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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Recommendations for Developing VILT

In a previous entry, we posted recommendations for designing Virtual Instructor-led Training (VILT) courses. This post will tackle recommendations for developing VILT courses once the design is complete. These tips were originally presented by Kelley Rogers, a Victor 12 instructional designer, at the 2014 Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) International Convention in Jacksonville, FL.

Deliverables for a VILT course combine elements from both instructor-led training (ILT) and web-based training (WBT). Like ILT, we deliver a facilitator guide and participant guide. Like WBT, we also create the content that will be uploaded to the web conferencing software as well as the classroom environment itself.

Keeping this in mind, here are some recommendations for developing VILT courses.

Run through each lesson.

It is important to run through the session(s) with designers acting as the facilitator, host, and participant. This step, often skipped when in a time crunch, is vital to ensuring that the course runs correctly and smoothly. 

During the run through:
  • Check to make sure the instructor guide is accurate.
  • Check the timing of all activities.
  • Time the course as a whole to make sure that it is not significantly shorter or longer than designed.
Design estimates are just that—estimates. You never really know how long an activity will take until you test it. We design courses with significant participant interaction, which can mean that our host may be very busy manipulating the learning environment, setting up breakout rooms, and so forth. During initial run-throughs, we can spot areas where the host needs more time to set up activities or where activity/multimedia coordination should be smoothed. With this information, we revise the facilitator guide to ensure that instructions are practical and give both host and facilitator time to complete their tasks.

Develop with Life Cycle Maintenance in mind.

Manage the course materials and assets in a way that allows future designers and developers to easily update content for life cycle maintenance (LCM). As VILT involves uploading content to a web conferencing platform, it is critical to have a plan in place for managing this content.

It may be helpful to ask yourself these questions when creating a method for content management:
  • How will you ensure that the correct and most current content is uploaded to the meeting room?
  • What is the plan when there are multiple versions of the same course running simultaneously? Will they all pull from the same content or have copies of content?
  • How will you manage content revisions?
  • What process will you use for archiving old content?

As with all LCM, regardless of course type, it is important to implement and follow strict versioning and naming conventions. This allows everyone on the team to locate the most current and correct content. We recommend that you address these questions and conventions in the design phase in order to save significant time during development and deployment, as well as while the course ages and changes are requested.

Finally, no matter which platform you choose for your virtual classroom, there will likely be software upgrades. Sometimes these upgrades are small, but if there is an upgrade that impacts the look or functionality of courseware, these changes should be incorporated into the relevant facilitator and participant materials.

Coming up next:
In a future post we will share recommendations for deploying VILT courses.

  Kelley Rogers is an instructional designer with Victor 12. She has over 10 years' experience designing and delivering instruction for both face-to-face and virtual training environments. She is also a published author and experienced speaker at professional conferences.

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