How to repurpose your instructor-led training and the benefits it offers

Pamela S. Hogle
Smiling woman with short hair, wearing glasses.
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Online training offers many benefits. At your organization, chances are, learners, managers, and executives alike realized that some instructor-led training actually works better online. But, if you're still on the fence about online training? Read our article, "How do I know when I should move my training program online?" first, and then come back here to get started!

When reviewing your training library — both existing and planned — it’s a good idea to follow a strategic approach to repurposing ILT — instructor-led training — for digital consumption. This article presents tips and guidelines for deciding what to move online as well as how to go about repurposing instructor-led training.

Specifically, in this article, we will cover:

So, let's get started!

Online and in-person learning environments are very different

Whether you move your instructor-led training to asynchronous online training, which learners complete individually and on their own schedule, or synchronous online training, also called VILT or virtual instructor-led training, the environments are very different in critical ways.

Online training relies on technology 

While your instructors may well use technology in the classroom, with online training, the technology is the classroom and the only means learners have to access the training. In VILT, an instructor or facilitator may be able to assist with technology issues, but that’s not always the case; learners doing asynchronous online training must be able to access and navigate the delivery platform.

Virtual instruction demands different strategies

All classroom instructors need ways to capture and hold learners’ attention and focus, but the sheer number of possibilities for distraction multiply exponentially when learners are remote. Virtual instructors must build in engaging interactive activities every few minutes during virtual classes. Asynchronous online training also needs engaging interactivities to hold learners’ attention and focus.

Time feels different online 

An eight-hour workshop is not unusual; nor is an instructor-led training class that meets weekly for an hour or even a few hours. But asking learners to spend similar amounts of time in eLearning courses is not reasonable. Without the interaction among classmates and with the instructor, spending hours at a time learning online is a very different experience from participating in instructor-led training. Virtual classrooms (VILT) fall somewhere in the middle. It’s common to schedule recurring classes online, but instructors should be mindful of the number of hours learners are expected to be present and attentive online.

Moving instructor-led training online offers many benefits!

Woman with long black hair tied in a low ponytail and wearing a yellow shirt. She is being recorded on a phone as she teaches.

When instructor-led training is repurposed thoughtfully, and virtual and asynchronous training materials are well designed, your learners and your organization will realize significant benefits from the transition. 

Learners can choose when and where to learn

Asynchronous, mobile-friendly online training modalities offer learners a lot of control over their learning. They can choose which device to use, control their training schedule, and, depending on the material, choose a format they prefer or even skip around to learn topics in an order they choose. For remote workers, those who have long commutes or spend much of their day on the go, asynchronous online training is often the only way they can reliably complete training.

Digital assets are scalable

If your organization is growing, scaling instructor-led training can be costly or impractical. Once you’ve converted key ILT materials and content to online training, it can be used by any number of learners, at any time. It can easily be translated and localized for learners anywhere on the planet, too.

Digital training can be personalized

In addition to flexibility around when and where learners do their training, repurposed ILT offers the opportunity to personalize or adapt training in other ways. For instance, if content is created in small, focused, modular units, such as microlearning, content items are easy to reconfigure into different courses. You can offer training tailored to the learner’s pre-existing knowledge and experience for example, or mix and match modules to create training suited to specific job roles. If you choose a platform that supports adaptive training delivery, you can deliver a unique mix of content to each learner, based on their knowledge and performance.

Digital learning enables tracking and measurement

Most online learning platforms gather basic data about learners’ engagement with and progress through training. Some, especially those that support the xAPI standard, can collect enormous amounts of learner data. Training teams or learners’ managers can use this data to verify that learners are covering the material, passing quizzes, or achieving mastery of essential skills and knowledge.

Guidelines for repurposing instructor-led training into eLearning

Decide which training content is essential

A comprehensive instructor-led course is likely to need some revisions when repurposing the content for online training.

With a goal of minimizing seat and screen time for your learners, pare your content down to its foundations. Clear learning goals based on performance objectives can help: Any piece of information that does not relate to improving on-the-job performance, is nice to know, not need to know. As you review the material in your training course, consider which content is:

  • Essential and likely to elicit questions or require explanation and conversation with learners; this material is best suited for VILT presentation
  • Appropriate for moderated chats or asynchronous discussion boards or other chat channels where learners can interact, ask and answer questions, share ideas, etc.
  • Could be converted to reference guides, flash cards, games, and other asynchronous materials that learners can use on-demand and on their own schedule
  • Is nice to have but not essential; this content can be removed or converted to resources placed in an “additional resources” section that is not a required component of the training

Trim content & consider the optimal formats

Then, take that essential, need-to-know content, and focus on finding ways to make your VILT sessions interactive and ensure that the time instructors have with learners is used to the fullest — this time should focus on content, skills, and interactions that make the best use of the instructor’s knowledge and experience.

If your course won’t have a VILT component, select a format for the need-to-know content that enables learners to get what they need, whether it’s the ability to review content over and over, opportunities to practice applying information they’ve read or encountered in a video, or the chance to talk through what they are learning with others in the training cohort.

When converting other content to resources, consider how, where, and for what purpose the resources will be used and choose an appropriate format or formats. When possible, offer materials in more than one medium, and always follow instructional design best practices. For instance:

  • To present the steps of a process, consider infographics or flow diagrams, videos, podcasts, or checklists. These formats provide an easy reference to help employees perform processes that they do not do frequently and ensure that steps are not left out.
  • To teach foundational concepts or vocabulary or review product features, consider flash cards, matching games, or microlearning.
  • To allow learners to practice their response to a situation or their interpersonal skills — delivering feedback, for example — consider learning simulations, mini-simulations, branching scenarios, and other approaches that facilitate exploring multiple options or responses.
  • Consider creating a curated resources site that includes manuals, handouts, printable forms and checklists, and any optional resources you can offer for voluntary deeper learning; these materials serve as workflow learning and performance support tools in addition to supplementing the training course.
  • Don’t forget about social and collaborative options, such as discussion boards or Slack / Teams / Yammer channels that enable learners to interact with each other.
  • If time and resources permit, repurpose content more than once — create multiple resources from the same nuggets of content, use recordings of VILT sessions as on-demand videos or webinars, make short snippets of these webinars available as microlearning videos, etc.
  • Ensure that all of your digital training content is housed in an LMS or other platform with powerful, user-friendly search capabilities and a knowledge base or other framework for organizing the content so learners can easily find and access what they need.

Learning Hub: free resources for creating custom eLearning

The Neovation Learning Hub contains many free resources and articles that can help you improve eLearning outcomes at your organization. Continue learning about Instructional Design topics, read articles on Custom eLearning Development, or find new eLearning tools to help you with your eLearning initiatives.

Smiling woman with short hair, wearing glasses.
Pamela S. Hogle

An experienced writer, editor, tech writer, and blogger, Pam helps you make sense of learning science and eLearning technology. She provides information you can use to drive improvements in your training effectiveness and ROI.

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