Category Archives for Service

Finding Our Purpose

Group of experts meeting online

Teaching, at its highest and best, is a soul-focused activity.

To teach effectively is to use your mind to help someone else move their mind from a less conscious point to a more conscious point along a particular path.

To teach effectively online we need to fashion forms, learning objects, and materials, that are capable of transmitting that growth in consciousness to others --  without us having to be physically present in real time.

That already seems like quite a miracle, doesn’t it? And when it works effectively, it really is.

The brisk market for online courses shows how eager people are to learn and grow. That is a wonderful thing. My mission as an educator and entrepreneur  is to ensure that courses effectively rise to the challenge of actually teaching people what they earnestly desire to learn, online.

Structured learning versus Unguided Discovery Learning

The kind of learning that people do in an online course that’s been constructed and built by an expert (like you), is very different from the kind of learning we all do as we find our way through life. 

When finding our way through life there is no carefully constructed path that’s been pre-designed for us by an expert.

We are each building our own path of learning through life, day by day, on the fly, as we go.

People exploring the rainforest

Even when we THINK

 we’re following a carefully constructed path through life, 

it often turns out that our true path

 does not lead where we thought it did.


Consider the poignant saying:

 “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”



When you’re learning from an expert you have every right to expect them to construct an orderly path along which you can proceed step by step, in order to achieve a well-defined learning goal. 


That's a big reason people TAKE online courses, and it's what I teach you how to do in the Course Design Formula® Master Class.


Winding forest walkway

When you’re learning from life however -- especially if you’re learning new things that have never been discovered by anyone before, as many people in the Learn and Get Smarter community are doing -- there is no pre-existing well-defined path.

I was discussing this situation with a wise mentor and she gave some very insightful guidance.

Here's what she said:

“Of course there is no path.

That’s because you are MAKING the path.

You are making a path for others to follow”.

Our Learn and Get Smarter community meeting is a group of advanced experts. What’s fascinating and unusual about this group is that we are experts in many different and seemingly unrelated fields.

In the past months, we’ve had the opportunity to meet weekly and engage in unguided discovery learning about the global pandemic.

There was no other option BUT to engage in unguided discovery learning, because we are all facing a situation about which no one has definitive prior knowledge.

This past Saturday, September 5th, we realized that we had reached a new stage in our collective journey.

When the pandemic started and the group first came together, we were simply trying to get a foothold in this new reality and find our sense of direction.

Our work together over the past several  months has created a strong community and a feeling of guidance and support that we have provided for each other. 

The participation and contributions of each and every community member has been important,  including those who have not  been able to attend in person but have been reading this blog and sharing their thoughts via email or in the Facebook group.

At the September 5th meeting, community member  Matt Champlin graciously shared  a very interesting technique that he’s learned in his work as a product engineer, cartoon artist, and creative expert. The technique is called the Lightning Decision Jam.

Matt introduced us to the technique, and we explored the possibility of using a digital tool such as Miro to create a group brainstorming experience.

Under Matt’s direction and guidance, we will continue this activity next week.

 If you’d like to join us next Saturday(I hope you will!) you might want to get a free Miro account and practice using it,  in preparation for participation in next week’s meeting.

The question that we decided to explore next Saturday is: 

What is the purpose of this group?

It may be helpful in preparation to reflect on how you would answer that question, and come prepared to write down three things that you feel the group purpose should embody.

I hope that you can join us next Saturday, September 12th, 2020, and  participate in what promises to be a fascinating online group learning experience. Heartfelt thanks go out to Matt Champlin for sharing his expertise on behalf of the group!

Come learn an interesting digital problem-solving technique and explore how we can use our collective expertise to fulfill our highest purpose as educators and entrepreneurs.


Come talk about it at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, September 12th or  in the Facebook group!

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, September 12th,  2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Your central purpose for teaching online

The sun coming up behind a nountain

The members of the Learn and Get Smarter community who have been coming together on Saturdays since the pandemic began, have been exploring ways to survive and thrive during these challenging times, especially with respect to how our businesses can adapt. Since we are a group of educators and entrepreneurs, our focus is on how we can provide transformative online courses that meet the needs of the times. 

At the community meeting on Saturday, July 25th, 2020 we started by reflecting on gratitude, which had been the topic we arrived at the week before. In our consideration of systems thinking, we had reached the profound and surprising revelation that gratitude serves as the engine that drives the interconnecting systems that operate at all levels in our lives. 

Community member Alli Berman, interactive artist and creator of the PuzzleArt™ Therapy  system, had shared that she was grateful for the sun. This turned our thoughts toward the sun and its role as the central actor in the solar system, and the driving energy source for all the systems that operate within it: from the rotational paths of the planets to the production of food.

Our group discussion then delved much deeper into the metaphor of the central "sun" as the organizing principle in any system at any scale. 

You  take on the role of the “sun” (the central operator  or driving force) relative to your business and your course.

Energy can’t be created or destroyed, it just changes from one form to another. When you develop an effective and engaging online course, you are creating a learning system that allows you to transfer the energy you've gathered in your life... allows you to share your expertise in a way that produces benefits for others.

When we teach, we are transferring our energy, our store of resources, to those who are here to learn from us. We are passing on that stored energy in a way that has the potential to continue far beyond our own lifetimes.

What are the benefits that your course, as a learning system, will provide? How will  peoples’ lives be better, as a direct result of taking your course? What are the results that your course will produce? And how can you set your course up to accomplish that?

The Course Design Formula® is a course development system whose purpose is to produce online courses that really teach. In transferring an existing course from in person to online, you have to break the whole system and start over.  The Course Design Formula® shows you how to do that in the least disruptive and most effective way possible.

If you instead try to just transfer an existing offline course to the online space by simply digitizing it (without redesigning it first),  the result will not be engaging, effective, or dymamic. The online version won't teach as effectively as the original face to face version, as many are discovering right about now.

But....what does it mean to "really teach"? 

Educational researcher and theorist Robert M. Gagné defines teaching as "arranging a series of events that promote learning".

What is learning and how can we tell it has occurred?

Gagné says that learning has occured when the teacher observes a change in behavior that persists over time.

(For example, you haven't really adopted a mindset change about healthy eating if you stop eating junk food for a day or a week and then start right back up again).

Robert M Gagne tells us that learning is demonstrated by a change in behavior that is persistent over time

So the central purpose of any system can be seen in observing what it produces. An anecdote that illustrates this concept is mentioned in the movie Annie Hall, to the effect that one might not want to tell someone they are crazy for thinking they are a chicken, if one is benefitting from the "eggs". 

The Covid19 pandemic is smashing the "eggs"  (the benefits) that many of our existing systems provide. How do you know when a system is no longer producing benefits and needs to be scrapped? How do know when the "eggs" are turning rotten and are not worth holding onto?

When systems break or stop working, how can we reformulate them in more adaptive ways?

And how does one change a system without causing major chaos and upheaval?

These are all questions that we're seeing played out on all levels of our lives, from the personal to the political, these days.

The pandemic has forced us all to go into a dark, quiet inner space and reflect on how we want to transform ourselves. 

We've been gifted, whether we wanted to be or not, with a long contemplative period to think about what matters and what we can let go of.

How do you want to reinvent the world for yourself, going forward?

In order to be able to rethink and adapt a system due to new conditions (such as the pandemic) you have to go back and reflect on your central “why”: what is the purpose of your system (whether your business, your course, etc)?


As an educator, your job is not to just pour your own light onto others but rather to support and encourage the growth of their  light, helping them to express their own inner purpose.

Systems come and go and change and evolve and die. But the difference that you make for people will always live on.

Get super clear on your central purpose.

What is the transformation you want to bring into the world? 

Existential question What Is Your Why typed on vintage typewriter with copy space.

Getting really clear on your central purpose will help you operate all the systems in your life at their highest and best, and will strengthen you to withstand and overcome unstable circumstances and obstacles that appear in your path.

So to sum up, here's what our unguided discovery learning has led us to appreciate about what works so far:

  • Gratitude
  • Clarity of purpose
  • Service to others

What’s YOUR mission? What’s the central guiding purpose of your business? What’s the overarching transformation you want your online course to deliver? 

Let’s talk about it in the Facebook group... or send me an email to Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com.

At next week's community meeting on Saturday, August 1st, 2020 we will explore methods of gaining deeper insight into ways to express our guiding purpose through online teaching.

We'll have a special in-depth presentation from one of our very insightful community members, who will teach us a method she uses to help us understand more about our own teaching and learning style and those of our students. You won't want to miss this!

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, August 1st, 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.

How does your course help others?

Save life concept. Cropped top above overhead close up photo of hands making giving shape of heart with fingers isolated over blue background

As educators, we are here to help people learn and grow. As entrepreneurs, we are here to provide products and services that solve problems and meet needs.

In a recent blog post, I shared a parable about long forks, in which people feeding each other across the table provided a metaphor for creating a heavenly experience.

It feels profoundly good not only to get one's own needs met, but also to help others meet theirs.

Let's take that metaphor a step further now and consider the specific benefit your course will provide to those you are here to serve.

What's the difference your course will make in the world?


How will it make life better for your students, clients, and customers?


Answering this question gives you the key to designing your course in the most effective way.

The transformation your course provides is called the course learning goal,

 and it determines the best way to structure your course.



How do you know the best way to structure your course, based on its learning goal?


Educational researcher and theorist Robert M. Gagné discovered that people best learn different types of material in different ways.

He divided learning up into five major areas, which he called "The Five Domains of Learning". His research showed that different approaches work best to achieve effective learning in each of these five domains.  

If you're interested in exploring this topic more deeply, you can learn more about Gagné 's five domains of learning in my book and course.

Understanding the specific transformation your course will provide, the difference it will make in people's lives, is the KEY to designing the entire course.

Once you understand the type of learning needed to achieve your course learning goal, everything else falls into place.

Businesswoman holding the big key with keyhole on the lightbulb

Many experts set out to create an online course without ever thinking about the transformation they want their course to deliver.

They think of their course from their OWN perspective: as a way to share their expertise, to convey what they know.

That's a reasonable and important starting place for thinking about creating an online course.

But in order to design a powerfully effective course, it's essential to go farther:  to see the course from the LEARNER's perspective.

How will sharing your expertise, and teaching what you know, make others' lives better?


How will your course help others?

Will it promote:

Cropped shot of an unrecognizable man washing his hands in the kitchen sink at home

Survival


Outdoor Portrait of Devoted Senior Chinese Husband and Wife

Connection


Beautiful fine art painter drawing in studio

Fulfillment



At the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, July 4th, 2020, we will continue our exploration of systems thinking, guided by several community members, -- including Rob Ruder,  Adjunct Faculty Member in Gonzaga University’s School of Business Administration -- who are experts in the subject (and who are graciously making all of our lives better by helping us learn how to think about complex issues in nuanced and flexible ways).

We'll  be starting to explore INFORMATION SYSTEMS as they relate to both systems theory and online course creation.

Come participate in the discussion as we explore how we can help ourselves and each other learn and get smarter online, in service-oriented, meaningful ways.

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, July 4th, 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.

Who are you here to serve?

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

In honor of Father's Day, which just passed, I'd like to send a note of appreciation to all members of the Learn and Get Smarter community who are Dads.

Fathers are powerful teachers, not only in their own children's lives but for the community as a whole, and I'd like to share some wisdom that I learned from my own father, that is relevant to the endeavor we are all engaged in: creating effective and engaging online courses that really teach, at a deep level.

My father had a reservoir of stories and anecdotes, many of which were passed down from HIS father in the form of wisdom tales, and I'd like to share one with you now. It goes like this (and please keep in mind that this is intended purely as a humorous teaching story, and not as a theological treatise or commentary of any kind).

Once upon a time in a faraway land, there was a man who, unlike all of you, did not lead an exemplary life. He wasn't like you at all, because he wasn't kind, he wasn't caring, and he didn't do good things to help others. So, unfortunately, after he passed away he ended up in... well, let's just put it politely by saying, he didn't get to go to a very nice place.

Instead,  he found himself in the nether regions being greeted by a guide who offered to give him a tour of the facilities.  

The man, however, was very surprised by what he saw there! He was expecting to see all kinds of punishments... but instead he saw a lush banquet table piled to the brim with delectable goodies.

How could this be? People were seated on both sides of the table, and in front of them was every kind of delicacy imaginable!

"I'm confused", the man said to his tour guide. "I thought that being down here was supposed to be a punishment?"

"Look closer," his guide admonished, and when he did, the man saw  that the people at the table had been given extra long forks... forks that were longer than their own arms.

Even though all sorts of delicious food was right in front of them, the people were not able get it into their mouths.

"Would you like to see what it's like upstairs?" his kind guide  asked. "You can't stay there, but you can get a quick glimpse of what you're missing."

The man was very curious, so he jumped at the chance to see what the reward of a virtuous life would have been like.  When they got there for the tour, though, he was even more surprised.

At first glance, it looked JUST like what he'd seen downstairs! He saw the same banquet table, piled high with the same delectable treats! And he even saw... the same long forks!

"Now wait just one minute," the man exclaimed in confusion. "How is this any different than what we just saw downstairs?"

"Look closer" his wise guide told him.  

And when the man looked closer, he realized in a flash what the difference was.

Here, the people were not trying (and failing) to feed themselves using those extra long forks.

Instead, they were using the long forks to feed each other across the table."

And that one difference in perspective, the perspective of focusing on serving others, was what made all the difference .


At the Learn and Get Smarter community meetings, and in this blog, we've considered how our own missions and businesses can contribute to overcoming inequities and creating a better world for all.

When I think of the people who make up this learning and teaching community, one thing stands out:

 This is a community focused on using online courses as a way of serving others. 

The courses we are working so hard to create, are our own "long forks". 

At last week's community meeting, we touched on the issue of leadership as an important factor that determines whether individuals, families, communities, nations, and our planet as a whole, can survive and thrive.

The pandemic throws these issues into high relief, creating a learning opportunity--a learning NECESSITY--for our planet as a whole.

When leadership at any level is focused in self-serving ways (trying to feed ITSELF with those long forks), not only is the result unsatisfying, but everyone ends up feeling terrible.

Enlightened leadership, on the other hand, is focused on SERVICE.


Service can include:

  • Promoting physical health and well-being for oneself and others
  • Strengthening positive relationships between individuals and among groups
  • Developing business practices that support the good of all
  • Creating opportunities for others to learn and grow
  • Building communities that enhance the well-being of all their members
  • Working towards local and global economies that sustainably meet everyone's needs

Online learning is at the epicenter of the shakeup that is happening in the pandemic's wake. Creating online learning that truly serves the communities we are called to work with, is not just a job, a profession, or a role.

Transformative online teaching is a calling, and if you're reading this, you have heard, and answered, that call.

In the Course Design Formula® Master Course this week, we will be delving into market research. One can think of market research as a way of learning more about the people we are here to serve, and how we can best serve them. Who are they? What are they dealing with? What help do they need that we are able to provide?

Whether you are in the course, or are able to come to the community meeting next Saturday, or not, let's all take some time this week to reflect on the people sitting across from us at the long banquet table of life. What can we provide them with, to make their lives better? How can we promote perspectives of service in our courses, our businesses, and in the world?

We'll continue to explore these ideas together, at the community meeting next Saturday. I hope you can join us and share your thoughts.

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, June 27th, 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.

Group of Multiethnic Diverse World People