There are different modalities for how training is delivered and turned into a high-impact learning experience. One of these modalities is offering virtual classrooms. In addition to instructor-led and online self-paced courses, a significant percentage of the learner base also prefers virtual classrooms. The use of virtual classrooms depends on the topic and the preference of the learner. For example, for continuing education requirements, learners often prefer to consume that training through a completely online modality, but if they are learning Azure cloud migration, it will probably be better to provide instructor interaction. While there are a lot of advantages to virtual instructor-led training (VILT), there are disadvantages as well. This article shares some of the top challenges VILT instructors have reported over the years and how to address them.
1. Not Being Able to Read Non-Verbal Cues
Virtual classrooms are the closest equivalent of physical classrooms in the digital world. However, they are not yet a perfect replacement. When teaching an in-person class, instructors can see learners’ faces, notice non-verbal cues and gauge their level of engagement in real time. Then, they can make adjustments to the way (and the pace at which) they deliver the lecture in order to make sure they are getting through to a large majority, if not all, of the learners taking the class.
In a virtual classroom, instructors cannot see the learners. While some will always participate more than others, you cannot observe non-verbal cues. The instructor cannot tell whether the lack of participation by a learner is due to their being introverted, being highly focused on observing rather than participating or not being engaged properly. The best the instructor can do in this situation is encourage the learners to participate and open up clear lines of communication, so if someone has a question, he or she will feel free to ask it during the session.
2. Fewer Tools
One of the biggest challenges faced in e-learning is multimodality. Everyone learns differently, and there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to knowledge transfer. In a physical classroom, instructors can pick up a marker and draw or write on the whiteboard, change gears easily based on the responses they receive from the learners, use allegories and metaphors based on their learners, and so on. In virtual classrooms, their options are somewhat limited, especially if the learning platform does not support multimodality. You can address this challenge by using a platform that does support multimodality.
3. Distracted Learners
Many people learning in virtual classrooms do so from home. While it sounds like a great option – they can stay in their pajamas, have a smoldering hot cup of coffee next to them and study from the comfort of their living room — it does require a great deal of self-discipline. Learners are surrounded by the things they have literally paid for to distract them (their consoles, gadgets, favorite books, fidget spinners, etc.). Some of our instructors have shared stories about how learners sometimes take personal calls during the class, go to the kitchen to grab a bite while the lecture is in full swing and so on. This level of distractibility goes double in longer sessions and lecture-based programs.
To remedy this problems, VILT instructors should turn theory-based content into fun, engaging and interactive sessions. For example, they can use virtual breakrooms, have learners connect with each other in smaller groups and conduct polls during the training.
4. Gaining Learners’ Confidence
All instructors face this challenge, whether their class is in a brick-and-mortar or a virtual classroom. Gaining the confidence of learners is key in building a bond that ensures effective knowledge transfer. In VILT, instructors need to go the extra mile to connect with learners and make them feel comfortable while establishing themselves as the go-to person for their questions.
When interacting with learners in a virtual classroom, instructors can always share their professional email address with them and tell them they can reach if they have any questions. When instructors promptly reply, they will build trust, and learners will reach out the next time they are looking to upskill themselves.