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The MAGIC of coaching: what makes it work?

Young woman flexing muscles in front of large superhero shadow on pink background

In previous blog posts, I’ve shared how I structure the coaching aspect of my business, and what happens during a coaching session.

Now let’s explore the most interesting thing about coaching, which is:


What I mean by “coaching”:

Working with clients individually to provide “done-with-you” course design and course creation services.

What I mean by “makes it work”:

The client ends up with a course design that fulfills their vision, goals, and expectations for what they were hoping to produce.

It's the  immediacy and specificity of the coaching situation

 that make it so highly effective.

Coaching is completely customized to the client’s unique course design situation: 

their specific target audience, subject matter, and goals.

The importance of CONTEXT

Clients often have course-design questions such as:

  • “Is this ENOUGH guided practice?” 
  • “What’s the BEST app to use?”
  •  “HOW should I provide independent performance?”

The answers can only come from understanding the whole CONTEXT:

  • Enough guided practice for teaching WHAT, to WHOM, under what CONDITIONS?
  • The best app to use for WHICH content, in WHICH situation?
  • Independent performance for WHOM, based on their having already learned WHAT?

The structure of a coaching session optimizes the ability to answer these types of questions.

Designing an effective and engaging online course requires BOTH subject matter expertise AND course design expertise, and coaching provides a customized context for making that happen. 

The client operates their subject matter expertise and I operate my course design expertise. 

Two people moving a heavy couch together

We are like two people moving a large heavy item of furniture (the course content) 

to place it in the ideal setting (the course structure).

It's difficult or impossible to move a couch up three flights of stairs and around a corner all by yourself,

but if you have someone helping you by holding up the other end, the job gets much easier.

That said, there are times when coaching is NOT the best solution to a client's course design situation or needs.

 If  you don't have an immediate, specific need to create a specific course, or don't yet have a defined course topic or  target audience, it may make more sense to take the Course Design Formula® Master Course rather than coaching.

The Master Course provides space, time, and a community of peers, allowing each participant to develop their online teaching skills while also clarifying the specific transformation they want to deliver, and for whom.

Let's say coaching IS the right answer: What makes it work?

Coaching is completely customized to the client’s unique course design situation:

their specific target audience, subject matter, and goals.

We start by creating  a high level vision for what the client wants their course (or their whole online academy) to achieve.

That gives  us a “North Star” to guide by, so that everything we design or create aligns correctly with the client’s highest vision and goals.

We then work our way down through a customized process I’ve created, to get clear on the specific transformation the client wants their course to provide.

Once we know that, we determine the specific domain of learning that will deliver that transformation most effectively.

We then use the Course Design Formula® to structure the course based on best practices for delivering instruction in that learning domain. 

Getting the domain of learning right

is essential for creating an effective and engaging course.

When you have the domain of learning right,

 the effect is smooth and easy -- like a knife through butter. 

When you have the domain of learning wrong, 

 the effect is unpleasant and grating, like nails on a chalkboard.

(Yes, having the wrong domain of learning really is that unpleasant, it actually hurts).

Young braided hair african american girl over isolated background covering ears with fingers with annoyed expression for the noise of loud  screeching

Coaching allows us to quickly adjust the course design to fit the client's deepest vision for it.

We can listen for any discordant notes,  quickly discover anything that doesn't fit the client's vision for what they want to create, and adjust it right away.

Coaching is highly effective and impactful. It gets optimum results for clients, fast. That’s because coaching:

  • Provides direct live GUIDED PRACTICE
  • Allows for supervised INDEPENDENT PERFORMANCE
  • Offers immediate FEEDBACK
  • Supports effective ASSESSMENT by both client and coach
  • Encourages monitored ITERATION for continual improvement

The Coaching Conundrum

When the goal is to CREATE SOMETHING NEW (the highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy) it is very helpful to have one to one direct support in alignment with the 2 sigma problem discovered by Bloom (yes, the same Bloom.. this is another aspect of his research).

The coaching conundrum though is that as Bloom points out in his 2 sigma article, coaching is expensive for the client and resource intensive for the coach. 

Coaching takes a lot of INPUT of time and energy from the coach. The reason it works so well for the client is that it’s completely focused on the client’s unique situation and goals. That by definition makes it not at all scalable. The scale it works at is the scale of one to one.

Businessmen walking on top of complex maze

So coaching solves one problem 

(how to provide a customized solution tailored to each client’s specific needs)

 that reveals another problem: how to design a scalable business.

"AHA!" you may say... and in fact, many people DO say... "this is where online courses come in! 

You create online courses to scale your coaching practice."

There are ways in which this can in fact, work.

BUT...even in online courses, there is often a need for one-on-one direct live support

to help learners APPLY the teaching in the course to their own specific situation. 

Coaching is highly effective.

Courses are highly scalable.

To be both highly scalable AND highly effective, courses often need to include at least some direct one-to-one coaching

BUT... coaching is not scalable, which then puts a constraint on how scalable an online course can be and still remain optimally effective.

Have you grappled with these issues in your online course business?

We are going to take a deep dive into exploring this "wicked problem" at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, October 23rd, 2021. 

I hope you can join us as we brainstorm and synergize how to provide an optimized learning experience for as many people as possible!

If you'd like to share your thoughts with me before then, drop me a note to Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com.

I can't wait to hear YOUR experiences, insights, and reflections on coaching, courses, and how they can work together in your business to help people learn and get smarter!

The CONTENT of coaching: what happens during a session?

Decoding and understanding problem, face to face explanation concept

How does coaching complement teaching an online course....

 and how can the mix between them work for you and your clients, students, and customers?

What IS "coaching"?

What I mean by “coaching” is providing one-to-one “done with you”  services focused on the goals of a specific client.

What makes coaching special?

Coaching is specifically targeted to each client's unique course design vision and goals.  The focus is on helping the client create a product.

How does coaching differ from courses?

The types of results—and the time frame for delivering them--that people look for in coaching differ from what they expect to get out of participation in an online course.

People book coaching because  they want ongoing support and accountability for getting a project done.

  • They need top quality results
  • They need the results FAST
  • Their focus is on producing a PRODUCT, rather than on learning a process

Coaching is focused on the client's vision and goals for what they want to achieve

In my coaching sessions, I start by getting very clear on the exact goals the client has… for the coaching process as a whole, and for each individual session.

I want to be sure that at the end of two hours of intensive work together, the client has something to take with them that exceeds their highest expectations around what they were hoping to achieve.

What happens during a coaching session

What happens during a coaching session depends on the CLIENT’S goals for what they want to accomplish.

That could be anything from:

  • Structuring a whole online academy
  • Designing a course
  • Planning a lesson
  • Creating a PowerPoint or other media item

Depending on the nature and scope of their project, a specific coaching client might want to go through all of those steps at different points in the coaching process.

Before setting up coaching, the client and I have already conducted a free strategy call to assess their project vision and scope, and determine how many coaching sessions we think it will take to get there. We have a coaching agreement in place and a schedule of 2-hour coaching sessions planned.

At the beginning of each 2-hour session I use a structured form to ask targeted questions designed to discover the real, urgent issue that the client wants to solve NOW.

During the session I take clients through a sequential series of steps that are laser-focused on helping them achieve those goals for their specific course topic, target audience, and subject matter.

At the end of the session we check back in to reflect on what was accomplished and what the follow through items and next steps need to be.

After the session I send a detailed email including the session recording, any screenshots or attachments I took during the session to document the client’s course development progress and steps, and follow through and action items to complete next.

Between sessions, with this method, there is continuity from one session to the next with no time lost having to remember where we left off and what to do next.

Coaching Session Content for Learn and Get Smarter, Inc.

(You can enlarge the flipbook by clicking on the square in the lower right corner of the blue area below).

Do you include one-to-one coaching services as part of YOUR business model? 

How does your coaching work? 

How do you integrate coaching with your online course teaching practice?

Come talk about it:

 I'd love to hear what's working for you and your clients!

Teaching changes the world. Are you ready for what that means?

Hands together equalty concept. Hand drawn Illustration

In my book, Course Design Formula: How to Teach Anything to Anyone Online, I talk about the difference between really teaching someone something, and simply exposing them to information.

Real teaching changes the world because it produces transformation.

goldfish jumping off to new fishtank

When you set out to create an online course, the first thing to determine is the IMPACT your course will have.

How will your course participants be different (and better!) as a direct result of taking your course?

What's the TRANSFORMATION your course will deliver?

In order to help someone learn something new,

 we have to first (gently) encourage them to leave their comfort zone.

Cat lying on grass under umbrella

You can't learn anything new if you stay in your comfort zone.

The reason it's  your comfort zone is that you already know everything in it!

The pandemic has forced the entire planet to leave its comfort zone.

Whatever specific pain point is leading people to take an online course,

stands against the general backdrop of the generalized pain we all are in

due to the pandemic.

The need for transformation, in all areas of life, is tremendous.

As the promoters and producers of  transformation, we need to be tuned into and aware of the tremendous level of pain our target audience is feeling.

It's not the same as before the pandemic.

Everything has changed.

The environmental backdrop against which you are creating and delivering an online course (or a whole online academy), is very different today than it was a year ago.

Globe Covered in Bandages

If you're thinking about creating an online course, or are already creating one, think about the area of life your course will address.

 How will your course make life better for your course participants? What level of pain will it alleviate and address:

Maslow's pyramid of needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

  • Physical well-being and basic survival needs
  • Emotional comfort and social connections
  • Intellectual understanding and skills
  • The search for meaning and fulfillment

In order to address our learners' pain points,  we have to temporarily make their pain worse.  

And given the current conditions, that is especially challenging right now.

For example, if you're teaching a mindset course about adopting healthier eating habits, your course participants will have to let go of familiar foods that they find comforting, in order to learn to love new foods that they don't yet know about or like.

Normally, the level of pain involved in learning something new, is manageable.

But right now, when so many are already in so much pain, we as facilitators of transformation need to be aware that we are, temporarily, asking our learners to face even MORE pain than they already have been facing for an extended period of time.

stick figure in balance with pros and cons

The pain involved in learning something new is GOOD pain.
It leads to positive change and productive results.
It's like the (mild) pain of a good workout, that helps our muscles grow.

Young male athlete running on race track.

It's just that everyone on the planet has been doing an intensive "workout" for the past year, just to stay alive.

 So we need to factor that background pain into the equation

as we think about how to create a safe, supportive learning space in which our course participants can grow.

What's the solution?
Be extra kind and understanding, both to yourself as the facilitator of transformation, and to those who depend on, connect with, and learn from you.
What does this mean in practical terms?

heart painted on frozen glass
  • Be extra patient, especially when its hard.
  • Be extra kind to yourself, as well as to others
Adhesive Tapes Moving Forward on Solid Blue Colored Background. Standing Out from the Crowd Concept.

You are doing important work.

You are changing the world.

It's a marathon, not a sprint,

so pace yourself and take the long view.

If you need to learn new skills (such as how to use a particular type of media, or new tech skills), give yourself the time and space to do it...but do it.

Keep going and don't give up.

The world needs your teaching, and the transformation it provides, now more than ever.

Black Board with "Never Give Up!" written on it by white chalk.

Are you, too, tapping into the extraordinary levels of pain that are out there in the world right now?

How are you managing it for yourself and your community of learners?

What pain point(s) will your course address, and how will your course ultimately help to make that pain better?

How will you support your learners through the times when they have to step out of their comfort zones?

Let's continue the conversation in the Facebook group... and I hope you will join us on Saturday for the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting, so we can support each other in supporting those we are here to serve.

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

Creating deeper connections with yourself and others

people inside social distancing circles reaching out to one another virtually

This week in the Course Design Formula® Master Course, we’re focusing on learner research.

We're exploring the questions we need to ask of ourselves and others, to find out:

  • Who our ideal course participants are
  • What they want and need to learn from us
  • How much they already know about the subject we want to teach

Often, we start out planning to teach skills (a "how-to" course) in our area of expertise... only to discover that our target audience first needs to adopt a mind-set change (via an attitude course) in order to first be READY to learn those skills. 

Why is having the right MINDSET such an important foundation

for learning new skills?

People shut down and stop learning if they feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened.

Under conditions of threat, the body goes into fight or flight mode,

 and the mental and emotional resources required for learning become luxuries we can’t afford.

So as educators,  our first job is to help the people who want to learn from us

 feel supported and safe enough to take the risks required for real learning to take place.

  KINDNESS is one of the most important qualities needed to promote learning.

As Maya Angelou famously said:

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel."

How do you create a positive climate for learning online?

It's helpful to be clear on your own values as an educator and community leader.

Working at home having a video conference with colleagues

                    Here are some of mine:

  • I see my role as one of inspiring people
  • The only  dumb question is the one that you don’t ask
  • It's important to understand the power of a teachers' words

What do I mean by "the power of a teacher's words?"

As a teacher, your words have the power to inspire and encourage your learners to achieve more...

 far beyond the time they spend with you.



A teacher of mine in a foreign language class once used my name in an example sentence, to make a grammar point. 

The sentence he came up with was, "Rebecca has beautiful clothes".

 It wasn't even a real statement.

 It was a made-up sentence used to teach a point... but ever since then, I have thought of myself as a person who has beautiful clothes (in stark contrast to how I thought of myself before).

The converse is also true: I once worked with an adult learner who thought of herself as unable to read. 

It turns out she could actually read quite well, but had been telling herself she couldn't (and depriving herself of the joys of reading) due to the unkind and harmful words an elementary teacher of hers had used many years ago.

 I didn't teach her to read by teaching her phonics and decoding skills, because she already had those. Instead, I helped her adjust her mindset to a positive one where she was able to think of herself as a person who CAN read... and who  deserved to enjoy doing so.

How do you create a positive classroom climate? How do you turn negatives into positives?

Here are some methods that I find effective:

  • Encourage feedback
  • Encourage asking questions
  • Provide prompt and responsive tech support
  • Be patient
  • Encourage learners to connect with each other as well as with you
  • Promote a spirit of inquiry
  • Focus on learning as a PROCESS, rather than on the creation of a PRODUCT
me in my coaching studio

Sometimes, clients and students may need and want to focus on the creation of a product, over and above the process of learning.

That's where coaching comes in.

In my coaching practice, I do the "heavy lifting" of operating the gears and levers of the Course Design Formula®.

My clients focus on their subject matter expertise, and together we create a product (their elegant online course, or whole academy).

Teaching requires a deeper level of effort and involvement, on the learner's part, than coaching does...

because in teaching, what is being changed and transformed is not a product that the learner creates, but rather, the learner themself.

How are you reaching out to your potential (or actual)  learners, to find out how you can serve them better?

How are you promoting an atmosphere of kindness, caring, support and inspiration in your online community and courses?

And perhaps most important: how are you being kind to, and nurturing, yourself and your creativity,

so you have the energy and focus you need to inspire and support and guide the community you serve?

Let's talk about it in the Facebook Group during the week, and at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday. 

I hope you can join us and share your perspectives, insights, questions, and ideas!

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

Asking the Right Question

Thoughts and options head with arrows

The entire planet is in the midst of one of the most globally destabilizing times in history, where the foundations of how we function and interact on every level of our lives have been shaken.

We've all been pushed out of our comfort zone. That’s a situation that serves as the impetus for tremendous learning and growth.

As systems grow and change, there is a push and pull between stability and growth. We need stability in order to function effectively, and we need growth in order to keep moving forward. 

New systems and structures are starting to emerge from the chaos wreaked by the pandemic… new ways of learning, connecting, and finding meaning in our lives. While many of us are still struggling to establish a stable foothold in this new reality, the ongoing human need for growth is present as well.

A  friend and fellow entrepreneur shared an interesting experience the other day. She mentioned that she had been feeling stuck about how to move forward in her business, until someone asked her the right question. 

Once the right question was asked, the answers to what she needed to do to grow her business, became clear.

Answers that had been eluding her suddenly came to her easily. Processes started unfolding organically and naturally. The barriers to growth in her online business had been removed.

What was this magical question that released such profound and positive change?

It was:

 “How are your customers feeling?

How can you reassure them that what they want to achieve is do-able?”

Which reminds me: how are YOU feeling?

How can I reassure you that what you want to achieve in building your online course, is do-able?

Book with heart love shape

I’ll share how that plays out for my business, and would love to hear how it works for yours.

My students, clients, colleagues, and customers are mission-driven innovators who are passionate about sharing their unique expertise online. 

They want to create an online course (or courses) as a way of reaching more people than they could in person.

They want to share the solutions they’ve created to important issues, in transformative ways and with a global audience.

Many experts who fit the above profile feel overwhelmed by their own expertise when it comes time to turn it into an effective and engaging online course. 

Having 360 degree vision on your topic is both a blessing and a curse.

It’s a blessing because you have such profound awareness in your area of expertise, but that makes it challenging to figure out where to start and how to share what you know with learners who don’t share your level of expertise. 

 IF everything you know is connected to everything else you know, where do you start explaining it all to someone who does not yet know anything about the subject?

Digital Human Brain Covered with Networks
Don't serve a whole cow: learn how to divide up your expertise into digestible portions for online learning

Most people who are creating online courses start by trying to include everything they know, in one course.

That soon starts to feel overwhelming to themselves, and also to their future course participants.

Trying to TEACH ALL THE THINGS in one course is what I call “serving a whole cow” (when all people want and can digest is a single, well-seasoned and marinated steak). 

I’ve got a free course that helps you think about how to divide up your subject matter into smaller portions to make it easier to both teach and learn.

The next mistake people make is not having a clear target audience in mind for their course. 

We can’t teach all the things (in one course) and we also can’t reach ALL THE PEOPLE.

If you’re struggling to figure out how to structure your course, you first need to determine who the ideal learner that you’d love to have more of, in your class, would be.

Go out and talk to some real life examples of that ideal learner, to find out what they want and need to learn from you, and what their starting point is with respect to what you want to teach. (I’ve got a mini course that can help you do all that).

Course landing page screenshot from Action Plan A: Before You Begin

Make sure you have a clear starting point that resonates with the people you want to serve.

The next challenge is to figure out where those ideal learners of yours want to end up with respect to the subject you want to teach.

What’s the problem THEY (not you) are trying to solve?

You’ve already solved the problem... that’s what your expertise is about.

Now, how can you APPLY that solution in ways that make life better for others?

Point of view, looking up ladder sticking through hole in ceiling revealing blue sky

Our purpose in teaching online is not just to put everything we know  out there in digital form. 

That’s not teaching, it’s just exposing people to information.

In order to teach effectively we need to tune in to the challenges and pain points that others are facing,  

and provide actionable solutions that help them make those real life issues better.  

The Course Design Formula® Master Course is designed to take away the stress and overwhelm that experts feel when creating an online course. 

But it’s much more than that.

The Master Course is designed to turn the computer screen that stands between online teachers and their course participants, transparent... so that you are looking at your learners (and they are looking at you) as if the screen were not even there.

It’s designed to make you as comfortable teaching online as in  a physical classroom, so that you can be a powerfully transformational  teacher in any setting.

I’ve had my online students tell me that they learned things in my course that made their classroom and workshop based teaching better, too.

Join the January 2021 cohort

of the Course Design Formula® Master Course

Space is limited.

Enrollment is via private interview only.

I’m not here to tell you how to create a digital information product so you can make money. 

I’m here to help you discover how to recreate YOURSELF as a global education leader, so you can make a difference. 

Once you know how to do that, your own business will unfold organically as well.

Making money is something we all want and need to do.

 If a business is solving a real problem that people urgently need help with, they will be happy to pay for the solution you provide.

 But what they will really remember you for is that you made a profound and positive difference in their lives.

You are here to make a difference in the world, and  I am here to help you make that happen.

My students and clients are out there doing that every day, and I am so honored and thankful to be able to work with them.

Businessman looking at coiled and tangled rope

So...instead of focusing on our own challenges as online educators and entrepreneurs, if we turn our focus to the challenges faced by those we are here to serve, it becomes easier to see what next steps we need to take to achieve that.

Business is about building relationships that help us serve others by solving specific problems. 

What problems do your online course and online business solve for the people you are here to serve?

I’d love to hear about it… you are welcome to write to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com, share in the Facebook group, or join us on Saturdays for the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting to discuss these critical ideas in person.

Meanwhile, how are  YOU feeling? 

Are you struggling to find an even footing in these challenging times, looking for ways to grow, or some combination of the two?

As my colleague so eloquently put it, each of us in our own sphere as online educators, is here to help others know that what they want to achieve is do-able.

How will you make that happen for your clients and customers?

Let's talk about it!

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Overcoming barriers to online learning

cartoon showing people sitting at a bus stop. One of the waiting passengers explains to the other,

The delightful bus stop cartoon that is this week's featured image, is the original creation of community member Matt Champlin.

Matt is an engineer and cartoonist, and led us in a fascinating group exercise last Saturday called the Lightning Decision Jam.

The purpose of the Lightning Decision Jam is to help a group quickly discover the main thing holding them back from achieving a particular goal, and then work collaboratively to find solutions to that problem.

At last Saturday's meeting, we used the activity to explore the following question:

"What's holding us back from our goal of transformational online teaching helping us survive and thrive during these challenging times?"

And the answer that the group arrived at was a powerful one. 

We discovered that what's holding us back in our online teaching

 is the very thing we rely on

 to engage in online teaching to begin with.

What's holding us back is


Frustrated cartoon woman pulling her hair out

Talk about a Catch 22...or as I like to put it:

"Technology! Can't live with it, can't hurl it out the window."

Technology is not new.  The Online Etymology Dictionary gives us the Indo-European root “teks” relating to weaving, fabrication, and the creating of useful implements.

Related words include text,textile, texture, architect, and context.

People have been using tools, creating textiles, fabricating things, and building buildings for thousands of years, and they've always used the technology of their time to do it.

Technology has always been part of education too. An educated person in the time of Hammurabi would need to be able to manage the technology needed to write cuneiform on clay tablets... and we're pretty much back to that now with our use of emojis, but I digress.

While technology per se is not new, the pace of its development has accelerated so rapidly in our lifetimes that people of different generations living in the same household no longer know how to use the same tools.

For some comic relief on this subject, take a look at this video showing how young people growing up with cell phones, reacted when asked to dial a rotary phone.

One reason this video is so charming is that it's a reversal of the situation most of us older folks find ourselves in today.

In the words of  Marc Prensky's seminal 2001 article,we are "digital immigrants" in a high-tech world where people younger than us are "digital natives"... and that in itself poses a challenge for educators who are trying to teach tech-savvy  younger generations using tools that the teachers themselves often find challenging.

Young adult angry woman sitting in an office and holding speech bubble above her head, screaming at the camera.

In his wonderful book, The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman points out that when objects are poorly designed and don't work right, the people using those objects often tend to blame THEMSELVES rather than the object.

We often jump right to "Why can't I do anything right?!" rather than thinking, "Why is this object so poorly designed that it doesn't work the way it should, for me or anyone else?"

But even if an online course is designed and built right, everything in it is not always going to work right for every learner. 

One of the things that happens when you launch an online course, is tech support calls from learners needing help with everything from logins to passwords to navigation to links not working.

As an online course creator, you must EXPECT that to happen and be prepared for it. All of that navigation and all of those links may work perfectly for YOU, but your learners are located in various locations, with different types of internet service, different bandwidth, using different types of devices, different browsers, having varied skill levels, and so on.

Links and connections that work beautifully in some contexts, or even most, may nevertheless malfunction for some users in some locations on some devices under some conditions.

The key to creating a great learning experience for your course participants is to make sure they know how to reach you (or your support team) for help if they need it, and be sure to create a culture of always asking for and responding to feedback from your course participants.

So what's the solution?

The solution to the tech support calls, is to be prepared for them, and adopt an attitude of service and a philosophy of providing excellent support. If your course is small enough, you can do that all yourself, but if you start to have a large number of students enrolled, some kind of help desk might be needed. The important thing is for each customer to feel heard and supported and be able to get their needs met.

If  technology is working right, but people don't know how to use it,

 the solution is to

 train people on the technology BEFORE expecting them to use it.

This is where implementing the steps needed to effectively teach "how-to" skills, comes in.

 (I explain these steps in my book, Course Design Formula: How to Teach Anything to Anyone Online.)

The solution to the deeper problem of technology as a barrier to,

rather than promoter of, online learning,

 is one we need to explore collaboratively in greater depth.

 That's what we'll be talking about at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, September 19th.

There are many tech barriers that prevent people from learning online. The most serious is complete lack of access to technology to begin with, a factor that relates to social and economic inequalities within societies and around the world.

And there are many other factors beyond that, that prevent people from learning through technology, online.

One of the ways that many people are ABLE to survive and thrive during the pandemic, is THROUGH technology.

But what if that isn't working for them in any of a huge number of possible ways?

a group of people looking surprised

Are you surprised that many people experience technology as a barrier to learning? I was.

I'm used to looking at technology in terms of how it SUPPORTS and PROMOTES online learning (which it also does).

But it's important for all of us as online educators to be aware of how technology can get in the way of learning, so that we can best support our students, clients, and customers in persisting past the challenges they will inevitably encounter along the transformational learning route.

Come to the community meeting on Saturday 

as we continue to work collectively

 to explore this critical issue.

How do YOU feel about technology --do you find that it helps, or hinders, your learning more often than not?

  • Do you like learning how to use new technologies? 
  • Do you enjoy solving tech problems and overcoming tech challenges?
  • Or is that not something you enjoy at all?

Share your experiences, insights and opinions at next week's meeting, in the Facebook group, or by writing to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com.

I once considered myself a non-techy person... but over the years I've come to enjoy learning how to use different tech tools.

I'll write another blog post about the relationship between mindset and technology...which is in itself a major topic as humans go up against bots.  

And remember, the solution to many tech problems is the same one that works for humans when we need to take time out to reboot, recharge, and sleep on it: 

to quote the hilarious TV show, "The IT Crowd":

Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?

Come talk about it at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, September 19th or  in the Facebook group!

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, September 19th,  2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Teaching in Alignment

Group of people joining hands over an iPad frame

There are two types of alignment that are important to consider in setting up your online course and the business that supports it. 

It's critical to be aligned "vertically", with our higher purpose...our mission, vision, values, and purpose for teaching online.

And it's also critical to be aligned "horizontally", with our ideal customers... the people we are here to serve.

Your course exists at the intersection of those two alignments, at the sweet spot where your vision of the difference you want to make in the world meets the people who want to achieve that transformation, with your guidance and help.

Where does your vision for the transformation you want to deliver meet up with the people who want to achieve that transformation, with your help?

In order to reach those future customers, we need to use the tools provided by digital marketing.  For some online course creators, marketing comes easily. But for many others, it doesn't. 

Many people who are drawn to teaching, are "people people", rather than numbers/data/algorithm people. But digital marketing works by skillfully using numbers, data, and algorithms to bring our ideal future course participants to us.

"People people" thrive in face-to-face teaching situations, where they get real-time interaction with and feedback directly from the people they are here to serve. For extroverts, for example, getting up in front of a live crowd can feel energizing as the audience's responsiveness flows back towards them.

But what happens to those same "people people" in an online teaching situation?

The technology itself can feel like an opaque wall rather than a transparent window, blocking the instructor's view of their online learners. The solution to that is fairly simple, fortunately: practice with the technology you'll be using, in a safe low-stakes situation, until you feel comfortable.

But how do we reach the people who haven't even shown up yet, for our online course, in order to make them aware of the course to begin with? There are many wonderful programs out there that teach digital marketing for online course creators, and we can learn from all of them. We can learn techniques and skills and methods of digital marketing.

What's harder to learn, though, is the mindset shift that has to happen in order to reach out to people we've never met, and bring them into our sphere of influence where our products and services can work for them.

For many of us in the Learn and Get Smarter community, our primary motivation for teaching online is to be of service. But how do we find the people we want to serve, especially when there is so much emphasis in the digital marketing space on making lots and lots and lots of money... on seeing our potential customers in terms of what they can give US, rather than on how we can serve THEM?

young woman using laptop PC and various pictures. internet streaming service concept.

Many people in the Learn and Get Smarter community struggle with these questions. I know I certainly do. That's why I'm so thankful that my path crossed with Korrie Olszewski, who focuses on digital marketing for service-oriented coaches and entrepreneurs.

Korrie joined us at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on August 8th and shared her vision for creating alignment between our highest purpose and our practical goals of serving our customers.  Many of us found her approach to  digital marketing harmonious and in alignment with the way we want to present ourselves online. 

I am very much looking forward to learning more from her! Check out Korrie's website to learn more about her work and her unique perspective on digital marketing.

How do YOU feel about reaching out to your future potential customers? 

Does that come easily to you?

Or do you struggle with it?

Do you feel that your course, and your business, are deeply aligned with your central mission and vision and values and purpose and goals?  Do you have a clear sense of the exact type of people you'd like your course to help, and exactly how you want it to make a difference in their lives?

It's important to get clear on all those things first, BEFORE starting to actually build your course.  Come on over to the  Facebook group and let's talk about it...or if you prefer, drop me a line at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these important topics that every course creator has to face. 

 NO community meeting this week! 

Saturday, August 15th, 2020

because a lot of us will be attending a conference

Not allowed sign

We'll be back to regular meetings

on Saturday, August 22nd, 2020.

Hope to see you then!

Your audience and what they need to learn from you

colorful target with stick figures representing your audience, at the center of it

The internet has made it possible for anyone to become a producer or publisher..without any gatekeepers. Instead of having to please a gatekeeper, now we have to speak directly to the needs of our target audience. How can we best do that?

The role of the teacher is not to pour knowledge into empty vessels, but rather to elicit from our learners the energies and abilities that reside within THEM. We are not here to fill others' heads with what WE know, but rather to support their process of developing what THEY know. How can we discover what they need to know, and what they most need to learn from us?

As a teacher, you have to have something of value to offer people... some energy differential that gives you the power/energy/flow to help your learners achieve a transformation.

What's the difference you're here to make in the world? You are the sun of your "solar system"... what's the PURPOSE of your system?

You may have a BIG transformation for your entire online business enterprise... which in a course-focused business, may equate to a whole online "school" rather than just a single course.

How can you understand the market, understand your customers, understand your own central mission and motivating purpose, and create a course (or courses) that not only accomodates the market but also brings in the level of crafstmanship that leads to deep learning?

Young femal e engineer concept. GUI (Graphical User Interface).

We need to deeply attune to our target audience's VALUES... the things that are important to them.

As heart-centered, service-oriented, mission-driven entrepreneurs, how can we connect to our target market with deep understanding of their motivations, values, and needs? 

At the meeting on Saturday, July 25th, 2020, community member Shirley Pordominsky gave a fascinating presentation about the LAB Profile (Language and Behavior Profile) which evolved from Neuro Linguistic Programming.

As a Life Coach, Shirley works with entrepreneurs who want to reinvent themselves, to discover who they really are, what they want, and how to get it, no matter their age or circumstances. Shirley has been practicing from 1998 to today as NLP Master Practitioner, a LAB Profile Trainer and Consultant, is a CoachU graduate. She is a Lifelong learner pursuing knowledge for personal development, and to be up to date and to offer it to her coaching clients.

At last week's community meeting, Shirley did a masterful job of making us aware of different factors that may motivate ourselves, and/or our students and customers, in various ways. She helped us understand that there are different patterns of motivation, such as those that lead people either TOWARD a goal or AWAY from a negative consequence. 

Some people, she explained, prefer to think about options, while others focus on procedures. Understanding your own preferences and those of your students, customers, or anyone else you interact with, adds depth and effectiveness to your interaction in a particular context.

Business is about relationships and serving people's needs. Who are the people whose needs you serve with your business and course? How can you learn more about them and what those needs are? 

You can explore the LAB profile for yourself here, and use it to gain nuanced contextual understanding

of yourself and others as you interact in various contexts and settings:


 One of the wonderful things about creating community is the synergy and empowerment we can all give to and gain from each other.A huge thank you to Shirley for her fascinating presentation, which helped us all learn and get smarter! 

THANK YOU! brush calligraphy banner

Back in the day when we used to be able to travel, I was fortunate enough to attend Digital Marketer's Traffic & Conversion conference. Ryan Deiss gave a mesmerizing keynote speech in which he said that the businesses that succeed long term going forward will be those that can not only make the initial sale, but take their customers through ALL the stages of the Customer Value Journey.

If your business is focused on delivering online learning, it's critical to  understand what it takes to help your customers get value from the products and services you deliver. An online course is a much more complex product than, say, a toothbrush. It's not enough to just put a course online.. you also need to nurture, support, and guide your course participants along the path from Point A to Point B that your course represents.

How will you do that for your customers? An important consideration is, how can you determine what their Point A, the starting point for their learning journey, is? If you're interested in exploring that in more depth, I've created a low-cost action plan (mini-course) to help you get to know your customers' learning needs, further.

Course landing page screenshot from Action Plan A: Before You Begin

The focus of this mini course is on getting to know your customer's learning needs in relation to what you want to teach. If you'd like to talk more about this important topic, come on over to the Course Design Formula® Community Facebook  group and let's keep the conversation going.

Better yet, join us for next week's community meeting on Saturday, August 8th as we continue our collaborative exploration of how to survive and thrive during these unprecedented times. I was honored this past week to meet Korrie Olszewski, who takes a soul-centered approach to digital marketing. I've invited Korrie to join us next week and share more about her unique approach to getting to know and reach  customers.

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, August 8th, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call