Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT) and eLearning are online educational forums that companies have been successfully using for decades to reduce costs and improve learning and development outcomes. They both have an important place in corporate, online learning and they do share similarities. But understanding their differences will help companies blend the two models for optimized learning experiences.
VILT is characterized as a synchronous event that allows participants to connect to an instructor from anywhere in the world. It includes interaction and discussion between instructors and participants and between the participants themselves. With VILT, you essentially recreate the live classroom virtually, with an instructor facilitating the program and responding to participants needs. If a live classroom setting is not possible, VILT is commonly seen as the second best arrangement for more in-depth training.
eLearning is more of a transfer of information online. Though it can also be extremely effective, it does not include the two-dimensional experience of interacting with an instructor directly in real-time. Courses and training programs are typically hosted on a Learning Management System (LMS) and participants work through material on their own time. eLearning is usually focused on specific topics or to satisfy a single purpose and is most effective that way. Although interaction is certainly possible and encouraged, eLearning limits the ability to ask questions and discuss topics in real-time.
The discussion component of VILT is really the most crucial benefit to consider. Since we know that human beings are partly social learners, engagement and therefore long-term learning retention is increased when participants are able to discuss topics with one another and their instructors. Alongside this key benefit, with VILT, the instructor also has the flexibility to assess the knowledge base of participants and cater the content to best serve them in real-time, enhancing learning outcomes.
The strength of eLearning, on the other hand, is in its ability to streamline the consistency of deliverables and to scale. It’s extremely effective for straightforward, specific information and skills training. It also has the added benefit of accessibility, as participants can generally access the information that they personally need in real-time, without the limits of a scheduled event.
VILT and eLearning are both powerful tools for corporate training, and one is not necessarily more powerful than the other. Their key difference, however, make them more effective for different types of learning experiences. Understanding their similarities and differences and the needs of your organization is the best way to maximize the potential of each and to potentially blend them together in your L&D programs to improve learning outcomes.
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