Online Learning Advice in a Webinar World


Over 300 years ago Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, recognised that as a learner himself he needed to be involved in the process of learning. 300 years later what has changed?

Almost twenty years ago I completed the CIPD Certificate in Training Practice (CTP) with DPG, a great experience and asset to my early L&D career. Fast forward ten years and I find myself completing a Masters Degree in Training and Development and my Dissertation was around the use of Accelerated Learning (AL), simply put, the involvement of the learner in their own learning. Something Franklin understood 300 years ago! I also find myself back at DPG, this time as one of their facilitators, having the fortune to deliver the brand new CIPD Certificate in Learning and Development Practice (CLDP). In fact then, as today, DPG were at the forefront by being one of the first to deliver this brand new programme.

Fast forward another ten years, I am still delivering for DPG and now not in the classroom so much, but delivering blended learning programmes via our amazing DPG Community, first class online material, webinars and one to one support for individual learners. Something I really love. DPG are still at the forefront with our approach to blended learning and with the introduction of more and more digital learning technology. I wondered how we continue to involve learners in our programmes the way Franklin referred to almost three hundred years ago.

One new digital learning tool is the webinar. It is all too easy to make this a one-way flow of information, either spoken by the presenter or read from the screen by the audience. However here there are still many opportunities for the L&D professional to continue to use engaging and involving learning techniques in this digital environment.

Building on Franklin’s principles, Professor Diana Laurillard, Professor of learning with digital technologies at University College London, developed her notion of six learning types. By bringing together these sound learning principles and today’s digital learning approaches this can help us to design and deliver webinars that involve the whole audience.

Laurillard’s six learning types are:

  • Acquisition
  • Inquiry
  • Discussion
  • Collaboration
  • Production
  • Practice

Using these learning types, the webinar designer now has a wealth of ideas to involve learners during their webinar, here are some potential ways to liven up your webinars to fully involve your learner.

ACQUISITION  Read, watch, and listen

Learners acquire new information and knowledge in a passive way. You could provide a quote, formula, model etc for them to read either on screen or via a downloadable document. They could watch a video, or review images you show them. This is the start of their learning journey in this interactive webinar.

INQUIRY – Investigation

You audience could be encouraged to spend time researching the topic as individuals or groups, ask them to step out of the webinar for ten minutes, stay on-line but research the topic or different parts of it and present back an overview.

DISCUSSION  Learning through conversation 

Socratic questioning forms the bedrock of facilitation. When your audience present back their inquiry findings use this to structure your discussions around. Ask questions like:

  • How does that relate to what we say in the first slide/video?
  • What is it that makes to say that?
  • Can you provide an example here to demonstrate this?
  • What are the limitations to this concept/idea/ approach?
  • Explain the consequences of this course of action?
  • Why do you think I asked that question?

COLLABORATE  Learners working together

All webinar platforms provide functionality for learners to work collaboratively. Set up some chat rooms/breakout areas and have small teams carry out a collaborative activity, could they solve a problem or apply this new learning to a scenario?

PRODUCE – Consolidate new learning by producing an output

Two strong learning concepts come together here, whole body learning and “required drivers” from the Kirkpatrick partnership. If you want your learners to not only remember but to apply new learning as well, then one way to help is to have them make their own aide memoire. Get them to think about and share with the group a way they could remember new learning.

PRACTISE – A process of application and feedback

Encourage the learners at the end of the session to take action, just like you would in coaching. Ask for commitment to apply their new learning and ask how they gain feedback on their new skills.

The Model Applied

An example webinar designed to help managers to give feedback, using the Evidence, Explain, Change or Continue model might look a little like this?


Introduce the topic of feedback and show a video of a manager giving poor feedback and discuss what were the problems with it.


Explain that there is a feedback model called EEC and ask them to investigate this further either by providing some broad resources or directing them to the internet.


During their presentation back to the wider group question their understanding through questioning.


Set up break out rooms and using EEC ask them to provide feedback on the behaviour of an imaginary employee in a pre-written scenario.


Get them to discuss what they could produce to help them apply this new learning. Remember it has to be something they need to produce. A PowerPoint slide they could print off, or even a hand drawn note they place next to their computer.


This is your chance for a call to action, ask each person what their commitment to giving feedback using EEC is? When? Who? etc. You could even ask for it on the webinar they have just attended!

So, when you design your next webinar, pause a moment and think of Benjamin Franklin sat in his office, thinking about delivering his first webinar! And how he can use the great advice he received from Professor Diana Laurillard.

How will you use Laurillard’s work to further involve learners in your webinars?

Howard Rose – DPG Facilitator

Howard is one of the 32-strong facilitator team. His passion, originally as a DPG learner, has translated into his work as a facilitator of our CIPD programmes where he has helped the careers of hundreds of HR/L+D professionals.