On-Demand Printing and vILT

One of the challenges that I've faced in delivering vILT (Virtual Instructor-Led Training) is in combining the live online experience with use of extensive or sophisticated supplemental materials. Some online training tools allow you to upload materials and make them available before, during or after a training in the form of a word document or PDF. For brief materials, this works quite nicely. You can have attendees refer to the electronic versions (and save a tree) or, when necessary, have them print materials and worksheets to be completed during the class or on breaks.

However, for longer materials that really need to be bound and look professional, this approach can present a challenge. One easy alternative is to use an on-demand publishing house like LuLu or Delta L. These online on-demand print shops allow you to upload your materials and make them available for purchase online by your attendees. They take care of the printing, binding and shipping, so it is a very easy process to manage from the trainer's side. That is one less thing to worry about, and it frees up time to focus on the content and delivery of the course rather than the logistics.

Personally, I like this option as I am able to provide professional looking bound color copies of materials that students are less likely to lose. Let's face it, many don't even print out the materials in the first place and if they do, will they actually hole punch them and put them in a binder? Providing a professional looking printed copy eliminates this variable as you guide your virtual attendees through the online classroom experience.

Here are some tips for using hard copy materials during a virtual training:

  • If you use color in your materials, you can include a color coding that matches with a color on your slides so that each module in the book matches up with the corresponding slides on the screen.
  • Be sure to include page numbers on the hard copies and list them on the visuals during the training. Even during the most riveting training, attendees have a tendency to get momentarily distracted, and it helps if the page number that you are on is shown on the screen so that they can jump back into the rhythm of the course without interrupting another attendee with a chat to ask where you are.
  • If you have them completing an exercise on their own, put stop signs on the hard copy after each section that you want them to complete. This gives students a visual cue of when to stop working on the book and when to log back into the live event.
  • Use a breaktimer when you ask students to go off and work on hard copy materials. This will help keep them on task and get them back on time. If your online training tool doesn't have one built in, try a third-party application such as Online Stopwatch.
  • Have students raise their hands upon completion of a task so that it is clear to you that everyone is back.
  • Be sure to tie in the activity that attendees have just finished with whatever you plan to do once they have returned. A poll, a quiz or some type of debrief allows them to process the individual activity along with the group.

Do you have experience with using hard copies during a vILT? If so, please share your thoughts. 

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