The Power of Collaboration

by Sue Schnorr on August 31, 2016

As you know, collaboration is key when it comes to the instructional design process. Clark Quinn posted a powerful piece on his blog, Quinnovation, that speaks to the power of collaboration. It is entitled, “Collaborating when it matters.

Check it out! Leave a comment. Let him know I sent you!


Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) is an excellent option for clients who want to save money on time and travel. It is also a great way to get engagement from learners.


I recently designed a course that was taught in a synchronous virtual training environment.


How about you? Have you considered VILT as part of your design solution? Many people shy away from this, because they equate VILT with webinars. Webinars are a one-way communication, or webcast, with little interaction from the audience. Therefore, they tend to blast information, vs. provide an opportunity for training. VILT provides opportunity for much interaction and learning. It’s a two-way communication; a back and forth, between the instructor and learners.


To keep learners engaged, the rule of thumb for VILT is to have a physical interaction at least every three to five minutes (Clay, 2012). This means getting participants to interact with a whiteboard activity, chat, green check/red X, Q&A, or poll activity that is congruent with a learning objective.


Participants should be visually engaged every 30-90 seconds (Clay, 2012). More graphics are needed to drive the learning points in VILT than in traditional classroom training. Frankly, there is much more stimulation and engagement with VILT than learners get in a traditional setting!


The benefit is that since participants are more engaged, learning is enhanced and retention increases after the session.


Clay (2012), delineates the differences between common webinar/webcast practices (one way communication) and successful learning (two-way, collaborative) sessions in a VILT in Table 1.

Table 1

Common   repurposing errors when converting traditional classroom training to web   training(With   these techniques, it mistakenly becomes a “one-way  presentation or webcast.”) Specific   repurposing techniques for successful training (VILT) (With these techniques, it becomes successful training:   “two-way collaborative learning!)
Eliminating   experiential and hands-on exercises Focus on   cognitive objectives – give learners the opportunity to engage and tackle   real challenges
“Talking   head” presentation (sometimes a few polls or chats are built in)Participants   are easily distracted by email, internet, instant messaging tools and phones   during presentations. The   rule of thumb is to have frequent and meaningful interactions (aligned to the   objectives) and to visually engage participants often. Learning is enhanced   and retained when participants are engaged. This works best in small training   sessions, yet many people are unaware that this can be accomplished   successfully in large groups.
Only   using polling questions as a “quiz” Use   polling questions for quizzes …and more – to get engagement

  • Use surveys to transition        to a new topic by asking questions and then commenting and sharing the        results (also gauge how much to cover or which direction to take)
  • Use icebreakers by        polling participants
  • Asking learners to        provide feedback to re-engage them can be a good technique
  • The anonymous feedback        function can be used and this enables participants to be straightforward        without being concerned about repercussions (Hoffman, 2007).
Limit   participants’ questions until the end of the webinar (This basically says,   “Don’t interrupt me!) Participants   can enter questions in the Q&A pod when they think of them during the   session.
Typical   webinars are scripted and do not allow for interesting stories. Activities   allow for narrative storytelling and personal examples, which are an   important teaching vehicle for adults and can best promote learning (Merriam, 2008).
Not   focusing participant attention Use the   pointer, highlight and draw, to keep participants focused.
Reading   a script Adult   learning principles can be applied – participants are involved in activities   – they share their experiences and solve problems.

Note. Adapted from “Great Webinars: Create Interactive Learning That Is Captivating, Informative and Fun.” San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.


What do you think? Would you like to learn more about VILT? Is it time to consider repurposing your classroom instructor-led training to the virtual environment? Let me know if you’d like to chat about it!






Clay, C. (2012). Great Webinars: Create Interactive Learning That Is Captivating, Informative and Fun. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Hoffman, J. (2007). Live and Online! Tips, Techniques and Ready-to-Use Activities for the Virtual Classroom. San Francisco CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Merriam, S. B. (2008). Adult learning theory for the twenty-first century. New Directions For Adult & Continuing Education, (119), 93-98. doi:10.1002/ace.309.


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