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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

Teaching changes the world

Someone cutting the

Education removes the obstacles that prevent people from achieving their dreams.

The difference between failure and success often comes down to learning... whether learning to change one's mindset from "I feel like I can't" to "I know that I can" or learning how to perform a new skill.

Times of accelerated societal change, like the present, call for accelerated learning. This is a time of unprecedented growth in online learning  as we are called on to meet the needs of those we are here to serve.

How will you rise to the occasion to meet this time of need? 

What's the difference you are  here to make in the world?

And.. would you like help doing it?

The Course Design Formula® Master Course starts TODAY

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

4 PM Pacific/ 7 PM Eastern

Course Design Formula® Master Course landing page screenshot

Would you like to be part of it?


If you'd like to join the course,

write to

Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com

to set up a private admissions interview.

You might also enjoy watching my on-demand webinar

which teaches three secrets of online course design

 (secrets we go into in much more depth, in the Master Course).

Screenshot of webinar registration page

Sign up to the Webinar

Secure your place in our free webinar on course design and learn to make your course stand out from the crowd!

Whether the course is right for you at this time or not, I'm here to support you in your online teaching journey. 

How do YOU want to change the world in 2021 and beyond?


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

Make 2021 YOUR year for teaching online!

Goals for 2021 Using Goalscape software

The past  year has provided everyone around the world with the opportunity to see things in a new (though often, harsh and painful) light.

Learning is the process of adapting to one’s environment in ways that promote survival, and 2020 forced us all onto a very steep learning curve.

The ability to learn from each other and connect online has been a lifeline to hold onto while navigating the twists and turns of this steep learning curve.

What lessons have we learned that can guide us for the year ahead?

I’d love to hear your lessons learned, so please send them to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com.

 Here are mine:

  • Online learning is a powerful resource for effecting positive change.
  • Many things can be taught online, that one would have thought required a physical in-person presence.
  • Learning works best when it includes community, accountability, connection, and continuity.
  • We are all more skilled in some areas than others.
  • We can optimize our lives by teaching the things we are skilled at, and learning the things we need help with.

I spent most of my time last year either teaching the things I am good at, or being coached in the areas where I need help.

I worked out with my trainer 3x a week (on Google Duo, using weights and medicine balls and a mat in my own living room).

As a result, my flexibility and strength have improved despite not being able to go to the gym.

What made this work: consistency (3 times a week every week, even on holidays) and continuity over a long period of time.

I worked with my professional organizer twice a week on Facetime.

She supervised me while I cleaned my own house, organized my own paperwork, and restructured my life.  

Again: accountability, consistency, and commitment to getting the help I needed, were what made the difference.

How about you?

What are your goals for 2021?

What type of accountability and consistency do you need to build into your life NOW, to ensure you achieve them?

How do you want to feel a year from today, as you look back on the year we are about to live, together?

If creating an online course, or a whole academy, is something you’ve been thinking about doing, 

NOW is the time to get professional help--from me.


And by now, I mean, right now, today, this week.

The Course Design Formula® Master Course January cohort starts January 12th, 2021

 at 4 PM Pacific,

7 PM Eastern.

If you want to become a transformational teacher in the online teaching space,

NOW is the time to commit to making that happen.

You can learn more about the course from my new, on-demand webinar:

Screenshot of webinar registration page

Sign up to the Webinar

Secure your place in our free webinar on course design and learn to make your course stand out from the crowd!

Now is the time to decide.

Only you can know your schedule and time commitments,

 but I can't be sure when I'll be teaching the Master Course again

… that will depend on many things. 

I also can’t promise that the price will stay as affordable as it is now.

Are you ready,willing, and able to commit to YOUR online teaching practice?

Is becoming the best, most transformational, global educator you can be, a priority for you in the year ahead?

If your answer is YES, you NEED to be in the January Cohort of the Course Design Formula® Master Course.

Write to Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com and let me know you want a spot, 

and I’ll send you what you need to start the enrollment process.


Because this is an ongoing, high level mastermind, enrollment is by private interview (with me, personally).

There are some things you can do to speed the process along, right now.

Once all that has happened, and we’ve had a chance to talk, I’ll send you the link to enroll.

 If you’re not sure whether the course is right for you, here are some ways to learn more:

  • Watch this video starting at the 6:07 mark.
  • Join this webinar.
  • Email me with questions (Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com).

Don't wait. Do it now. Class starts January 12th, and  I’d love to see you there.

On another note, the Learn and Get Smarter community meetings are BACK

on Saturdays at 9 AM Pacific/ 12 noon Eastern,

 and I’d love to see you there as well.

Let’s continue to support each other in finding ways to survive and thrive

under the conditions of uncertainty, challenge, and risk

that everyone on the planet is facing at this time.

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, January 9th,  2021

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Gratitude, Fulfillment, and Ease

Thank You written in different languages on speech bubbles.

As you reflect on the past year, with its unprecedented challenges, and think ahead to 2021, it can be helpful to adopt a practice created many years ago by Chris Brogan, which he calls "#My3Words".

I adopted this practice last year for the first time, and it worked! My three words for 2020 were:

  • Prosperity
  • Service
  • Joy

Despite the surrounding conditions that 2020 presented to us all, these three words helped keep my focus on an even keel... allowing me to serve clients, students, and customers in ways that brought joy and allowed me to make a sustainable living in challenging times. I am profoundly thankful.

#My3Words for 2021 are:

  • Gratitude
  • Fulfillment
  • Ease

I wish for these not only for myself but also for all my readers, clients, customers, students, family, friends and members of the Learn and Get Smarter community...and for everyone in the world.


To start the new year off on a note of gratitude:

screenshot of the art materials for Alli Berman's Color Your Gratitude course

Color Your Gratitude

with artist Alli Berman

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

5 PM Eastern/ 2 PM Pacific

on Zoom

Are you ready to uplevel your online teaching practice in the new year?

The time is NOW if you would like to reserve a spot in the January 12th cohort of the Course Design Formula® Master Course.

(Write to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com if you'd like to talk about it).

To learn more, watch my new, free, Master Class and learn three secrets of online course design.

I hope that 2021 will be a gracious year for you, filled with gratitude, fulfillment, and ease in all areas of your work and life. 

Screenshot of webinar registration page

Sign up to the Webinar

Secure your place in our free webinar on course design and learn to make your course stand out from the crowd!

Your own “Year in Pictures”

Crystal photography ball showing the seascape at St Bees, Whitehaven, Cumbria - British seaside

Many publications are coming out with their “Year in Pictures” for 2020.

As I scrolled through the New York Times’ version, I was overwhelmed by the enormity, the intensity, the global impact that this past year has had on everyone around the globe. 

And no sooner had I gotten done with this heart wrenching visual odyssey than the next headline assaulted me: the earth is about to be impacted by major storms on the Sun, whose effect on our atmosphere and telecommunications may be significant.

Alright, then!

Lighthouse beacon shining over stormy seas

Sometimes, you’re gently sailing your (metaphorical) ship on a calm sea with the wind to your back.

And sometimes, it takes everything you’ve got to keep your ship upright in a life-or-death storm.

2020 has been a nonstop series of life or death storms for our little planet.

It’s forced us to batten down the hatches and tighten up our act.

We’ve had to become more self-reliant, uplevel our technology skills, and develop entirely new social structures and ways of running our work and family systems.


As the year comes to a close, it’s time to turn inward (if it’s possible to turn any MORE inward than many of us already have) and reflect.

  •    What went well for you this past  year, in spite of everything?
  •    What did you have to let go of?
  •    What did you learn? 


As you scroll through the mental images stored in your memory (the memory in your head, not the one on your phone), what pictures stand out for you?


If you were creating a virtual photo album of this mind-boggling year, what would it show?




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

Here's mine:

When the pandemic started, I tried to figure out how to stock up on groceries that would be both sustaining,tasty, and workable for the new weight loss program I had just started… Weight Watchers online.

 I wasn’t sure what would work so I tried to guess. It turned out I did pretty well.

After a last trip to Trader Joes, I started relying on Instacart. Turns out I LIKE having expert grocery shoppers comb the aisles for me, and I like not having to carry heavy bags of groceries up multiple flights of stairs.

Instacart’s algorithm has learned my weekly shopping list, and only shows me pictures of the things I need to buy.

So my first set of pictures will be my standard grocery items, lined up every week on the screen.

These are pictures of the life giving foods that keep me alive and healthy, have been an important source of enjoyment during a year filled with restrictions, and have helped me lose almost 30 lbs.

Food backgrounds: table filled with large variety of food

What has worked, or not worked, for you on the level of sheer physical survival, this year?

What pictures stand out in your mind?

Some people have had a lot of chances to be outside in nature this year, and others have had almost none.

I was in the latter category, and one thing I’ve learned this year is how important being outside in nature is to our physical and emotional health.

The feeling of moving our feet on uneven natural surfaces, the sensory crunch of our footsteps falling on leaves, the surprise of discovering different types of animals and plants and weather and clouds… this type of sensorimotor learning is fundamental to how our bodies and brains are wired.

We were meant to learn through and from interactions with the natural world around us, while moving and touching and feeling and seeing and hearing.

The need to sit at a screen for (often) 14 hours a day, has made it harder than usual for many of us to experience this type of natural interaction.

After a while it starts to wear on you.

 Once I realized that, I made a point of getting out to a park and walking around, even if only once a week or so.

The vistas that I saw there and the way their natural beauty fed my soul, is the 2nd set of pictures I would share.

palm trees against a cloudy sky

What has worked for you to stay connected with nature, to feed your senses, and to get out and move? 

How have you experienced the world beyond the edges of the screen?

The social world this year has both shrunken to a single point (with each of us alone in our own spaces for months on end) and expanded to cover the whole world (with new connections forged via not only endless  Zoom meetings, but an increased appreciation for online learning, virtual conferences, and creative forms of physically distanced/socially connected interaction.)

The online learning space has been through a forced evolution that propelled our collective understanding of how to interact online, ahead by quantum leaps from where it would have been.

 We may be sick of Zoom calls but we’ve also gotten good at them.

 From trying to figure out how to unmute ourselves, we’ve graduated to playing online scavenger hunts, inviting goats to attend our meetings, and giving collective virtual hugs.

My third picture would be of the many online conferences I’ve attended this year where I’ve met amazing experts and entrepreneurs from all over the world.

Laptop screen webcam view diverse people engaged in group videocall

Who have you met this year through online conferences and meetings?

How have you expanded your connections while remaining physically apart?

My most important pictures from 2020 are pictures of YOU: the mission-driven, service-oriented, incredibly creative clients, students, community members, colleagues, mentors, coaches and friends who have sat across the screen from me and shared what was on their minds. 

Whether in private coaching calls, the Course Design Formula® Master Course, Course Crafters Camp™, our Saturday morning community meetings, or informal chats with colleagues and friends, it is YOUR faces I see when I think about this year. 

Thank you for being present with me and working so hard, amidst all the chaos and upheaval surrounding us all, to make the world a better place for those you are here to serve.

Hand of touching network connecting the human dots icon in business project management. Teamwork organization and brainstorm concept

You are radiant, you are beautiful, you are remarkable.

 You make the world a better place by being here. Keep being you, keeping doing what you do.


Let’s all picture a better world in 2021… what would YOU like to see, experience, and do?

Dreaming Intellect series. Visually pleasing composition of human face and technological elements to serve as  background in works on mind, reason, intelligence and imagination

Join the January 2021 cohort

of the Course Design Formula® Master Course

Space is limited.

Enrollment is via private interview only.

I’d love to see some “pictures” from your virtual photo album. If you’ve taken my digital flip book course and would like to create a flipbook of your own, come share a link to in the Facebook group

Or just describe your “pictures” verbally… on Facebook or via email privately to me (Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com), or in a blog post of your own to your own community, if you prefer.

We won’t be meeting on Saturdays for the next two weeks… there will be no community meeting on Saturday, December 19th or Saturday, December 26th.

Let’s all take this time to rest, reflect, and prepare for the new  year.

I’ll keep writing this blog and I’ll look forward to hearing from you anytime via Facebook or email.

The community meeting will return on Saturday, January 2nd 2021 (you can register for it here, and put it on your calendar).

Meanwhile, if you’d like to make creating an online course that really teaches at a deep level, a priority in the new year, schedule a time NOW to talk with me about whether the Course Design Formula® master course (starting January 12th, 2021) is right for you.

 I’d love to talk with you about it! Spaces are limited so book your call now.

Course Design Formula Master CourseJanuary 2021 screenshot


May the days ahead be filled with blessings, insight and inspiration for you and yours.

 I look forward to seeing you next year on Saturdays for the community meeting, and hopefully in class.

Stay fabulous, and thank you for being such an important part of the picture.

You made this past year very special, despite the challenges we all faced.


 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, January 2nd, 2021

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Reduce overwhelm through chunking

messy box of buttons next to neat box of buttons sorted by color

The limits of working memory dictate that we can only focus on five to seven separate pieces of information at one time. Beyond that, it all starts turning into a blur.. which is why long strings of apparently unrelated information, or a long to do list, can feel so overwhelming.

But we can’t just whack our to do lists off at the roots, or only learn a fraction of what we are supposed to learn.

The solution is to group related items together, so that instead of say, 32 unrelated separate items, we end up with 4 groups of 8 items.

items sorted  by color

Learn and Get Smarter community member Rob Ruder demonstrated this principle at the community meeting last week, by teaching us 32 computer shortcuts in literally five minutes.  

Rob promises to share how he accomplishes that amazing teaching feat, in the Facebook group soon, so stay tuned!

Effective teaching, like Rob’s, relies on this chunking principal extensively to group related items together and make them much easier to learn.

When staring down a long list of things that have been causing stress, it’s helpful to chunk the list into categories.

One of the first questions to ask is, what categories will be most useful?

 In case of a list of stressors, it makes sense to create action categories, such as:

  • Things you can do something about
  • Things caused by the pandemic
  • Things you just have to put up with

Not only does creating categories shorten a long list into manageable segments, but it also suggests actions you can take to reduce the overall size of the list and cope with it better.

For a to do list, it helps to create action-based categories like “do”, “pay”, “buy”, and “call”.

That way you only have to DO a few different types of things… and  can easily make all the calls, or pay all the things that need paying, at one time.

What long lists of seemingly unrelated items are causing YOU stress right now? 

Whether it’s a holiday shopping list, a long to-do list for your business, or ALL THE THINGS you want to teach in your course, it can feel completely overwhelming to look at them all at once without having an effective structure to help you organize them.

Join the January 2021 cohort

of the Course Design Formula® Master Course

Space is limited.

Enrollment is via private interview only.

The course Design Formula® uses research into how people naturally learn different types of material , to give you pre-configured containers for chunking the material in your course.

 If you’re teaching a complex how-to skill with many components,for example, it simplifies things to know that you only need to focus on four big categories of things:

  • The big ideas one must understand in order to perform the skill
  • The tools, resources, or ingredients needed to perform the skill
  • The steps (rules)  that go into performing the skill
  • Any exceptions to those rules that require an adjusted approach to performing the skill

Let’s take a completely overwhelming task for online course creators: teaching ANYTHING (in the whole world) to ANYONE (ever).

That’s a huge job, right?

Swiss universal knife with tools on shelf

I read somewhere that if a job is really difficult, somewhere there is a tool that will make it really easy. 

It’s just a matter of finding that right tool.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about how to set up your online course, or entire online school, the Course Design Formula® is that right  tool that can cut through the stress and overwhelm.

Instead of an overwhelming and unlimited number of ways to set up your course, you’ll learn the five BEST ways and how to determine which ONE of those is optimal for YOUR specific material and course learning goal.

 (So actually, as it turns out, there is ONE best way to set up any particular online course, depending on the transformation you want your course to deliver).


And there is also one best way to learn how to USE this amazing tool, which is to reserve yourself a seat in the Course Design Formula® Master Course cohort starting January 12th, 2021.

 If you’re interested in exploring whether the course is right for you, book time on my calendar (before it’s all gone!) and let’s talk. 

I’d love to help you reduce the stress and overwhelm involved in designing and developing your online course (or your whole online academy).

Let's  take the stress and overwhelm out of structuring your ideas into an effective and engaging online course.

The Course Design Formula® helps you sort your expertise into research-based containers (schema) that are ready and waiting to help you transfer those ideas to your learners' minds as efficiently as possible. 

The Course Design Formula® is like a day spa for your mind--- because it takes the stress out of online course design.

Spa - Relaxation With Massage Stones And Waterlily In Water

 Save your spot 

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

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

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

Ensuring Learner Success

Happy people jumping for joy

How can you ensure learner success in your online course?

Just as in a physical classroom, there is no 100% guaranteed way to be SURE that EVERYONE who signs up for an online course, will complete everything in it and get optimal results.  

Some of that depends on the learner: their motivation, persistence, level of engagement, prior knowledge, and many other factors.

But let's look at the elements that we CAN control as we design and build our courses, and do our very best to optimize those.

  • Learning Design

  • Lesson Clarity

  • Engagement

Learning Design

Have a clear learning goal for the course as a whole.

Structure the course based on how people learn the EXACT type of material needed to reach that goal.

Make sure that everything in the course  contributes to achieving the course learning goal.

How can you make  your course work for EACH learner, when each learner is so unique?

The most important contributor to learner success, beyond your course design, is the learners themselves.
A question I've been pondering lately is: how can we, as online course designers, create a CUSTOMIZED learning experience for each learner, when people vary so much in their personalities, motivations, prior knowledge, and ways of approaching a task?


It's relatively easy to  create a customized experience and ensure that each of your learners is engaged, learning, happy, and getting what they need out of the course, when your course is small.

The key there is to build FEEDBACK MECHANISMS into the course at every step of the way, so that your course participants know they can always reach you and that you will hear and respond to their challenges, issues, and concerns.

But many people create online courses with the goal of having an evergreen, "set it and forget it" way to "teach while you sleep".  That goal is the gold standard of online course design... but is it effective in terms of getting learners real results?

The ONLINE LEARNING situation makes it relatively easy to use digital media to create an evergreen "set it and forget it" course that puts money in your bank account while you sleep.  

However, the requirements of HUMAN LEARNING often demand real-time (or at least, semi-synchronous)  interaction and monitoring from an actual human (ie, YOU).  Ensuring that  learning gets  into each of your learners' minds in the way that works best for them requires ongoing,  dynamic participation from an instructor who is awake.

How does one reconcile these two things?

If you put your course online and then "set it and forget it", how can you be sure that each of your course participants is getting real results? 


Triumphant business people standing in front of rays of light

The best way is to ASK them, of course.  You can build feedback and assessment mechanisms into your course using quizzes, surveys, polls, live group coaching sessions, office hours, forms, and many other methods.

Creating a culture of feedback, and being open to hearing it, is critical.

It is also important to respond to user feedback so that your course participants feel they are not just putting information out there, but also getting  meaningful responses back from you.

Silhouettes of people with colorful speech bubbles

It's important to talk to your future course participants before, during, and after the time you spend working with them in your online course.

  • Talk to them before creating a course to be sure you are creating a course they want and need. 
  • Talk to them while creating your course in order to beta test and pilot and get feedback on whether your course design addresses their needs.
  •  Especially talk to them while TEACHING your course, and then 
  • Talk to them afterwards to find out how the course went for them and how they are using what they learned, now that the course is over.

As I mentioned above, it's relatively easy, or at least, possible,  to talk to your students, receive and respond to feedback,  and help each learner get the most out of your course, when your course is relatively small.

My Course Design Formula® Master Course, for example, is like a boutique bistro restaurant that serves custom-catered "meals"  (by which I mean, delectable learning experiences) to a small group of highly select students.

 I can provide a tailored, individualized experience for a small group of students at a time. I can't (at least, not yet) provide that level of customization for an unlimited number students at a time. That's one of the goals I'm working towards, but in the meantime, I just want to enroll a small group of highly dedicated students for the next cohort, which starts January 12th, 2021. 

Class size will be limited, so if one of your goals is to create a powerful, transformative online course that does justice to your unique  expertise, it's not too early to start thinking NOW about whether you'd like one of the few spots in that very select group.

There's a lot of pressure on online course creators to grow and scale their courses. Growing and scaling a course is relatively easy if the course mainly provides information in a digital format. But if your course teaches complex processes that learners must APPLY to their own  unique situations  in practical, performance-based ways, then a higher degree of direct interaction and guidance from you as the instructor will be needed in order to ensure your learners get results.

One of the challenges that I see happening in many "set it and forget it" style online courses is that learner success (and therefore, learner attention) drop off around module 3 or 4. That's where the need to actually APPLY what's been presented in the course so far, begins to come in. How many online courses have you bought where you see THIS pattern happen:

  • Welcome! Everyone is excited about the course!
  •  The basic information is presented. Everyone gets it. All is well.
  • Things start getting hard, it's time to actually DO things the instructor tells you to do
  • You stop paying attention to the course
  • You never look at the course again
  • You feel guilty for having spent money on something that didn't get you the results promised
  • You start to wonder if you're actually good at learning things
  • You start to wonder if online courses really work

I've been thinking a lot about the above scenario, which I've seen happen far too many times in too many online courses. If that's happened to you (it has to me, and to pretty much everyone I know), here are some things to consider:

  • It's not your fault. You sincerely wanted to learn the material.
  • It's not the instructor's fault. Their course may actually be well designed.
  • It's the fault of a mismatch between the AFFORDANCES of the online learning space, and the CONSTRAINTS of human learning.

What do I mean by that?

I mean that the online learning space makes it fast, easy, and tempting to create learning materials that can be sold to an unlimited number of people.

But the way human beings learn requires personal guidance, fine-tuning, and hand-holding, often at an individual level, especially if the learning is complex and needs to be applied in practical ways.

From a business-model point of view, the online learning space makes it possible to earn a lot of money, as many have done and are doing, by creating a product that can be sold to many people at one time and that requires little to no maintenance, supervision, or upkeep once it's been set up.

From a learning-model point of view, however, learning something new in a way that works for YOU as a learner, may require in-depth focus, attention, wisdom, guidance, understanding, and personal interaction.

 This is more true for some learners than others, and more true at some points along the learning journey than others.

I'm working my way towards developing a  new, integrated business + learning model focusing on the touch-points that require  in-depth and customized focus from the instructor.

My goal is to help all of us optimize both the impact and the reach of our online courses.

I'm working towards creating a high-level understanding of how each of us can structure the entire "universe" of our course offerings (our "whole cow") in ways that optimize the "set it and forget it" aspects for things that DON'T require in-depth guidance from the instructor, and also optimize the "high learning impact" aspects for parts of the learning curve that DO.


Come to the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting (we're BACK after taking last week off due to a conference) and let's talk about what's on YOUR mind with respect to creating online courses that YOUR course participants will learn from, and love!

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, August 22nd, 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.

Discovering the engine of success

colorful paintsplash background with the words

Whether or not you are able to attend the weekly Learn and Get Smarter community meetings in person, I invite you to follow along with our ongoing group process of collaborative discovery as we explore ways to survive and thrive during these challenging times.

As a community focused on creating effective and engaging online courses, we are well-positioned to cope with conditions that allow social connectedness online while maintaining physical distancing in the physical world.

Nowhere is this issue more critical than in the education sector. Like many of you, I watch with concern as parents, teachers, and employers struggle to resolve complex issues balancing physical health and safety, the need to earn a living, and the educational needs of students. 

The challenges, decisions, and dilemmas facing both parents and teachers with respect to in-person learning, are gut-wrenching.

As online educators, we are fortunate that all three of these needs can be met through our chosen work medium. Through teaching online we can protect our own and others' physical health while earning a living and meeting the educational needs of our students.

At the community meeting on Saturday, July 18th, 2020 we started to apply the systems thinking we've been learning about, to our own lives. We started to explore systems we have in place that are working well for us on all levels -- from the physical to the emotional to the intellectual to the spiritual (roughly following along the lines of Maslow's Hierarchy).

Maslow's pyramid of needs

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

It quickly became apparent that the SYSTEMS in our lives do not operate independently of each other.

 Rather, systems that we have in place to promote physical health also impact our emotional well-being. Systems that help us learn and grow also contribute to our feelings of self-actualization. And so on.  

In sharing what's working well right now during the pandemic, the  systems that ticked boxes on multiple levels were the ones that were most effective.  

But one thing stood out above everything else, and this was a truly powerful discovery that we made as a group during the meeting. 


The one thing that worked better than anything else

 to help us survive and thrive, 

was

 FEELING GRATITUDE.

We tried an experiment during the meeting, which was to go through the "Rampage of Appreciation" exercise developed by Esther and Jerry Hicks.  The way we did this was to simply look around and find five things  to appreciate in our immediate environment. (You can choose any number, choosing five was arbitrary.) We each shared what our five things were and why we appreciated them.

This was a powerful exercise with meaningful results. We learned that what we appreciate depends on our individual perceptual lens. We learned that what we focus on determines what we see. We learned that one person's sharing of what they appreciate leads to benefits for others as well. 

We decided that during the week ahead we will continue to look for things to appreciate in our immediate environments, and focus on feeling gratitude for what's working well.

That doesn't mean we don't see or acknowledge the many challenging and painful things that many are facing during the pandemic. Those are all too clear and obvious.

What it does mean is that in order to find ways to survive and thrive,  putting our focus on the things that we can be grateful for, is proving EFFECTIVE as the driving engine of the whole "system of systems" that make up our lives.

A highly enlightening book for learning how systems intersect and interact, is Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows. Several of us are reading this book now (or listening on audiobook). I'm finding that this book provides an ongoing stream of enlightening revelations about how things work and connect on multiple levels of life.


An online course is a SYSTEM designed to promote learning. The guiding principle behind instructional design is that the system must be properly constructed in order for learning to result.

The Course Design Formula® is a system for designing online courses, that helps you design yours properly so that learning can FLOW from your mind to your learner's minds, leading to lightbulb moments.

But not all lightbulb moments result from learning that's been intentionally designed. At our community  meetings, we are not designing courses... we are engaging in unguided discovery learning (which is what you do when you are trying to learn about something you are NOT an expert at).

The discovery of the importance of FEELING GRATITUDE as the central engine that drives all other systems in our lives, was a serendipitous and somewhat surprising discovery we made as a group. 

Closeup super excited happy screaming woman with many light idea bulbs above head celebrates success looking up on gray wall background

I invite you to reflect on the systems in your life that are working well for you right now, as well as those that you have the opportunity to improve. You are welcome to download this worksheet to use as a guide (it's a Word document, so save it to your own computer and fill it in in any way you find helpful).

You are welcome to share any insights, reflections, or discoveries you arrive at, in the Course Design Formula® Community Facebook group, and/or by sending me an email at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com. And of course, I hope you'll join us on Saturday, July 25th for the next community meeting, as we continue to explore ways to survive and thrive during these challenging times.

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, July 25th, 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