Category Archives for Online business

Teaching online as a path of service: The time is NOW

Person creating an online course at their computer

There are so many things that are out of our control right now.  inflation, war, Covid, climate change...the list goes on and seems to keep growing.  

Members of the Learn and Get Smarter community have been meeting every week since the pandemic began, to focus on how to survive and thrive in these challenging times.  

We don’t have the answers, but we’ve learned how to ask better and better questions, and we’ve discovered some things that help us keep going in the most impactful direction professionally and personally, here and now.

If I had to pick ONE thing that makes the most positive difference it is: being part of a supportive community of like-minded peers.

As solopreneurs, focused on serving our clients and customers, it can be hard to connect with peers, who are also busy serving their own communities. Teachers who work in schools have a teachers’ lounge to retreat to...a place to grab a cup of coffee and compare notes on how things are going.

We’ve got that too…and you’re welcome to come by (bring your own coffee mug)… all you have to do is sign up here.

The community meetings are free, and there’s no obligation or requirement to come every time.

Just come as you are, share how things are going with your online teaching and business, and meet like-minded peers.

Another important factor in staying on top of our game, is professional development. If you’re reading this you’re already a creative expert with years of service in your chosen field… I know that because that’s who shows up here, and you are amazing. Thank you for all you’re doing to make the world a better place for the people you serve.

I’m here to serve YOU. 

My mission is to support you in fulfilling your mission, through teaching online.

And one of the  main ways I do that is by offering the Course Design Formula® Master Course.

The Master Course is a community of practice for transformational online teaching.

We meet every Tuesday at 4 PM Pacific/7 PM Eastern, for 14 weeks,

 and we learn the Course Design Formula® that you can read about in my book, step by step, and apply it to YOUR specific course design project and area of expertise.

At the end of the 14 weeks we move into an 8-week workshop/practicum program where you get a chance to present your course material live online and receive focused, supportive feedback from a community of peers.  

Are you ready to commit to your online teaching practice, now?

The Master Course is offered in 2 cohorts per year, starting mid-June and mid-January. 

The next cohort starts June 21st, 2022.

That’s next Tuesday. 

I have room for a small number of new participants each cohort.

Admission is by private interview only so if you want a spot, it’s time to talk to me this week.

june cohort course card screenshot

There won’t be another chance to do this for at least 6 months… so if you want to get the most out of this summer and feel really confident about your online teaching mission, vision, strategy, and skills, it’s time to commit now.

If you’d like one of the spaces in the June cohort of the Master Course, book a time to talk with me here:

If there are no times left or you don’t see one that works for you,

write to me at

and send me some days and times that work (and your time zone) and let’s talk.

Is teaching online YOUR path of service in these challenging times? If it is, I’d love to support you in truly standing out from the crowd and serving your audience at  the highest level.

I look forward to helping you make that happen, this summer.  

Let’s focus on what we CAN control to make the world a better place here and now.

Here's what some of my current students have to say 

about how learning the Course Design Formula® has transformed their teaching practice:

Happi Leopold
Easy Finance Academy

Dr. Dilcia Granville

Dilcia Granville Consulting

Sonja Mitchell

Be Retire Ready

Join us on Facebook

 in the

Course Design Formula® Community.

Send me an email


Come to the 

Learn and Get Smarter community meeting

Saturdays on Zoom.

Come to the Learn and Get Smarter Community Meeting

Where we talk about how to survive and thrive

 with online courses and online business

in these challenging times

Group of Multiethnic Diverse World People

Coaching and courses: How do they fit in YOUR business?

items representing different forms of learning and development

We hear a lot, and rightly so, about the importance of working not just IN our business, but ON our business.

Does working ON your business include figuring out whether and how you want to provide coaching, in addition to online courses?

I've been thinking about how we as service-oriented, mission-driven online educators can optimize the mix and balance between coaching and courses as two different ways of providing guidance and instruction.

In this blog post, I'd like to share the method I've created in my business, for structuring my course design coaching practice.

(Next week, I'll go much deeper into the topic of how coaching and courses can fit together in your business from a LEARNING DESIGN perspective...but first, let's explore the basics of how to structure the coaching in practical terms.)

If you provide coaching in addition to online courses, or have been thinking about doing so, I'd love to hear your thoughts and reflections as well.

What IS "Coaching"?

"Coaching" has different meanings in different contexts, so it's important to be clear on what we mean by the term, specifically.

There are specialized definitions of "coaching" based on the standards of specific industries.

I'm using "coaching" to describe a DELIVERY STRUCTURE for conveying my course design guidance to clients. 

In that context, "coaching" means working with my clients one-on-one in a "done with you" format. 

coaching concept

In coaching,  the focus is on the client and their specific goals.

The focus of my course design coaching is to help each client design their course as quickly and effectively as possible.

My coaching is specifically tailored to the unique project goals of each client.

It's a highly customized, hands-on, bespoke experience where I provide in-depth guided practice to walk my clients through the process of setting up their own course.

In my coaching process, the client operates their subject matter expertise, and I operate the learning design expertise.

In coaching,  I handle the "heavy lifting" of course design  FOR the client; they don't need to learn the art and science of course design for themselves.

If they WANT to learn course design per se (in order to be able to create additional courses in the future, for example), that's when they would need to take a course, which is a very different experience than coaching.

What's a "course"?

"Courses" are structured learning experiences delivered in an online format.

The goal of my Course Design Formula® Master Course is for each participant to learn how to operate the Course Design Formula® for themselves.

In the Master Course, as in coaching, each participant ends up creating an online course.

The difference between the course and coaching is that in the Master Course the focus is on internalizing and mastering the learning design PROCESS, over and above creating a specific finished product.

The goal of my course-design coaching

is to develop a PRODUCT.

The client sets the goal for the product they want to develop,

 with my ongoing support and guidance.

The goal of the Course Design Formula® Master Course 

is to learn a PROCESS.

I as the instructor establish the learning goal

 for what the student needs to learn at each step of the process.

In my business, I follow a specific set of procedures for coaching.

I thought it might be helpful to share these, as I see many experts and entrepreneurs contemplating how to structure these aspects of their own businesses.

If the processes and procedures I've developed in my business can be helpful to you as you develop yours, that will be great!

Check out the flipbook below to see the coaching process I've developed.

(You can enlarge the flipbook by clicking on the white square or the + icon in the lower right hand corner of the navy area below. If you are on a smartphone you can expand the flipbook by in landscape view by dragging on it with your fingers, as well).

Coaching structure for Learn and Get Smarter, Inc.

What does "coaching" mean, and what does it look like, in the context of YOUR business?

How does coaching integrate with the way you offer, or plan to offer, online courses?

Join us in the Course Design Formula® community Facebook group, or at the Saturday morning Learn and Get Smarter community meeting, to explore these and other topics in depth.

Reduce cognitive load to make your course more scalable

Man and woman carrying large orange bar graph

As our forced global experiment in online learning is showing, it’s more challenging to create online learning, and more challenging to learn from it, than is the case with classroom-based learning.


The reason is that the online learning interface adds cognitive load to the learning experience.

But again… WHY???

Two factors that add cognitive load to online learning are lack of immediate feedback and reduced social presence.

When the instructor is not in the same physical location as the learner, in real time, it’s harder for the instructor to know when learners are getting lost or confused, and it’s harder for learners to get the help they need.

Crossroad signpost saying this way, that way, the other way concept for lost, confusion or decisions

Another factor that is specific to online learning is the extraneous cognitive load added by the need to NAVIGATE the online interface.

It’s not always clear and obvious to learners where to start, where to click, or what to do next.

And taking the time to make it clear and obvious cuts into learning time and is not the most fun and engaging aspect of online learning and teaching, even though it may be necessary.

In general, it’s important to spell everything, including navigation, out  very clearly and specifically when setting up your online course.

Sometimes the only way to know you have NOT done that enough, is to listen to the tech support calls you get once you launch.

It’s not the most fun part of a launch, but hearing directly from your course participants about where they are getting stuck, lost, confused, or facing challenges, is an important part of the E in the “ADDIE” model of online course design.

 (ADDIE stands for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate).

If you EXPECT to receive this type of feedback and take it in a spirit of discovery about how to continue improving your course, you will compensate for some of the lack of feedback otherwise inherent in online teaching.

So... let’s say you get feedback that students are struggling with course navigation.  A helpful approach is to create upfront guidance on how to navigate every aspect of the course, and make sure to respond to tech support calls as soon as they come in.

Creating a culture of openness to feedback, willingness to make necessary changes, and caring support, is an important aspect of effective teaching...whether online or off.

The thing is, though, that that way of teaching is not scalable.

 It’s doable for 30 students, or maybe even 50, in a cohort. 

It’s NOT manageable (at least, not by a solo edupreneur) for 500 or 1000 students at a time.

Group of experts meeting online

So simplifying course navigation and reducing cognitive load as much as possible 

are critical to making an online course more scalable.

But there’s a catch, because often the things that make a course more engaging, -- such as varying the types of content and including interactive activities -- add to navigational complexity.

A course that’s a series of talking head videos one after the other is very easy to navigate. But it’s also not engaging from a learning point of view. Students can easily go from one video to the next. But there’s not much for them to DO while watching long videos.

But including engaging activities that require a switch from video to PDF downloads to interactive games, adds complexity to the navigation along with adding engagement to the course.

Bulldog trying to get through a cat door

So in other words:

 as a course creator, it’s easy to get stuck between a rock and a hard place.


These dilemmas have business implications, because if you have to be personally available in order to ensure a good learning experience for every learner, then the number of learners you can serve at any one time is limited by your own time, energy, and capacity to address whatever comes up.

As I see it, there are four qualities that an online course business should aim for,  in order to  fulfill the promise of online learning (a promise that many are feeling has NOT been fulfilled, right about now).

Ideally, we want our products and services to be:

  • Service-oriented: helping people make their lives better in some way
  • Serviceable: effectively delivering the promised transformation
  • Sustainable: able to be provided in an ongoing way that does not exhaust time, energy, and resources
  • Scalable: able to be offered to large numbers of people

These factors are CONSTRAINTS…limits or guidelines we must address in order to make an online course business work for both our learners and ourselves.

And the challenge is making all those components work together and stay in balance, all at the same time.

Learn how to create YOUR highly impactful online course!

Check out our free, on-demand webinar!

Streamlined Course Creation
Hosted by  Rebecca Cuevas
About this webinar In this webinar, I’m going to formally introduce myself and tell you the story of how I got here. We’ll dive into what it takes to set up a highly effective and engaging online course, and I’ll share with you a system that can help you get YOUR course set up faster than you ever thought possible. What you’ll learn How to structure your course to promote learning How to plan effective lessons How to make your course stand out from the crowd Stay to the end to receive a special offer I make only to attendees of this webinar!

Reducing navigational complexity (while maintaining as much engagement and variety within the course as possible) will make a course more scalable.

The challenge is how to do that without also removing engagement and interactivity.

What is the sweet spot where each of the factors is optimized?

My sense is that it’s not necessary to optimize all four factors in the SAME version of a course, as long as we are able to optimize all four factors in our BUSINESS as a whole.

You can offer a high-level mastermind (that is not scalable, but provides tremendous value) to a very small number of select, highly motivated learners.

That course can have a lot of interactivity even at the cost of adding complexity to the navigation,  because you will be available to help shepherd people through.

You can also have a different course, with simpler navigation and little or no personal interaction with you, that is infinitely scalable. 

Chocolate cake with bonbon

 It may not be possible to have our cake (in the form of a highly customized and personal learning experience for our learners) and eat it too (in the form of a highly scalable hands-off online course), all in one course.

 A possible solution is to have multiple courses that serve different purposes for different segments of your target audience.

Two Chocolate Cupcake On A Wooden Board

What are your thoughts? 

Have you grappled with these, or similar, issues in designing your own courses?

Let’s talk about it in the Facebook group,

 or join us at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting to share your thoughts in person.

 Save your spot 

in the January cohort of the Course Design Formula® Master Course

Take the stress and overwhelm out of setting up YOUR online course

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, December 12th,2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Getting the Support You Need

staircase of wooden blocks upheld by various types of supports

Looking at your life as a whole, as an educator and entrepreneur…. where is your zone of genius? 

And what areas of your life and work need strengthening to support that? 

What areas of life feel unbalanced for you now, especially in light of the restrictions and changes imposed by the pandemic?

And, most interestingly, how has the pandemic actually helped you to bring more structure, balance, and order into your life… if it has?

How, in other words, have the challenges posed by the pandemic helped you grow?

We’re all acutely aware of the negative pressures exerted on everyone globally (though not on everyone equally), this past year. From ecologic upheaval to political uncertainty, this year has really been a doozy.

None of us, personally, has control over the pandemic, the economy, or the environment.

But what about the areas of life you DO have control over?

How are you using this time…which may be a very extended period of time indeed… how are you using this time of forced seclusion, inward-turning, and retreat from the types of interactions we have all taken for granted our entire lives?

Woman organizes clothes in living room of her home

What are you focusing on now that you didn’t have time, energy, or interest in focusing on before?

I hope that committing to your course design and development process will be one of those things. 

There has never been a more appropriate time to develop online learning.

People all over the world need to learn how to do things, right now… on all levels of life ranging from physical survival to spiritual enlightenment.

Maslow's pyramid of needs

Maslow's hierarchy of needs represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom.

What do you teach online… or plan to? 

Where does your teaching fit on the continuum of Maslow’s hierarchy?

How will your course(s), once finished and up and running, help make life better for the people you serve, in these challenging times?

What is the IMPACT that your course will make in the world?

Here's mine:

 If everyone designing online courses applied the principles I teach in the Course Design Formula® Master Course,

illuminated mind

we could light up the planet, one mind at a time.

 That’s my mission. That’s what I’m here to do.

At the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, October 3rd (yes, the meeting is BACK…), we talked about the shockwaves that can form when you put yourself out there on the public stage.

A man watching a 3-D television with waves startling him by surging forward out of the TV screen

When you do something that makes a difference, things start to shift. Things start to change.

While creating transformation is our goal, it’s not all sweetness and light when that happens. 

Some of the shifts and changes we make reverberate, making waves that can blow back on US.

Part of becoming a changemaker involves learning to strengthen and hold our center

 so we can withstand the impact of the changes that we, ourselves, create.

We also need to build capacity into our businesses (and our lives) to enable us to DELIVER on what we’re offering.

Some ways of increasing capacity that we discussed last Saturday include:

  • Working on ourselves (to correct any areas of imbalance, and strengthen any areas that need it)
  • Valuing what we do (appreciating the value of our mission and life’s work)
  • Creating relationships (with prospects, clients, customers, and peers)

What’s your unique process, method, insight, procedure, attitude shift, or way of understanding the world?

 How will the world be different when your course is up and running at capacity?

And how can you increase the capacity of your course and business, so you can serve more people?

One way to increase capacity is to optimize the SYSTEMS that make your business work.

At the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, October 10th ,2020, we'll be treated to a presentation by Mary Williams,  Chief Technology Therapist at Sensible Woo.

Mary  teaches people how to be their own best tech guru.

(And isn't that just what we need, especially after our collective discovery the other week  that technology itself is often the main thing that gets in the way of  technology-based businesses?!)

Mary is an accredited librarian with her Master of Science in Information from the University of Michigan School of Information, and started her career as the digital archivist for Disney Animation Studios.

She has developed a system she calls Digital Feng Shui, to help her clients master milestones in their business so they have more time, energy, and revenue. 

Next Saturday, Mary will  help us understand and identify business bottlenecks

 as we explore how to gain clarity and ease in understanding

 business workflows and optimizing tech-based backend systems.

If you crave greater flow and organization in your business -- and more supportive tech-based systems to help you get your message out there into the world -- you won't want to miss this meeting! I hope you can join us!

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, October 10th,  2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Applying systems thinking to your course and business

The concept of rational and irrational thinking of two people. Heads of two people with colourful shapes of abstract brain for concept of idea and teamwork. Two people with different thinking.

At the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, July 4th, 2020 we learned from community member Rob Ruder about information systems as they relate to systems thinking in general, and online course creation in particular. Rob is the owner of IDIC Designs and an Adjunct Faculty Member in Gonzaga University’s School of Business Administration. His generous sharing of his systems thinking expertise is helping us all learn and get smarter...thank you, Rob!

What is

 systems thinking ?

How does it relate to your course and business?

As a nation, we've been getting a crash course on systems thinking in the form of a wake-up call about systemic racism. Systems thinking allows us to understand how things that might seem like random, unrelated events, may actually be part of an organized SYSTEM.

The movie 13thfor example, provides an eye-opening analysis of how the US prison system perpetuates the use of unpaid labor of African Americans... systematically perpetuating the economics of slavery.

Systems, clearly, can be good or bad... effective and empowering, or oppressive and disempowering. In order to understand the systems that affect all of our lives, we first have to be able to SEE them.

The Covid19 pandemic has disrupted systems at all levels across the entire planet. The healthcare system, the financial system, the education system,  travel and other industries, and many others have been profoundly impacted on a macro level.

And closer to our daily lived experience, our family systems and our daily and weekly ways of managing our lives (which are also systems), have all been thrown into upheaval. 

order and chaos. Chaotic unorganized colored dominoes and ordered. Concept of business model, organization. Left and right hemisphere of the brain.

How can you use systems thinking to optimize your way of working and teaching online?

At our weekly community meetings, we've been exploring how we can survive and thrive in the face of the challenges posed by the pandemic. The disruption caused by the pandemic in the way people work, meet, and learn provides  opportunities for online course creators to step up and fill the gaps created by the need to maintain physical distance while conducting business and helping people learn. 

Community member Janice Finglerwhose expertise includes exploration under conditions of uncertainty and risk, has educated us on aspects of the Cynefin framework, according to which there are different types of systems:

  • - ordered (Complicated, Clear)
  • unordered (Complex)
  • unordered (Chaos)

Janice explains that systems tend to release energy and move towards chaos.

Except under certain conditions (such as when we're falling in love, or discovering new things) humans  don't generally find chaotic conditions comfortable. So we put effort into trying to shift the systems we live in towards  efficiency and control.  

For a long time pre-Covid, we might have thought that our world was ordered and efficient - with most things being predictable.

We might have been unaware, too busy to notice, or feeling too small to influence what was actually changing around us, as global systems became hyper-entangled. This allowed the flow of almost anything - faster than before. That might have seemed like a good thing - until the virus hit.  

The pandemic has now disrupted our existing systems, that we had thought were "ordered" and efficient. But while efficiency remains important, adaptability and effectiveness actually serve us better during unpredictable times of change like those we're currently living in.

The conditions created by the pandemic have revealed systemic disparities in health care and wages and justice that impact some groups more than others. The good news amid all of this disruption is that our  human power of conscious choice matters more than ever. We can now see places where the ordered systems we took for granted were not always working to serve people, or the planet itself, in optimal ways. We can work to build better systems to replace them.

At our community meetings, we will continue to explore the implications of these disruptions for our courses and our businesses, and consider ways we can contribute to positive change.

How can systems thinking help you optimize your life, business, and online course, right now?

If you understand everything in your life as part of a SYSTEM, and start thinking about how those systems are (or are not) working, new levels of insight open up. In your personal and family life, you may have had systems that worked well before the pandemic, that have now been disrupted. For many families, their childcare system, or visits to older relatives, are no longer workable.

Are you still living in the chaos caused by the original disruption? Have you moved into a stage of disorganized complexity, or are you starting to cobble together a new system that may be complicated, but shows signs of an emerging new order?

Or do you actually have things dialed in now to where they are simple and clear? 

Was your business impacted, in either good or bad ways, by the disruptions the pandemic caused? Do you have (or can you pivot to create) products and services that solve pain points your clients and customers are experiencing during these uncertain times?

The Course Design Formula® is a system that helps you create online courses in a quick and efficient way. The Course Design Formula® system makes it fast and easy for you to  build effective knowledge transfer and motivational learner engagement into the design of your course.

Alison Heller-Ono, Physical Therapist and Board Certified Professional Ergonomist,  helps businesses and individuals optimize their working environments to promote physical comfort and prevent injuries. When her office-based business was disrupted by office closures due to the pandemic, Alison used the Course Design Formula® to  create an entirely new course offering that helps people work in comfort at home. (Check out Alison's Remote Work@Home Ergonomics Training for Individuals.) Having already mastered the Course Design Formula® system, Alison was able to quickly create a new course to address the needs of the moment for her clients and customers who suddenly found themselves working from home.

What can we learn from the insightful wisdom shared by Rob Ruder and Janice Fingler, and the inspiring example set by Alison Heller-Ono?

Here's my takeaway:

Having a system in place to accomplish a task, makes that task easier. 

What systems do you have in place to make your business run smoothly? What systems have you had to adapt, update, or change completely in the wake of the pandemic?  

eMyth is an organization that has done ground-breaking work in helping entrepreneurs apply systems thinking to their  businesses in practical ways. Check out their guidance for documenting your business systems.  Michael Gerber's book, The eMyth Revisited, is an excellent guide to setting up reliable systems for your business.

Horizontal composition of tooth wheel mechanism with Action Plan, Team, Goal, Strategy and Change concept related words imprinted on metal surface

If you'd like to set up a reliable system for creating an online course, the Course Design Formula® can help you cut through the chaos, complexity and complication to make it clear and obvious what steps you need to take,  in which order. To learn more about the Course Design Formula® you can:

At the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, July 11th, 2020, we will focus on how you can apply systems thinking at all levels of your life and business. We will leverage the power of community to compare notes about systems we've created or discovered that are working well, to make our lives, businesses, and courses run smoothly.

I hope you can join us!

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Click on the green button to register for the meeting.

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