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How We Saved an Organization Thousands by Converting Virtual Instructor-Led Training Into eLearning

Sometimes converting virtual instructor-led training (vILT) into eLearning is an effective way to cut training costs, improve effectiveness, and save employee’s time. That’s precisely the goal of a project we worked on.

Before using the system, they needed to know how to use the iProcurement software. It’s an Oracle program that manages spending and allows employees to shop for necessary items and then have the purchase approved.

We were tasked with converting a virtual instructor-led class into a self-paced eLearning course.

Before purchasing techs are given access to the system, they are required to learn how to use it. This means they had to take a class to gain access to the system and use it themselves.

We saved the organization time and money by converting an hour-long virtual instructor-led class into a convenient, 20-minute online course. But first, let’s examine the current state of the certification process.

The Current State of The Training

Employees were required to register for a virtual synchronous class to get certified and gain access to the iProcurement system. That means they had to attend a meeting with others at a specific time and stay the entire time. Two of these classes were available each week.

A trainer taught the class, and a lot of effort went into scheduling these courses and making sure everything was prepared. Doing this was a burdensome process 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 during the session.

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: A short training section was 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 is not as rigid and doesn’t always have to be the same.

As you can see, there are many 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 look at some of the drawbacks of the vILT model.

Drawbacks Of The vILT

If you look at the benefits of vILT, 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.

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, which can be difficult or impossible depending on their other duties.
  • Trainer Time: Every single week, the trainer has to take time out of their schedule when it could be used for more critical tasks. It also requires much effort from other employees to ensure 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 is prepared to do the job the same.
  • No Practice: Most participants in the class don’t all get to practice the system, even if some do get to practice.
  • System Issues: If the training system is experiencing issues or is down, the training can’t happen.
  • Incorrect Pace: The class might be too fast for some participants and too slow for others. It cannot be perfect for everyone.
  • Rough Start: It can be challenging 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 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 training based on generations and other faux science can also harm the ideal training solution.

Why We Were Approached

Making employees attend an hour-long training session to get access to software was inconvenient and wasteful. The type of employee typically required to take the training already had a hectic schedule, and they couldn’t easily take an entire hour out of their day to train.

Also, 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 in real situations and real practice. That’s why a self-paced course is ideal for teaching how to do specific technical tasks.

Software is more easily taught through a simulated safe environment where employees can practice.

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 from 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.
  • Every employee, not just some, needed actual practice.

We were approached to convert the class into one that could be taken at employees’ convenience. It’s a required IT system, and we’re experts in developing realistic software simulations that 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 sessions were done in the application training environment) was enough to get us started with an amazing course that let employees practice and learn simultaneously.

The Benefits to The Organization

Converting the vILT sessions into a self-paced course had several different benefits. Self-paced is a great solution for recreating a software system to offer a simulation that offers realistic practice based on realistic scenarios employees might 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, the overall benefits of self-paced learning far outweighed any drawbacks. Anyone could log into the learning management system (LMS), register, and take the course anytime. Nobody needed to be involved in scheduling sessions, preparing, or executing the vILT session.

The course is now always available and built into the registration process to gain access to the iProcurement system. That means every employee who gets access has a base knowledge of how to use the system and has had real practice doing so.

Other resources help them learn other topics and become experts. The course to gain access is an essential course that gives them some practice and teaches them only the required skills to get into the system and do that job successfully.

We did a few calculations on how much time and money the conversion saves annually. 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 greatly.

How It Saved Time

The conversion from vILT to self-paced saves employees and trainers time every week. Each class typically had 10 to 15 participants, and each participant’s training time was cut in half.

The time employees save 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, since there were two weekly sessions, we multiplied that number by two. Finally, we multiplied that by 48, the typical number of weeks the training is available (sometimes there were breaks).

Every single year, that course saves employees approximately 576 hours!

The actual number saved is even better because the training typically takes employees only 20 minutes to complete, not 30. And that’s not even counting the time trainers and other employees spend on it.

576 hours of employee time is saved every year by converting a virtual instructor-led training to self-paced.

For trainers alone, each session takes an hour 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 twice a week (1.5 * 2) for 48 weeks a year.

Each year, 144 hours of trainer time is saved from the conversion to self-paced.

It’s astonishing how much trainer time is saved each year. However, that doesn’t account for additional time for other employees managing those courses.

Let’s 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 training from one hour to 30 minutes saves, we can quickly figure out the money saved. We can determine how much money the conversion saved as long as we know the average employee’s hourly income.

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, but we’ll go with the low-end average.

The organization saves about $18,795 every year by converting from virtual instructor-led training to self-paced training.

That means that by saving 576 hours, the organization saves approximately $18,795 every single year. That’s not a one-time saving; every year, the organization saves approximately that much money by training employees in half the time, or in reality, much less.

The cost savings from trainers’ time is $4,699. That’s not impressive if you consider it a 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 convert 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 training time isn’t reduced. That’s because self-paced offers benefits in some cases that synchronous training does not.

Self-paced courses are not always going to be beneficial, though. That’s why every project needs to go through a needs analysis.

If a course is only taken by 200 people in 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.

The more employees take a self-paced eLearning course, the more cost-effective it is.

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 benefit 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 corporate 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 saved the organization a massive amount of time and money every year. Before we wrap things up, we have a few recommendations if you would like to pursue converting a vILT course into a self-paced one.

Recommendations For Converting vILT Into Self-Paced

This isn’t the only conversion we’ve done from vILT to self-paced eLearning, and it won’t be the last. It’s an extremely powerful way for organizations to save time and money while delivering superior training. Custom eLearning development can deliver an amazing experience that fits the fast-paced environment of employees today.

These recommendations will help you decide if conversion is right for you and will also help make the process seamless.

  • Self-paced courses are best used when a critical mass of employees needs to be trained. They are significantly less useful and efficient when fewer employees 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 eLearning requires changing and streamlining the course’s flow and organization. A good training design process will ensure that content is properly chunked and the course makes sense.
  • 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. Employees can easily learn while doing without the need to test them too. Or you could let employees test out of training entirely to make training even more efficient.
  • 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 find that employees have many questions after taking a self-paced course, offering some office hours where they can ask questions might make sense. 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 questions about the training or 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.

Wrap Up

Well-built and purposeful training has many opportunities to add tremendous value to a project. It can also save an organization money and make training more effective.

No company technology should ever be launched without proper training. It’s a huge risk that will waste time, money, and frustrate many employees.

Just as change management can help an organization be more effective in a world of constant change, training has a huge impact, too, as long as 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, superior training will almost always be delivered while saving employees time and money. It’s 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 helping your employees succeed at their jobs.

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