In a distance learning set up when learners and instructors are actually miles apart, physically speaking, learning entails a daily battle against odds. Learning, then, is no longer a classroom interactive session. It has to be virtually done by a well-trained instructor, online, with the help of an equally well-designed programme.
Classroom like experience
Given the situation, the onus of ensuring a virtual classroom like experience to learners, by and large, rests with instructors. But it can also happen that without a well-designed and effective Virtual Instructor-Led Training or VILT programme much of the effort at learning and instructing may as well go down the drain.
Notwithstanding its numerous advantages, a virtual learning process has its own operational challenges.
- Sometimes, there are technical challenges like poor internet connectivity.
- At other times, challenges may crop up in the form of poor quality content or ineffective delivery mechanism.
- Disseminating appropriate knowledge or skills to learners, then, becomes a herculean task in the absence of an effective delivery mechanism.
- Another challenge which instructors often face is this question: ‘Will I be able to make learning a satisfying experience for learners?’
Designing key to learning
One of the major factors governing the virtual instructor led training is its designing. Designing a VILT programme is unlike designing a classroom or online asynchronous programme. It is incumbent on the designer to put a working and reliable communication mechanism at the disposal of learners and instructors to facilitate a seamless two-way communication. The designer also needs to curate an engaging and collaborative content to sustain the learning and teaching process.
Role of the Instructor
Once the designer has done his job it is apt to shift focus to the role of instructors.
- Though seen as someone who drives the VILT programme, an instructor is placed in a unique position of facilitating learning in a virtual classroom.
- Instructors’ role is against the traditional role of a teacher or a professor in a classroom setup.
- Instructors are expected to be tech-savvy, lively and more importantly a skilled communicator aware of the individual learning capabilities of learners.
- Instructors should be trained to handle various technological platforms and learning methods.
- He must have the ability to create a conducive and positive learning atmosphere in the virtual classroom so learners feel satisfied at the end of each learning session and come back to log in again.
But before designing that perfect programme, instructors and learners will still have a long way to go.
- There are many loopholes in content designing and delivery mechanisms.
- There still will be contents being delivered at the wrong addresses.
- There still will be imbalance in learning resulting in its non-completion, monotonous and boring videos, pictures and animations, seemingly never ending learning sessions and multiple other factors to disengage learners.
- All these handicaps can be overcome through a properly designed VILT programme with a talented instructor at the helms and more significantly through a robust technology-driven virtual learning ecosystem.
An engaging exercise
A VILT programme should be so designed that it makes learning an engaging exercise.
- Both the learning methods and intended learning outcomes need to be well delineated.
- Each lesson should contain smart, crisp and to the point contents for easy learning.
- There is no scope for elaborate class-room lecturer’s notes.
- Instructors are expected to strike a balance between lessons and supportive visuals explaining lessons.
- Lessons and visuals should go hand in hand and not follow one after another for maximizing the learning impact and to avoid any confusion in the minds of learners.
- The VILT programme should be designed in such a fashion that it drives interactive learning among students.
- The objective of an intense interactive engagement can be achieved through group activities and exercises which ideally should be built into an overall VILT programme design.
Finally, despite numerous inherent challenges a well-designed VILT programme enables a superior learning experience among its remotely placed learners with its multiple offerings of chat rooms, polling systems, tools like white board etc. All these besides the technical skill and team training, onboarding and other development programme for young workforce make VILT ‘the perfect platform’ for virtual instructor-led training programme of the future.