Online training classes are typically made up of lectures, PowerPoints, demos and knowledge checks. But they don’t often include a virtual training lab (also known as hosted labs or hosted training). lt’s these virtual training labs that are vital in replicating realistic situations that teach students the skills they would need when they are back behind their desks. Learning by doing has been proven to create a much higher knowledge retention than just listening and watching.

In order to help students achieve performance fluency, VILT (or virtual instructor-led training) instructors should follow the TIPS—Teach, Illustrate, Practice, Simulate—training methodology:

Teach: While students need a basic understanding of the material, they do not need to be experts at this point. The standard tool is a PowerPoint presentation but also consider using interactive teaching tools like Whiteboards and Breakout Groups, and be sure to make VILT classes fun and relevant.

Illustrate: This is where instructors reinforce what was just taught. After sharing the basics, instructors should show students “how to do it” by sharing their desktop and demo how to use the product/application. The teaching and illustrating phases should take up about ¼ of the VILT class time.

Practice: Give students the opportunity to practice using a virtual training lab. This practice will help them succeed in the simulate phase. Use your VILT software provider to setup a virtual training lab and let the students take your product or software for a spin.

Simulate: At this point, bring in actual work situations and realities into the VILT environment. This is where students should experience true job conditions. Creating realistic conditions in the VILT classroom will prepare students for actual scenarios. Have them solve high-level, real-life problems/goals without providing step-by-step instructions. Then set a time limit for them to accomplish the project. This experience will prepare them for real-life scenarios and reinforce the curriculum taught in your course.

The TIPS training method emulates the way humans are meant to learn—by doing. By incorporating TIPS and a virtual training lab into VILT, instructors can help students become high performers in a short period of time.