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Taking the stress out of online course design

stressed female executive thinking at her computer


One of my main goals in creating the Course Design Formula® has been to relieve the stress many experts and entrepreneurs feel when creating an online course.

Can you relate?

Why creating an online course can be stressful:

Young and timid woman with head in the cloud sitting on bench
  • You have so much expertise on the topic that it's hard to know where to start
  • You aren't sure what to put into your course and what to leave out
  • You want to make the course clear and engaging... but how?
  • You can't figure out where to begin, and how to structure the course
  • Everything is connected so you just end up going around and around in circles!

The way most people go about creating an online course only adds to the stress.

What most people do is jump in right away creating content, without a clear plan as to what content even needs to be in the course to begin with.

It's natural and intuitive to start that way.

You're an expert on a topic and you want to teach people about it, so you start creating content based on your subject matter expertise.

 What's wrong with that?

What's wrong with that is that it doesn't work.

In order to set up a course in a way that's effective, stress-free, and leads to the results you want 

you need to use LEARNING DESIGN EXPERTISE, 

NOT SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTISE.

If you use learning design expertise to set up the course structure, you'll then have an elegant, clear container you can use to share your subject matter expertise.

The container (course structure) will make it clear what needs to be in your course, what should be left out (or put into a different course you can create at another time), and in what order.

White puffy could in a transparent box on white pedestal, blue studio background

     


  And just like that, your stress is gone! Pouf!





When you use learning design expertise, rather than your subject matter expertise, to create the STRUCTURE of your course,

 you ensure that the course is going to engage your course participants

and help them achieve the transformation you want  to provide.


Suddenly it becomes clear:

  • What should be in your course
  • What to leave out
  • Where to start
  • What order to present the material
  • How to create a logical, smooth learning path
Garden with clear path through it

If you're feeling stressed about how to structure your online course, here are a few suggestions:


What if you've already created a course (either on or offline) and now want to revise it?

Circular Ribbons with RETHINK REVISE RESET Word - 3D Rendering


The same rules apply to revising a course as to creating a new one, but it's harder to see those rules at first. 

It's only logical, after all, to revise a course by starting from what you've already created (your existing content) and then thinking about how to make it better, in a kind of editing process.

This is like taking concrete that's already been poured out and hardened, 

and trying to chip away at it to change its shape and form.

It's much easier and less stressful to instead go back to the original intention and purpose behind the course, create the ideal mold for the shape you want the finished product to take, and pour the concrete  all over again.

In this metaphor, the mold represents the course structure and the concrete is your content.


Chipping away at hardened concrete in an attempt to reshape it:

  • takes a lot of work
  • makes it hard to remember what the original goal was
  • is not very successful


Pouring fresh concrete into a new, perfectly shaped mold:

  • is fast, easy, and fun
  • evolves naturally from what the original goal was
  • produces smooth and elegant results

Whether you're creating a new course or revising an existing one (either from online, or off),

 the Course Design Formula® helps you go with the flow

of how people can best achieve the transformation you want your course to provide.

If you want to master the formula so you can use it to create any course you envision, for the rest of your life, the best way to do that is to take the Course Design Formula® Master Course. Enrollment is limited and by private interview only. I'm interviewing now and taking reservations for the June 2021 cohort, so if you're interested, email me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com and we can schedule a time to talk starting in March.

If your focus is on setting up a specific course or online academy, from scratch (or revising an existing one using the "fresh-mold-pouring" method I wrote about above), you can schedule a free strategy session to discuss your project and set up a coaching schedule so you can work with me to get your course designed. Again, I have availability starting in March... this is a process that requires advance planning, so we can create a smooth, enjoyable and stress-free experience for you as a course creator and for your course participants as learners.

Workers at building site are pouring concrete in mold from mixer truck.

You are always welcome and invited to join us in the Course Design Formula® Community Facebook Group, and on Saturdays on Zoom at 9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern for the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting, where we talk about how to use our expertise and our online courses to help ourselves and others survive and thrive in these challenging times. I look forward to seeing you there!


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. 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

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

Creating Community Online

People connected by online learning even though they can't shake hands in person

How are you feeling right now?

What changes have you had to make to adapt to the coronavirus threat?

Do you find yourself suddenly needing to take programs, meetings, clases, processes that work well in the physical world, and put them online?

Would you like some guidance and help in figuring out how to do that, effectively and fast?

At a time when staying separate in physical spaces  protects our physical health, meeting together in online spaces can protect our social, emotional, financial, and even spiritual health.

In these unprecedented times, where things are unfolding fast and in unpredictable ways, community support and helpful guidance can ease the burden we may otherwise be carrying alone.

That's why, starting this week,I’m inviting the Learn and Get Smarter community to come together, to meet face to face (on Zoom).

I’m hosting a live group meeting  this Saturday, March 21st, at 9 AM Pacific/ Noon Eastern time.

If you live in a different country, you can use this international time zone converter to find the time to log on.

The purpose of this meeting is to start to get to know each other as a community  focused on creating effective learning online in ways that make the best use of all our resources: time, brainpower, energy, and ideas.

What challenges are you facing now in terms of taking great offline learning experiences, and getting them online?
How can I support you in getting that done?

I'd like to start having weekly office hours/workshops where you can share your course design challenges and we can find creative solutions together.

If this sounds like something that would be helpful and interesting to you, please register for the meeting (below).

After you register, you'll receive a confirmation email with the meeting link.

If you have a course design challenge or situation you'd like to discuss, you are welcome to email it to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com.


Here's the link to register for the meeting this Saturday.

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



We'll be meeting live on Zoom, which is a fantastic platform for online meetings and live course sessions.

You may already be an expert at using Zoom, or you may not have used it before.

 (If that's the case, it's very easy to use. All you have to do is go to the link you'll receive in the email after you register, at the designated time).

Here's an article that Zoom just shared from their blog, on some really fun and creative ways to create a sense of community and connection in online meetings.

 I hope you enjoy it!

arrow pointing towards call to action from the right

Zoom shares some great ideas for creating connection online

Check out this wonderful post on Zoom's blog, about fun ways to create connection and community at a distance. 


My goals for this first meeting are for the community to get to know each other, and for me to learn the kinds of course design challenges that you are facing right now, and how I can be of service to you at this challenging time.


If there is interest and the group finds this format helpful, we can continue the meetings weekly in order to create ongoing synergy, community, and support.

How do you feel about this? Do you like this idea? Do you have any comments, suggestions, or requests?


Email me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com to let me know how I can help.