Category Archives for Motivation

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

Saturday, June 26th,   2021

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

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

many people online in a conference call

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 June 15th, 2021

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

Saturday, June 5th,   2021

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

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

many people online in a conference call