Has L&D changed for good?

April 29, 2020
Gori Yahaya

If the jury is out… Tell ‘em to come back indoors! It’s still not safe out there. 😉

A cringe-worthy joke, but the reality is that no one can deny the simple fact that Covid-19 changed many things for most people in many ways.

This change has been felt by every organisation across the globe which has made it clear that few systems were in place to counteract, support or intervene effectively in helping people optimise their learning through a crisis. The reality is that companies who traditionally have an online virtual learning business model or those with an online learning culture are thriving whilst businesses who were solely reliant on instructor-led training are having to adapt, fast, and at scale.

Virtual Learning is not a new concept. It has been around for a long time and has grown in popularity over the past decade with corporate e-learning increasing by a whopping 900% between 2001 and 2017. (Source: eLearning Industry) Approximately 77% of US corporations were using online learning in 2017 and 98% planning to incorporate it in their program by 2020. (Source: eLearning Industry, Small Business Trends) Most companies are now converting their planned training activities to Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT).

What is VILT?

Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) is training that is delivered remotely using web-conferencing and lab-work infrastructure tools. While virtual instructor-led training may be thought of as e-learning because it is delivered through electronic means, it is classified as instructor-led training because it is synchronous versus an asynchronous event that utilises a “live” instructor.

Like with the physical classroom training environment, VILT class dates are published to a website and to targeted individuals who can register to attend the sessions anywhere in the world, at times that work best with their schedules. By default, VILT is learner-centric and if you are going to be successful, you should adopt practices from marketing and design thinking to ensure that your customer is at the centre of every decision you make. Because the training is conducted remotely, there is no need to include location information or other logistical data. Instead in a virtual learning ecosystem, learners receive detailed information on any technological requirements, to make sure that they gain the best experience when learning virtually.

What must companies do when converting their ILT training to an online context?

To help you do this right, here is a mixed set of resources and tools. Whether you plan on producing synchronous, asynchronous or a blending of both; follow these guidelines to ensure you remain learner-centric.

What are the 7 components of high quality & engaging virtual instructor-led training?

The learning experiences, products, services, solutions, activities, assessments or interventions must:

1.      Create a real impact

2.      Be meaningful for learners

2.      Be meaningful for learners

3.      Foster emotional engagement

4.      Provide authentic contexts

5.     Enable the creation of realistic solutions that are relatable to the learner’s contexts  of application

6.      Be modular for personalised solutions

7.      Provide learning reinforcement events that are spread over time

Can you identify a business issue truly solvable through a VILT?

Most business challenges cannot be readily addressed or resolved in a 45-minute breakout session—whether face-to-face or via a VILT session.


Real business challenges mixed with adult learning require time for testing ideas, gathering data, participant reflection, followed by application, and ending with a collection of feedback and impact measurement.

Focus on producing high-quality learning experiences for the few instead of products which sell to the masses

A smaller group of learners can enable more interaction, application focus, and coaching, which all serve to enhance learner engagement. So, exactly how would you go about designing, developing, and implementing learner-centered solutions destined for delivery in a live virtual setting?

What comes next is certainly the most important part of the entire process and this is valid for any type of learning solution you will ever develop.

Start with the performance outcome(s) & express them as measurable proficiency statements

Is there a recorded collection of assimilated knowledge, skills, habits, and acquired competences; this is the combination of learning experiences participants must know, understand, and be able to do after successfully completing their learning process.

So, I hear you say, this sounds relatively simple and feasible, but in all of our five years in this business we too at UpSkill have struggled with imparting how crucial this aspect of learning is to our stakeholders.


The quality of your first step provides feedback for your next!

As you may have read before and something I strongly believe is that change is the only constant. UpSkill Digital’s ability to adapt to change has been our greatest strength, as well as being the basis upon which the trust of our partners, clients and stakeholders has been built.

Our hope with this piece as with all that we do, is that it in some way shape or form shifts something in your lives that enables you to move towards achieving your goals. In the meantime, here are some questions to ponder over:

  • How has your business adapted its’ L&D culture during the COVID-19 crisis?
  • How could, should and must we use the lessons we’ve learned to continue pushing the transformation of L&D beyond the crisis?
  • How can you provide value to your community and give them an applicable resource that will help them get VILT right, not just for now but for good?

As always, we welcome your comments and would love your feedback on our process or let us know the ways in which it has hit or maybe missed the mark in whichever way you may find.

We’re not at the end of Covid-19… We’re at the beginning of a new era!

Feel free to share this article amongst your network, comment on it! Improve it!

This article was created thanks to the contributions of Mervyn Kennedy-MacFoy – do follow or connect with him on Linkedin for more inspiring insights and ideas.

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