Sometimes converting virtual instructor-led training (vILT) into eLearning is an effective way to cut training costs, improve effectiveness, and save employees time. That’s precisely the goal of a project we worked on.
The course was required for employees to gain access to a company ordering system for supplies. Before they could get into the system, they needed to know how to use the software, called iProcurement. It’s a piece of software by Oracle that manages spending and allows employees to shop for necessary items and then get the purchase approved.
Purchasing techs are required to learn how to use the system before they are given access. That means they had to take a class to gain access to the system and use it themselves.
We were able to save the organization time and money by converting an hour-long virtual instructor-led class into an online course that was convenient and typically took 20 minutes. But first, let’s take a look at the current state of how the certification process looked.
The Current State Of The Training
To get certified and gain access to the iProcurement system, employees were required to register for a virtual synchronous class. That means they had to go into a meeting with others at a specific time and stay the entire time. There were two of these classes available each week.
A trainer taught the class and a lot of effort went into scheduling these courses and making sure everything was prepared in the system to offer them. It was a burdensome process to do this and required a trainer to constantly be available for the sessions.
So, employees were required to register for the class, take time out of their schedule for it, and sit through the hour to get “certified” in the system. The session was highly engaging and the trainers were excellent, it just wasn’t practical or necessary to deliver in this way especially since real practice in the software was limited to one or two people.
There were some benefits to having actual live training, though. As with most things, there are benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of doing training sessions synchronously and virtually.
Benefits Of The vILT (Virtual Instructor-Led Training)
When we sat in on the training we found it impressive how engaging and how well it was put together. There were some obvious benefits to the course being done with an actual person.
Here are some things we found that the vILT did well.
- Questions and Answers: There was a short section of the training set aside for employees to ask questions. It was great for employees who wanted to ask questions or needed clarification.
- Unique: Each session was unique and each trainer who did it added their own flair and personality.
- Engaging: Sometimes the trainer asked for the audience to volunteer to take control to perform a certain task. It’s fun to practice in real time.
- Focus: Employees were required to step away from what they were doing for the entire hour, allowing them to focus on the content being taught.
- Feedback: The trainer could ask for and receive feedback immediately after they taught the class. That meant a shorter feedback loop and more ease of implementing the feedback.
- Customized: Participants can request a slower pace, faster pace, more coverage of a certain topic, or any number of adjustments during the class in real time. That means the content doesn’t always have to be the same and it’s not as rigid.
As you can see there are a lot of benefits to having the class virtual and instructor-led. With a well-prepared instructor, every class should be a success. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way and for some, time is more valuable than other benefits especially if some of them can be replicated.
So, let’s take a look at some of the drawbacks of the vILT model.
Drawbacks Of The vILT
If you look at the benefits of vILT then it looks like the perfect solution for training. They can adjust on the fly and do all sorts of things. Besides, there’s nothing like a real person leading the session, right?
Wrong, there are also many drawbacks to vILT. The longer sessions are offered, the more issues could arise. Take a look at some of the drawbacks we find are regular occurrences for virtual instructor-led training.
- Employee Time: It required employees to take an entire hour out of their day at a specific time. That can be difficult or impossible depending on the employee’s other duties.
- Trainer Time: Every single week the trainer has to take time out of their schedule when it could be used for more important tasks. It also requires a great deal of effort from other employees to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
- Unique Questions: Instructors can get distracted by questions from one person which might derail the class for everyone else.
- Inconsistent: Every session is different and what people learn can vary meaning not everyone comes out prepared the same.
- No Practice: Participants in the class don’t all get to practice the system even if the interaction is involved and some do get to practice.
- System Issues: If the training system is experiencing issues or is down, the training can’t happen.
- Incorrect Pace: For some participants, the class might be too fast and for others, it might be too slow. There’s no way to make it perfect for everyone.
- Rought Start: It can be difficult to get a class started and if people are late or show up after the start, it cuts into training time or distracts the trainer.
- Technical Issues: Sometimes people like to talk during training and they don’t realize they’re not on mute. It’s a real issue.
For every benefit, there are often multiple drawbacks. That goes for every type of training solution, though. There’s never a one-size-fits-all solution which is why a strategy has to be designed that works for the topic and organization. Relying on things like training based on generations and other faux science can’t also harm the ideal training solution.
Why We Were Approached
Making employees go to an hour-long training session to get access to software was inconvenient and wasteful. The type of employee typically required to take the training was already exceptionally busy. They couldn’t easily take an entire hour out of their day to take training.
Not only that but software is difficult to teach effectively live or virtually in synchronous sessions. Tasks need to be done in software and employees need to practice those tasks with real situations and real practice. That’s why a self-paced course is ideal for teaching how to do specific technical tasks.
The following goals were set out which is why we decided eLearning was the ideal solution:
- They wanted to remove the need for trainers to do the same class twice a week every week.
- It was necessary to take less time out of employees’ busy schedules, preferably less than 30 minutes instead of an hour.
- Taking the course at the employees’ pace instead of at someone else’s was required.
- Actual practice was needed by every employee, not just some.
We were approached to convert the class into a course that could be taken at employees’ convenience. It’s an IT system that is required to use and we’re experts in developing realistic software simulations to allow employees to practice in a safe environment.
We were able to record a session of the vILT training for reference. That paired with the presenter guide and training deck (which was minimal since most was done in the application training environment) was enough to get us started with an amazing course that let employees practice and learn at the same time.
The Benefits To The Organization
There were several different benefits to converting the vILT sessions into a self-paced course. Self-paced is a great solution to recreate a software system to offer a simulation that offers realistic practice that are based on realistic scenarios employees might actually encounter in their work. Not only that but employees could take the course at a convenient time while taking as many breaks as they needed.
While some of the benefits of a vILT were lost, overall the benefits of self-paced far outweighed any drawbacks. Anyone could log into the learning management system (LMS), register, and take the course at any time. Nobody needed to be involved in scheduling sessions, preparing for them, and executing the vILT session.
The course is now always available and is built into the registration process to gain access to the iProcurement system. That means every employee who gets access to it has a base knowledge of what to do in the system and they know all the required details.
Other resources help them learn other topics and become an expert. The course to gain access is an essential course that gives them some practice and teaches them only the required info to get into the system and do their job successfully.
We did a few calculations on approximately how much time and money the conversion saves every year. Those benefits don’t end, either. The only increase in the cost of time from the course is if an update is needed. So, the costs for designing and developing an eLearning course are typically fixed whereas training with an instructor varies a great deal.
How It Saved Time
The conversion from vILT to self-paced continues to save employees and trainers time every week. Each class typically had from 10 to 15 participants and each one of those participants had their training time cut in half.
Employee time saved every year with an average class size of 12 participants is approximately 576 hours across all participants. We arrived at that number by multiplying 12 times .5 (30 minutes). Then we multiplied that number by two since there were two sessions every week. Finally, we multiplied that by 48 for the typical number of weeks the training is available (sometimes there were breaks).
Every single year that course saves employees approximately 576 hours!
That actual number saved is even better because the training typically takes employees only 20 minutes to complete, not 30. That’s not even counting trainers’ and other employees’ time.
For trainers alone, each session takes an hour of their time and typically at least 30 minutes of prep. That means it saves approximately 144 hours of training time each year. That is 1 hour 30 minutes two times a week (1.5 * 2) for 48 weeks a year.
144 hours of trainer time is saved every year from the conversion to self-paced.
That’s pretty astonishing that much trainer time is saved each year. That also doesn’t account for any additional time for other employees who have to manage those courses.
Now let’s take a look at how much money that single conversion saves the organization every year.
How It Saved Money
Now that we know the number of hours cutting employee’s training from one hour down to 30 minutes saves we can easily figure out the money saved. As long as we know the average employee’s hourly income, we can figure out how much money the conversion saved.
This conversion was for a medical company. The average hourly pay for education and health services in the United States is $32.63 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (February 2023 average). It’s probably much higher for a healthcare company only but we’ll go with the low-end average.
That means with 576 hours saved, the organization saves approximately $18,795 every single year. That’s not a one-time saving, that’s every single year the organization saves approximately that much money by training employees in half the time and in reality a lot less.
For trainers, the cost savings from their time is $4,699. That’s not that impressive if you look at it as one-time savings. But, add that to the employee savings and the organization is racking up the savings.
If that’s not an impressive saving for training then I don’t know what is. The beautiful part is the more employees training touches, eLearning saves the organization money. Savings scales with numbers in eLearning whereas it gets more expensive as the numbers grow with instructor-led.
Was Converting vILT Into Self-Paced Worth It?
For this specific project given the number of employees it affects and the time saved it was a no-brainer for being worth it. There was no reason not to make the conversion and move to self-paced training.
Sometimes it doesn’t always come down to a matter of time and money saved, though. Some projects may benefit more from self-paced even if the time of training isn’t reduced. That’s because self-paced offers benefits in some cases that synchronous training does not.
It’s not always going to be the case that self-paced courses are beneficial, though. That’s why every project needs to go through a needs analysis.
If a course is only taken by 200 people total then it’s not likely that a course will be effective from a cost-benefit point of view. Sometimes it’s best to train employees directly when not very many employees need to be trained. It’s all a matter of looking at the impact training has and on how many employees.
Typically our training solutions are more cost-effective the more people who need to be trained. The cost of design and development is spread out over a lot more people. That means what we develop can be scaled easily whereas training for fewer employees doesn’t need to be scaled and is more effective with coaching or even a few live or virtual sessions.
In many cases, the benefits of self-paced training far outweighs any drawbacks as long as it’s done well. Self-paced can be done poorly to where it doesn’t compare to an engaging trainer who’s lively and engages their audience.
We’re the first to admit that eLearning isn’t the right solution for training, we just think it’s nearly always right for technical training. That’s one reason we don’t create instructor-led training at all.
As you can see the specific project we featured in this article was a huge hit. While it was only one self-paced course, it saves the organization massive time and money every year. Before we wrap things up, there are a few recommendations we have if you would like to pursue converting a vILT course into a self-paced course.
Recommendations For Converting vILT Into Self-Paced
This isn’t the only conversion we’ve done from vILT to self-paced and it won’t be the last. It’s an extremely powerful way for organizations to save time and money while delivering superior training. Self-paced eLearning courses can deliver an amazing experience that fits the fast-paced environment of employees today.
These recommendations will help you decide if the conversion is right for you and will also help make the process seamless.
- Self-paced courses are best used with a critical mass of people needing to be trained. It’s significantly less useful and efficient the fewer employees who need to be trained.
- Sometimes you can leave the structure from a vILT training intact but don’t count on that. Sometimes the conversion to a self-paced course requires that the flow and organization of the course be different and streamlined. A good training design process will make sure content is properly chunked and content can be learned easily.
- If the training is software, make sure it has plenty of opportunity to practice in a realistic but safe environment. There’s no need to teach and then test (most of the time but not always) as that can waste a lot of time because employees can easily learn while doing without the need to test them too.
- Use interactive elements when they make sense and add value to the training. Never make employees jump through hoops when it doesn’t make sense. Clicking next isn’t interaction just as much as clicking to reveal or dragging to match items isn’t necessarily interaction either. It has to make sense and add value, or it’s just a useless hoop to jump through.
- If you’re finding that employees have a lot of questions from a self-paced course, it might make sense to also have some office hours where employees can ask questions. These can occur less frequently than training would normally and don’t require a great deal of coordination, just communication.
- Include information on who employees can contact if they have a question about the training or the system taught in training.
- Give employees resources for the tasks they might not use regularly. That means performance support should be offered as a memory aid for later. If a task isn’t used often, ideally it wouldn’t even go in a course and only be offered as performance support.
These recommendations will help make converting content from vILT to a self-paced course more successful. Not all of them only apply to converting content from one medium to another. Some of them are a good rule of thumb to apply when building any self-paced course or training in general sometimes.
Training that’s well-built and with a purpose has a lot of opportunities to add tremendous value to a project. It can not only save an organization money but also make training more effective.
No company technology should ever be launched without proper training. It’s a huge risk to the department and organization and will end up wasting time, money, and frustrating a lot of employees.
Just as change management can help an organization be more effective in a world of constant change, training also has a huge impact too as long s the focus isn’t solely on functional processes. For current training, converting vILT into self-paced training can save a lot of time and money.
It’s easy to see the actual value when converting vILT into self-paced. It’s a little more difficult if self-paced was used to begin with. That doesn’t mean less value was delivered, it just means it’s more difficult to put a solid number to it.
If a self-paced course is built when it makes sense, almost always superior training is going to be delivered while saving employees time and money. It’s just important that the self-paced course makes sense for the topic and the number of employees being trained.
We’re always happy to discuss your next project in a free consultation if you’d like to convert live or virtual synchronous training into self-paced training. For new company technology or updates, we can also assist in making sure employees are always well-trained and as prepared to succeed with the new tech as possible.
Organizations that prioritize training are more successful and show consistent growth. If you’re ready to prioritize training, we’re here to help.
Do you want to save money with more effective training? Schedule a free consultation so we can discuss a project you have in mind in order to help your employees succeed at their jobs.