the learners attention and minimize their ability to multi-task while in the session. Another idea is to let the learners’ know they may be called on at any time during the class. By setting up this expectation early on as a part of your “ground rules,” the learners’ know they need to pay attention and stay engaged throughout the session. That leads to a better overall learning experience.

Crowd Control

When running a virtual class, size does matter. The general rule of thumb is to run a virtual class with no more than 15 people. #is size lends to more interaction between the virtual learners and allows the trainer to track participation. Any more than that and it becomes more difficult to manage and ensure that learning has occurred.

If you have to run a class with more than 15 people, you may want to hide the chat function at certain points in the discussion, such as, when there is content that you really want the learner to focus in on. The chat feature can become unmanageable and quite distracting with a large group, so you will want to set up these ground rules ahead of time.

Keep Count

Now that you’ve made the conversion, you will want to determine how the virtual class measures up to the live class. One way to do this is to run a live class parallel to the virtual class. By running parallel classes, you will be able to directly correlate whether the virtual training is as effective, more effective, or less effective than the live class.

In order to measure this, you will need to utilize level three surveys. You will want to send out a level three survey to the learners’ managers one month prior to the class, to determine a baseline and then again three months after the class, to note whether the behaviors have changed over time. And since you are running live and virtual classes in parallel, you can determine which class was more effective through these level three surveys. In addition, you will still want to have level one surveys for both the live and virtual classes, so that you can make changes to the class itself based on the learner feedback.

Converting a live training class to a virtually led class can seem overwhelming at first, but if you start small, with one topic or one class at a time, you may find that it is well-worth the effort and will lead to lasting results. 


Terry Pellecchia is senior product training manager, hepatitis C virus, for Boehringer Ingelheim. Email Terry at at theresa.pellecchia@boehringer-ingelheim.com.
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