I’m writing this blog post on the eve of one of the most significant days in American history.
Whatever their political beliefs, Americans feel that the future of our country depends on what happens on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. And people all over the world are also concerned about the outcome of the 2020 election.
The purpose of education is to empower people to live better lives. Are Americans living better lives today than we have in the past?
This article from the New York times says no:
Americans of all political stripes are concerned about the future, not so much for themselves personally as for the country as a whole.
And I know from speaking daily with students, clients, colleagues and friends all over the world, that people in other countries are very concerned about our election as well.
What can you, as an online educator, do?
Appreciate the importance of the work you do every day.
The world around us may be a swirling chaos…
but within that sea of chaos, we each have the opportunity to create a focus of stability, order, and inspiration
for the online learning communities we serve.
In order to learn effectively, people have to first feel safe.
But many people around the world today do not feel physically, let alone emotionally, safe.
The biological threat of the pandemic, the economic threat of diminished work opportunities, and the social threat of enforced isolation, are taking a long term toll on everyone around the world.
If your country, on top of all that, is immersed in an atmosphere of contentious division, it becomes hard to find a solid footing on which to stand, or a way to envision a better future, let alone achieve one.
This is where we, as an online educators, come in.
Taking, or teaching, online classes is the one thing people CAN do right now.
For many of us, it’s pretty much ALL we are doing, all day long.
We can make our online learning communities safe, warm, and welcoming spaces where people do feel safe to envision a better future and achieve their goals.
In the introduction to my book, I wrote that one of the reasons for learning how to teach well on line is
“To save civilization from the darkness that is closing in all around us"
As an educator, you are a point of light, drawing your students towards a greater light.
Here's the extended quote from my book's introduction. I feel it's important enough to be worth repeating, especially right now:
"The soundness of your instructional design is what determines whether your students will be able to reach that greater light of new skills, new opportunities, and new understanding… or not.
The difference between light and darkness is a properly designed electrical circuit.
When you design instruction, you are in fact building a circuit through which information can flow from your mind to your student’s mind.
If the circuit is built right, the information will flow and the light will go on.
If the circuit is built poorly, nothing will happen (or worse yet, you will create a short circuit through information overload). Your student will get burnt out from trying to make the light switch (your course) produce understanding that is simply not happening.
Eventually your student will give up and walk away.
If enough students do that, people all over the world will say, “Online education doesn’t work. I tried it but I didn’t learn anything. It’s a waste of money and time.”
If people give up on education, the lights will go out... all over the world.
It’s happened before. It’s up to us not to let it happen again.
So yes, I am being melodramatic-- because the stakes really are that high.
The future of civilization depends on the transmission of knowledge.
The transmission of knowledge is happening, to a greater and greater extent, online.
You, as an online course designer, are the one making this transmission happen.
You need to design your circuits properly so the lights can go on in your students’ minds."
---Rebecca Frost Cuevas, Course Design Formula: How to Teach Anything to Anyone Online, pages 34-35
We all live and work in multiple overlapping and intersecting systems.
In this maelstrom of competing forces, your online course is also a system: a microcosm of its own.
YOU (as we’ve discussed in an earlier blog post) are the central sun of that microcosm.
You, the teacher, provide the light and life that keeps your online students in orbit as they gather the momentum needed to go off on their own.
So regardless of the level of leadership that either may, or may not, exist “out there”, either now or in the future, one thing you can do is provide enlightened leadership within your own small universe.
Give your online students something positive to focus on.
Help keep them moving forward in taking whatever effective action they can take, to make their lives and the lives of those around them, better.
Here are some practical suggestions for how to keep your light burning bright:
Take care of your physical body
- Eat right
Take care of your friends and family
- Call older relatives to check on them and be sure they're ok
- Help those who don’t have your level of tech skill learn fundamentals like how to get on Zoom so they can stay connected
Take care of your spiritual body
- Be clear on your mission, vision, and service
- Set intentions for the day, week, month, and year
- Take time out from work to reflect, meditate, and pray
Once you’ve taken care of yourself
and strengthened your alignments
both vertically (with your higher purpose)
and horizontally (with your support community),
reach out to your students, clients, and prospects to see how they are doing.
You can’t control events in the larger universe, but you can build your own smaller universe in the form of an online course community fueled by wisdom, excellence, and love.
You are important. What you are here to do is important.
Your life’s work holds the answer to other peoples’ dreams.
Your online course, academy, or program (whether it already exists or is still in the process of becoming), can be a place of transformation and grace for the people you serve.
So get out there and be the ray of light that you are.
You be you.
And thank you for all you are doing to make the world a better place.
Come to the community meeting
Saturday, November 7th, 2020
9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern