The (Accidental) Virtual Trainers Blog – 5 – Focus on Technology – the ‘T’ in STICK!

When Technology is master we reach disaster faster 

–  Piet Hein.

To avoid the disaster of technology becoming master, we must master technology faster

– Jillian Carson-Jackson

Back to how to make online learning STICK – remember?  Sequence, Technology, Interaction, Content and Knowledge transfer.  We covered Sequence in detail in Blog 3, so now let’s look at Technology. 

If there is one thing that has become abundantly apparent it is that technology is everywhere, becoming more and more ingrained in our day-to-day life.  I recently was given a FitBit– you know, a wearable tech that is, well, really cool.  And not only cool, it is actually helping me learn more about my sleeping and eating habits.  Now, if it could only make my dinner! 

So, tech is everywhere – and it is because of technology that we can do online training.  But we need to understand what the technology is, and what it can do for us.  Over the past few years, chances are you have had meetings, attended webinars, done training sessions and workshops – all online.  In fact, I bet you have used a myriad of tools.  From a teaching point of view, what tools are out there and how do I choose what to use? 


Besides cost, there are lots of variables – but today I’m going to look at three critical elements: usability, bandwidth, and security


This is an indicator of how the tool can work for you.  How hard is it to set up?  What is the limit on participants?  Does the system support breakout rooms?  If so, how easy are they to set up and use?  How intuitive is the tool to use as a facilitator AND as a student? 

In the table I have used a modified Quality in Use Scoring Scale – QIUSS (pronounced Kee-us) scale from Brian Sherwood Jones, used under creative commons license.  This is a scaled approach with a value statement for how effective I have found the tool.  You may have a different opinion, and it is great to learn from each other. 

Scale Value Statement Explanation of Value Statement
0 Useless No useful functionality (no worth at all – may not as well have it).
1 Inadequate Performance Provides very little benefit.  Even if implemented fully, no real value.
2 Does the job Adequate performance (nothing more).
3 Functional Can achieve a good outcome, it does show some value.
4 High Performance Can completely achieve goals, with good outcomes.
5 Transformative Outstanding results, truly exceptional performance which could transform the activity (very rarely scored).


Understanding how much bandwidth is required can really help with a smooth online training session. Bandwidth and network speed are terms we are getting more and more familiar with. Network speed measures the transfer rate of data from somewhere (the source) to another somewhere (your computer). So, this is the maximum speed (rate) that you can transmit data (but it doesn’t mean you will always be able to transmit at that speed!). It is typically measured as megabits per second (Mbps). This is the internet ‘highway’ if you like.

Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transmitted over that network, and is also measured, confusingly, as Mbps (or, more and more, gigabits per second Gbps). You can think of the data as the cars and trucks on that highway – and the more traffic you get on that highway the slower it will go… just like a traffic jam.

But, in the whole process, there is also latency – which is the delay, the length of time it takes for the data to travel.

When doing anything online you need to know how much bandwidth the tool you are using will take, and that includes having a camera sending an image, running a video through the system, sharing documents for collaborative work. The ‘lighter’ the tool is to begin with, the more you can add to the facilitation event.



We know we need to change those passwords, to keep our data secure. I live in Australia, and we recently had two high profile cases of data breaches – the Optus breach and then the Medibank Private breach. Having good cyber hygiene is core to any online activity. When you are looking at the technology options for online training you also need to consider the security of the tool.

Security also goes to the requirements of the client for secure systems. For example, you will see that Zoom gets a pretty high rating for online training, but the early days of Covid saw some security breaches that the tool has worked hard to overcome. The current system has significant security features, but that initial concern has led to some organisations banning the use of Zoom.

It is hard to differentiate, so it really depends on what you feel comfortable with, and what your user group requires.

If you want to explore the technology further, check out this cool site (TrustRadius) to compare different online training tools (they have way more tools there too!)
Now we have looked at the technology, next time we will see about what to do when technology fails!

TechnologyCost RatingMy usability rating (QIUSS)BandwidthSecurity

• 2.0 Mbps up and down for single screen

• For screen sharing only: 150 to 300kbps

• For audio VoIP: 60 to 80kbps

Information from 2022

• 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

• End to end encryption (when used)

Information from 2023

Blackboard Collaborate$$$4

• Audio always uses 48kbps

• Application sharing from 500kbps

• Webcam video from 360kbps

information from 2017

• Best practices from Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP)


Information from 2022

BigBlueButtonopen source4

• Min of 1.0 Mbps up / 2.0 Mbps down


information from 2021

• Industry standard using TLS, HTTPS, SRTP etc.


Information from 2022


• 1.2 to 1.5 Mbps – peer to peer (depending on video call resolution)

• 1Mbps/2Mbps for group video calling

Information from 2020

• End to end encryption

• Industry standard using TLS and SRTP.

Information from 2023

GoToMeeting/ GoToTraining$$3

• 1000Kbps (1 Mbps) or more for simultaneous screen sharing, audio, and video conferencing


information from 2022

• End to end encryption

• Industry standard using TLS, HTTPS.

White paper on security

Cisco Webex$$4

• High Definition Video: 2.5 Mbps (Receive) and 3.0 Mbps (Send)

• High Quality Video: 1.0 Mbps (Receive) and 1.5 Mbps (Send)

• Standard Quality Video: 0.5 Mbps (Receive) and 0.5 Mbps (Send)

Information from 2022

• End to end encryption

• Can add levels of security

White paper on security

The (accidental) virtual trainers Blog – Why Objectives are Important

Education is the movement from darkness to light. 

— Allan Bloom

I recently reviewed a training program.  Not really blog worthy, right?  Well, it so happened that this training program was riddled with the types of objective statements that really get my hackles up.  You may know these types of objectives – the ‘understanding’ objectives, or even worse ‘good understanding’…  As in:

‘The student will demonstrate an understanding of…’  

I always look at this and say, well, how does one demonstrate ‘understanding’? What is ‘understanding’ anyway?  As an adjective, it is to be ‘sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings…’ as a noun it refers to ‘comprehension’ I love one definition I found: ‘the capacity to apprehend general relations of particulars’

OK, yeah, I can assess that easily… not! 

This can then be coupled with ‘a good understanding of…’ 

I think of good a bit like beauty – in the eye of the beholder.  Pretty hard for different people to look at the training and assess a ‘good understanding of…’ 

So, why do we need to rid the world of ambiguous and subjective training objectives?  Let’s look at it from a more ‘management’ point of view. 

Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” and this goes on to “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it 

So, if we don’t have clearly defined and consistent objectives how can we ever realise the true value of education?  The ability to provide that light that Allan Bloom was talking about?

We need to ensure we  create  effective training objectives that consider the three ‘domains’ of learning – cognition (knowing / knowledge); psychomotor (physical / skills) and affective (emotions / attitude).  If this looks like the standard ‘KSA’ (Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes) that we refer to in training, that’s because it is! 

In 1956 Benjamin Bloom created a taxonomy, or a classification system, to support learning objectives in the cognitive domain.  Other notable names in the development of training objective taxonomies include Krathwohl, Dave and Anderson (and I’m sure there are more…)  Over the years others have addressed affective and psychomotor domains, and the ‘revised’ version of the taxonomy came out in 2001 after much deliberation.  The main ‘headings’ go from the simpler levels to the more complex level, addressing the concept of the ‘Higher Order of Thinking’ (or ‘HOT’). 

Great, here are some broad headings that could support developing objectives. Now what?  To support each of these ‘headings’ the taxonomies provide specific verbs.  These can help us write effective, and meaningful objectives.  For example, at the ‘remembering’ level verbs such as arrange, define, list, name, and recite all work.  Then, at the ‘understanding’ level (remember my pet peeve about ‘a good understanding of…’) verbs that can be used when writing objectives include interpret, summarize, explain, and discuss.  Similarly, for the HOT of ‘creating’ you can use verbs such as design, build, construct, plan, and invent.  Check out the taxonomies online, there are multiple sites that provide all these and more!

This gives us a great set of building blocks to create our objectives.  Next, we need to consider what to include.  A solid objective includes three key elements – a condition (the ‘how’), a performance (the ‘what’), and a standard (the ‘how well’).  For example, using the lowest order of thinking (remembering):

    • Based on the (accidental) virtual trainer’s blog (condition)
    • list the three training domains and their levels (performance)
    • to an accuracy of 100% (standard).   

Finally, for every objective you develop you should put it through the  SMART objectives filter – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely/time-bound. 

For the sample objective, it may meet all but the ‘achievable’ element – after all, no one is perfect…  So let’s revise it to read:

Based on the (accidental) virtual trainer’s blog, list the three training domains and their levels to an accuracy of 80%.  

Training is all about moving from darkness to light – sharing knowledge, evolving, growing and improving.  To improve we need to know where we are going, how we are going to get there, and how we will know we have arrived.  Training objectives provide us with the road map, so we can move together towards a known goal, address the challenges along the way and then celebrate the wins.   

Next – back to making online learning STICK – a focus on ‘T’ – Technology. 

Jillian Carson-Jackson, M.Ed., FRIN, FNI

31 December 2021

The (accidental) virtual trainer – Sequencing (the ‘S’ in making online learning ‘STICK’)

Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.

— Socrates

Teachers and trainers, students, employees, employers – COVID has changed the way work and learning is done.  For the trainers, the task is find a way to convey the needed information while still managing the challenges that arise in the environment.  In my previous article I highlighted some of the learning I have taken away from the past months, almost 2 years now!  I’ve found we need to think in five key dimensions to make online learning effective.  I’ve summarized them as STICK – Sequence, Technology, Interaction, Content and Knowledge.  Today’s focus – the S in Stick – Sequence.

How can we sequence the material to promote engagement, addressing different competence levels and learning preferences? Let’s look at some adult education and training research.

How far back should we go?  Well, we can start with Socrates – who was Plato’s teacher; and then to Plato – who was Aristotle’s teacher.   Each of these three have a role to play in adult education theory which, at its essence, is linked to lifelong learning and growth.

Throughout history there have been various educational theories, usually developing and building on past experiences.  As Aristotle said ‘What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing’.  In the educational field, we have the opportunity to learn from what others have done.

In 1833, building on the Plato’s educational theory, Alexander Kapp introduced the term Andragogy in relation to adult education.  Over a century later the term re-emerged in educational theory through Malcolm Knowles paper ‘Andragogy, not pedagogy’.  Simply, andragogy summarizes the core principals of adult learning – adults need to feel in control of the learning, they bring a rich set of life experiences which can support their learning, and they learn best when they can clearly see the value and application of what’s being taught.

These concepts also sit well with Jean Piaget’s theory of discovery learning (learning best through doing) and David Kolb’s experiential learning theory – which follows the cycle of learning through defined stages based on experiences.  When you add this all to the context of ‘Flow Theory’, the importance of sequencing learning becomes clear!

Excellence is not a gift but a skill that takes practice – Plato

Some techniques for sequencing learning include:

  • Whole-part-whole – present the end ‘product’, deconstruct it, put it back together again… Another approach to this would be the EDIC model – Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate and Confirm.
  • Known to unknown – focus on familiar topics, building on existing knowledge and common experiences, then add in new elements, keeping in mind the ‘flow’ theory concept of increasing complexity to promote learning, but not so much that the students begin to feel anxious and overwhelmed.
  • Dependent / supportive relationships – look at the content critically and think about the dependent elements (for example – you must be able to do A before you can attempt B) and the supportive elements (those items that can be slotted in to enhance the learning, but are not critical to the next step).

Within the construct of the training, you can also think about the intentional, incidental, and accidental learning – and what you can do with the sequencing of activities to build these in, or provide opportunity to take advantage of the ‘teachable’ moment when it arises.

Intentional is the easiest – this is ‘what’ you are teaching, based on some objectives, standards, accredited program.  Then you need to think about how to build in opportunity for incidental learning – the learning that happens with when students interact with the material and with each other; reaching some unintended conclusions that can be build on in the training to deepen understanding.  To benefit from accidental learning, you need to be able to adapt to the outcomes of the activities with the students.  What is something that has come about that wasn’t even thought about – but really fits with the topic?

When you start thinking critically about sequencing material for learning, there are many questions you can ask yourself – here are four to get you started!

1 – What is the overall objective for the learning (the outcome)?

2 – How can adult learning theory help with the instructional design?

3 – Which technique(s) can I use to support experiential learning?   

4 – How can I use the sequence of content to support intentional and incidental learning, while providing the opportunity to build on accidental learning?

Whether we teach in the same physical space as our students, or if we are fully ‘online’, the sequence of the presentation of content is critical.  This is a bit like putting the pieces of the puzzle together – working through different options, focusing on the outcomes, and being willing to adapt to get the sequence right. 

Next – why having clear, well written objectives for learning are important…

Jillian Carson-Jackson, M.Ed, FNI, FRIN

4 December 2021

The (accidental) virtual trainer – Adults going back to school. How to prepare for an online course!

I recently taught a course online with an ‘older’ student (actually, they were younger than I am, but they were feeling ‘older’… I know the feeling!)  They were very concerned about the different technology being used, and not being ‘with it’ like the younger, 30 something students.  It is a common fear – ‘fear of the unknown’.

Nicholas Carleton highlighted this, wondering if it might be the ‘One fear to rule them all’ (something for the Tolkien fans out there!) In his article, published in 2016 in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, he references the concept of the ‘fundamental fears’ which can defined within a set of criterion. In the case of my student, these came in the form of an emotional response to the unfamiliar technology and remote learning environment.  It is all too common and can be really limiting when we realize that so much training, while still ‘face to face’, is now in the online ‘face to face’ environment.

In the continuing ‘pivot’ we’re experiencing as we move to operate in a ‘covid-normal’ world, we see that online learning, and hybrid learning, are here to stay.  If you haven’t already participated in an online training activity, it is likely you will… so how can you prepare?  I have delivered many online courses over the past 20 months or so, and from my experience I’ve found 5 key points that may help you prepare.

1 – Recognize the fearWe know that fear is part of us, and it is actually a valuable response to have, recognize and manage.  Accept that fear, and you are on your way to overcoming it.  Don’t hold it in, don’t pretend it doesn’t exist.  Tell the instructor, tell your manager who is sending you on the course, tell your partner, tell your cat – once you corral your fear with words it loses much of its power.

2 – Do your homeworkWere you one of those people who liked homework?  Well, neither was I.  But it really did help me to learn.  I still remember a project I did in the 9th grade on my family tree – I may have hated doing the homework, but I appreciated being better prepared for the presentation.  I am now at the age where I am passing on the information of the family to my own children and I’m still prepared, thanks to my homework so long ago.  Prepare for the course, take the time to review the pre-reading, get familiar with the tools that will be used.  If there is an online learning management system you need to use, check your access is set up, sign in and explore the site.  If there is an app on your phone you will be expected to use, download the app and give it a try.  If you have never used Zoom, or Collaborate, or Teams, or Webex, or any of the other online group communication programs, go online and read up about the technology that will be used.  Often there are even short videos that can walk you through the basics.  By learning about the technology, you will be learning to overcome that fear!

3 – Prepare your ‘study’ environmentWhere will you be joining the course from? It may be your dining room table, your bedroom, or a home office – I even had someone join for a session from their car since there was too much going on in the house!  Ideally, though, try to find a space where you will be comfortable working on a keyboard and screen, potentially for an extended period of time.  Light level is important – try to arrange a light that is behind your screen, not behind your head!  The benefit of ‘camera on’ online training is that you can really see each other (sometimes a bit too close up for comfort… is that spinach caught in my teeth?).  If you can’t have a ‘clean’ background, try using the virtual backgrounds.  If that takes too much bandwidth, put up a curtain.  Just remember, you don’t want your kids running around in their PJs behind your camera when you are on course!  Think about the background noise – are you on a busy road, near a police station? Are there really loud birds outside your window (that is an experience I had where the local magpie teenage gang decided to sit outside my window while I was teaching – talk about loud!). Having a bit of space around the keyboard for a pad of paper and pen may help, so you can take notes the ‘old fashioned way’ if you like.  Oh – and remember to plug in the laptop… How many times have you been in the middle of a call and realized you were out of power???

4 – Make the timeIf you were to go to a ‘physical’ course in a training centre, you would block out the time in your calendar.  You would cancel that quick morning standup meeting since you would be physically in a different location, maybe even a different city.  It’s no different for online training.  Make the effort to make the time – block out your calendar, let your colleagues, family and friends know you are on training.  The joy of online training is that you don’t need to travel, book hotels, or worry about parking tickets – but this also means you may be expected to participate in other online meetings during the course.  Learn to say ‘No’.  This is training time, this is time for you to grow and learn, and it’s that simple.

5 – Adapt to the challenges No one is perfect.  We know that nothing will ever go exactly as planned – so we need to be adaptable.  What would happen if you are online in the middle of the course and your wifi decides to cut out?  What now?  Well, be prepared to adapt with a hot spot from your phone (so maybe arrange for extra data on your phone ‘just in case’).  Your dog may decide he has to go out – right now!  Or the kids may need you despite your efforts to have then settled – we have all been there.  A quick note in the chat box, pop off your camera and go on mute for a minute to deal with the crisis.  As an online trainer I actually enjoy having the children drop in for a visit during the course, or to get to know the family fur-baby.  I have been known to teach with a cat sitting on my shoulder (she gets really needy about 1400 every day and would cry if I didn’t hold her).  For me it is ‘letting the fun happen’.  It is one of the joys of teaching and learning online.  Being adaptable and learning to enjoy these short insights into our lives helps bring a feeling of connectedness that we may miss.  We can’t go for a cuppa together during break, but we can share in the fun of learning online.

“Let the fun happen”

So, while we may all have the fear of the unknown, it doesn’t need to be that ‘one fear to rule us all’ – we can take control, take action, and prepare ourselves for an exciting and rewarding training session.  Everyone is different, every course is different.  The opportunities are to be embraced, not feared, but it may take a bit of preparation and willingness to ‘let go’ and adapt.  The digital transformation of education and training is pretty exciting, and we can all benefit! 

Stayed tuned… I will take a closer look at sequencing to support online learning – the ‘S’ in the STICK model.  

Jillian Carson-Jackson M.Ed, FRIN, FNI

14 November 2021

The (accidental) virtual trainer


Teachers and trainers, students, employees, employers – COVID has changed the way work and learning is done.  The quick term has been ‘pivot’ – Merriam-Webster has several definitions, but the one that’s probably the most relevant:

“Pivot … to adapt or improve by adjusting or modifying something (such as a product, service, or strategy) “

Adjust or modify strategy.  Necessity as the mother of invention.  Or, more specifically as Plato put it, “Our need will be the real creator”.

Need has triggered the development of new tools and the speedy enhancement of existing tools – some of these tools work, some don’t.  We would be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t participated in online meetings, conferences or even social events or team building exercises since Covid began.  We all needed to come up with a way to keep going, keep in touch.

For the trainers, the requirement is to find a way to convey the needed information while still managing the challenges that arise in the environment.

Technical challenges with hardware are probably the easiest to recognize – a slow internet access or computers, getting a workable screen setup, possible camera and microphone issues.  Then the other, ‘softer’ issues need to be considered – a physical or ergonomic environment with a true learning space free from noise and distractions of pets, children, spouses and noise from outside (is that even possible?); and the emotional environment that can leave a person stressed, with low energy levels.  With our global approach, this can even include thinking about the circadian rhythms that leave the student in an evening mind frame when the instructor is fresh from their morning coffee.

I believe we need to think in five key dimensions to make online learning effective.  I’ve summarized them as STICK – Sequence, Technology, Interaction, Content and Knowledge. I’ll go into these in more detail in the next few blogs… In short, though –

Sequence – How can we sequence the material to maximise engagement, and to address learning preferences?

Technology – What technology can we use, what alternative technologies are available and what are some workarounds should either fail us?

Interaction – How do we engage the learners in an interactive environment that helps overcome some of the ongoing fatigue we all feel after months of Covid lockdowns, screen fatigue and – yes – pivoting?

Content – What is being presented?  Is it still relevant?  Is it still necessary?  How do we keep it fresh?

Knowledge – Knowledge transfer needs to be performed, assessed, reviewed, and amended as needed – how can we effect the transfer of knowledge, ensure competence is achieved, address changes in attitudes and support values?

Online and remote learning is going to be the way of training for the foreseeable future, especially with ongoing pandemic concerns.  Borders open and close with distressing regularity, health precautions can change in-person learning to remote at the drop of an outbreak.  And, we have learned valuable lessons that we can take into a ‘covid-normal’ environment.

Our responsibility is to keep on top of the developments, ensure the collection of information and the transfer of knowledge continues effectively, regardless of how it’s done – tasks, brainstorming, providing self-learning, or a more straightforward classroom approach.  We can also have some fun along the way!

As we move to a ‘post pandemic’ environment, the ability to implement a viable online training structure remains valid.  We may look at hybrid environments, providing online training in conjunction with in-person training.  It makes sense to move forward with effective use of technology building on the ‘wins’ of the past months.

And that is a ‘pivot’ that will always be with us.

Jillian Carson-Jackson, M.Ed, FRIN, FNI

5 November 2021