Getting Your Arms Around Virtual Instructor-Led Training (4 of 4)

May 23, 2013 13:37 by Dana Peters

Well here we are; the last post in my four part series. If you have been following along, you already know this series was inspired by a recent phone conversation with a colleague in which we talked through several questions she had as she approached her upcoming Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) program implementation project.

If you coming in on the tail end of this series, you are welcome to catch up by reading the first, second, and third posts, each addressing a different related question.

Here’s the final question:

How do we select a platform to deliver our VILT courses? There are so many.

My colleague is right, there are many.

Quick side-bar:

What struck me immediately was how the tone in her voice changed when she got to this question. I could hear how much she was not looking forward to this part of the implementation process. To offer her “the bright side”, I shared with her a few stories about organizations trying to deliver a quality VILT program using less than adequate technology. Many of them are in this boat because they are required to use whatever virtual meeting system is already in place. Talk about VILT design and facilitation shackles! At least she would have the opportunity to visualize her program and its environment to be able to select the technology to best support that vision. She was starting out shackle free.

Anyway, how to go about making this selection? Here are the steps we discussed:

  1. List objectives for the VILT program. We agreed the first step would be for her to write out the objectives for this program. Having spent a number of years in Learning & Development she was no stranger to writing objectives, she knew to be as specific, clear, and concise in stating these objectives.
  2. List outcomes for participants and stakeholders. Logically, we turned to the reason she would like to offer classes live and online; to better serve the learners and stakeholders. She decided she would create a list of general outcomes she would like to see for these two groups as a result of taking or sponsoring VILT classes.
  3. Define best practices. Armed with her objectives and desired outcomes, I suggested she start to map out what her organization’s best practices would be in terms of how classes are designed, how they are delivered (facilitated), and how the learners participate. She felt confident at this point she would have a solid sense of direction and could move forward to:
  4. Test drive. Like buying a new car, a buyer needs to go out and get behind the wheel of several to experience the latest bells and whistles, learn how the controls work, and how the car feels on the road. Many, if not all, of the VILT platforms offer at least a 30 day trial. I suggested my colleague “test drive” several systems with a few of her employees to get a general feel of each.
  5. Must haves, nice to haves, and not necessary at this time. After spending time test driving, we planned she would set all these systems aside. At this point she would pull back out all the objectives, outcomes, and best practices previously identified. With these in mind, she would make three lists: must haves, nice to haves, and not necessary at this time. Notice I said, “not necessary at this time” rather than simply, “not necessary.” Here is the reason. Things will change in your VILT program and you want your technology to be flexible enough to change with it. I would rather have the ability to turn a function on and off rather than not have the functionality at all; therefore I think flexibility should be considered.
  6. Narrow the list of contenders. My colleague was certain, at this point, she would be able to whittle the list down to a reasonable number of contenders for consideration in the perfect world.
  7. But the world is not perfect. The following are the additional important considerations that are part of her reality:
    • Cost, licensing, and contractual commitments
    • Integration and performance in her corporate technical environment (playing nice on her organization’s network)
    • Support resources (both internally and from the selected vendor)
  8. Then there were 3. After filtering through the reality issues in step 7, my colleague planned to thoroughly evaluate the top three systems. What is the best approach to conduct this evaluation? We decide that was better left for another conversation. We had already cooked up plenty of work for her to do before she arrived at this step.

How about you? Have you “been there, done that” when it comes to select a VILT platform? What would you add to this process? I look forward to your thoughts and ideas.

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eLearning | Online Learning | Virtual Instructor-Led Training | Virtual Learning

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