There are few things less appealing to learners than being trapped in a crowded and stifling room listening to an instructor drone on about a topic that seems to have little relevance or practical application to their own life and work—that is, except spending an hour or two in front of a computer screen, watching a poorly produced video tutorial with no real possibility of engaging the material or testing out the concepts for themselves.
Unfortunately, this kind of passive learning is often the hallmark of instructor-led training (ILT) and virtual instructor-led training (VILT). If it sounds reminiscent of your own training courses and curricula, you’re missing out on the invaluable opportunities that today’s technologies provide and may even be putting your company at a competitive disadvantage in the vast and growing e-learning sector.
It’s estimated that the e-learning industry will approach $200 billion by the year 2026. But if you want to prevail in this lucrative market, you need to abandon the passive learning model characteristic of ILT and VILT. The evidence is clear that students of all ages benefit most from learning experiences that are personalized, self-paced, and learner driven.
In light of evolving learner needs and professional development trends, trainers and training developers would do well to shift from ILT and VILT to e-learning. This article describes three of the most effective tips and strategies that you can use to seamlessly convert from VILT/ILT to e-learning.
The Benefits of E-learning Compared with VILT/ILT
The benefits of converting from ILT and VILT to e-learning are myriad, but in order to appreciate them, it’s important to first define the key characteristics of e-learning versus VILT. E-learning pertains to the integration of an array of multimedia to provide learning experiences that are interactive, dynamic, and customizable.
For trainers and training developers, e-learning platforms offer distinct advantages that can be parlayed into unprecedented levels of efficiency, productivity, and profitability for their businesses.
For example, e-learning is scalable, customizable, and easy to administer and manage. If you have a robust administrative platform, such as the Firmwater learning management system (LMS), you can easily add to, modify, or delete content from training courses. You can adjust privacy, permissions, and course release dates based on clients’ specific needs. You can even access course data to help you assess the behaviors and performance of learners in each course, enabling you to identify opportunities for course improvements or new training content development.
Above all, the agility of e-learning platforms enables you to reach a much broader and more diverse target market because you will no longer need to design courses whole-cloth based on the needs and specifications of individual clients. From one course shell, for instance, you can create customized safety training courses for municipalities, health systems, schools, etc.
As profound as the benefits of e-learning technologies are for trainers and training developers, however, the rewards for learners may be even greater. In contrast to ILT and VILT, e-learning provides active versus passive learning. It is self-paced and self-directed and can be more readily customized to individual learning styles, goals, and needs. This ultimately means that e-learning is far better suited to the specific needs of adult learners than ILT/VILT courses.
Tips and Strategies for Converting from ILT/VILT to E-learning
Although e-learning platforms are ideal for promoting active learning and addressing the unique needs of adult learners, reaping the full rewards of e-learning platforms doesn’t just happen. It’s not enough to simply transfer learning content from ILT/VILT to e-learning platforms. If you’re going to take advantage of the opportunities that these technologies provide, you must change up the pedagogical approach and the media in which the curriculum is presented. Effectively converting from ILT/VILT to e-learning requires you to do the following three things.
1. Focus on microlearning
Let’s face it: adult learners are busy. They’re on the move and have precious little time to spend on training, and rarely can they devote more than a few minutes at a time to their courses. This is what makes microlearning such an asset in the e-learning environment. Unlike a traditional ILT/VILT course, learners won’t have to somehow carve an hour or two out of their day to devote to training.
So, when you’re converting from ILT/VILT to microlearning, you need to find ways to divide the curricula into short lessons, brief chunks of material that ideally take less than five minutes to complete. Microlearning is more “digestible” for busy adults who must learn in short amounts of time, such as when they’re waiting to pick up the kids from school or taking a lunch break at work.
Best of all, if you intersperse your micro-lessons with brief content reviews and comprehension and retention checks, you can pack your course with sophisticated content without overwhelming learners or infringing on their busy schedules. The result is a more positive learning experience, better learner performance, and an increased likelihood that your training clients will return for more great training content!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, microlearning also has its advantages for trainers and training developers. For instance, it enables easier course revisions and updates and provides greater scalability. Content can continuously be updated based on clients’ needs or changes in the industry or market without the need to scrap the entire course. Outdated or irrelevant “chunks” can be deleted or modified without affecting other course content.
You will be able to consistently offer your clients the most up-to-date and highly customized learning content on the market, no matter their needs, requirements, or industry.
2. Maximize interactivity
One of the greatest advantages of e-learning over ILT/VILT is the opportunity for active learning. This is why, when you’re converting to e-learning, you must move away from the passive ILT model by embedding comprehension checks, apply-your-knowledge exercises, and other interactive content throughout the course.
For instance, you can include exercises that simply aren’t feasible in most ILT/VILT learning environments. Focus on integrating a wide range of learning events that require students to engage. Not only will this keep them interested and alert, but it will also increase their confidence and motivation.
For example, “gatekeeping” activities, such as quizzes, help learners test their understanding and retention of required material before moving on to subsequent modules. This is especially important for adult learners, who typically want to know exactly what practical benefit they’re getting from each lesson beyond simply a checkmark on a company to-do list.
3. Diversify content
We’ve all heard of “death by PowerPoint.” Almost every learner has looked at lectures and presentations with dread. Most instructor-led events, whether they occur in person or virtually, present learning content in a single form: a speech that may or may not be punctuated by the occasional visual aid or demonstration. There may be the occasional audio or video clip. The point is that learners in traditional ILT/VILT environments often have little, if any, control over the form in which the content is presented.
Conversely, e-learning courses are capable of unleashing the profound multimedia capabilities of online technologies to present materials in the format that employers and/or learners need or prefer. The same information can be provided in video, audio, and/or text files, enabling trainers and/or learners to truly customize the learning experience. For example, auditory learners may choose to listen to a recording of the material, while textual/visual learners may prefer to read the material, and kinesthetic learners may opt to complete an interactive test-your-understanding activity. The key is to escape the constraints of ILT/VILT by offering ample opportunities for learning content to be experienced in multiple forms.
For trainers and training developers, the multiple modalities possible in e-learning can be especially beneficial for reaching learners with special needs. Creating content that is accessible for learners with sensory impairments, mobility issues, neurodivergence, or cognitive challenges facilitates compliance with the statutes defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act and helps advance critical diversity, equity, and inclusion principles. Therefore, when you’re converting from ILT/VILT to e-learning, capitalize on the adaptability of e-learning technologies by integrating accessibility features, such as alt-text for images to ensure that your content can accommodate screen readers and closed captioning and transcripts for video content to meet the needs of Deaf and hard-of-hearing learners.
Transitioning from ILT/VILT to e-learning involves far more than just filming or transcribing a lecture. It requires the reorganization and reformatting of content, the shift from passive to active learning, the use of multimedia, and related e-learning best practices. Ultimately, converting your content requires time, effort, and strategy. But the result will be the development of first-class content, with courses that offer clients and learners alike a learning experience that is second to none.
Here at Firmwater, we don’t just sell an LMS for training providers. We partner with them, giving them the tools and insights that they need to implement the best practices in e-learning course development, business growth, and delivery. When they need help, we don’t let them wade through forums and chatbots.
Ready to use an LMS that’s designed for the way YOU work, with a team dedicated to YOUR needs? Book a no-obligation consultation directly with our team today!