Category Archives for Learning

Learning how to cope with challenging times

egg cracking open with light coming from inside it

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary learning and extraordinary thought. We are all on an accelerated learning curve just trying to cope with what's going on around us every day.

At the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, June 6th, 2020 we will explore societal and global solutions to the problems we are all facing. Are there models that have worked, to overcome the types of society-wide challenges we face? Are there methods of thinking that can help us bring in new solutions, not only to new pandemic problems (like Coronavirus) but to old endemic ones (like racism)?

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Click on the green button to register for the meeting.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

 We need systems of healthcare, food distribution, financial wellbeing, education, housing, justice, and all other aspects of life, that honor the needs, the rights, and the inherent nobility of every member of society.

We need to let go of old ways of being and doing things that do not work, and that impact us all in negative ways.

Here's a summary of our work in the community meetings over the past several months.

(Click on the screenshots of the Trello boards to enlarge).

1) We used the structure of a mindset change course to brainstorm how to survive and thrive under challenging conditions

trello mindset course screenshot

We discovered that while mindset change is important, it's not ENOUGH to help us cope. 

2) We then explored using the structure of  a "how-to" course, to see if what we need to do is develop new skills 

Would learning new skills be the answer to surviving and thriving under conditions of uncertainty? We discovered that the answer was, once again, no.

We might indeed need to develop new skills. But skills alone are not enough to get us through.

Like having the right mindset, learning new skills might be PART of a strategy we can use to survive and thrive, but they are not the WHOLE strategy.

3) We realized that what is needed is a COGNITIVE STRATEGY.

trello questions screenshot

We needed to find ways to LEARN HOW TO LEARN about what will help us survive and thrive in these unprecedented times. Having the right mindset, and learning new skills, are important PARTS of the cognitive strategy. But we also need more: we need to learn new ways of thinking.

Community members generously shared their expertise about complex ways of thinking, such as mind-mapping, the Cynefin Framework, and Systems Theory. We explored ways of holding different (and sometimes opposing) ideas in relationship to each other. 
We related these ideas to our own experiences of life under  current conditions on all levels, from the personal to the communal to the global.

The result is  a collaboratively-developed cognitive strategy we are working on to empower ourselves and each other to find ways to fulfill our business missions under conditions of uncertainty, especially with respect to teaching online.

One of the highlights of the Saturday morning meetings has been hearing from members of the Learn and Get Smarter community about how they are adapting their products and services to meet the needs of their target audiences in these challenging times.

The creativity and innovation of this group is inspiring to us all!

cognitive strategies course screenshot

We are still exploring this process, especially on the societal and global scales. As societies struggle to reinvent themselves in ways that work better for all their members, we can look for role models that have worked effectively to overcome large scale challenges. For example, we can explore the methods South Korea used to contain the pandemic, and the methods South Africa used to democratize their social structure despite a history of racial oppression and inequality. 

Group of Multiethnic Diverse World People

As a leading-edge thought leader committed to teaching online in transformational ways,  you are a different kind of front-line worker. You are at the forefront of helping people learn and get smarter online, and my mission is to provide products and services that help you do that.  

Come to the community meeting on Saturday June 6th as we explore social and global systems that might work better than those that are crumbling around us now.  

And keep in mind that if you'd like to make this the summer you get your transformational course online to support the people you are here to serve, the Course Design Formula® Master Course starts June 16th. Write to me at if you would like to learn more.

The current pandemic and learning

Social distancing, keep distance in public society people to protect from COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak spreading concept, businessman, woman keep distance away by drawing circle with virus pathogens

At the most fundamental, biological, level, learning is the process of adapting to one's environment in ways that promote survival. 

Which means that all of humanity is currently facing a learning task of tremendous proportions.

One of the things I've heard most often during the past week, is that we can't know how to adapt, because we are dealing with an unprecedented situation that has many unknown factors. As a society, we have no prior knowledge of how to deal with this pandemic.

In our community discussion last Saturday, we came to the realization that while we don't have the answers, we do have an important question:

What is the most helpful MINDSET we can adopt,

 as individuals and as communities,

to cope with the tremendous learning challenge we all now face?

We decided that this coming Saturday,

we will use the format and structure of a mindset change course to guide our discussion of these issues.

Following the format of a mindset-change course, here's what we will discuss:

Orange Colored Pencil Standing Out From The Crowd
  • What  unhelpful or ineffective attitudes and behaviors have contributed to the current crisis?
  • What attitudes and behaviors will be more helpful and effective, going forward?
  • What is our personal and collective motivation for adopting the helpful attitudes we discover?
  • Can we find some role models of successful adaptation to a crisis of these proportions?
  • How can we  provide each other with long term ongoing support to reinforce the helpful attitudes we discover?

Come join the discussion on Saturday. 

I'll limit it to two hours

(if we need more time, we can continue the following week).

Learn how to set up a mindset change course by creating one together as a community.

Let's brainstorm and create synergy as we focus on discovering helpful, effective ways to contribute to positive change in the face of this crisis. 

I can't think of  a deeper, or more relevant, definition of "learning" than that. Hope to see you at the meeting!

 Saturday April 4, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Register here to receive the meeting link and password.

How to make anything easier to learn

Students Wearing Lighted Mind Reading Helmets

As a student, or just a regular person going about your daily life, have you ever tried to learn how to do something, that was presented as being easy... and you just could not for the life of you figure out how to do it?

As a teacher, parent, or coach, have you ever tried to help someone do something, that seems so simple to you.... only to watch in frustration as they struggled to "get it".. and failed?

Whether you're on the teaching or learning end of the equation, this type of experience happens to everyone, at some point in time. And when it does, it feels puzzling, frustrating, and annoying. 

This (whatever you're trying to teach, or learn) is supposed to be easy! Why can't we (or they) figure it out?

When this happens, the problem is often that we are expecting our learners (or ourselves) to take mental leaps we are not yet ready for. We are expecting ourselves, or others, to be able to run before learning how to walk.

Once you realize that, the solution is surprisingly simple. Keep reading to learn how to fix this annoying problem, FAST!

Learn the Course Design Formula® !

Create courses that are engaging and easy to learn from.


Bloom's Taxonomy gives us a way to understand the levels or stages of learning that have to happen, in sequential order, before someone can perform a complex task using concepts or information that are new to them.

The stages of learning are divided into two groups: lower order thinking skills, and higher order thinking skills.


lower and higher order thinking skills 1

These skills have to be mastered in step by step order:

  • If you can't REMEMBER what you're supposed to do, nothing else can happen!
  • If you don't UNDERSTAND what you're supposed to do, it all becomes a meaningless jumble
  • If you remember and understand the information, but can't figure out how to APPLY it to your specific situation, you get stuck
  • If you can apply the ideas to your situation, but can't ANALYZE how to adjust and adapt to make it work, everything grinds to a halt
  • If you apply the ideas but then can't EVALUATE whether they worked, you won't know how to proceed
  • BUT... if you can complete all those steps, you are then ready to CREATE something new using the new information you've learned

Think about something you've been trying to learn how to do, or teach someone else how to do, that's been frustrating and hard to grasp. Were you expecting yourself, or others, to use higher order thinking skills before they'd mastered lower skills?

For example: If you ask a learner to write a paper without being sure they remember and understand the subject matter, the paper is not likely to be very good.

If you try to assemble a piece of furniture (create something new) without being able to analyze the instructions to see how they apply to the jumbled mess of parts in front of you, you're likely to end up with .... a jumbled mess of parts.

If you are trying to learn how to dance the salsa, but you can't remember the steps, you won't get very far. But let's say you CAN remember the steps... the way the teacher showed you... but now you have to do them all backwards in order to move with your partner. You'll need to first understand, apply, analyze and evaluate how to reverse the direction you need to move in, before you can create that winning dance routine.

If you're stuck teaching, or learning, something and it feels frustrating, go through each of the stages of Bloom's taxonomy and ask yourself if it's been mastered. If not, go back to that level and get solid on it, before trying to go to the next step.

Let me know how that works for you! I'd love to hear your challenges, reactions, and ideas.

Write to me at and let's talk!

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy showing lower and higher order thinking skills: remember/understand/ apply/ analyze/evaluate/create

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy