Comparing In Person Training Vs. Online Training Costs

Just as effective and cheaper-- is virtual instructor-led training too good to be true? Read on to learn what makes it such a great option for organizations and training suppliers.

woman taking an online course

People used to believe there was a finite total of human knowledge to be learned. Education was considered to be more of a destination than a journey. Once you’d learned all there was to know, you were done — you were an educated person, mission accomplished. Needless to say, this was breathtakingly incorrect.

In today’s business world, it’s become abundantly clear that knowledge is infinite, learning never stops, and education is a journey without end. To grow a business, or advance a career, you have to be constantly learning, adapting, and mastering new challenges.

There’s no question that we work in a fast-paced, ever-changing world. It requires us, our employees, and our customers to adapt and innovate the way we deliver and receive training. In the past, training was done in person. But more and more, training is being delivered virtually in what’s commonly known as virtual instructor-led training or VILT.

Most of us assume — often based on past experience — that online education prioritizes efficiency and affordability at the expense of effectiveness, while in-person training will get you better results at a much higher price.

According to a study by the U.S. Department of Education, what’s great about virtual training is that it can provide equal if not better educational outcomes and is an affordable, low-overhead alternative to in-person training. Here’s how virtual training does it.

How VILT Works for Students

VILT provides the flexibility and convenience of taking courses online, while including the benefits of instructor-led training.

And when you combine VILT with virtual training labs, students can work on hands-on software exercises with the supervision of a live instructor. When it comes to providing IT and technology training, the combination of VILT with virtual training labs is an ideal duo.

Within the virtual training lab, students can (under the instructor’s supervision) listen to a lecture, watch the instructor, then go the virtual training lab for hands-on experience. And since it’s a virtual environment, students are free to explore and make mistakes without the risk of damaging production environments or accessing live, private data. After the class is finished, the virtual machine is reset and is immediately ready for the next student.

How VILT Works for Instructors

In an environment like this, unstructured experimentation and self-paced learning can lead some students to go off the rails. This is why the “instructor-led” part can matter just as much as the “virtual” part. 

In the virtual environment, instructors are present to observe what students are doing, answer questions in real time, and nudge students back into productivity when they’re losing focus.

Virtual instructors also have advantages that in-person instructors don’t. They can immediately use virtual whiteboards, breakout groups, private chats, and other virtual training tools that would be cumbersome to in the real world.

Benefits of VILT

VILT eliminates the costs associated with instructor and student airfare, hotels, rental cars and per diem expenses. There are also cost savings from not needing to own or rent a training facility to conduct the in-person training. VILT eliminates all of these costs, while, at the same time, offering a robust and engaging learning experience. Calculating the cost savings of switching to online training is easy with this in person training vs. online training calculator by ReadyTech.

Other benefits include higher instructor productivity because they spend less time traveling and, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s study, better learning outcomes for online students (compared to students receiving face-to-face instruction).


Choosing the right methods, platforms, and teaching styles to provide an effective education for employees or customers is difficult. It would be easier if money was no object, but when is that ever the case? Fortunately, today we have the ability to choose VILT and get the best of all possible worlds.

It’s true that every organization will have unique needs and obstacles when it comes to providing high-quality, yet cost-effective, educational programs for their students. VILT draws from the strengths of both in-person and online learning to meet the needs of today’s instructors, while helping organizations lower their training delivery costs.