ILT to vILT Transition: 5 Problems and Principles

 

There are 3 beliefs that organizations and companies tend to have regarding virtual instructor led trainings (VILTs). Not everyone may subscribe to these beliefs but in general, there is an assumption within our industry that: 

 

  • Virtual is boring
  • Virtual is less effective
  • Virtual is all the same

 

While the majority may subscribe to these ideas about our new virtual norm, at ASLAN we want to address and explore this idea, because we don’t believe that VILTs have to be boring, less effective, or *virtually* all the same. 

 

When done right, they can actually be the opposite. VILTs have the potential to be dynamic, effective and unique. We want to give the learner something they don’t expect. 

 

When approaching those 3 widely held (but not necessarily accurate) beliefs surrounding VILTs, we’ve come up with 5 different problems with virtual learning and 5 principles to guide us as we navigate the changes in how our industry conducts trainings. 

 

Problem 1 – Distraction

 

The first problem that we’re now facing with conducting trainings online is a new competitor: distraction.

 

Learners get distracted in a multitude of ways. Taking our trainings online means distractions have multiplied in this new dimension.  For example, kids or pets may be running through the home office space. In a virtual environment, it’s easier to “multitask” discreetly. It’s easy to open new tabs, do other research, pay your bills, play online solitaire, you get the picture…

 

And distraction can even come from the material itself. If we’re throwing too much information or complex ideas at the learner all at once, they can take that information in many different directions and become overwhelmed (and then lose focus) by trying to process it all at once. That’s another form of distraction, and it’s on the facilitator and instructor to ensure that this doesn’t happen. 

 

How do we accomplish this? 

 

Principle 1 – Less is More

 

The key is to reduce. Reduce the amount of continuous time you’re asking for the learner’s attention. Reduce the amount of content you’re giving them during that period of time. Reduce the number of words you present on any given slide, or whichever medium you’re using. 

 

This will help the learner be less distracted and more focused on the relevant information. 

 

Problem 2 – Learner Fatigue

 

Another challenge within the virtual ecosystem is that now, everyone is doing this. Everything is virtual, and trainees are becoming tired of this virtual medium and virtual approach to learning, leading to learner fatigue.  Training Industry recently studied how to improve learner engagement and created this infographic.

 

Trainees seem to get lulled into a “learning coma” overwhelmed by the virtual format and material at hand. Once we accept this as a reality and side effect, we can come up with creative solutions to combat it. Leading us to our second guiding principle:

 

Principle 2 – Motion is King

 

The more that we can get the trainee “moving,” the less likely they are to experience learner fatigue. So what does that look like in a virtual classroom experience?

 

We use a lot of the tech tools at our disposal including chat features, exercises we’ve produced, gamefication applications like Mentimeter , whiteboards, videos, etc. Many facilitators even have a second camera so they can stand up at a real life whiteboard and illustrate a point.  The key is to keep things varied and moving right along throughout the session. 

 

These are ways to keep the learner guessing about what’s coming next; move away from what they’re expecting. Keep them engaged. If things get too predictable, they become bored and fatigued. And when this happens, your participants mentally check out and the training loses its overall effectiveness. 

 

Problem 3 – Pressure

 

Conducting learning in this virtual environment now introduces a lot of pressure to the facilitator, the content and the workshop itself. We believe the solution is to remove the pressure

 

We tackle this using the following idea:

 

Principle 3 – Change the Menu

 

Essentially, we’re going to come in and change the way that the learner goes through the training experience and transformation process with us. 

 

Our goal here is to take the pressure off of the workshop and distribute it across other mediums, creating a total learning experience for the learner. We’ve incorporated 6 elements into the process, designed to lead the learner through a meaningful transformation with lasting change:

 

 

 

This whole process serves many purposes, one of the main goals being to prime the learner and prep them for the virtual experience and the actual workshop itself so that they can get the most out of it. 

 

It also gives them opportunities to reinforce the principles learned and let them sink in, as well as resources at their disposal to help them implement their training going forward. It’s not just about cramming the most material you can into a 2.5 hour virtual session. 

 

What can learners do at home, offscreen? How can they continue the training outside of the virtual classroom? For example, there are many examples built into our Other-Centered® Selling Online course that can be used for “pre-inforcement,” or reinforcement between virtual sessions

 

At ASLAN, we know that real change happens one-to-one. Therefore, coaching becomes a big piece of the transformation pie. It’s not just about what they learn in the workshop, it’s about how it is reinforced and applied in their day-to-day with their own leaders. 

 

With this format, we have less pressure on the actual transfer of content during that vILT session online, and can continue more successfully and impactfully with the practical application of that material in the real world. 

 

Problem 4 – Virtual Shadows

 

Another challenge with virtual workshops is that they create “shadows” for participants to hide in. Learners can get lost, staying “in the dark” or “in the corner.” They don’t need to come out and participate the way they may have in an actual classroom, they can remain hidden in the “shadows” of the virtual experience. 

 

We need to be aware of this and tailor the way we facilitate a virtual workshop accordingly:

 

Principle 4 – Hide & Seek

 

The goal here is to make sure all learners are staying engaged, not playing “hide & seek.” This can be accomplished by utilizing that chat feature, using polls, calling on participants to read a slide or to answer a prompt. 

 

We recognize that there exist many different types of learners, so even if the learner “hides” in the workshop, through our holistic process and approach, we manage to bring them out in another area such as coaching or reinforcement parts (see above). Those “at home” elements are all intended to make sure we don’t leave a learner behind in this process. 

 

Problem 5 – Remember Forgetting

 

As an organization, we’ve been trying to address this challenge for years: fighting the forgetting curve. Essentially it’s the idea of “use it or lose it.”

 

We should build virtual engagements around the fact that we know most learners typically forget most of what they learned within the first month post-training. If we acknowledge that fact, we can build a virtual offering designed to focus on long term retention. 

 

Principle 5 – Multiple Exposures

 

Our solution here is to provide learners with multiple exposures to the key concepts and skills that they’ll need to implement the training content and begin using it. 

 

This is where the pre and post training elements come into play. This may take the form of showing learners a digital version of the program beforehand, through a video series or another application. Then the virtual workshop experience itself is a review of those ideas (another exposure), followed by the homework, at-home reinforcements and coaching. 

 

By having learners begin implementing the concepts immediately, while offering “at-home” resources to reinforce the material over time, the training will be exponentially more beneficial and effective, both in the short term and over time. 

 

We’re Here to Help

 

ASLAN has been selling and delivering sales training since 1996, and every step of the way has made us into the thought leaders we are today.   With hundreds of organizations and more than 100,000 people trained, our team is uniquely qualified to help companies and individuals transition to the new normal.  If any of the problems and principles of this article are giving you trouble, reach out, we would be happy to brainstorm ideas with you.  

 

As VP of Solutions, Sean’s passion is developing and creating a learning experience that emotionally taps into each learner, matches ASLAN’s commitment to excellence, and exceeds our client’s wildest expectations. Find him on: LinkedIn.

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