Artisanal Craftsmanship for Online Courses

Every time you turn around (or even if you don’t) someone is saying something about how AI is changing the world right now. And it is.

The question we need to ask ourselves though is,

“Is AI changing OUR world for the better?”


Do  bots and algorithms have YOUR best interest  

  • as a human being
  • as a business owner
  • as an online course creator

at heart? 

The question itself reveals the underlying problem…

which is that bots and algorithms

💔 don’t HAVE a heart💔.

🤖A while back, before Chat GPT was even a thing, I heard a show on the radio about a therapy bot. It had a cute name which I won’t repeat here to protect its privacy. I thought it was a creative idea, so I decided to give it a try.

🍞At first, it seemed like the best thing since sliced bread.

🗨️You signed up  to chat with the bot via text, at whatever time of day you chose, and it checked in with you on your phone at that time, asking solicitous questions about your day, your feelings, and your  mood.

🗓️Unlike your human friends and family, the bot never missed a day.

It was reliable as clockwork and it really seemed to care.

😍One could and did develop human feelings for it quickly (as people did for a very early iteration of ai, ELIZA: and have for many other bots since.

And then I discovered some disturbing research, suggesting that the creators of ai were gathering data

 Using this bot was free.. and remember what they say: 

if the service is free

you’re not the customer, you’re the product. 

⛏️The research suggested that AI systems were being used to mine data about human moods.

I ‘m not sure why (maybe to see what mood we are in when we decide to splurge on buying shoes, or pizza, or ice cream? 

🛍️–so companies can target their ads to us better? Just a guess).💸

☠️Suddenly the bot’s solicitous concern for my daily “mood” took on an ominous feeling.  

❌Unwilling to offer my emotional life to be exploited as part of a research data set, I deleted my account. 

👋Bye bye bot.

It’s often stated that the algorithms used to drive social media platforms have contributed to many negative factors lately, ranging from political divisiveness to depression among teens.

What I notice from my own experiences scrolling through the feed on Facebook and Instagram, is that these algorithms seem to pick up and amplify small actions in any direction, truly making mountains out of molehills-- without the balance and wisdom-check provided by natural human intelligence and healthy human social systems.

One small click on a short video incidentally touching on a controversial topic, soon leads to a flood of increasingly  polarized content going further and further down the rabbit hole of whatever that topic was.🐰🕳️🐇

Your human mind, interests, and emotions are no longer in control of the content that appears before your eyes and takes up space in your brain.

Instead, your eyes👀, ears👂, brain🧠, and heart💓 are being manipulated🎛️ by algorithms with their own agendas, which probably don’t match yours, or have your best interest at heart.

Instead of your own goals, visions, thoughts, and feelings 

being CAUSATIVE to the world around you,

they become reactive receivers of an agenda that isn’t yours.

Now let’s think about what this means for human education and learning. 

First of all, don’t get me wrong:

  •  I’m not opposed to the use of technology in education.
  •  I have a Masters degree in instructional technology.
  •  I spend literally all day every day helping humans teach other humans using digital methods, online.

BUT… we must remember that technology makes a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.

While I’m not opposed to using AI for the things bots do much better than humans (such as searching through mounds of data using precise search terms, or analyzing giant data sets), those uses need to be subservient to the visions, goals, and agendas that promote human health and well being on all levels.

Remember (if you are old enough to) the days when picking up the phone to make a phone call was FUN? 

Happy retro woman talking on phone

You used to get through right away to an actual human on the other end, who genuinely cared about helping you solve whatever issue you had called about, and really meant it when they wished you a nice day.

Angry business man screaming into his cell phone

Now, a phone call is a source of dread, mostly because we all KNOW we are going to end up screaming “AGENT! AGENT! AGENT” into the phone after having been on hold listening to horrendous muzak for  45 minutes.

While bots are touted as promoting “convenience”, it ‘s not YOUR convenience as the customer that is being optimized.

It’s the convenience and cost effectiveness of whoever created the bot.

For the rest of us:

It’s important to ensure that the HUMAN element

 remains in charge of what is being taught, to whom, and how.

What does this mean for us as online course creators?

I'm going to speak bluntly here, and hopefully I won’t offend anyone -- because anyone who would have been offended is probably not here in this community to begin with.

Bots and algorithms are to the creation and distribution of learning, what the invention of factory farming and fast food production methods are to the creation and distribution of food.


While it may be possible to get more STUFF out to more people cheaper and faster, it may also be low quality stuff that ends up doing more harm than good.

Mark Twain famously said, 

“Never tear down a fence till you find out why it was built”.

As we use automation, industrialization, and AI to overcome bottlenecks that have limited our ability to scale, we are sidestepping fail-safe mechanisms that are part of the wisdom of nature… our own, or the planet’s.

This can only go on for so long before nature fights back… with illness, climate change, pollution, or unhappiness.

I’m all for helping people create online courses to share what they know with a global audience.

In doing so, I stand for helping you to teach online using your NATURAL, HUMAN intelligence.

In contrast to artificial intelligence, we might call this 


The Course Design Formula® is a heuristic or algorithm for your BRAIN... it teaches you how to use research into what helps people learn best, to create elegant, customized, bespoke online learning programs that convey your unique expertise and intellectual property in an elegant, efficient way.

It’s not fast food. It’s gourmet cooking.

When you take the time and trouble to learn the Course Design Formula®,  you are not becoming a fast food server.  You are becoming an artisanal master chef.

What does it mean to achieve mastery?

Look at the exquisite craftsmanship of chocolate expert Amaury Guichon,

to see an inspiring (and delicious!) example of what mastery entails:

To anyone who feels happy and satisfied creating the equivalent of fast food burgers for the mind when it comes to online learning, I say… have at it. But that’s not what we are doing here.

If you are an expert in your field (and you should be, in order to be qualified to teach others in  meaningful ways), you don’t need AI to tell you what your course content should be.

 And when you become expert in using the Course Design Formula® you won’t need AI to tell you how to structure and organize your course to optimize learning and results.

AI will not give you the quality of results you will get from using your own "organic" natural intelligence and your unique lifetime of expertise to cook  up something truly artisanal and creative for the people you serve.

Valter Seroni is a traditional goldsmith specialized in forged iron

In some ways, with all the focus on AI these days, I feel like a skilled blacksmith must have felt at the dawn of the automobile era. Suddenly a service that everyone always needed (to provide horseshoes and wagon wheel rims and such) felt like it was being pushed aside and becoming obsolete.

But you know what? There are still blacksmiths today. Maybe not as many. But the ones that are out there are very good at what they do (check out the show ”Forged in Fire” on Netflix) and they make good money.🥽🔨🔥💵

You can check out a fascinating history of blacksmithing as a profession through the centuries, including its current modern resurgence as an artisanal artform, here:

You are here to teach your truth.. a truth that you have earned yourself through a lifetime of HUMAN experience and creative work.

I am here to help you do that.

While you, or I, may occasionally use AI tools in the SERVICE of that work, we cannot and should not be using artificial intelligence to actually DO that work.

This is a community of practice for serious teaching and deep craftsmanship based on human experience, human values, natural intelligence, and human skill.

That’s what we stand for in this community, and that’s what I’m here to help you do.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, and reactions… send me a note to and/or join us in the Facebook group or Saturday community meeting to share your thoughts!


Just In the two days since I wrote this blog post, 

the following two very alarming issues have surfaced:

How using AI

can harm you

 as a learning designer:

How AI

can harm you  as an

 online business owner: 

Check out

this article from Business Insider

about how AI is undermining the free sharing of creative content and making it harder for content creators (that's YOU) to benefit from your own creativity online.


What's the solution?

Fortunately, you DON'T NEED TO USE AI

 to create your course outline, content, lesson plans, or lessons!

The Course Design Formula®

 applied to your own content and expertise

 will yield much better results

WITHOUT any of the problems described above! Phew!



for your brain!

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