Tweets covering the LTSF17 live online learning conference session

“Making the most of your live online session” was the presentation I delivered at Learning Technologies Conference Summer Forum 2017.

Click for LTSF webinar session description

LTSF webinar session description

These are the tweets that covered my session about webinars and the virtual classroom.

Ady Howes had a 360 degree camera and recorded the session. I’ll update this page when we have a video link!

My session was one of the last of the day, against stiff competition of conference Chairman himself, Donald H Taylor, as well as 702010 God Charles Jennings! I still had a packed, sold out room though.

As Kate mentions, each conference session has a person tweeting the highlights, which was the lovely Joan Keevill.

Many thanks to @Obhi and @Designs_JoanK for their tweets.

Remember to download the paper that goes with this session.

And you can also join us for the webinar version!

Bob Mosher notes from TLDchat – performance support and more

#TLDChat is a webcast hosted every morning US time (4pm UK time) by Brent Schlenker. A number of different L&D topics are covered on different days.

Bob Mosher was the guest today, and I shared several tweets of some of his key messages. I thought I would gather them with some other detail as Bob’s work is so important for us all to be aware of or reminded about.

This is the bio of Bob, from the community website for performance support:

The #TLDchat was about an hour and covered a variety of different topics. You can watch the recording here and below are some of my tweets:

This is a different way of thinking to a lot of training design. This is firstly about what people need in their every day job role in order to perform as they need.

You might need to make one sheet guides, quick reference guides, give people access to short videos to support them. It could also be bigger solutions such as the help tools available with software.

Either way, Bob highlights to make sure people have what they need to be able to do their job. The training is to “back up” the support materials – to add extra richness and depth. It’s not about the training first, and hoping that people will rely on your emailed slides!


Bob says this was what someone said to him once, “oh, you are the guy that hates training” or similar. Just because there are other things to do, like performance support materials, it doesn’t mean that training isn’t good or the right thing. It’s just not the ONLY thing!


It was hard to get this all in one tweet, and I’m not sure I did it gracefully! The point here is that there is often time between a training event and when a person next needs to perform that task. The point Bob made was that you might we have a tick in the training box, a tick to say that they passed the test, but if they can’t do the actual task, then it will be the fault of the L&D department who did the training.

So if we rely solely on training to equip people to do their jobs, then it’s training that will get the blame when people can’t perform. If we provide other elements too, such as a PDF or video or whatever to help them do their job in the moment, then we are the hero’s.


An analogy used early in the discussion was about swimming. Bob had said that the minimum you need in a swimming lesson is how not to drown! Learning the details of difficult swimming strokes is for another day.

Taking this analogy further, the detail of different things about swimming (or not drowning!) are best learnt in the pool, trying them out. However, if you’ve never, ever gotten in the water before, without the help of some training, that very first toe you dip in is going to be scary.

It’s our job in L&D to help people get in the water, to make sure the know how not to drown, and, over time, get them competent in other areas and help them as they need it.


This point about the 70:20:10 model is to design first for the workflow, where people need help in the moment, as mentioned above. Another Bob Mosher (and his partner Conrad Gottfredson) also talk about are the five moments of learning need, and that’s well worth a read.


Here’s a tweet from Marco, the only other content tweet from this chat, capturing a lovely point!


Click here to read my blog post for more on Instructional Design. 

Eight reasons to remove chat from your webinar

There must be some really compelling reasons to switch off the chat section in your webinars, as so many that I’ve attended recently don’t have this active.

Reasons for removing webinar chat functionality:

Stretching my imagination a bit, they could be…

  1. Focus on the content delivery
  2. Reduce distractions for attendees
  3. Avoid over taxing the speaker
  4. Ensure competitors attending the session don’t see each other
  5. People will see how few attendees there are on the webinar
  6. Avoid negative comments or questions
  7. Use the Question panel direct to host/producer/moderator
  8. It doesn’t exist in the software (such as GoToWebinar)

Are there other’s you could add? Comment below if there are.


Are these legitimate reasons? Really?

From my tone so far you have probably picked up that I don’t think so.

  1. Focus on the content deliveryI focus better on the content when I’m discussing it with other attendees and the speaker(s). I can share my own ideas, thoughts, research and resources and look forward to other people doing the same so I can have broader and deeper learning.
  2. Reduce distractions for attendeesIt doesn’t reduce distractions, as I’m actually MORE distracted. Probably the speaker isn’t the most amazing in the world, and therefore I’m more likely to put the webinar on a second monitor and start ploughing through email, or pick up my phone and load Twitter.
    Using chat is me ENGAGING with the content, not being distracted!
  3. Avoid over taxing the speakerMaybe you should select a speaker that can handle the chat window. Or you team them up with a host/producer/moderator that can handle that for them. This role is typing in the chat too and bringing comments and questions to the attention of the speaker at pre-decided points.


  4. Ensure competitors attending the session don’t see each otherYep, competitors or clients in different industries might be a challenge to deal with. If people are logging in with their real names, that’s only an issue if they might know each other. When is this a negative? Perhaps when you have two strong competitors both your clients. Then perhaps offer two webinars, promote one to one company, one to another?
    Some software allows you to keep the attendees separate but still include the chat, though this usually does include names. If that’s an issue, some software allows you to set the format, such as first name only, or perhaps suggest to your attendees a protocol in your pre-information.
    Perhaps more transparency is a better thing.
  5. People will see how few attendees there are on the webinarFew attendees on a webinar is not a failure. It’s a huge strength for the attendee and the conversation or learning points as you get to have much better, in-depth conversation. If this is an issue, you need to address your approach, expectations or marketing.


  6. Avoid negative comments or questionsPeople will make negative comments and ask awkward questions one way or another. If it’s not the webinar, it might be on your Facebook page, or Twitter including your @handle. Why not get it out and deal with it?
    If you have a marketing webinar, this is about objection handling. If it’s about service and products then at least you have feedback for improvement. If you are worried about what other potential clients will think, it’s probably how you handle the comments and questions that will make the difference.
    If you do have a rogue attendee really bent on making an issue, and you’ve attempted dealing with it politely in the chat and offered to take it offline to deal with and they are persisting, then perhaps removing that person from the session is the best thing to do. But this doesn’t penalise everyone else!
  7. Use the Question panel direct to host/producer/moderatorQuestion or Q&A panels or pods are brilliant to separate out questions from a busy chat window. This makes it much more manageable for a speaker on their own and if there is a moderator/host/producer, who can deal with that. Sometimes there can be a few people to deal with a busy Question area and reply direct or to all attendees.
    That said, I’ve been on a number of webinars the last couple of weeks where there has been ONLY a question pod.

    This is a great example of the question not being answered properly on a webinar I’m attending whilst writing this blog post (yep, because there was no chat, no tweets and it was a boring webinar). The speaker said that webinars should be social. So I asked this:


    It would have been nice if they actually answered the question. Or, am I being mean?

    On other webinars recently I’ve asked questions pertinent to the beginning of the session (such as, “is there a Twitter hashtag for this webinar?”) received no response. If there’s no verbal, private written or public written answers to the questions, what’s the point of entering them?

  8. It doesn’t exist in the software (such as GoToWebinar)Get better software.




Blending technology and the joy of helping others learn – Colleges Wales Keynote

On Monday 27th March 2017 I was honoured to be the keynote speaker for the Colleges Wales annual training and learning conference. This year the title is Step Up To the Future and the themes are “digital” and “more able and talented”.


Colleges Wales conference where Jo Cook is keynote speaker

The session I’m keynoting is focusing on the use of technology as part of the overall teaching blend. It’s important to start our focus on the reason most of us get into the careers that we are in, which is to set the context for those Lightbulb Moments of helping other’s learn and perform.

The full deck of slides in my presentation are available on


Title slide from Jo Cook’s Colleges Wales keynote presentation

If you want to see the tweets from the conference, this is the hashtag for the ones in English: #tlcym17

Joy in teaching

One of the things I wanted to concentrate on was the joy we have in our roles as teachers, trainers, facilitators, coaches and any learning or supporting role.

Often when paperwork, process, procedure and changes get on top of us, we forget how much we love what we do.

Ahead of the Colleges Wales conference I asked through Social Media “what do you love about your job in learning?”. As of 24th March 2017, these are the answers:


What do you love about your job in learning? Social Media responses

It’s so lovely to see these answers, about helping other people with change, helping them to “get it”, watching them grow and problem solve. The elements of working together and collaboration are important as humans are very social beings and it’s an essential element to how we learn.

Something I especially love is that people like seeing others enjoy their learning, and that there is also laughter. Anyone that knows me knows that I like a good laugh and I think that a light-hearted approach in many things can making it more enjoyable and make the learning a great experience.

On a digital note for a moment, for gathering the above thoughts I used the Anwer Garden website. It’s free and easy to gather short answers or suggestions from people. They don’t need a login or an app, just the link and they can contribute. Here’s the full question and suggestions you can look at and add your thoughts if you wish to.

Learning for life

Part of my research for the conference led me to look at the Welsh Education Reform Journey documentation. Something that especially caught my attention was this:

“Building on the 2014 OECD review and several other research reports, Wales developed an education vision and a strategic plan to move towards realising that vision, Qualified for Life: An Education Improvement Plan, published in 2014. Ongoing curriculum reform has allowed this vision of the Welsh learner to be further refined.”

The Qualified for Life element intrigued me – this is what we need to be doing in our roles, helping people for a future that isn’t yet written, for jobs that may not yet even be invented.

This could be worrying for many types of jobs, including teaching. Don Clark wrote this back in 2012 in a piece about Artificial Intelligence:

Future without teachers?

This may see hopelessly utopian. But could we have a future without teachers? Why not? Teaching is essentially being a conduit. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Wouldn’t academics really prefer to do pure research and not teach? Wouldn’t most teachers prefer not to have to mark anything and avoid the stress of the classroom? Couldn’t we dispense with teaching and just have learning?

Maybe teachers would prefer to get rid of the stressful elements in the classroom, and probably the hours or marking homework and assignments – I know they weren’t my favourite parts of teaching when I worked in a further and higher education college.

This theme lead me to thinking about the work of Canadian thought leader Harold Jarche and the concepts he has put together about the future of human work. Harold wrote this in a blog post about work:

We are on the cusp of being a digitally networked and computer-driven society and it seems we are throwing away the only thing that will enable people to have a valued role in it. Common core education standards are useless for this world of work. So are standard academic disciplines, as well as standard job competencies. These are all for machines, not humans. The future of human work is complex, creative, and unique.

Writer Sveta McShane summarised that there are three main things human are still better at than robots:

“Solving unstructured problems… working with new information… and non-routine manual tasks.”

She also highlighted that the World Economic Forum identified 21st century skills in categories of “Foundational Literacies, Competencies, and Character Qualities.”

They key point from Harold that resonates for this topic is that humans need to be ready for a complex world, where we are creative and make judgements in ways that machines, Artificial Intelligence and automated processes can’t.


Diagram on the future work for humans – click for original article and diagram by Harold Jarche

As Harold shows in the above diagram, it’s the empathy we have with other people that let’s us connect with them and build a relationship to support their learning – which is where the curiosity comes in. If we can foster this idea of curiosity and wonder in people, then they will want to learn, to improve themselves and the world around them.

Part of this future and curiosity will be encouraging people to seek information from whom or whatever their network is around them. Through a community of practice and perhaps the team that they work in, then make sense of this information.

Then it’s about sharing that information in a way that has created something new, something useful, back to the network.

This is the one way that we can manage professional development and it’s focus on continuous learning, and this is what we need to be taking into consideration when designing our learning materials.

Harold speaks of something he calls Personal Knowledge Mastery:

“PKM is a process of filtering, creating, and discerning, and it also helps manage individual professional development through continuous learning.”

In order to be able to do this, we need technology skills. “Technology is not what we seek, but how we seek”, quotes Futurist Gerd Leonhard in this video about humanity vs technology.

Challenge into opportunity

I see these changes as challenges to what we currently do, what we want to do, including staying in our comfort zone. I’ve seen it especially challenging for people with many years experience of working in a similar way.

We need to encourage people’s curiosity in order to get to the point of seeing that challenge as an opportunity for self and those that we support in building their own future.

Below are two questions posed to the audience of lecturers, teachers and senior practitioners at the Colleges Wales conference:


A question for the Colleges Wales conference audience

These were group discussions, with responses via Twitter and TodaysMeet too.

These questions are designed to draw out the challenges and thinking of those who are less comfortable with the amount of digital work that they are doing in their role. It’s also an opportunity for those who are more comfortable, and perhaps could be frustrated by colleagues, to understand a different point of view.

Time for change?

This quote is from a study about comparing different types of training in the US and highlights how this is the way forwards in schools:

Quote from Jo Cook’s Colleges Wales presentation

From this study, An Exploratory Study Comparing Two Modes of Preparation for Online Teaching, we can extrapolate the issue from schools to further and higher education, as well as different industry sectors.

Another research quote I found useful in looking at technology use in learning professionals is from a University of Westminster paper (2013) about faculties implementing technology.

“Two key variables influence intention to make use of a technology: perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use.”

My experience with educators, learning professionals, support staff and decision makers in more senior positions, is that they need to experience good practice and well modelled different ways of learning in order to understand their possibilities.

Without best-in-class experience, people don’t always understand how new approaches can be worth the time and learning investment and the potential culture change.

Why bother?

It’s a fair question – we might think that our current styles and approaches work excellently, or are good enough. A lot of the time, for many people, they certainly will be. It doesn’t mean that methods and approaches can’t be improved or further research won’t show up shortcomings we didn’t previously know about (see my post on learning styles as an example).

One piece of research from Towards Maturity shows how important it is for us to look at working in an online manner, focusing on what people do at work and how they learn naturally.

This report highlighted that the main reason people wanted to learn online, using a blended approach, was that they just want to do their job faster – 76% of people want to do that! Couple that with 60% of respondents wanting to increase their productivity and we can see that the workforce we have now want to do better for their organisations.

75% want to learn from their own personal development, not necessarily a formal learning course, with nearly half (47%) actively wanting to keep up with technology itself. Even if formal learning isn’t for everyone, 42% are motivated to getting a professional certification – all through blended online learning.

Also, it’s about the skills that our newer generations of workers need to develop. It’s easy to think that young people are all technology savvy experts, as they play on their tablet, message on their phone and watch the television at the same time. However the Usabilla blog reported on research that “only 5% of the population have high computer-related abilities.” So we need to help them build the skills.

Just because not every student has the right skills, doesn’t meant that they don’t know they need them. Jisc news highlighted a report that showed:

“75% of higher education students surveyed believe that, having staff with the appropriate digital skills is an important factor when choosing a university.
99% of students think that technology is becoming increasingly important in education.”

Isn’t it about time..?

I love sharing this quote:

“Both students and tutors were positive about using… online tutoring, and…interactions were perceived as successful.”

I love sharing it for two main reasons:

  1. It’s brilliant research about using online software for “synchronous e-learning system for online tutoring” and highlighting the success that can be achieved.
  2. It’s from 2007. That’s right, it’s 10 years old. For some people there is still debate about whether online, blended teaching and training can work or if we should be doing it.

A lot of the reasons for people’s reticence is fear of technology.

 One of the reasons for not using live online learning was the fear of technology. From

Fear that the robots are going to take over, as mentioned above.

However when people get to experience how good online delivery can be, it can inform them of different experiences, such as this teacher describing her reaction to using computers for teaching in the US:

I always believed I would be much better in person than through the computer, but I have found that I can still have relationships with students in this manner.
I am not very competent with the computer but I am very strong in my subject matter.”

In the Jisc news item mentioned above, Jisc CEO Paul Feldman said:

“In today’s digital age, it’s crucial institutional leaders stay up to date with digital trends and grasp how to leverage new technologies if they wish to deliver an enhanced learning experience to their students. Possessing technology and understanding the digital world is no longer the sole domain of IT managers, all student facing staff need to be digitally savvy.”

We know that blended learning and online approaches can be many things, including, but not limited to:

Blended learning can be so many things

Blended learning is… from Jo Cook’s Colleges Wales presentation

This is, and should be, all be based on good pedagogy too.

This link is a great learning theory map with scientific disciplines, learning theorists, their paradigms and key concepts. I pick out from it paradigms such as social constructivism and experiential education, which are about learners having active roles with direct experience in education. Bruner’s discovery learning and scaffolding for tailored support to learners are essential concepts to be taken and used in the 21st century.

In his book, Learning with ‘e’s: Educational theory and practice in the digital age, Steve Wheeler states:

“True pedagogy is the antithesis of instructing from the front of the classroom.
True pedagogy is leading people to a place where they can learn for themselves.”

For more on classic and more modern pedagogy in teaching and the digital age, Steve’s book is an excellent read.


The invitation I give to people at the end of the keynote is to team up with someone, to learn together as professionals. Learning transfer, including our own, is about accountability, and working with other’s will help that.

Steve Wheeler, in his book, says that “every successful teacher must also be a professional learner. The essence of good teaching is to get students to fall in love with learning”. After all, if we aren’t excited by and curious about the what is to come, about developing new skills and using them in a future that is unwritten, how can we expect our learners to be?

Technology plus people equals success

The future is technology but also people, from Jo Cook’s Colleges Wales keynote presentation

Facilitator Guide for live online classroom

This is a free Lightbulb Moment resources of a blank facilitator guide, session plan, lesson plan (or whatever name you want to use!) that you may wish to use as a starting point for your live online sessions, virtual classrooms and webinars.


Click for the Word document: facilitator-guide-blank-lightbulb-moment-jo-cook

Main facilitation section

What you can see in the main part of the document is:

  • Space for the slide thumbnail
    • Easier to update and add slides than change slide numbers
    • Easy visual reference when delivering
    • Doesn’t replace a print or screen of the slides with any detail on it that you might need
  • The facilitator column with script/information for delivery and key question points
    • It’s up to you what is right for your team in terms of the amount of ‘script’ that is on the document. Good facilitators will use this as a guide and life to their delivery
    • The questions in red help experienced facilitators highlight the important question point
  • The producer column is great for if you have someone in a host or more technical support role
    • Even if delivering content solo, I use this column to hold technical information, such as links or questions to paste into the chat window, tabs/pods to select and so on
    • You could re-purpose this column to be for co-delivery too
  • Technical and interaction notes as screen-grabbed icons of the software system
    • This makes it very quick and easy to process the input from the attendees – the chat icon tells me to say “Please type your response in chat” or the tick/check/cross/X tells me to ask for the response this way. It cuts down the need for this to be scripted
    • Ensuring that there is lots if meaningful, varied interaction will hold people’s attention and assist with their learning
  • Time on slide might seem strange to plan down to the 30 seconds – it’s not set in stone, but is an aide to know if something is a quick statement versus an interactive discussion
  • Having the elapsed time in minutes is helpful to keep on track
    • I have this in minutes and hours so that it doesn’t matter what time I start the session, I don’t have to mentally think “Oh, it says 10.27am, but today I started at 2.00pm…”

Opening pages

The first few pages contain some useful elements of design:

  1. A one page overview to help when planning initially and for trainer’s/facilitators to get a feel for the session
  2. An Adobe Connect specific table to help ensure planning and building of rooms and materials is correct
  3. The last section is a legend and icons to copy and paste into the document


Please use this document as you see fit and update as you need to.

It would be great comment your thoughts, adaptations and changes that might help other people.

Instructional Design: resources for creating learning solutions that work

A lot of people who work in training or learning and development either haven’t heard of the term Instructional Design (ID) or really aren’t very sure what it is.

What is Instructional Design?

ID is about “solving performance problems” according to Cathy Moore in her blog post about how to become an Instructional Designer. Christy Tucker says that the role of ID is to “design and develop learning experiences” – from her blog post series.

The Rapid E-learning blog reminds us that “the success of your course hinges on a critical question: does it help your audience learn and apply relevant skills and knowledge?”

A great place to start with ID is with some focuses on what you should actually be doing. Jane Bozarth’s article focuses on creating assessments that are based on what people actually do at work, which then means the rest of the learning solution is focused on that need.

Jane also highlights the difference between ID and visual design. The visual design of any learning materials is essential as part of getting the message across. An ID may be involved with visuals and other media, or that might be a separate role. Depends on your own skills and the size of the team you are in.

On the Rapid E-learning blog is a great picture (part of the visual design Jane Bozarth wrote about) to highlight what the learning solution needs to be – and I’m all for the lightbulb moment:



Activities rather than content

There is a great infographic and list of skills that an ID needs to have on Origin Learning. The first skill is to “break away from formal and heavy content. As an instructional designer, you will have to translate such formal and heavy content into instructional curriculum in an innovative manner.”

The article goes on to say that “it also means involving meaningful activities and exercises that can help facilitate the process of learning to a larger extent”

There are a number of learning models and theories, many with various benefits, some are questionable these days. There is a great list of them, with links for more information on the e-learning industry website, including this image to set the scene:



What do people need to DO AT WORK?

Too many training courses focus on what you will ‘understand’ or ‘know’ by the end. This isn’t about application of learning, it’s about content transfer.

One process that really helps to focus on what people really need to actually do in the work place is Action Mapping, made famous by Cathy Moore. It’s a fabulous consulting tool to find out why people aren’t doing what they need to or should be. It’s looks at all the options for helping to solve the problem, including what is in the environment that is causing the issue, what communication challenges are there and more.

Does it always need to be a course?

Charles Jennings is one of the most well known and oft-quoted speakers on the subject of 70:20:10. In his blog he explains it this way to organisations: “The 70:20:10 model is to help them re-position their focus for building and supporting performance across their organisations. They are finding it helps them extend the focus on learning out into the workflow.

Charles talks about extending learning into the workplace more in this blog piece, which offers some great insight and ideas on doing this in our organisations today. Also there is this blog about the benefits and challenges of doing just that.

In the 70:20:10 Into Action paper from the 70:20:10 Institute the numbers that make up learning solutions are described as such:

  • 10 solutions include training and development courses and programmes, eLearning modules and reading
  • 20 solutions include sharing and collaboration, co-operation, feedback, coaching and mentoring
  • 70 solutions include near real-time support, information sources, challenges and situational learning.

This great LearningNow TV 13 minute interview shows Charles talking about what 70:20:10 is and not getting hung up on the numbers – making sure it’s about performance too.

Is that all there is to it?

Of course this is only scratching the surface of what ID’s do and the things that can help them.

You should know about the moments of learning need, GEAR methodology, which includes spaced practice (and you can watch an excellent one hour conversation about spaced practice with Don Clark), learning theories, ID jargon, that learning styles aren’t scientific and more.

But this makes a good start!