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!

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.




Soft skills gap – do appraisals really work for identification?

Next week I’m the guest speaker on the Bray Leino Learning webinar, “Identifying and Closing Soft Skills Gaps.” You can register here.


Appraisals are often used in organisations to review achievement and also look forward to goal setting for the coming year, which should include identifying all sorts of skills gap and how to close them. You can read a brief history of performance management here to get more of a background.

There are some that suggest the annual performance appraisal is a dying process. This includes Josh Bersin in his LinkedIn article, “Are Performance Appraisals Doomed?“.

The negative look at appraisals

In this article from Personnel Today, data from the Corporate Executive Board (now Gartner) showed that “the average manager spends more than 200 hours a year on activities related to performance reviews, but a staggering 90% of HR leaders feel the process does not yield accurate information”.

This Harvard Business Review article commented on the fitness of purpose for the future of business, that appraisals had a “heavy emphasis on financial rewards and punishments and their end-of-year structure, they hold people accountable for past behaviour at the expense of improving current performance and grooming talent for the future, both of which are critical for organisations’ long-term survival”.

Are manager’s supporting the learner?

Moving away from the debate of appraisals and whether they are fit for purpose any more, a recent webinar with Lentum Learning Transfer Software and Lever Transfer of Learning highlighted results from their 2017 Learning Transfer Research (due to be published very soon).

The webinar included these results:


Above shows the steep drop from what is learned initially to sustaining that learning for longer term performance in the workplace, as reported by L&D survey respondents globally.

Lentum and Lever highlight that this is a significant issue in the investment of resources into L&D programmes without significantly showing change in workplace performance.

Additionally, this data was telling about manager support:


A staggering 46% of respondents stated that manager’s were not involved in supporting the learning transfer, and therefore work improvement, of their direct reports.

This post from 70:20:10 framework champion Charles Jennings writes about research that shows “managers who set clear objectives, explain their expectations, and clearly set out how they plan to measure performance have teams that outperform others by almost 20%.”

A great Training Journal blog from Paul Matthews of People Alchemy states that “the delegate should be sent back from the course with a list of actions and goals that will deliver on the desired, paid-for business outcomes. That is the core purpose of learning transfer.”

With this information it seems absolute madness that more organisations don’t have these processes, approaches and, probably most importantly, culture as part of their business. Why wouldn’t you want to improve performance by 20%? If your managers are spending 200 hours (or over five weeks!) a year on performance reviews, why wouldn’t you want to see the pay off from that time?

Is the problem that manager’s are too busy? Is it that they don’t see anything to do with ‘learning’ as their job? Do L&D do a poor job of uniting learning to performance? It’s yes to all of them, and many, many more elements involved too.

Harold Jarche, on his blog, states that ““We have come to a point where organisations can no longer leave learning to their HR or training departments. Being able to understand emerging situations, see patterns, and co-solve problems are essential business skills. Learning is the work.”

What can we do about identifying and closing the soft skills gap?

You can join us on the webinar on Wednesday 26th April 2pm UK time, 11pm AEST, 9am EST, and discuss further!

Register here for free


Webinar questions… and my answers

On LinkedIn there was a questions asking for feedback on webinars. Typically I’ve responded fairly fully and exceeded the word limit, so I’m posting my answers here in case they help anyone else.

Original post:

Original question:

I’m looking for some feedback on #webinars if you either deliver them as part of your marketing strategy, or attend them as part of your (informal) L&D or for personal interest… (No need to respond to all questions – all feedback appreciated!)

1. How useful they are to you?
2. How often you attend/run them?
3. What topics that appeal to you the most/work best?
4. What you normally do once you’ve attended/run them?
5. What would be the one thing that you’d do differently (as a facilitator)?
6. What would be the one thing that you wish was done differently (as a participant)? Thanks in advance!

My answers:

1) Very! Depending on subject, facilitator, company, quality, tech use, participants and so on. Best for me is a subject that is relevant, with a quality speaker, appropriate interaction to help me with the subject, an open chat area to ask/learn from and network with others. I also host a great number of webinars, in some different formats, and they are useful for me to learn the topics even if I might not normally have attended them.

2) Attend, when I can. One a week on average maybe.
Run, one a month for the Training Journal #TJwow discussion webinars, one a month for the LPO Exploring Design of Virtual Classrooms webinar, ad hoc for others as I’m needed as a host or producer or speaker.

3) For my development, it’s what I’m focusing on for personal/professional development or for my business, so it’s very subjective.
Good for audiences will depend on your company, the products/services you offer and your key audiences. Either way you need to be focused on what can reasonably be achieved within the time frame of your webinar and allowing for discussion/interaction. It needs to be succinct and to the point.

4) For TJ: Publish a page with the recording link, image of the lessons learned, link to register for future webinars. Others are similar – it’s getting the recording and materials out and dealing with follow up questions. Thanking the speakers privately and publicly on social media.

5) As part of #4 I now include some of the thank you comments to highlight why people should attend. I keep an ongoing list of registrations, attendees and percentages against industry standards to show progress.
As a facilitator it’s always about improving your skills, technology, understanding, the setup, working with the speakers etc.

Hope that helps, feel free to reach out for further discussion as I’m interested in hearing more about your project.

Resistance to live online learning – webinar links

I delivered a webinar for the LPI about why there is resistance to online learning, and some tips of how to overcome them.

Here are all the links to the research I mentioned:

LPI certifications, COLF and CDOL:

An Exploratory Study Comparing Two Modes of Preparation for Online Teaching:

Virtual Spaces: Employing a Synchronous Online Classroom to Facilitate Student Engagement in Online Learning:

Beat the Hype Cycle: Get people to use the web presentation tools you’ve paid for By Wayne Turmel:

Video conference call in real life:

Video conference call in real life:

Use of Synchronous Virtual Classrooms: Why, Who, and How?

Factors affecting faculty use of learning technologies: implications for models of technology adoption:

Beat the Hype Cycle: Get people to use the web presentation tools you’ve paid for By Wayne Turmel:

In-Focus: Preparing for the Future of Learning:

Spaced-practice: FREE White Paper & 10 practical ways to make it happen:

Is it about time we forget Ebbinghaus?

Learning Live 2016: The secret to successful virtual learning sessions:

Relationships not robots – Flight Hospitality Annual Conference

I’ve been invited to speak at the Flight Hospitality 2016 annual conference, where the theme is Relationships not Robots.

My session is discussing whether the virtual classroom, or live online delivery, is friend or foe.

This post is a summary of some of the key points and quotes with links to original research.

From the session

“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


Researched reasons for not using live online learning:

More “trouble than it’s worth”

Fear of technology

Hated web meeting/webinars: long and boring

From: Beat the Hype Cycle: Get people to use the web presentation tools you’ve paid for By Wayne Turmel

I also referenced the funny “video conference call in real life“.


“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


“What motivates people to learn online? 76% want to do their job faster and better”

From: 70+20+10=100 The Evidence Behind the Numbers Towards Maturity


“Those reporting directly to the line of business support double the number of
learners with fewer resources”



“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?

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

This is from a report in 2007 – it’s 9 years old and we are still having pockets of

From: Virtual Spaces: Employing a Synchronous Online Classroom to Facilitate Student
Engagement in Online Learning


I used a graph of research about why people leave webinars early, from The Virtual Presenter.


“Over 75% of people who present using online tools do so for the first time with
innocent victims on the other end”

From the Remote Leadership Institute: