As a senior manager of Onboarding Success here at Thought Industries, I'm working with customers every single day to creatively conquer problems and deliver world-class learningexperiences. Prior to my current role, I spent over seven years at the International Institute of Learning where I initiated long-term relationships with multiple Fortune 500 companies in the area of assessments and blended learning.
I hope you find these common ILT to vILT questions and answers of value.
If you rely on instructor led training, how can you move to virtual or online training to counter current market conditions?
First of all, don’t panic and convert everything to video. The operational phrase is “move what matters.” Take a step back and prioritize the immediate need.
What’s necessary for this or next month?
What courses are in most demand?
What will be canceled?
Which of your professional trainings are the biggest money makers?
If you’re looking to protect income in the short-term, interactive webinars are the easiest delivery channel to replicate the classroom experience. Because it is less personal, give learners a bonus, perhaps on-demand content, self-paced exercises, books, etc.
It likely won’t be one webinar, but a series of webinars and content that will satisfy your course curriculum.
If you substitute a webinar for a classroom session, will you have to give rebates?
It depends. If the learner registered for a certification or CEUs it’s likely that maintaining the price of the ILT session will not be an insurmountable problem. They’ve already paid, and they need the outcome, either as a job or career prerequisite. As mentioned before, it would be a good idea to include some extras to offset the differences.
In other cases, simply providing pre- or post-webinar bonuses may not be enough. In that case, you should proactively offer a credit or a rebate if the learner desires. Better to be proactive and get the goodwill associated with it.
Is the ILT instructor the right choice for a webinar or vILT class?
If you’re moving quickly you probably don’t have the option to get a new instructor.
Most classroom instructors seem to warm up quickly to webinars and vILT, primarily because most instructors don’t want to travel.
Of course, it depends on the person, but some find it to be their sweet spot. They enjoy presenting and driving engagement in this shorter time period. Most webinar platforms have engagement metrics to help fine-tune the presentation.
How can a webinar approach be optimized?
At the end of the day, it’s the customer experience that counts. Focus your efforts on:
Creating engagement and driving interactivity makes it a better learning experience. You need to keep them from multi-tasking and reading their email. It’s a combination of content and presentation. Ask more questions and create discussion. Breakout sessions are an excellent way of connecting with learners.
Break down the content into smaller, more compelling modules. Folks can’t sit through an 8-hour webinar. Take a topic at a time and ensure a positive, engaging experience.
One upside is that you could promote these webinars beyond just your ILT registrants. More of your target audience may be working from home and some may be increasing their daily screen time. Why not make this an opportunity to expand their horizons, help them learn a new skill, or get certified?
What are some of the dangers of moving from ILT to vILT?
Perhaps the biggest danger is taking on too many professional learning courses. Don’t throw 20 lines in the water to catch one big fish. Probably three courses are as much as you can handle right now. Pick the ones that are your sweet spot. You’ll learn a lot from the first three.
Stick to what you know you do really well. This will guide you to be successful. Passion works best.
This may be the first time some of your learners are working remotely, and they may not be entirely comfortable. Try to promote community and camaraderie among attendees.
What are the next steps – after you’ve addressed the immediate pain of moving from ILT to vILT?
Moving to blended learning is certainly the right thing to do, and hopefully getting these webinars together has given you a kick start.
Here’s one good reason – online learning is more profitable in the long run.
Here on some thoughts:
Video is harder. It’s a lot more than just turning on a camera at the back of the room. There’s a ton of production time and editing, which adds to the complexity, time, and cost. Offsetting this is that the resulting video has a shelf-life. It can be reused and repurposed, but will quickly show its age.
If you do decide to go the video route, three hours is the absolute maximum length for course material. Preferably, it’s microlearning, from two to ten minutes per module.
Short videos are effective as a follow-up or precursor to training, and a great way to engage learners.
Earlier I mentioned concentrating on creating engagement and driving interactivity. This is essential no matter what the delivery method. Consider pre-course materials like a survey or knowledge assessment. This will help the instructor understand knowledge gaps and preferences. Perhaps a pre-read that will promote questions and discourse. Create a culture of learning.
Continue the conversation after the live event with post-event discussions or materials. This deepens awareness beyond a one-off experience into a journey with long-term benefits to the learner.
Webinars are also a great way to test new content. Put it on the website, test the waters.
What learning technology do we need to be successful?
If all you’re doing are a few webinars, that technology is sufficient. However, if you’re doing a lot of them and you’re going to move to blended learning, videos and eLearning, (and we certainly recommend this), then you most likely won’t be successful without a modern learning management system or LMS.
A modern learning platform gives you a learning environment that engages customers and the scalability to reach many more learners faster and at a lower cost.
The Online Learning Platform:
Can create and follow learning paths and suggest next steps. This drives repeat and cross-sell customers
Makes it easy to dynamically develop and change content
Provides certification, credits, and other learner engagement tools, like gamification and badging
Accommodates many customers
What final advice do you have for these training companies and organizations who cater to customers, employees, partners, or association members?
I’d start by investing in time to focus. This is an emergency, and there are absolutely things that have to be done on an emergency basis. Start by doing a quick inventory to see what needs to be done first.
It’s also a tremendous opportunity and you should be ready to dive in. There is a huge market for vILT or blended learning in your marketplace. And, as was said earlier, it’s much more profitable in the long term and should be a part of your learning strategy anyway.
Additionally, we are likely to see less travel and redefined work responsibilities in our new world. Online learning can satisfy the needs of both workers and companies, helping to make this new world more successful in a shorter amount of time. Which reminds me, check out our virtual customer education conference, COGNITION, below!