Category Archives for Motivation

Groundhog Day, Mindset Change, and the Value of Constraints

groundhog standing up in a field

The 1993 movie Groundhog Day provides an insightful example of the value of constraints in producing positive mindset change.

Trapped by his fixed mindset in the hell-scape of having to live the same (boring) day over and over again, main character Phil Connors eventually finds ways to use the narrow constraints of his strange new world to incrementally change his mindset. 

What he did in that movie was learn how to make the most of the present moment…to be here now, to optimize his interactions with people, place, and time.

He did this by switching from focusing on what he could get for himself (which had never made him happy) to focusing on how he could be of service others (which ended up bringing joy to everyone, including himself).

His new mindset broke him out of the fixed mindset of living the same day over and over in an ego-focused echo chamber, as his life expanded outwards through meaningful connection with others.

Circle of People Pulling on Connected Ropes


Groundhog Day is a classic that is both fun and rewarding to watch again and again and again (do we see an ironic theme here? 😉) ... because new insights emerge every time you see it.

What makes Groundhog Day such a great teaching story

 is that it demonstrates the power of CONSTRAINTS

 to produce meaningful mindset change.

Educational researcher and theorist Robert M. Gagné taught that the first step in achieving effective mindset change (as opposed to just paying lip service to what people want us to say), is to get deeply in touch with WHAT’S NOT WORKING FOR US. 

At the beginning of the movie, Phil is not aware that his selfish, egocentric mindset isn’t working for him. He doesn’t even realize he’s unhappy (he just makes everyone around him unhappy, instead). He’s fooled by the outer accoutrements of his prestigious job and fast- paced lifestyle, into thinking that he has it all. 

It’s only when he’s prevented (by mystical quirks of quantum physics and brilliant screenwriting) from dashing mindlessly onward in the way he’s used to doing, that he has to stop and notice other people and their needs.

And from there, through trial and error, he slowly discovers ways of being, doing, and relating that will work better for him.

Discovering what will work better for us is the second step in achieving effective mindset change. 

Being restricted to slowing down and living the same day over and over again, is the constraint that both requires and facilitates this positive change for Phil.

What is it about constraints that help us change?


Constraints force us to slow down, look within, and examine our priorities. 

When we run out of choices … whether with respect to health, time, energy, money, relationships, or anything else…

we are forced to prioritize.

If we are limited in our ability to change things in the outer world, 

we are forced to change OURSELVES.

Every medium, system, situation, business, person, society… anything that is, has constraints.

We are all constrained by gravity on the planetary surface… and that helps keep our bones strong.

Living under conditions of zero gravity (without constraint) leads to weakened bones… a situation most of us don’t have to worry about too much, but something that’s interesting to contemplate as a metaphor.

The current global situation is imposing severe and unpredictable constraints on all of us. In addition to whatever individual and personal challenges we face in these unprecedented times, the planet as a whole is facing limitations, shortages, restrictions in a multitude of ways.

And as uncomfortable as it is, that's not necessarily a bad thing. We need limits and restrictions to push against in order to get stronger.

The challenge is balancing those limits against our strength.

If the constraints become too crushing we may lose our ability to adapt and grow. But if there are no constraints, or they are not challenging enough, we can be all over the place with no focus or channeled direction for our energy or growth.

That’s one reason many people choose to take an online course or work with a coach:

 they are seeking

structure and accountability

 that guides and channels their growth in a specific direction.


Let’s look at another, very different, story to understand how constraints impact our mindset under extremely demanding and restrictive conditions.

The TV series “Alone” (season 7 takes place in the Arctic) is currently showing on the History Channel, and I recommend it highly for any and all educators, coaches, and entrepreneurs.

This show is a goldmine of “aha” moments about learning and mindset change…moments that just keep coming, one right after another. 💡💡💡

In season 7, a group of the world’s best survival experts is taken to a remote location in the Arctic and each of them is dropped off entirely alone with only a small list of items they were allowed to pack in advance.

Mindset is a tremendously important part of these survival experts' ability to make it through for the required 100 days alone in the Arctic… building their own shelter, finding ways to stay warm, catching their own food.

Many of the concepts we use as digital entrepreneurs, show up in literal concrete form on this show

  • Passive income = snares that catch rabbits or nets that catch fish while the survival expert is busy doing othe things
  • Runway = the relationship of available energy (in the form of calories of available food) to the required energy expenditure needed to obtain shelter, provide heat, and obtain more food

The show is riveting for its focus not only on mindset but also on other types of learning (cognitive strategies that help the survivalist “learn how to learn” where the best food and shelter are, how to avoid predators, etc.) and “how-to” skills needed to identify what’s safe to eat and understand the habits of the local wildlife.

The survival experts chosen for the show already possessed those how-to skills as essential prior knowledge for making this experience work.

(What happens when one lacks such prior knowledge in a wilderness survival situation can be seen in the equally fascinating and tragically true story, “Into the Wild”.)

Silhouette woman on top of mountain peak. Success and winner concept. Hiking lifestyle


Under severe constraints 

such as those imposed by having to

 survive alone in the Arctic for 100 days,

 the importance of having the right mindset

 becomes crystal clear.

  • One must be aware and vigilant, yet open to exploration and the potential for positive surprise.
  • One may work hard to enjoy the good things of life procured through one’s own hard work,
  • but losing focus while doing so may cost one everything.
A young boy dressed in business suit and tie wears a homemade jetpack and flying goggles raises his arms in the afternoon sun while running to take off into the air on an outcropping above the surf in Montana de Oro State Park, California. This young entrepreneur is ready to take his new business to new heights.


It’s ironic that a show about surviving alone in the Arctic, 

seems to track so closely to the mindset issues we face as digital entrepreneurs!

Why is that, I wonder?


Perhaps the commonality is that each of us, like those survivalists, possess a high level of prior knowledge in our own areas of expertise…and that is what has led us to seek to challenge ourselves by becoming entrepreneurs.

We want to be of service, we want to test our limits, we want to learn and grow. We need to provide sustenance for ourselves and our families, in a landscape that can be hostile and unpredictable as well as fertile and magnificent and filled with grace.

Saithip Waterfall in Phu Soi Dao National Park,

We are each alone in our own wilderness

 and we need to learn how to survive and thrive.

Rear view of a survivalist man with a backpack walking across a meadow with a river in a forest.


How can we best do it?

When constraints come crushing in, as they are doing for so many these days, how can we use those constraints to get stronger rather than give up?

How do we know when a situation has become untenable (as it did for some of the survivalists) to the degree that the better course of wisdom is to call it and give up?

If the situation one is in is not working and is not GOING to work, the optimal mindset to adopt may be one of recognizing and accepting that.

In addition to understanding what’s not working, and discovering what could work better, Gagné’s research tells us that mindset change requires a strong connection with one’s own personal WHY for making the change.


  • What mindset is not working for you right now?
  • What mindset could serve you better?
  • And most importantly, WHY do you want to make a change, and adopt a new attitude towards whatever it is you are doing and working with?

Once we understand the mindset we want to work towards, we need to see inspiring role models who are successfully doing what we want to learn how to do. But groundbreaking entrepreneurs sometimes have no role models available.

If you are doing something no one’s done before, then YOU are the role model… 

not only for those who will later follow you, but for your own self as you forge the path you are on now.

Your own future self needs to be your role model. So throw out a lifeline to your own best, future, version of yourself and create that version as a role model you can grow into.

Sometimes, when alone in the Arctic, there is no other choice. And sometimes, having no other choice is exactly the constraint we need to force us to become the best version of ourselves we can be.

Finally, positive mindset change, as Gagné discovered, requires long term ongoing support. What support systems can you build into your work and life to sustain you as make the desired mindset change?

Reflecting on Groundhog Day, it’s fascinating to realize that the CONSTRAINTS Phil Connors faced --the limitation of having to live the same day over and over and not being able to escape that -- WAS his long term ongoing support.

That severely limiting constraint provided a safe container in which he could achieve positive mindset change.

In the movie he discovered (and the rest of us, who don't live in a screen-written fictional world, should NOT try this at home!) that in his reality, he could never die.

The extreme constraint he faced of knowing that every day no matter what had happened the day before, he’d wake up in his bed and breakfast in a time-warped loop at 6 AM, ironically gave him the freedom  to try many things he would never have otherwise tried.

groundhog standing up in a field

This is what happens in the artificial world of games, where one can “die” many times only to play again, knowing now what one didn’t know before.

In the Arctic, on the other hand, the potential for LITERAL death is very real and not a metaphor. In the Arctic, there are no alarm clocks, no bed and breakfasts, and no predictability of life from day to day.

That LACK of constraints in itself presents a different type of extreme constraint… requiring constant attention to the environment and constant balancing of energy input and output in order to stay in the game.

The wide openness of the Artic requires a mindset of tightly FOCUSED attention.. whereas the tight limits of living the same day over and over in a small community, led to a BROADENING OUT of ideas and possibilities.

Business deadline overtime crunch stress concept. Business person worker or manager employee trying to get job done in due time. Overwork unhealthy frustration. Flat vector character illustration

There are always going to be constraints, in any situation we are in.

Right now, globally, the constraints on all of us are tightening. Perhaps we can learn from both Groundhog Day and Alone…to focus our attention on what’s most critical to our survival and well-being at the moment, while also being open to the types of new ideas and possibilities that the conditions of extreme uncertainty we’re all living in, make possible.

What are some helpful mindsets these compelling stories might encourage us to explore and adapt?

  • Working hard, yet appreciating the need to rest and regroup
  • Doing our best to be of service to others, while also taking care of ourselves
  • Being determined to succeed at what we’re doing, while also recognizing that sometimes success emerges from things that initially don’t work

When we think of mindset change in relation to constraints, 

the possibilities for new discovery are endless.

I invite you to try it.


Whether you like the shows I found inspiring, or prefer to use others as a springboard for your own reflections,

what does meaningful mindset change mean to you?

How do you experience the constraints you're facing in the current situation, whatever they may be, to stimulate positive change?

Let’s talk about it in the comments below... I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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Why is transformation so hard?

Transformation of common lascar butterfly ( Pantoporia hordonia ) from caterpillar and chrysalis on twig

We all say we WANT transformation, right?

Online course creators NEED to focus on the transformation they want their course to deliver, if their course is going to actually DO anything and make a difference in the world.


BUT… here’s the dirty little secret of online course design that no one talks about (because it’s so hard and painful for all of us, as humans, to face).

We all WANT transformation. That’s why we sign up for online courses to begin with (and why we create them for our clients and customers).

But in order to ACHIEVE transformation, people have to actually CHANGE.


Frightened Woman

Change is hard, and people resist it. And they should.

And they… wait… WHAT??? They SHOULD?

 I thought we were focused on producing transformation here.

 We are.

 And in order for transformation to be real,

 it has to overcome the learner’s natural and instinctive resistance to change.

 

If there's no resistance, there's no (real) change!


Why do we resist change? Because change is hard, scary, and dangerous.

Many online courses DON’T produce real transformation… because they’re not designed to. 

That can happen because the course creator doesn’t know HOW to design a course to produce transformation. 

Or because no one really wants transformation to happen, to begin with.

Those are two separate use cases, so let’s explore them one at a time.

1) No one really wants transformation to happen, to begin with:

Sometimes, people like the IDEA of transformation, but don’t want to do the hard work needed to really make it happen. We’ve all been there at different times in our lives.
We buy the gym membership, but don’t actually go to the gym. 

We sign up for that class in accounting or yoga but never actually log on.

That’s from the learners’ side.

From the course creators’ side, a course that PROMISES transformation (but doesn’t actually deliver it) is fast and easy to create because it requires no learning design chops.

As long as you know how to ♨️SELL the sizzle♨️, you never need to actually cook the steak.

Plenty of people have gotten rich doing this.

All I have to say about that is… well... you know what they say about karma, so I won’t repeat it here.😱😱😱


2)  The course creator has excellent intentions, but doesn’t know how to design a course that actually produces transformation. 

I know that if you have read this far, use case #1 above does NOT apply to you, which means, you WANT your online course to produce real transformation.

The challenge then lies in understanding how to make that happen.

Here's what transformation looks like in each of the five domains of learning described by educational theorist and researcher Robert M. Gagné.

In my book, Course Design Formula: How to Teach Anything to Anyone Online, I share how to use Gagné’s research into the domains of learning to set up your course to produce real transformation.

What I want to explore here is, WHY do we need five different ways to produce transformation?

I mean, change is change is change, right?

Wrong!

The collage of faces of surprised people

Different kinds of change require different teaching strategies, because of the different ways we RESIST each kind of change.


Now let’s get a high-level view of how to set up a course that produces real transformation.

In order to overcome resistance, pretty much any kind of transformation works best when we approach it from the right mindset, so let’s start by exploring mindset change.

MINDSET CHANGE

Woman changing smileys on her face


Surprisingly, when you set out to produce mindset change (meaning, to help people change their attitude and the resulting behaviors), the first thing to do (based on Gagné’s research and what I’ve discovered works from helping hundreds of creative experts set up their own online courses) is to start by helping your learners understand WHAT DOESN’T WORK: the unhelpful attitudes they COULD adopt, or maintain, if they want to.

Depressed woman lying on couch in messy room isolated flat vector illustration. Cartoon lazy character resting on sofa at home and surfing internet on smartphone. Apathy and indifference concept


Why would you start a course that promotes positive mindset change, by focusing on what DOESN’T work?


Here’s why: mindset change is a CHOICE. 


If you want people to actually change their mindset and resulting behaviors (instead of just SAYING they’ve changed while continuing to do what they were doing before), they have to first realize they COULD just keep doing what doesn’t work… and understand the long-term consequences of NOT changing.

The resistance to mindset change comes from the natural tendency we all have to want to stay in our comfort zone. It’s only natural, right? Lounging on the couch scarfing down carbs is a lot easier than getting up early to train for that half marathon... at least, at first.


So to produce mindset change, people need to first understand that change is their choice, and see the long-term consequences of NOT choosing to change.

  • You can keep scarfing down carbs… and here’s what you ‘ll look and feel like in 50 years.
  • You can NOT work hard to learn that new thing... and here’s how not knowing it will impact your performance and promotions at work over the next 10 years
  • You can smoke a pack a day for the rest of your life, and here’s what your lungs will look like compared to the lungs of someone who chooses to quit smoking now
  • (and so on...)

Seeing the long-term negative consequences of NOT choosing to change, counteracts the natural tendency we all have to want to stay in our comfort zones.

That’s why the first thing to teach in a mindset change course is what doesn’t work.

Next, people have to know what does work, which is the heart of the course’s teaching content.

But knowing what does work is still not enough to produce real mindset transformation.

People need to see concrete examples of what positive mindset change looks like, in the form of role models or case studies.

 They need to be inspired and to see that making the choice to change is possible because others have successfully done it.

Young man standing in front of large superhero shadow on white background

So now we’re good to go with mindset change, right?

NOPE... that’s still not enough!

Because changing our mindset and resulting behaviors is really really hard.

Even:

  • knowing what doesn’t work
  •  learning what would work better, and
  • seeing how others have successfully made the change

are still not enough!

There are two more very important pieces to the mindset change puzzle.

People need help getting in touch with WHY they want to get out of their comfort zone to make this change. 

They need an immediate short term “why” (that motivates them to take immediate action so they can get some quick wins) and they need a deeply compelling long term “why” so they can keep going over time.

If your reason for changing your attitude about healthy eating is that you want to look great for your friend’s wedding in three months, you need a longer-term reason to keep at it once the wedding is over.

And finally, the MOST important aspect of mindset change is

 long term ongoing support,

which means that producing lasting mindset change is a great foundation for an online membership or a coaching practice.

Heart hands as a group of diverse people hands connected together shaped as a love symbol expressing the feeling of being happy and togetherness.

Is mindset change an important part of YOUR online teaching program?

To learn more about how to create mindset change that really sticks, read my book, 

3D book mockup including back cover

For a deeper dive into mindset change and how it impacts us as online course creators, check out my blog post,

 “Are you ready for a mindset make-over”,

which focuses on the mindset changes we may need to make OURSELVES as digital entrepreneurs in the online learning space.

Video call or conference concept with men and women working together. Virtual meeting

I’d love to hear about YOUR experiences in producing mindset change that really sticks… let’s talk!

Join us at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting

Saturdays at 9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern, on Zoom,

where we focus on how to survive and thrive with online courses and online learning in these challenging times.

(These meetings are one of the ways  I provide long term ongoing support for all of us, as online course creators! 

It would be great to see you there!)

Come to the

Learn and Get Smarter Community Meeting

Group of Multiethnic Diverse World People

Saturdays

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern on Zoom

Are You Ready for a “Mindset Make-Over”?

Woman changing smileys on her face

Here’s a scenario I see playing out over and over: an expert is passionate about teaching others how to do something by teaching a “how-to” skill (a type of learning which educational researcher and theorist Robert M. Gagné calls “intellectual skills”).

But it soon becomes apparent that before people can learn how to perform this new skill, they are going to need a mindset make-over.

It’s true for everyone: before we are ready to learn the steps that go into performing a new skill, we need to be motivated and in the right frame of mind to believe we can do it.


Can you relate? 

How’s YOUR mindset doing these days?



If I’m honest, my mindset has gotten a bit frayed around the edges by the events of the past year.

Can we talk here?

First of all, those of us in the online education space are, I think, among the luckiest people on the planet.

In sharp contrast to many businesses, ours have been impacted POSITIVELY by the Coronavirus pandemic.

One definition of learning is that it involves adapting to our environment in ways that promote survival.

The pandemic has literally thrown the issue of survival into high relief on a global scale.

People are hungry to learn new skills, new attitudes, new ways of learning and being.

 And the pandemic has pushed the location of that learning online.

 So all of us are in a position to benefit from that.

But we can’t benefit if we don’t know how… if we don’t have the skills. That’s what the Course Design Formula® helps you do. It helps you develop the skills needed to teach effectively, online.

In addition to my high-level mastermind, the Course Design Formula® Master Course, which just launched for the fifth time with a wonderful new cohort of experts and entrepreneurs, I’ve created a short, fast, effective (and much less expensive) self-paced course, Streamlined Course Creation, to help anyone outline their course and plan all their lessons in just a few days.

Can we talk business here? I absolutely adore what I do… and am incredibly grateful for each of you... my wonderful community, readers, clients, students, supporters, family and friends.

It takes a village not just to raise a child but to support a business, and I’m incredibly thankful and grateful for the village I’ve built over the past 7 years since founding Learn and Get Smarter, Inc.

Each of us as entrepreneurs is like the catalyzer who provides the “stone” for the “Stone Soup”: we provide an idea, an incentive, a spark…something that energizes a community around an idea in order to turn it into a reality.

In order to do that well, we MUST have a strong, positive mindset that not only keeps US inspired to turn a vision into a reality, but inspires others as well.

A positive mindset is essential to make a business work. It doesn’t matter how many skills we have... if our mindset is not steady, strong, and positive, our businesses are not going to work.

Young and timid woman with head in the cloud sitting on bench

Why do we need a positive mindset? Well I’ll be honest here. I worked incredibly hard this past year. It was my first year of making real revenue in the business, and I am so grateful for that. But the business costs a lot to run. There are payments for platforms, hosting, infrastructure, services, security, training, accounting, the list goes on. So even though I had a great revenue year, my actual profits were very small. In order to have a successful ongoing business that really makes money, I need a way to SCALE my business so the profits are large.. so that revenue coming in far exceeds the annual cost I must pay to keep the business going and online.

But as you know, my passion is teaching, not selling. I’m not really a businesswoman. I’m an educator, and from what I’ve seen over and over again at conferences and from talking to others, the mindset needed to succeed in business and the mindset needed to teach effectively are not always the same.

If I want to be able to KEEP teaching effectively in the online space, though, I have to do more than make revenue. I have to make a profit. A GOOD profit.

Doodle showing creative business ideas for making money

And in order to do that, I have to be able to scale. My experience over the past 7 years has shown me that my coaching and Master Course, while wonderfully successful from a TEACHING point of view, are not going to be able to scale.

Coaching by definition is not scalable because it’s limited by the coach’s time, and we all have limited time.

My Master Course works so well as a teaching and learning experience because it’s limited to small batch cohorts of about 10 new people each. That means I can devote a lot of time and attention to each new student, which is what I love to do.

The Master Course is scalable in terms of IMPACT. If each new student goes out into the world and teaches in highly effective ways, which my Master Course students ARE doing, the global impact of effective online teaching using the Course Design Formula® will grow.

But if potential revenue from the Master Course is capped at about $20,000 total revenue twice a year, that’s not a scalable (or even successful) business, because it costs me more than that to keep everything going.

So I created Streamlined Course Creation, a self-paced evergreen course that sells for $497. And now I need to figure out how to sell that course in a scalable way. And (can we talk here? I know I’m among friends) I hate selling. I hate it with a passion. Which is NOT the right mindset for an entrepreneur, at all. Which means I need a mindset makeover.

I’m sharing my story here in the hopes that it will resonate with you, and help you to examine your own mindset too.

What are your mindset blocks and limiting beliefs

 that are stopping you from growing and succeeding in YOUR online course business?

And more importantly, how can you address them?

The way to bring about effective mindset change, based on Gagné’s research into how people learn, is to follow a five-fold process.

Let’s review that now:

  • Get clear on   what ISN’T working to bring about the desired mindset change
  • Get clear on what WILL work... the path that should be followed
  • Find inspiring role models who are demonstrating the desired mindset
  • Find your WHY for adopting the desired mindset. This has two parts:
  •                Find your immediate, short term WHY
  •                Find your overarching, long term WHY
  • Get long-term ongoing support for adopting the desired mindset

Mindset change is different than other types of learning because it involves our emotions, not our intellect.

One of my students shared a very deep piece of wisdom, when they reflected that even though I as the teacher had EXPLAINED how to do something, it was a very different experience for them when they actually tried to DO that same thing.

It’s one thing to remember what was taught and understand how to do it (the two lowest levels of Bloom’s taxonomy) ... but another thing entirely to actually APPLY what was taught.

Applying learning is hard. It takes us out of our comfort zone. And that requires a strong supportive mindset in order to keep us motivated long enough to master the new skill and succeed. This is true of all learning, of any kind.

Now take the kind of learning that will enable us to succeed as entrepreneurs running our own businesses… requiring many complex skill sets and the overcoming of constant challenges. If we don’t have our mindset dialed in, nothing beyond that point is going to work.

I need a mindset makeover right about now, and I was wondering if you might too.

Let’s look at the five-step Mindset Makeover Method™ and see how we can apply it to our own situations.

I’ll go first, by way of example

(See what I did there? Being a role model!)

 and I hope you will share your situation too via email

(See what I did there? Creating long term ongoing support).

THE MINDSET MAKEOVER METHOD™

stick figure in balance with pros and cons

Step 1: identify what’s not working

People ask me… “Rebecca, you’re trying to bring about a POSITIVE mindset change, so why are we starting by focusing on the negative?”

It’s a great question, and the reason is, that mindset change is a CHOICE.

People always have the option of continuing their current mindset.

So it’s important to be clear about why that’s not an EFFECTIVE thing to do, and what the long-term consequences of making that choice will be.

That said, the learner always has the option of continuing the ineffective mindset and the behaviors that go along with it.

(But if they choose the ineffective way, there’s not much point in going farther into a mindset change experience, is there?)

🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯

So what’s not working for me?

Hmm. I’ve been allowing myself to dwell on the negative, to think about all the reasons why I might NOT be able to successfully scale my business, why I don’t really want to, telling myself I’m an educator not an entrepreneur, rehashing cultural trainings about why money is the root of all evil and so on. I’ve been visualizing myself living down by the river in the homeless encampment. (Energy follows thought, so this is an especially unhelpful practice to follow!)

I’ve been wallowing in ancestral teachings about how women shouldn’t bother their pretty little heads about making money. I could go on and on.

So basically, I’ve been renting out space in my brain to all the energies and forces that DON’T want to see me succeed.

Once I put that down on paper like that and share it with you, I can see how extremely unhelpful those habits and practices are. All of that has to stop NOW.

STOP sign


In addition, I can see that I’m succumbing to a bit of pandemic fatigue. I’ve been slipping on daily habits of self-care, home care, and so on. It’s like, who cares, why bother, it’s all too much. I’ve been working 18-hour days for the past 12 years, made good money this year but only made a tiny profit, and then got hit with a $10,000 tax bill because I’d made revenue.

So it’s understandable that all of that is quite demotivating… plus the post-pandemic landscape that’s emerging shows that many things I loved and found sustaining... from my weekly Pilates class to local venues for relaxation and fun… are not returning in the form they were in before, or in any form at all.

All work and no play becomes demotivating for anyone.

So perhaps one of the helpful things I need to do going forward, is find NEW ways to relax and have fun, so as to be able to work in a sustainable way.

There’s an elephant in the room whose presence it’s unhelpful not to recognize -- and that is that while we don’t yet know what shape life will take in the post-pandemic landscape, life as we knew it is never going to be the same.

Asian elephant in lying on rug in living room


I think it’s time to acknowledge and face that now, and I think one reason I’ve been feeling down is that I need to process my grief about all that we’ve lost.

Whether that’s actual people that so many have lost this year, ways of living and working and being and doing and sharing, travel, human connection, the list goes on.

I’m realizing that we are not just in a temporary interruption to our ongoing way of life. We are in a new reality, whose nature is still unknown... and that means that the loss of our old reality needs to be mourned.

Facing that loss, and dealing with the feelings of sadness and loss it brings up, is an important part of being able to let go of what was and move on to creating the most positive vision possible of what can be.

Someone cutting the "im" off the front of the word "impossible" to change it to "possible"


Step 2: Identify what would work better

So let’s explore that. What CAN work better than these unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving?

Working our way up Maslow’s hierarchy, I need to start with positive self-care habits every day. I lost almost 30 lbs. last year by writing down everything I ate using the Weight Watchers appbut lately I’ve had a “why bother” attitude towards doing that. I need to start writing everything down again because I still have another 30 lbs. I want to lose. That’s an achievable long-term goal to work towards, and it starts with tiny habits practiced every day.

I need to say NO to any of those negative thoughts and all that negative self-talk about business and money and marketing and sales.

Just got off a call with a wise business mentor, which made me realize that what I’m doing is not even about ME, it’s about YOU, and the people you serve.

There are several areas out there in the world of online business that do not always work as well as they should. One is the business of helping people SELL things online. Some people are good at selling their own marketing services, but not everyone is as good at promoting the services of those they market to. The same is true for the business of TEACHING online. Many people are good at selling online courses, or selling the IDEA of online courses. What I’m here to do though is help people ensure their online courses are WORTH selling because they actually teach effectively.

 I need to find the people and organizations for whom knowing how to do that would make a critical difference. I need to stop thinking about what I need to GET, and start figuring out who I can best SERVE with my Streamlined Course Creation Course.

So I guess one of the things that would work better, mindset-wise, would be to adopt the mindset embodied in the Allegory of the Long Spoons.  (You can read about it here.) The gist of the story, and the point of the mindset shift, is that everyone benefits when we use our tools and resources (the long spoons) to feed and nourish others, rather than focusing on "getting all the things" for ourselves.  🥄🥄🥄🥄🥄🥄🥄

Social network scheme, which contains flat people icons.

Step 3: Find inspiring role models to emulate

I started watching a wonderful reality TV show called “Undercover Billionaire”. I found it by accident, just browsing for something to watch, but it’s actually the perfect thing that I needed, and you may find it inspiring as well.

 The premise of the show is that a highly successful self-made businessperson gets dropped off in a community where they don’t know anyone. They can’t use their real name, their connections, or their money. All they have is $100 in cash and a cellphone with no contacts, and they have to build a business worth one million dollars in 90 days.

The show is fascinating as it reveals the mindset that successful entrepreneurs use to bring about societal change. I won’t reveal the details because I hope you’ll watch it yourself and find it as inspiring as I do…but the point I want to make here is WHY I find it so inspiring.

The people in the show did not have to do this. They are all highly successful people living comfortable lives. They did this because they wanted to challenge themselves (which is one of the things that we all share as entrepreneurs, I think... a desire to challenge ourselves) and they wanted to make a difference and show that the American Dream is still alive and still attainable.

One of the things that makes entrepreneurs so fascinating is that we are each unique. We are groundbreakers and disruptors who bring in new ideas. My secret sauce, for example, is that I help you turn your mind into money, in a way that makes the lives of the people you serve, better.

The TV show makes me realize that it’s worth it to do hard things and get out of my comfort zone, not for the sake of making money (which is not something that motivates me very much per se) but for the sake of making a difference for people (which DOES motivate me, a lot).

The show also demonstrates how each entrepreneur (there are multiple entrepreneurs in Season 2) uses their OWN unique skill set to create value for others. This inspires me to keep going in discovering what’s unique and special that I offer, and how it can make the world a better place.

Hands together equalty concept. Hand drawn Illustration

Step 4: Find your WHY

This is the most important aspect of mindset change. If you don’t know WHY you need and want to change your mindset and behavior, (or worse, if you don’t even HAVE a why for doing so), then there’s no incentive for getting out of your emotional comfort zone and doing things differently, in ways that are often painful, hard, and new at the beginning.

First you need to find your short term why, and then your longer term why.

The short term why will keep you motivated to get over any initial resistance to changing your mindset, and the long term why will keep you going for the long haul.

What’s MY why?


My short term why is that I need and want to find the ideal target market for my Streamlined Course Creation course, this year. I need to get proof of concept: to prove that a self-paced evergreen (and therefore, scalable) online course can be highly effective at helping people apply the Course Design Formula® to their unique subject matter in ways that work for them. I need to figure out who would most benefit from this self-paced evergreen model, and start reaching out to them.

My long term why is that unless we can ENSURE that self-paced, evergreen online courses actually WORK to teach effectively, the market for online courses is going to dry up. We will still be able to teach online in live synchronous ways (such as Zoom meetings), and coaching. But those are not scalable business models that take advantage of the affordances of the online learning space to provide asynchronous instruction: anytime, on demand.


Many people are making money selling online courses, but my goal is to ensure that everyone who does that is also making a lot of DIFFERENCE with their online courses -- because the courses really WORK to provide the promised transformation.

Everyone I talk to has stories to tell about online courses they’ve paid good money for, that didn’t deliver the promised results.

Most of us have experienced for ourselves that we’ve paid for a course and then not taken it.

Maybe some of that is on us.  You can’t blame the manufacturer of a treadmill if the person who purchased the treadmill never takes it out of the box.

But if the box is hard to open or the treadmill is hard to set up or doesn’t work as promised, then it IS the manufacturer’s fault.

My goal is for every online course creator who WANTS to create a high-quality learning product that really delivers, to have the skills they need to do so, in a way that is fast and effective for them.

My long-term why is to be able to make that happen for everyone in the world who wants to do it, in a scalable evergreen way... so that we can all prove that online learning really WORKS to help people learn and get smarter.

And my deeper why behind THAT is to preserve the market for online courses, which is going to dry up (its already happening, and we need to turn that trend around FAST).

Because if too many people buy too many online courses that DON’T deliver on their promises, people will simply stop buying online courses, and who can blame them?

We need to make sure that doesn’t happen, and as online course creators, that is up to us.

My long term why is to make sure that doesn’t happen to YOU.

Group of people on peak mountain climbing helping team work , travel trekking success business concept

Step 5: Get long term ongoing support

Mindset change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. This is where your “village” comes in.

I notice that the Undercover Billionaires all made finding people to connect with, one of the first things they did when plunked down in the middle of an unknown city.

Building connections is essential to building a business, finding a target market, and selling a course.

Along those lines, I’d like to give a shout out to Sophie Lechner. Using her  LinkedIn Magnet Method, Sophie helps entrepreneurs increase sales by building meaningful relationships with clients and influencers across global markets. Her secret sauce in helping people build meaningful connections and community is truly amazing.

I’m learning so much from Sophie’s LinkedIn coaching. That said, my mindset in using LinkedIn is one of the things I need to change. I’ve been much more familiar and comfortable with Facebook. LinkedIn works differently, and I’m grateful to Sophie for helping me understand how to navigate the platform and build meaningful networks for mutually supportive business connections.

Mindset change is an ongoing process.... that’s why you need LONG TERM support, and why you need a LONG TERM “WHY” to keep you going.

I think the main thing I need to realize (and perhaps you do, too) is what makes my products and services unique. Each of us occupies a specific niche in an online ecosystem.

We provide products and services that no one else does, to a specific market that no one else serves (or that no one else serves in exactly the same way we do). In fact, one thing that I find effective is to find other entrepreneurs who DO serve your same market, in ways that are complementary to what you provide. That way you can refer the same clients to each other to provide added benefits that your target audience needs.

Case in point: I’m grateful to Kim Garnett aka “Brainy Girl” who helps online course creators get their courses set up on Thinkific. Kim’s self-paced Thinkific Bootcamp is an AMAZING, one-of-a- kind resource you can use to optimize your Thinkific site. Kim and I provide complementary services to similar audiences, and I’m grateful for the synergy created when entrepreneurs can support each other and their respective target audiences through mutual referrals that provide expanded areas of expertise.  (The links in this paragraph are my affiliate links for Kim’s programs).

How about you?

What unhelpful mindset and behavior habits are YOU engaging in, that are holding you back from your business potential and growth?

Has the pandemic gotten you down in ways you need to get up from?

How can I be part of YOUR long-term ongoing support community?

Drop me a note to Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com and tell me about YOUR “mindset makeover” and how you plan to accomplish it…I’d love to hear!

Come to the Learn and Get Smarter

community meeting

Where we talk about how to survive and thrive with online courses and online learning 

in these challenging times

Saturdays at

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

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What are your goals for summer, 2021?

2021 Summer Calendar Folders

In a time of as much upheaval and uncertainty as we've all  been going through, it can be challenging to set and achieve goals. 

When everything around us is in a state of unpredictable change, just getting ourselves and our loved ones, clients, students, and associates through the day, is often as big a goal as we can manage or achieve.

That said, I’ll go out on a limb here and ask:


WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THIS SUMMER?



When you set aside all the things that are in flux and that you have no control over, 

what things that you DO have control over,

would most move the needle forward in your life right now?

I’ve been enjoying the audiobook of Atomic Habits by James Clear, and reflecting on the habits that lead to success  in achieving goals,

for myself and my students. 

(The picture below contains my affiliate link for this book... just to let you know).

  • Having a specific time and place where we have to show up, to get things done
  • Having a community of people we care about, and who care about us, who want to see us succeed
  • Surrounding ourselves with positive role models who are living proof that what we want to do is possible
  • Committing to a series of small, achievable steps we can follow in a clearly laid out sequence, over time
  • Making it FUN to do the things we want and need to do, to achieve our goals
  • Setting our sights on small short term milestones that lead to a larger result

Learning how to teach effectively online can feel overwhelming, I realize.

Many people all over the world got thrown into the deep end of online teaching and learning this past year...without a paddle to steer with and without a rope to hold onto.

I provide guidance, tools, support, and resources to make the experience of teaching online enjoyable and fun.

My students and clients develop grace and ease  both teaching in general, and teaching online specifically.

The Course Design Formula® Master Course  focuses on the factors that lead to success

 in becoming a transformational online teacher:

  • Guided, step by step ACTIVE learning focused on getting you RESULTS
  • A caring community of experts and peers
  • Intensive individualized support from me

This course is only offered twice a year, and I may never offer it again at its current price point, because people keep telling me I’m not charging enough. Admission is by private interview only.  

The June 2021 cohort starts on Tuesday, June 15, 2021  (that’s THIS Tuesday) so if you’ve been thinking about enrolling, now is the time.

Learn more about the Course Design Formula® Master Course

Check out my free, on-demand webinar to learn more


If you’d like to make this summer count and become a skilled transformational online teacher by this fall, write to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com and let me know what your goals are for teaching online. We’ll find a time to talk on Zoom (I’d send you my scheduler, but it’s pretty much booked up) and see if the course is a good fit for your needs. If you’d like to learn more, check out my webinar.

I’ve also created another course, Streamlined Course Creation, that follows the process I use in my private one- on- one course design coaching sessions. If you’re in a hurry to create a specific course, check out Streamlined Course Creation to enroll directly, or learn more about it here.


What are your goals for this summer when it comes to teaching online?

 What kind of support and guidance would best help you achieve your goals?

Drop me a note to Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com and let me know how this summer is shaping up for you,

 and where you’d like your online teaching and course design skills to be by September.

2021 Summer Calendar Folders


Whatever your goals, hopes, dreams, visions, and plans, I hope this summer will be a time of safety, good health, community, learning, relaxation and fun, for you and everyone you know and care about. 

If you’d like to enjoy some of that community, learning, and fun as part of our amazing community of creative experts and entrepreneurs in the  Course Design Formula® Master Course, that would be fantastic.

If that’s you, I look forward to talking with you soon!

Write to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com or join us on Saturdays on Zoom for the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting...where we talk about how to survive and thrive with online learning and online courses in these challenging times.

Come to the Learn and Get Smarter

community meeting

Where we talk about how to survive and thrive with online courses and online learning 

in these challenging times

Saturday, June 19th,   2021

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

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Understanding different types of learning — and how they interact

woman learning motor skills online

On May 26, 2021 a Google Doodle was unveiled that is absolutely brilliant.

The Doodle commemorates the historic Savoy Ballroom in New York City, and pays tribute to the Swing and Lindy Hop dancing the ballroom was famous for.  You can read about the Doodle itself, its historical meaning, and how it was created, on Google's blog.

What I want to focus on here,  is the Doodle itself, because it provides a brilliant example of how to teach motor skills online.

WHAT ARE MOTOR SKILLS?

Motor skills are one of the five "domains of learning" described by educational researcher and theorist Robert M. Gagné.

Motor skills are physical movement routines such as the physical steps involved in touch typing, driving a car, hand motions used in surgery or manufacturing,  or sports.

The other four domains of learning include:

  • Verbal Information
  • Attitudes
  • Cognitive Strategies
  • Intellectual Skills 
This image shows the five different types of possible results

What makes the Savoy Ballroom Google Doodle so exciting (to me, and I hope also to you, by the time you get done reading this article) is that it is an absolutely brilliant demonstration of how people can teach, and learn, motor skills entirely online.

If you watch and listen to the Google design team discussing how they created the Doodle, you can learn a lot about the creative inspiration they put into it, based on physical dance movements. 

When you follow the movements of the Doodle, even though using only your fingers, you can actually FEEL those dance movements on a sensory whole-body level. 


What makes the Doodle very special, from my perspective as a learning designer, is that it provides us with the opportunity to experience what it FEELS like, at the visceral, sensory level, to learn a motor skill in a completely online setting -- a setting that is self-paced, evergreen, and does not require the presence of an instructor in any way.

(Also, it is highly addictive -- in a good way--I'll talk more about that in a minute.. and a lot of fun).

To experience what it feels like to learn a motor skill in an entirely online environment, try out the Doodle for yourself.

The goal is to type the indicated letter key (F, D, J, or K) in time with the music.
If you type the key correctly, you get feedback in the form of a  yellow circle that appears around the letter on the screen.

If you make a mistake the circle turns red and makes an unpleasant clunking sound instead.

You can watch my attempts at completing all three levels, here.

While I got 100% on the easiest level (not the first time I tried it... that took me many practice tries), even with practice you will see that my ability to perform the motor skills correctly decreases as the tempo gets faster and the number of letters to be pressed at the same time, increases.

The increasing difficulty of the motor skill to be learned is exactly what provides us with a wonderful opportunity to learn and get smarter about how people (and by "people" I mean you and me, specifically, right here and right now) can learn motor skills online.

Which is why I'd love for you to go to the Doodle and experience it directly for yourself.

doodle google screenshot

Become a transformational online teacher

The Course Design Formula® Master Course Starts January 18th, 2022

As the speed increases and you start having to press multiple letter keys at the same time, one's first experience is that of complete overwhelm.

For me, there was no way I could even SEE which key to hit next, let alone get there fast enough to avoid making a mistake.

How can anyone do this?

Then I discovered a thread on Reddit where a group of dance experts were talking about how they had nailed all the levels (including the top secret BONUS level.. who knew there even WAS one?).

These experts had mastered  all the levels.

First of all, that told me that IT COULD BE DONE. Not that I could necessarily do it.. but SOMEONE could.

The redditors served as inspiring role models for me. Their chat in the thread made me aware that what I was trying to do was not impossible, since others had done it. (Inspiring role models are  a feature of mindset change learning. Mindset or attitude change is a different type or domain of learning than motor skills. But it's clear that having the right mindset is important in order to keep trying long enough to master a motor skill.)

SO.. inspired by the redditors... and intensely CURIOUS about this new secret bonus level I'd now been made aware of... I returned to practicing the game. I practiced pretty obsessively for several days... it is indeed addictive (but in a good way). 

What is it that drives someone to practice a motor skill (or indeed, to try to learn anything) over and over until they master it?

You can see two of the motivational factors described by Gagné elsewhere in his work, here:

  • Curiosity.... I was CURIOUS about the mysterious bonus game and determined to see it for myself.
  • Self-Efficacy... I wanted to be able to DO IT MYSELF.. to play the game as well as others had

Why could some do easily, what was so hard for me?

They had something I lacked: relevant PRIOR KNOWLEDGE 

(one of the "Nine Events of Instruction" described by Gagne).

Their relevant prior knowledge consisted of:

  • muscle memory
  • finger dexterity
  • eye-hand coordination, and
  • experience in responding quickly to visual cues on a screen.


Motor skills are a SPECIFIC type of learning, and there is something very special and unique about learning them:

we have to develop muscle memory and internalize a smooth movement routine

by putting together individual movements one step at a time.


And then we have to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

until the smooth movement routine becomes an automatic habit

 that we can perform without having to stop and think about it.

bonus round of the Google Doodle


I did finally manage to unlock the mysterious bonus round of the Google Doodle, and I'm very proud to show you my (as yet far from perfect) performance of it here

This took many attempts to learn and practice, but I was highly motivated... not just so that I could write about it in this blog post and share with you (though that, too) but because getting immediate feedback (which the Doodle provides in the form of color and sound cues and also your score), is an incentive to keep going and improve.

Motor skills learning is hardwired into our most basic survival mechanisms. 

The ability  to flee a predator, climb a tree to pick a piece of fruit, or securely navigate rugged terrain, 

are motor skills that have often meant the difference between life and death to humans throughout history.

I was struck by how driven I felt to achieve self-efficacy in performing the motor skills needed to master the Doodle.

It was important to my sense of self-esteem to be able to DO IT MYSELF.

The redditors served as role models showing me it COULD be done...and that in turn improved my mindset enough to keep trying.

The motivational factors of CURIOSITY, SELF-EFFICACY, and (eventually) ACHIEVEMENT,

 kept me going long enough to practice and master the skill.

I developed a COGNITIVE STRATEGY (a way of "learning how to learn")

that helped me master some of the trickier two-handed letter combinations. 

Once I realized that what I was looking at on the screen was not just a series of hopelessly fast-moving dots that I had to somehow press on time, but rather a predictable, repetitive, series of movements combining specific letters from both hands at the same time (the F and K keys, the D and J keys, etc), then I was able to isolate and practice those moves.

I still didn't always get it right, especially at first.

But once I was able to analyze and evaluate (from Bloom's taxonomy) the places where I kept messing up, 

I could create a learning strategy that helped me master the moves.

The Google Doodle provides us with a direct,  tactile, sensory experience of learning motor skills online.

It provides us with the opportunity to reflect more deeply on how humans learn movement routines,

and on how we can  create effective learning of all kinds in our own online courses.

If you get a chance to try out the Google Doodle, drop me a note and let me know your own experiences of, and reflections on, learning and teaching motor skills in an online environment.

Write to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com or join us on Saturdays on Zoom for the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting...where we talk about how to survive and thrive with online learning and online courses in these challenging times.

Come to the Learn and Get Smarter

community meeting

Where we talk about how to survive and thrive with online courses and online learning 

in these challenging times

Saturdays starting January 8th, 2022

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

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Online learning…and online LIVING

Father multi-tasking with young son (2 yrs) at kitchen table. Dad is drinking coffee and working on his computer.

An important consideration in moving learning from the offline to the online space, has to do with affordances and constraints.

Affordances are the things we can do WELL in a situation, while constraints are the things we can’t do well there… or can’t do at all.

The pandemic has forced us to move not only our learning but also our LIVES online.

 What this means is that the affordances and constraints of the online space now impact our overall health and wellbeing in every area of our lives.

At last Saturday’s Learn and Get Smarter community meeting, a poignant question was asked:


What have you lost as a result of the pandemic?

While each community member mentioned their own specific losses, some common threads emerged:

Collectively, we have lost a lot in the sensory realm of physical touch, and in the social-emotional arena of in-person connectedness with family, friends, and colleagues.

We have lost out in the area of our interaction with the physical world in 3 dimensional spaces.

We have lost serendipity and surprise, newness and discovery and, enjoyable real world sensory experiences of all kinds.

Conceptual image of legs in boots on the autumn leaves. Feet shoes walking in nature


Having already broken two toes of my own in years past, I have a “no bare feet” rule in my apartment that has saved me from many more. If I'm not in bed or in the shower, I must have shoes on my feet. I also wrap my bedposts in bubble wrap.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


The feeling of leaves crunching under your feet as you walk uphill on uneven terrain, for example, is something you can’t experience in your living room.

Instead, living inside our own homes for so long has led to an epidemic of broken toes as people collide with the edges of their furniture or literally run into the wall.

my actual bedpost wrapped in bubble wrap (to protect toes)

The repeating theme of loss of a variety of sensory experiences due to the pandemic, is striking. I noticed that at my last dental cleaning (one of the the few excursions I make into the outside world), how  strange and overwhelming it felt to have two people hovering over me in close proximity.

Sensations I’d never even paid attention to in the past, like the feeling of a drill smoothing the edge of a tooth, or the rotary toothbrush removing plaque, felt irritating and  intense.

Our sensory systems are not getting the steady stream of daily input they were designed for, from regular interactions in the outside world.

Our brains use our senses to gather information about the world. This information gathering process is meant to happen:

  • in three dimensions
  • in real time
  •  in a social context
  • out in nature
  • with the influence of gravity
  •  and friction
  •  and other forces

 in ways that can only be experienced when we are in movement with respect to the physical world. 

Due to the pandemic,

  constraints that apply to teaching motor skills online

and integrating multiple intelligences into online learning,

 now impact every aspect of our actual daily lives.


Turning to what the pandemic experience has afforded us in terms of gains,  community members mentioned that they have:

  •  developed independence
  •  become more resilient
  •  learned new skills because we’ve had to 
  • developed more focus
  •  and of course, grown our online teaching practices.

 (We are indeed lucky that the field of online teaching is one that has been POSITIVELY impacted by the pandemic, while so many other professions have not. )

But in order to be effective educators, we also have to be healthy, happy, fully realized human beings. 

Sensory deprivation, social isolation, and working 18 hour days while staring at a computer screen, are not sustainable practices that help us function at our best.

And if we don't function at our best, we can't support our families and course participants in functioning at their best, either.

What's the solution?

The answer the group came up with was unexpected, surprising, and delightful: 

We need to have more fun!

That certainly makes sense,  even from an online teaching perspective. 

One of our goals as educators is to increase learner motivation and engagement

 in our online courses and programs.

If you think of  your entire LIFE as the classroom you were born into, 

it’s important to increase our own motivation and engagement in every aspect of living, as well.

And since so much of our daily living is now happening online,

we need to make our online lives as engaging as our online courses.

The pandemic has removed some of the motivating, engaging experiences that pre-pandemic life afforded us.

  • Eating in restaurants with friends
  • spending time singing  in crowds
  •  visiting loved ones in far flung places

… these are things we can’t do right now, and for the foreseeable future.

It hurts, but we need to find ways to adjust and adapt.

How can the Course Design Formula® help us take advantage of the affordances of online living,

 and overcome the often crushing constraints that have been applied to our lives?

We know the formula works to take offline LEARNING and put it online. 

Can it help us optimize LIVING in the online space, as well?


The first thing I learned in developing the formula, is that it's not effective to just take something that works well in the physical classroom, and put it online.

 In developing the formula, I discovered that what works best is a highly structured, focused process of learning design.

Can we apply these principles to our current forced situation of online LIVING, to come up with an optimized version of LIVING design?

Can we use principles from the Course Design Formula® to build better online lives?

The first step in the formula is to be very clear about our learning goal. 

If our goal is to replace some of the sensory experiences we’ve lost in the outer world, we can start by focusing on learning modalities (visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic) and multiple intelligences (especially those not seen as often in the online space, such as nature intelligence).

 How can we be more intentional about building tactile, kinesthetic, interpersonal, and nature intelligence into our online lives?

We tried a fun experiment at the community meeting: we tried all using the Zoom virtual background that shows a windswept beach , and putting on the virtual goggles that Zoom provides.

When several people did this, we noticed our involuntary sensory responses that brought up things we associate, through past experience, with literally being at the beach:

Asian businessman stepping from office to beach
  • the smell of the sea,
  • the feel of the breeze
  • the sound of seagulls and children playing in the distance,
  •  the feel of the sand on our skin.

 One thing to note is that we are all adults, with extensive stored memory banks of sensory information based on actual interactions in the physical world. 

I worry about the effect of the pandemic on children who do not have memory banks of sensory experience to draw on. 

If you have young children, how are the constraints of the pandemic affecting them?

I imagine that more time spent at home with parents might be a positive, but the lack of developmentally-appropriate opportunities for

 sensory-motor learning and  connection with peers and outside activities is a definite loss.

A very creative way to increase sensory input suggested by one community member, was to wear a belly dancing skirt while working (though not while in a formal meeting perhaps!) 

The weight and sound of the metal decorations provide added feedback when one shifts in one’s chair, and provide a reminder of a fun kinesthetic activity.

I consulted  Virginia Fesunoff, owner and Director of Sales and Marketing for Saroyan Mastercrafts,  a leading manufacturer of cymbals, for some recommendations about how to find belly dancing accoutrements (and classes). 

Here are the suggestions she generously provided for us to explore more ways to build fun, creativity, and movement into our lives:

 Whether belly dancing, salsa, or something else, finding ways to move to music can be a source of fun and enjoyment.


For the holidays, I was the lucky (and surprised) recipient of a bubble machine (who even knew such a thing existed). 

I take it out on my patio and enjoy the fun and wonder of watching bubbles emerge.


Before the pandemic, our social, emotional, and physical experiences in the outside world tended to happen naturally.

Now that we are living more online, we have to be more conscious and intentional about building these types of activities into our lives.

The same is true for our online courses.

A highly effective, engaging, and transformational online course doesn’t just happen: it has to be designed.

It seems that the same may be true of a highly effective, engaging and transformational online LIFE.

How are YOU being focused and intentional about designing your daily life in this new reality, to support your health and well being on all levels?

As an online educator, you are the living heart of a community  of others who rely on you.

You have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of others.

What are you doing to build more fun, social connection, movement, and time in nature, into your life?


Come talk about  it in the Facebook group, or at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting next Saturday.


As a community, we can work together to build a library of creative ideas and resources

to help ourselves and each other survive and thrive in these challenging times.



Come to the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting... Saturdays at 9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern on Zoom

We're focusing on how to  use our online teaching practices and online businesses to help ourselves and others survive and thrive during these challenging times. 

Click here to register for the meeting

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