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Apr 01, 2015 Sunder Ramachandran

Blending Webinars with Traditional Classroom Learning


This post was originally written by Sunder Ramachandran on his blog Learning Experiments. Many thanks for sharing.

Webinars (term for web-based seminars, presentations, lectures or workshops) are an interesting and effective medium for knowledge transfer and learning.

It’s undisputed that the integration of the interactivity features has increased the impact of learning that the webinars’ previous avatar called “webcasts” used to offer. We have been recommending interesting webinars to our internal managers for a while now. The challenge has always been the ability to make the time for the event and also creating a more active space for interaction over and above the chat interactivity offered in webinars.

This was the intent behind the idea of running a contextual webinar within a structured classroom environment. The theme we chose was "High Potential Notification & Development." This was an important subject identified in a recently concluded half yearly appraisal; most managers were unsure about “should they notify high potentials” or “keep it discreet." I thought this article from Gallup drives the point home: How to Tell High-Potential Leaders They’re Special.

We chose a webinar on this theme offered by People Matters & Right Management.

Here’s why we thought of blending a webinar with in-class learning:

Some learning goals are better accomplished face-to-face

There are certain interaction opportunities which only face-to-face offers. In addition, when you have a group of senior managers, camaraderie becomes an important design aspect. When managers are involved in the process and actively endorse the learning and provide space for application of new skills, outcomes become meaningful.

A webinar can be an effective "content-chunking" mechanism

How do you facilitate a workshop / discussion on a complex theme like High Potential (HIPO) identification / development within 90 mins? This is the question that drove us to look at available content on this theme. A big advantage of using a webinar is that you get readily “chunked content” that can be integrated with some social learning elements and converted into a meaningful learning forum.


Before the forum

  • Mark the date, topic & broad plan. (This seems obvious but you need about 2-3 weeks to be able to plan this well.)
  • Confirm any guest speaker(s) and invite them for a keynote. This can be done right before the webinar starts to set the context. It always helps if you can get a senior leader to do this.
  • Book the infrastructure where the webinar will be played and ensure that you have all audio visual equipment up and running. We do this within a training room and project the webinar on a big screen.
  • Prepare all URLs ahead of the webinar. Test run this as well.
  • Run at least one practice of the webinar (especially if it's going to be a recorded session). This will help you plan some ‘strategic pauses’ which can be used for interaction.
  • Send all participants pre-reads at least 3-4 days before the webinar.

In the forum

  • Log-on 20 minutes before the session starts.
  • Explain the mechanics before starting the webinar.
  • Encourage participants to tweet questions / views with an identified #hashtag.
  • These questions can be posted centrally by whoever is managing the Master PC which is playing the webinar.

Post the forum

  • Email attendees a ‘thank you’ note with the "key summary." 
  • Ask the participants to share their takeaways with other managers.
  • Ask if there are themes that they would be interested in learning more about.


Blending is a tool that we must integrate as part of learning design. Here are some lessons that we learned:

  • Webinars are all about synchronous learning but blending it with some in-class interaction may help accomplish learning goals.
  • Deciding what content to use webinars for is not one of instructional design, but of social design. 

So try blending webinars with in-class interaction. You may be surprised by the results. Have you tried anything new within the learning space?

We are eager to learn and replicate. Drop me a note.

To see the original blog posting on Sunder Ramachandran's Learning Experiments, click here.

To learn more about blended learning, please check out InSync Training's Create Better Blended Learning Using Campaign Design workshop. 


Published by Sunder Ramachandran April 1, 2015
Sunder Ramachandran