In our recent webinar with Skilljar’s Learning Experience Designer, Cutler Bleecker, Skilljar’s Head of Product Marketing, Linda Schwaber-Cohen, and Customer Education Content Developer, Michele Wiedemer, we discussed the differences between classroom and virtual learning and explored the different types of content and delivery mediums you can consider. 

What is the difference between classroom and virtual training?

According to our panelists, our bias is to consider this shift a loss and focus on the things you can no longer do when you shift to virtual training. In other words, as you move from classroom to virtual environments, we give up a lot of things, like the ability to read a room, spontaneity, and the option to observe from the periphery. That said, you truly can do anything with virtual education, and there’s quite a few benefits you actually gain in the process, you may just need to think about things a little differently. 

On-Demand vs. Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT)

When making the shift to virtual learning, there are three key categories of content: 

  • On-demand: resources that can be accessed at any time and do not require an instructor
  • Live webinars: live content like webinars or presentations that are pre-scheduled and involve minimal audience participation
  • Instructor-Led Training: live training sessions that involve an instructor, but focus on heavy involvement and participation on the part of the learner

Another way to think about these categories is synchronous vs. asynchronous education: 

  • Synchronous education refers to situations where everyone is learning at the same time (like during a live training event or live webinar)
  • Asynchronous education enables students to engage whenever they are able to, without a strict schedule (on-demand resources)

Because these categories tend to appeal to different types of learners, many teams opt to build training programs that include a blend of content formats. To learn more about the benefits of synchronous vs. asynchronous education, you can view the full webinar on-demand

 Tips for Engaging VILT

When it comes to increasing engagement during virtual, instructor-led training, our panel shared a number of recommendations, including: 

  • Make use of collaboration spaces like community forums, Slack, and/or Google Docs
  • Think about gamification and adding elements of interactivity like a Kahoot! or comment section Jeopardy
  • Comfort level can play a huge role in how effective your training is, so be upfront about setting the tone and expectations for the course (and try to make it fun!)

To learn more, check out our course on Skilljar Academy: Creating Engaging VILT Content

Tips for Engaging On-Demand 

The panelists also shared recommendations for adding engagement elements to on-demand content, such as:

  • Tell a story: script your content, use actors (or yourself) to make the story relatable, and consider the emotions you want to evoke in learners
  • Poor audio quality can be a distraction, so strive to create a recording environment that has minimal background noise (this doesn’t mean go out and buy super expensive equipment – even adding pillows and blankets to your surroundings can help optimize your sound quality)
  • Avoid “sage on the stage” speak: maintain a conversational and friendly tone throughout your content

With classroom training an impossibility at the moment, now is a great time to consider how virtual training – whether live, instructor-led or on-demand – can help your customers engage more effectively with training and glean the most value from your product now, and into the future. 

To learn more about creating engaging content for virtual audiences, check out the full webinar on-demand now!