Tweets covering the LTSF17 live online learning conference session

“Making the most of your live online session” was the presentation I delivered atĀ 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!

Eight reasons to remove chat from your webinar

There must be some really compelling reasons to switch off the chatĀ 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.Ā 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 rogueĀ 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.

    ThisĀ is a great example of the question not being answered properly on a webinar I’m attendingĀ whilst writing this blog postĀ (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.




Engagement in virtual classrooms video

It was an honour to be interviewed by Issy Nancarrow, of Nancarrow Partnerships, at the Learning Technologies 2016 conference.

I spoke about how important engagement is in virtual classrooms, as well as the importance of good design for live online sessions and that online facilitation is a new skill to master.



Live online learning: Resistance & ingredients to success – Summary from Charity Learning Commission September User Group Meeting

These are the summary notes of research and references from my recent speaking engagement at the Charity Learning Consortium User Group meeting on behalf of the Learning Performance Institute.


“The issue is no longer whether or not online learning is or should occur, but rather how it is implemented”
from An Exploratory Study Comparing Two Modes of Preparation for Online Teaching


“Both students and tutors were positive about using ā€¦ online tutoring, and ā€¦ interactions were perceived as successful”
From Virtual Spaces: Employing a Synchronous Online Classroom to Facilitate Student Engagement in Online Learning


“Researched reasons for not using live online learning:
More ā€œtrouble than itā€™s worthā€
Fear of technology
Hated web meeting/webinars: long and boring”
Summarised from Beat the Hype Cycle: Get people to use the web presentation tools youā€™ve paid for


“If instructors are aware of the ease in which virtual classrooms can be set up and used, they may be more inclined to use this technology to carry out online instruction more effectively”
From Use of Synchronous Virtual Classrooms: Why, Who, and How?


“Two key variables influence intention to make use of a technology: perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use”
From Factors affecting faculty use of learning technologies: implications for models of technology adoption

Modelling good practice
Practice, with coaching and support
Peers using Live Online Learning and sharing tips”
Based on work from Beat the Hype Cycle: Get people to use the web presentation tools youā€™ve paid forĀ 

Ingredients to success of online learning:
Blended approach
Designed for online delivery
Delivered by passionate online professionals

Coaching, positive psychology & changing our training approach

This week I’ve been having coaching conversations with a client that I found really interesting. After many years of behaving in the same way they are at a point of accepting change and open to change in themselves. This is someone whom many people wished to help in the past but really highlights that until the person is ready, it doesn’t matter too much what other people have said or done. In this instance it was years of experience and a life change that has brought, in the clients own words “my epiphany”.

This client made me consider positive thinking and Positive Psychology. Sukh Pabial has some blog on it and in this post highlights the following about positive thinking:

“…Iā€™m a firm believer that if you focus on the positive you can change the way you perceive the problem you are facing and the possible solutions that present themselves. This isnā€™t to say you delude yourself into a sense of all being right in the world, but you start to think differently about the work you do, and the interactions you have.”

And this about Positive Psychology:

“The key difference [between positive thinking and Positive Psychology], is not focusing on the cause of the distress, although important, but using interventions to help produce lasting effects of feeling good.”

My client has just got to some positive thinking about the situation they were in. In further conversations what I’m seeing now is the difference of Positive Psychology. Without necessarily understanding it, what my client is doing is focusing on changes for the future to ensure they feel good more of the time. That they enjoy more experiences. That they even have those experiences. My client said the following, which I thought was a great step forwards; “One thing I have come to appreciate is people being honest with me, as you are, and instead of getting the arse and sulking just saying to myself ‘well, ok’.” It’s this moving on which I think is key.

Separately I’m also thinking about the LPI webinar I’m delivering next week, about updating our training skills by looking at facilitation and coaching elements that we can bring in. Something that Costas mentioned on Twitter was about getting our colleagues or teams to be able to update and change their behaviour. I think a big part of this is that, if they don’t want to, they won’t. They’ll resist that change. I think what we can do is model behaviour, lead by example, reward the actions we want to see in the organisation, offer opportunities to expand our thinking (such as my webinar, or other’s, or in-house sessions of some kind) and so on. We can also change the landscape around them, perhaps with our next new hire ensuring that they have the approach that the organisation (and the L&D industry more broadly) needs for the future. Until they want to do it, they aren’t going to bite.

If you want to know more about Positive Psychology, Sukh is running some sessions across the UK for your professional development. You can read more here and book the March, London event here.