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Q&A: Migrating ILT to Digital Delivery

Thank you all for joining us on Thursday, March 19 for a virtual roundtable to discuss best practices for migrating ILT to Digital Delivery. 

In this webinar, our team of experts shared their best practices and advice for moving from Instructor Led Training or ILT toward digital delivery solutions such as virtual classroom (VILT) and e-learning training solutions. Our team used the input and advice from webinar attendees to create a crowd sourced Virtual Training Start Up Guide. 


The following questions were not answered during the live webinar, so our experts have joined forces to follow up on all attendee questions. 

What was the quote shared by Ethan during the webinar? 

"New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth;

They much upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of Truth." 

- From The Present Crisis, by James Russell Lowell, 1844

Do you have suggestions for transferring technical training with the need of physical assets to VILT? 

Technical training with the need of physical assets can be handled in a number of ways.  If it’s for medical device assets, mechanical assets, parts, etc. you can create a simple parts ID that you can consider having the facilitator leading the VILT have the physical assets (or whatever rendering of them they can access). The facilitator would then engage the students to go through what they would in the classroom i.e. parts ID, troubleshooting etc.  

How do you convert a face-to-face classroom training that is designed to have a lot of group activities and interactive activities into an online platform?

There are many ways to ensure that your virtual training is engaging. Using interaction, gamification, whiteboards, annotations, brain teasers, and knowledge checks during your training will keep learners involved and paying attention. Taking advantage of smaller breakout groups for activities and having virtual 'field trips' will allow for more interaction and group activity.  Check out our Virtual Training Start-Up Guide for more ideas.

When is VILT too long for adult learners? 

There’s no simple answer to this, as it so much depends on the subject, the nature of the teaching, the instructor or facilitator, and the audience. But as a general rule, individual sessions probably are best to be limited to 1-2 hours at a time. If there is more diversity of activity and rich interaction, classes can tolerate the longer end of that range. But as long as you chunk the segments, provide appropriate assignments to engage during the time between sessions, and continue to bring the learner in actively in each session, there is no specific limit; but more practically it’s what will be consistent with your work organization flow. An eight hour VLT in one day is not likely to be successful; four two-hour sessions spread over a couple weeks can often work really well.

What types of activities do you think work best in VILT? Which activities do not translate well into VILT?

Most platforms support poll questions, annotations, and breakout groups—all features that make discussion-based group activities work really well for virtual instructor-led events. You can use these features to organize teach-backs, role plays, student presentations, games, and group assignments with your participants.

For more hands-on activities like technical demonstrations or labs, the real constraint is logistics. I believe that such activities can be configured to work at a distance from an instructional perspective, but the logistics of getting supplies to learners can be impossible. Can you imagine trying to train someone on how to maintain a piece of industrial machinery through a webinar? Yikes! If you’re faced with training very hands-on skills to your participants, I’d suggest exploring a multifaceted solution involving VILT, interactive e-learning (maybe with 3D video or VR), and robust performance support.

One thing I think does not work well in VILT is straight lecture. You can use lecture within the structure of your VILT, but you should break it up every few minutes with meaningful learner interaction—something more engaging than a simple multiple-choice poll question. Embrace the “test-tell” paradigm of instruction.

What are the main considerations for converting a full-day class into a session lasting about 2 hours? 

There were a number of questions around this theme so I know it is something of a common struggle. Unfortunately, one aspect lurking under the surface makes this question a little problematic (but don’t worry, I’ll try to answer it in a moment). But setting an arbitrary time for a training course to take and then deciding how you will fill it is already establishing that meaningful outcomes are not really of interest, but rather some organizational or administrative idea of what might count as a training course. So in this time of new initiatives, try to step back and ask “What do learners need to accomplish?” Then design some ideas for the course and then you’ll get an idea of how long a course should be. You’ll find that there probably is a lot of extra stuff in current courses that can be chopped out, shortening the course and also making room for new content.

In general, though, we have not found a significant reduction in time in a straight ILT to VILT conversion. You can get a reduction in session time if you break the course into short modules (1 hour or even shorter) and combine the VILT with self-study assignments, workbooks, projects that learners do on their own time. These actually are usually more impactful than observing lectures and it will free up instructors from being completely monopolized by a single course.

Do you recommend LMS, CMS, or LXP?

Let’s quickly define each of these abbreviations and touch on some general use cases.

CMS = Content Management System. Your CMS is what helps you organize information and assets and publish them for digital consumption. A CMS can include tracking features as well (analytics), but these features are more focused on revealing what users choose to do with the content you’ve published than on what they’re able to do with the information.

Examples: WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Drupal  


DMS = Document Management System. I added this one because I think it offers a good contrast to the CMS. Document management is about storing, tracking, and managing documents of various different file types. Whereas a CMS is focused on preparing content for digital consumption, a DMS is mainly concerned about keeping the documents organized, maintaining version control, and managing editing permissions, and is less concerned with how the content will be consumed.

 Examples: SharePoint, Egnyte, Google Drive


LMS = Learning Management System. In a nutshell, an LMS is a software system that organizes learning content, manages roles, and tracks completion. Some LMS software includes authoring capabilities, while others mainly serve to make sure that the right learners complete the right content at the right time and within acceptable performance parameters, as defined by a central point of control.

Examples: Moodle, Blackboard, Edmoto, Cornerstone, Skillsoft, WordPress LMS plugins


LXP = Learning experience platform. I think of these as the “Web 3.0” version of the LMS. Like an LMS, an LXP connects learners to content. However, LXPs seek to create user-driven experience that is in line with how people integrate digital media and tools in their personal lives. LXPs include portals that are easy to navigate, and they offer good user experiences on all Web devices:  laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones.

LXPs generate a more holistic view of each learner’s data on the back end, and they generally need this kind of robust data to function. LXPs create personalized learning paths with system-generated recommendations, like the suggestions you might get from services like Spotify and Netflix. Some LXPs support learner-generated content and social integration.

Examples: LinkedIn Learning, EdCast,, Valamis, Docebo


Which of these (or which combination) is best for you and your organization? This is highly dependent on your organization’s needs, goals, and capabilities. Seek expert guidance!

How many panelists should VILT have? Especially for any breakout rooms for role-play type of activities?

I think of a VILT as something different than a panelist discussion. A VILT is a virtualized classroom experience, with a facilitator and participants. VILT is supposed to be highly interactive, with a lot of back-and-forth between the facilitator and the learners.

To me, a panelist discussion is more like a classic webinar, where audience interaction is minimized. While the audience might submit topics or questions, the main focus is on the conversation between the expert panelists.

To illustrate the difference a bit more, here’s how I’d organize my ideal virtual panelist discussion versus my ideal VILT. These are just my preferences, but I think this helps illustrate the contrast:

Webinar with panel
  • 1 moderator / host 
  • 2-4 panelists/ guests 
  • 1-3 support crew to monitor the chat channels, help users with technical issues, and manage the virtual space
  • 15+ audience members 
Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT) 
  • 1 facilitator 
  • 1 assistant 
  • 1 tech expert available on-call if needed
  • 14 or fewer participants

How do you approach ADA compliance with VILT?

As long as the instructor describes everything being shown, there isn't a problem with the visually impaired. For the hearing impaired, we provide a .pdf version of the webinar that is fully compliant that can be used as a read along. 

How do people use "office hours" between VILT to help learners get unstuck? 

Office hours can be used a number of ways.  You can schedule specific check in-times for each learner to “stop by” your office (i.e. 5 -15 minutes each.) You can have an open block (i.e. mine are Thursday 2-4 pm CT) where people can come in as needed.  You could also schedule by knowledge level (i.e beginners, individual, or group stop in Tuesday 1-2, intermediate Wednesday etc.)

How do participants share videos and pictures after virtual field trips?

I think this depends on what type of media you've asked your participants to capture as a part of their 'field trip'. 

Photos are easy to share within Zoom; simply ask each participant to share their screen and give the class a live narrated slideshow. If screen sharing isn’t an option, ask users to upload photos to a folder within Google Drive, OneDrive, or SharePoint. Photo sharing sites like Instagram, Pinterest, and Imgur might also be OK, depending on your audience and your organization’s policies.

I wouldn’t recommend round-robin screen sharing for viewing videos as a group, because bandwidth can be a real issue. Instead, have users upload videos to a central location for others to view—Google Drive, OneDrive, and SharePoint are good for this as well. Depending on your circumstances, you could also have participants upload their videos to YouTube and set them to “unlisted” in the privacy settings so they don’t show up on search results.

Is there an online assessment tool out there to help measure training? 

There are many tools out there. It all depends on what level you are looking to assess: accreditation, credentialing, Level 4,3,2,1 of Kirkpatrick, Philips ROI, performance outcomes, corporate metrics, etc. We believe that often the best way to assess the learner is to put them in a realistic scenario with a meaningful context, authentic challenge, relevant activities, and detailed feedback (not yes/no).  Maybe start the first round of the scenario and the learner can access all the help they need and get detailed feedback (immediate and delayed).  Then as the learner progresses through other scenarios/versions of that scenario start taking away help/feedback with the final assessment being the learner being able to perform the authentic challenge with no help.  

How do you create breakout rooms?

You should consult the references and tutorials for your particular platform for details, as the specific actions differs a little for each. It is not a difficult process once you are familiar with it. In general, most systems can break people into groups of whatever size you specify. Groups can be formed automatically, or you can assign attendees to specific groups. Then you just launch the break-out rooms, and participants are either invited to join the group or moved automatically depending on the launch options. You, as facilitator, can continue to send messages to everyone or join a specific breakout group to interact with that group only. Breakout groups have access to chat and whiteboards, etc. just as in the main session. If you want to preserve those elements, make sure you explore the mechanisms for saving breakout group assets.

Is there a tool that allows a facilitator to jump on a participants screen to help fix issues?

Yes! This might be built into your VILT platform. We use Zoom, which has a “remote control” feature that allows you to request control of a participant’s device. They have a how-to article here. WebEx and GoToMeeting have similar features.

Combine the remote-control feature with manually assigned breakout rooms to problem-solve with one participant without slowing down the rest of the class. (Zoom how-to article here.)

Has anyone found a good rule for the maximum number of participants in a more interactive live session?

This is another question for which there is no universal answer. It depends on the  nature of the session. Just as in a live class, you want to balance the value of enough participants to have a vibrant discussion with the limit of how many people you as the facilitator can engage with meaningfully. For me, 8-12 is the sweet spot, providing enough people for breakout groups, reasonable chance to engage in conversation without losing control of that. Of course, some circumstances will demand larger groups; I’ve taught in groups as large as 50 or more. With larger groups, you need to find ways to incorporate small groups and more offline activities. Once it is many more than that (or even fewer) your options are quite limited and your course will by necessity take on more of the character of a one-way webinar.

There is a misconception that skills to move from ILT to VILT are good enough to move from ILT/VILT to self-paced learning. Thoughts? 

Yes, and it aligns closely with the belief that if you’re a good Trainer you’re a good Facilitator, which isn’t always the case.  Trainers may be more “Sage on the Stage” and more expert to learner one-way communication.   Facilitators may be more “Guide on the Side”/Flipped Classroom where they may tee up the learning activity, have the learners perform/engage with each other, and then debrief.  Each requires different skill sets.  Facilitation skills are often best suited for VILT.  When moving to self-paced it depends on if you’re referring to VILT where self-paced components are integrated, or full self-paced asynchronous e-learning where the skills sets would vary greatly depending on role ID, writer, PM, media, developer, etc.  


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Ethan Edwards, Ellen Burns-Johnson, and Lisa Stortz

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