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Best Practices for Rapid ILT and VILT Content Development – Repurpose, Reorient, or Reconstruct

Much of the recent discourse on training modalities has centered around accommodating the modern learner. L&D teams have been consistently challenged with crafting more agile learning experiences using innovative user experience designs and evolving training technology.

Research has clearly shown the benefit of adding interactive, digital learning components.

That being said, the employee training and development industry is far from moving away from instructor-led training (ILT). Research by Brandon Hall found that 95.5% of companies use in-person/instructor-led classroom-style training modalities. Additionally, 79.5% of companies use coaching/mentoring and 60.7% use peer learning modalities. Though the use of eLearning modules follows closely, at 87.5%, the prevalence of more traditional training modalities is clear. Yet, L&D teams are pushing to create more modern learning experiences that resemble the recreational technologies employees are already comfortable with. Research has clearly shown the benefit of adding interactive, digital learning components. For example, a researcher at Harvard University found that adding activities as simple a poll can double learning outcomes.

Of course, ILT or Virtual Instructor Led-Training (VILT) has its benefits as well, namely: social dynamics, high levels of interaction, and rapid development by Subject Matter Experts or Instructional Designers. However, these tried and true traditional training modalities face a number of challenges, including:

  • High implementation costs (especially for ILT)
  • Inconsistency of messaging and teaching styles by instructors
  • Scheduling and resource management.

What these challenges have in common is their impact on scale and deliverability. So, as organizations world-wide face drastic changes to daily work-life practices, L&D teams will surely find more reason to transform their training content into a more agile and scalable eLearning experience. One direction to follow is the conversion of ILT to VILT, another is to take the plunge to a fully digital conversion. Most businesses have already made such choices. The most popular path is a direct conversion from ILT to Digital Assets or eLearning courses. However, sometimes we need rapid development, and for that, that we offer a more conservative model for Rapid ILT Conversion.

A Model for Rapid ILT Conversion

Full conversion takes quite a bit more planning.

Ron Zamir, AllenComm CEO, outlines four ways to approach an ILT content conversion when time and budget are of the essence, in his article Guidelines for Converting Instructor-led Training to Remote Training.

Though each approach describes increasingly complex design and development processes, they vary based on the desired learner experience, speed to development, and budget.  When deciding on a particular path, L&D teams must first consider their motivations for the conversion, as well as the desired end-product. Goals can range from a simple translation of ILT content into VILT, an ILT or VILT experience with multimodal digital assets, or a fully blended learning experience.

Content curation

Regardless of the end product,  one of the most overlooked and impactful variables, is the curation and readiness of your training content. Any rapid process you wish to undertake must start with a realization you will try to make do with what you have at hand.  This might include facilitator guides, participant guides, presentations, written activities, FAQs, or on-the-job assets like job aids and planners. Essentially, anything that contributes to the learning experience is relevant. So, you may also want to gather feedback from your facilitators to account for any instructor-specific personalization (i.e., presentation styles, ice breaker activities, anecdotes). The level of completeness of the content, as well as the length of learner experience, will influence which of the rapid conversion processes you can choose. 

Transforming ILT Content

While the complete redesign of your ILT content into a multimodal digital learning solution often seems like the best path to shorten seat time this is rarely a rapid option. Full conversion takes quite a bit more planning. Stages such as conducting a needs analysis to determine gaps in learner knowledge, motivation, and behavior, and gathering the right stakeholders take time.

Repurpose: ILT to VILT

The most simplistic solution for a rapid ILT conversion would be to present the ILT content virtually and look for ways to repurpose the content. Of course, technology and scheduling become particularly important. Focusing on a platform with the right capabilities will be the key to ensuring you preserve interactive features in your new training. With a quick ILT to VILT conversion you can:

  • Reduce seat time by at least 20% by curating your content.
  • Enable real-time Q&A to allow the learners to receive the personalization common to traditional ILT.
  • Offer more time slots to lower the load on your employees.

Reorient: ILT to VILT

In cases of rapid conversion, we recommend a reorientation of the ILT experience, keeping the focus on what you have at hand.  On this path we seek to:

  •  Transform 20-25% of seat time to video, infographics and reference materials that port equally well to rapid ILT and VILT delivery for a total seat time reduction of 30-40%.
  • Isolate content redundancies and identify assets to convert.
  • Rechunk the content and enable more visual stimulation in the course itself.  

Reconstruct: ILT to Blended Learning

Lastly for a more transformational leaner experience, short of a full digital conversion, we recommend a rapid redesign process to reconstruct the sequencing and structure of your traditional ILT course.  While the costs of this option can be high you can:

  • Achieve 50%+ reduction of seat time.
  • Blend ILT and VILT with self-contained self-paced assignments.  
  • Utilize pedagogical methodologies such as flipping the classroom with self-paced pre-study, splitting up classrooms to smaller groups and managing our content in such a way that learners can enter the process at different times.

Creating Impactful Training Experiences

Based on the factors driving your content conversion needs, development time may determine your short-term goals for you. In fact, research by ATD found that a lack of time was the top challenge for North American L&D teams. So, prioritization of your training needs will be the key to success. The training industry is seeing an unprecedented shift from ILT to digital learning solutions, but this transformation isn’t unfamiliar. Be sure to review the guidelines set out by Zamir to better equip yourselves to overcome content conversion challenges, whether your timeline is a few weeks or several months.