Why Learners Hate Distance Learning While Their Employers Embrace It?

Virtual Instructor Led Training offers an impressive set of benefits for the company and learner by combining the best of Instructor Led Training with Online or Web-Based Instruction. Unfortunately most organizations never experience these benefits, not because the medium fails to live up to expectations or because of limitations of the VILT tool selected. Rather, the failure is attributed to the design.

In properly developed classroom training that may last up to 8 hours per day, visual, tactile/kinesthetic, and auditory senses are all engaged as the learner progresses from one learning enhancing activity to another. When a group or organization wishes to convert this training to a VILT environment, many times only the PowerPoint Presentation is used with an instructor’s disembodied voice talking to the slides. This is where the failure begins.

For example, while walking around a large manufacturing company’s User Conference, I happened to wonder up to a training vendor’s booth. After some discussion, VILT came up. Their strategy, according to this person (from the training department) was that a majority of their courseware (ILT) is converted or will be converted to VILT. Asked about results, she said flatly, “the students hate it. They complain about sitting in front of their PC for 8 hours per day, sometimes up to 5 days a week. It’s the same classes we’ve always taught, in fact, all we did was up-load the course decks. We feel it’s just a change management thing. They’ll get used to it”.

This obviously is the wrong approach and puts all of the time and investment the company has made at risk. Students will rebel or take their business elsewhere. Just like you wouldn’t use the design of a car to build a truck, you cannot recycle material developed in one medium into another with hopes of great success (I’ll attack the other new trend I am seeing, recycling OLT into ILT later). Proper design to the medium being taught is critical, and every medium, old and new, has its own particular rules that must be followed. These rules are many times the same rules software developers use when developing a usable interface. More importantly, as learning professionals, we must adhere to our own set of rules that enable a learner to actually do what we want them to do; learn what we are teaching them!

Allen Dunkle


I love to read and share thoughts on technology, enterprise learning, mobile and any thing cool that impacts enterprises.

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Posted in Training, VILT

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