Few people will contest that dynamic in-classroom training combined with collaborative breakouts and experiential learning elements, delivered by a talented, passionate instructor, is a powerful way to teach adults. Likewise, in-classroom training is perhaps the best overall emotional experience for participants. This is, in large part, due to the social interaction with the trainer and fellow participants.
However, classroom-based instructor-led training is expensive and inefficient when compared to its closest alternative, virtual instructor-led training (VILT). 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, handouts, and workbooks)
- Liability insurance
- Indirect environmental costs—energy consumption and carbon emissions
We surveyed our clients and found that between 50–80 percent 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 the return on investment (ROI) out of in-person training programs. This is exactly why innovative learning organizations are investing in high-quality VILTs.
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.
The Case for Virtual Instructor-Led TrainingCertainly, recreating the social and collaborative environment of the physical classroom in a virtual setting presents many challenges. Yet, virtual training more than makes up for this shortcoming in its cost-effectiveness, accessibility, structure, flexibility, and opportunities for extended communication and experiential learning.
1. Agile and Flexible
VILT may 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.
2. Low Risk and Rapid Iteration
Experimenting and piloting VILT initiatives makes more sense because the risk and cost of failure are low. Likewise, virtual training deploys fast and continuously improves with little risk to the organization or negative impact on the learners.
3. No Walls and Few Limits
Learners may access VILT 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 to support learners, deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals, and others who may benefit from being able to access the content through more than one sense.
4. Session Review
Instructors can record virtual sessions and make them available for learners to review in the learning management system (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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. VILT 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 percent less energy and produces 85 percent 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 that make environmental consciousness a cornerstone of their business, virtual training aligns with their values.