Tag Archives for " Learning Design "

Teaching online as a path of service: The time is NOW

Person creating an online course at their computer

There are so many things that are out of our control right now.  inflation, war, Covid, climate change...the list goes on and seems to keep growing.  

Members of the Learn and Get Smarter community have been meeting every week since the pandemic began, to focus on how to survive and thrive in these challenging times.  

We don’t have the answers, but we’ve learned how to ask better and better questions, and we’ve discovered some things that help us keep going in the most impactful direction professionally and personally, here and now.

If I had to pick ONE thing that makes the most positive difference it is: being part of a supportive community of like-minded peers.

As solopreneurs, focused on serving our clients and customers, it can be hard to connect with peers, who are also busy serving their own communities. Teachers who work in schools have a teachers’ lounge to retreat to...a place to grab a cup of coffee and compare notes on how things are going.

We’ve got that too…and you’re welcome to come by (bring your own coffee mug)… all you have to do is sign up here.

The community meetings are free, and there’s no obligation or requirement to come every time.

Just come as you are, share how things are going with your online teaching and business, and meet like-minded peers.

Another important factor in staying on top of our game, is professional development. If you’re reading this you’re already a creative expert with years of service in your chosen field… I know that because that’s who shows up here, and you are amazing. Thank you for all you’re doing to make the world a better place for the people you serve.

I’m here to serve YOU. 

My mission is to support you in fulfilling your mission, through teaching online.

And one of the  main ways I do that is by offering the Course Design Formula® Master Course.

The Master Course is a community of practice for transformational online teaching.

We meet every Tuesday at 4 PM Pacific/7 PM Eastern, for 14 weeks,

 and we learn the Course Design Formula® that you can read about in my book, step by step, and apply it to YOUR specific course design project and area of expertise.

At the end of the 14 weeks we move into an 8-week workshop/practicum program where you get a chance to present your course material live online and receive focused, supportive feedback from a community of peers.  

Are you ready to commit to your online teaching practice, now?

The Master Course is offered in 2 cohorts per year, starting mid-June and mid-January. 

The next cohort starts June 21st, 2022.

That’s next Tuesday. 

I have room for a small number of new participants each cohort.

Admission is by private interview only so if you want a spot, it’s time to talk to me this week.

june cohort course card screenshot


There won’t be another chance to do this for at least 6 months… so if you want to get the most out of this summer and feel really confident about your online teaching mission, vision, strategy, and skills, it’s time to commit now.

If you’d like one of the spaces in the June cohort of the Master Course, book a time to talk with me here:

https://go.oncehub.com/CourseDesignFormulaDemo

If there are no times left or you don’t see one that works for you,

write to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com

and send me some days and times that work (and your time zone) and let’s talk.

Is teaching online YOUR path of service in these challenging times? If it is, I’d love to support you in truly standing out from the crowd and serving your audience at  the highest level.

I look forward to helping you make that happen, this summer.  

Let’s focus on what we CAN control to make the world a better place here and now.

Here's what some of my current students have to say 

about how learning the Course Design Formula® has transformed their teaching practice:

Happi Leopold
Easy Finance Academy

Dr. Dilcia Granville

Dilcia Granville Consulting

Sonja Mitchell

Be Retire Ready

Join us on Facebook

 in the

Course Design Formula® Community.

Send me an email

 to

Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com

Come to the 

Learn and Get Smarter community meeting

Saturdays on Zoom.

Come to the Learn and Get Smarter Community Meeting

Where we talk about how to survive and thrive

 with online courses and online business

in these challenging times

Group of Multiethnic Diverse World People

Use learning design to structure your whole business…and everything in it

the five possible learning types for your course
  • Verbal Information. 
  • Mindset.
  • Cognitive Strategy.
  • Intellectual skills (How-to).
  •  Motor Skills.

    These are the five “Domains of Learning” discovered by educational theorist and researcher Robert M. Gagné.


Any type of learning you want to create falls into one or more of these categories.

Understanding the 5 domains is a powerful key

you can use to unlock the BEST way to structure your entire online business enterprise...

as well as every course, lesson, and media item within it....

so people can achieve the transformation you’re promising.

The 5 Domains of learning can help you discover:

  • The type of transformation every aspect of your business will deliver
  • The best way to structure every part of your business to optimize learning
  •  What to include in every level of your business and what to leave out

Most courses include elements of more than one learning domain, but there is ONE domain that determines the best way to structure your course as a whole.

The same principle applies to anything you create, from  your whole business enterprise to a single PDF.

 Figuring the over-arching domain  is the key to setting up a business, course, lesson, or media item

 that people will learn from, love, and recommend to their colleagues and friends.

Let's say that  you have a business that includes a book, coaching, and a course.  

Your business will have its own learning domain.. and figuring out what that learning domain  is will guide you in how to structure the business.

For example, a business that's focused on producing mindset change will need to include long-term ongoing support to ensure that the mindset change sticks.

Woman changing smileys on her face


My online learning program, as a whole… my whole online course enterprise.. focuses on MINDSET CHANGE

The goal of my business is to change people’s attitudes  (and resulting behaviors) about online course creation—so that they understand what doesn’t work, why it doesn’t work, and what will work better to create online courses that truly deliver on their promises.

In order to facilitate that type of mindset change, my online course enterprise goes deep into helping you get in touch with your mission and vision for teaching online… your WHY for doing what you do.

 And I provide extensive long term support so you can go the distance to get your course created, get it out there, and continuously up-level your delivery and practice of teaching online… whether you’ve been teaching for 35  years or have never taught before in any context, at all.

As a smaller subset within my online enterprise,  The Course Design Formula® which you can read about in my book, is ahOW-TO(INTELLECTUAL SKILL).

The book presents the big ideas that are critical to know about teaching and learning… both in general, and online.

The book presents tools and resources specifically designed to help you create effective online learning programs, and  steps to follow to get your course online.

And you’ll learn some high-level fine tuning tweaks to ensure your online programs are effective, impactful, engaging and “elegant”.. by which I mean that you skillfully combine different aspects of quality teaching in a smooth and graceful way.

picture of the Course Design  Formula book in paperback
octopus emerging from computer


But let’s face it… it’s one thing to learn what the steps of a skill involve.. and another thing to APPLY those steps to YOUR specific content, which may be very comprehensive, unique, and complex. 

That process can feel  as overwhelming and nebulous as  trying to wrestle an octopus... amiright?

In order to help you apply the steps of the Course Design Formula® to your specific content, 

I’ve set up the Course Design Formula® Master Course as a COGNITIVE STRATEGY course... 

 you learn how to learn how best to apply each step of the formula to your specific content,

in your own unique way, that works best for YOUR target audience and their needs.

The Master Course is a 14 week cohort-based program that I offer twice a year. 

Admission is by private interview only.

If you’re interested in joining the next cohort (starting June 21 2022), 

click here to make an appointment

to meet with me for an enrollment interview.


You can see the domains of learning for the different aspects of my business, here... and how they relate to each other. 

Each business, course, and media item will be unique in this regard. 

That's why developing a deep understanding of the domains of learning is so important,

so you can get clarity on how to structure each aspect of your online teaching enterprise.

learning domains for different aspects of my business


How about you?

 What’s the learning domain for your online academy, program, or course?

Take the free quiz

to find out your program's learning domain. 


How will YOU change the world through teaching online?


And.. what kind of help do you need to make that happen?

Join us on Facebook

 in the

Course Design Formula® Community.

Send me an email

 to

Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com

Come to the 

Learn and Get Smarter community meeting

Saturdays on Zoom.

Come to the Learn and Get Smarter Community Meeting

Where we talk about how to survive and thrive

 with online courses and online business

in these challenging times

Group of Multiethnic Diverse World People

My “Tinkerbell” moment… and yours

Rainbow reflected human hands

As creative experts and solopreneurs, facing challenges is part of what we do. If we didn't love facing challenges, and do so willingly... and if we weren't at least somewhat good at coming up with solutions to those challenges.. we wouldn't be entrepreneurs.

That said, there's a limit to the coping skills, time, energy, and resources that any individual or business has... and when that limit is reached, a deeper level of resourcefulness is needed than ever before. 

My premise in this blog post is that we have reached that moment now. I'm calling it a "Tinkerbell" moment... when your own level of belief in the importance of what you're here to do, and your clients' and customers' commitment to supporting your business endeavor, are critical to the well-being and survival of your enterprise.

Rainbow reflected human hands
Flower growing through crack in the asphalt
Background Abstract Misty Mountain Range Colourful Wallpaper Digital Art Gradiant Pastel Dramatic Backdrop

Business experts and CEO's of large corporations, 

reflecting on the first quarter of 2022 and its implications for the year ahead, seem to agree on one thing:

 there is continuing volatility and unpredictability in store for all of us.

We in the online course space are in a very fortunate position, compared to many industries.

Let's count our blessings:

  • The pandemic has been GOOD for the online course industry 
  • We are able to do our work in safety and from home
  • Conditions of uncertainty require that people learn new things.. and that's where we can help

That said, I'm seeing signs of financial and emotional stress out there (and in here, too) that are starting to take a toll, even on us.

The conditions of prolonged, unrelenting, and continually worsening stress that have been impacting the world for the past several years have energized and inspired us to grow, to get creative, to found our businesses.

 But these same conditions, especially as they continue to get worse, and worse... and worse...may also be wearing you, me, and our clients and customers, out.

Since about last November, it's been harder for people to make and follow through on financial commitments... and this becomes a vicious circle.

If your OWN suppliers are charging you more, due to supply chain issues. .. and your OWN customers are able to pay you less, or less reliably, or in smaller numbers, due to the stresses THEY face... and if inflation starts making all this worse... a downward spiral can start to set in.

Can you relate? Have you faced this? How can we best cope?


Person falling through a hole

The MOST important thing we can do at a time like this, is to take good care of ourselves first. 

This  really IS a "put your own oxygen mask on first" moment.


To help you do that, I've created a "Mindset Reset" workbook for course creators. 

It's a fillable PDF and you can

 download it here

(or click on the arrow to access it).

Be sure to download it  from the web,

save it to your own computer,

and after you fill it in, hit "print to PDF" to save your inputs.

download arrow

How are you taking care of yourself, your business, and your customers in these challenging times? 

What lessons are you learning about what works for you, and what doesn't,

as a result of facing prolonged and ongoing stress under unpredictable and volatile conditions?

Heart hands as a group of diverse people hands connected together shaped as a love symbol expressing the feeling of being happy and togetherness.

Once we take care of ourselves, we are here to take care of each other.

 The premise of business in general, and an online course business in particular, is that we are creating products, programs, and services that provide solutions to other peoples' pain.

There's a lot of pain out there in the world these days... which means there are a lot of ways we, as online course creators, can be of service.

What pain points do YOUR products and services solve?


How are those pain points being impacted by current events?

What are the implications for the courses you're creating, and the way you're offering them to the people you serve?


Here's an interesting question:

What does learning design have to do with all this?

The surprising answer is: A LOT!


Understanding the PURPOSE of your business = KNOWING YOUR WHY.

WHY are you working so hard to create online courses and learning programs that improve peoples' lives?
WHY are you here, in this online business space?
WHY do you do what you do?

How will peoples' lives be DIFFERENT AND BETTER 

as a direct result of using your products and participating in your services?

If you have read my book,

taken my Streamlined Course Creation course

or participated in the Course Design Formula® Master Course,

 you will recognize that what we are talking about is:

the OVERALL LEARNING GOAL 

for your business as a whole.  

Your business' learning goal determines the overall shape or structure you create for the way you offer your products and services.

The romantic tunnel of pink flower trees


My business, as a whole, is here to promote MINDSET CHANGE.

I want to change the way people approach creating online courses,

so that they always put GOOD LEARNING DESIGN FIRST.

How about yours?


 What's the driving purpose, mission, vision of YOUR business? 

What's your WHY for doing what you do?

What makes fulfilling that "why" even more important now than ever, in these very challenging times?

Let's talk about it!

Join us on Facebook

 in the

Course Design Formula® Community.

Send me an email

 to

Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com

Come to the 

Learn and Get Smarter community meeting

Saturdays on Zoom.

Come to the Learn and Get Smarter Community Meeting

Where we talk about how to survive and thrive

 with online courses and online business

in these challenging times

Group of Multiethnic Diverse World People

Why is transformation so hard?

Transformation of common lascar butterfly ( Pantoporia hordonia ) from caterpillar and chrysalis on twig

We all say we WANT transformation, right?

Online course creators NEED to focus on the transformation they want their course to deliver, if their course is going to actually DO anything and make a difference in the world.


BUT… here’s the dirty little secret of online course design that no one talks about (because it’s so hard and painful for all of us, as humans, to face).

We all WANT transformation. That’s why we sign up for online courses to begin with (and why we create them for our clients and customers).

But in order to ACHIEVE transformation, people have to actually CHANGE.


Frightened Woman

Change is hard, and people resist it. And they should.

And they… wait… WHAT??? They SHOULD?

 I thought we were focused on producing transformation here.

 We are.

 And in order for transformation to be real,

 it has to overcome the learner’s natural and instinctive resistance to change.

 

If there's no resistance, there's no (real) change!


Why do we resist change? Because change is hard, scary, and dangerous.

Many online courses DON’T produce real transformation… because they’re not designed to. 

That can happen because the course creator doesn’t know HOW to design a course to produce transformation. 

Or because no one really wants transformation to happen, to begin with.

Those are two separate use cases, so let’s explore them one at a time.

1) No one really wants transformation to happen, to begin with:

Sometimes, people like the IDEA of transformation, but don’t want to do the hard work needed to really make it happen. We’ve all been there at different times in our lives.
We buy the gym membership, but don’t actually go to the gym. 

We sign up for that class in accounting or yoga but never actually log on.

That’s from the learners’ side.

From the course creators’ side, a course that PROMISES transformation (but doesn’t actually deliver it) is fast and easy to create because it requires no learning design chops.

As long as you know how to ♨️SELL the sizzle♨️, you never need to actually cook the steak.

Plenty of people have gotten rich doing this.

All I have to say about that is… well... you know what they say about karma, so I won’t repeat it here.😱😱😱


2)  The course creator has excellent intentions, but doesn’t know how to design a course that actually produces transformation. 

I know that if you have read this far, use case #1 above does NOT apply to you, which means, you WANT your online course to produce real transformation.

The challenge then lies in understanding how to make that happen.

Here's what transformation looks like in each of the five domains of learning described by educational theorist and researcher Robert M. Gagné.

In my book, Course Design Formula: How to Teach Anything to Anyone Online, I share how to use Gagné’s research into the domains of learning to set up your course to produce real transformation.

What I want to explore here is, WHY do we need five different ways to produce transformation?

I mean, change is change is change, right?

Wrong!

The collage of faces of surprised people

Different kinds of change require different teaching strategies, because of the different ways we RESIST each kind of change.


Now let’s get a high-level view of how to set up a course that produces real transformation.

In order to overcome resistance, pretty much any kind of transformation works best when we approach it from the right mindset, so let’s start by exploring mindset change.

MINDSET CHANGE

Woman changing smileys on her face


Surprisingly, when you set out to produce mindset change (meaning, to help people change their attitude and the resulting behaviors), the first thing to do (based on Gagné’s research and what I’ve discovered works from helping hundreds of creative experts set up their own online courses) is to start by helping your learners understand WHAT DOESN’T WORK: the unhelpful attitudes they COULD adopt, or maintain, if they want to.

Depressed woman lying on couch in messy room isolated flat vector illustration. Cartoon lazy character resting on sofa at home and surfing internet on smartphone. Apathy and indifference concept


Why would you start a course that promotes positive mindset change, by focusing on what DOESN’T work?


Here’s why: mindset change is a CHOICE. 


If you want people to actually change their mindset and resulting behaviors (instead of just SAYING they’ve changed while continuing to do what they were doing before), they have to first realize they COULD just keep doing what doesn’t work… and understand the long-term consequences of NOT changing.

The resistance to mindset change comes from the natural tendency we all have to want to stay in our comfort zone. It’s only natural, right? Lounging on the couch scarfing down carbs is a lot easier than getting up early to train for that half marathon... at least, at first.


So to produce mindset change, people need to first understand that change is their choice, and see the long-term consequences of NOT choosing to change.

  • You can keep scarfing down carbs… and here’s what you ‘ll look and feel like in 50 years.
  • You can NOT work hard to learn that new thing... and here’s how not knowing it will impact your performance and promotions at work over the next 10 years
  • You can smoke a pack a day for the rest of your life, and here’s what your lungs will look like compared to the lungs of someone who chooses to quit smoking now
  • (and so on...)

Seeing the long-term negative consequences of NOT choosing to change, counteracts the natural tendency we all have to want to stay in our comfort zones.

That’s why the first thing to teach in a mindset change course is what doesn’t work.

Next, people have to know what does work, which is the heart of the course’s teaching content.

But knowing what does work is still not enough to produce real mindset transformation.

People need to see concrete examples of what positive mindset change looks like, in the form of role models or case studies.

 They need to be inspired and to see that making the choice to change is possible because others have successfully done it.

Young man standing in front of large superhero shadow on white background

So now we’re good to go with mindset change, right?

NOPE... that’s still not enough!

Because changing our mindset and resulting behaviors is really really hard.

Even:

  • knowing what doesn’t work
  •  learning what would work better, and
  • seeing how others have successfully made the change

are still not enough!

There are two more very important pieces to the mindset change puzzle.

People need help getting in touch with WHY they want to get out of their comfort zone to make this change. 

They need an immediate short term “why” (that motivates them to take immediate action so they can get some quick wins) and they need a deeply compelling long term “why” so they can keep going over time.

If your reason for changing your attitude about healthy eating is that you want to look great for your friend’s wedding in three months, you need a longer-term reason to keep at it once the wedding is over.

And finally, the MOST important aspect of mindset change is

 long term ongoing support,

which means that producing lasting mindset change is a great foundation for an online membership or a coaching practice.

Heart hands as a group of diverse people hands connected together shaped as a love symbol expressing the feeling of being happy and togetherness.

Is mindset change an important part of YOUR online teaching program?

To learn more about how to create mindset change that really sticks, read my book, 

3D book mockup including back cover

For a deeper dive into mindset change and how it impacts us as online course creators, check out my blog post,

 “Are you ready for a mindset make-over”,

which focuses on the mindset changes we may need to make OURSELVES as digital entrepreneurs in the online learning space.

Video call or conference concept with men and women working together. Virtual meeting

I’d love to hear about YOUR experiences in producing mindset change that really sticks… let’s talk!

Join us at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting

Saturdays at 9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern, on Zoom,

where we focus on how to survive and thrive with online courses and online learning in these challenging times.

(These meetings are one of the ways  I provide long term ongoing support for all of us, as online course creators! 

It would be great to see you there!)

Come to the

Learn and Get Smarter Community Meeting

Group of Multiethnic Diverse World People

Saturdays

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern on Zoom

The most impactful thing you can do in 2022

person's hands with online energy between them

This is an exciting time of year, filled with the energy of new beginnings.

Granted, everyone on the planet has been through the wringer for the past few years. Remember the dewy-eyed hopefulness with which we all greeted New Years 2020? HAH! How did THAT work out for us, hmmmm....

For many of us, planned holiday gatherings this year may have been overshadowed by the sudden emergence of the Omicron variant. Where did THAT come from?

It's clear that with this pandemic, we're way beyond talking about whether we're in a marathon or a sprint.

What we're clearly in for, and have been for some time, is a long, long siege.

E-Learning text on the keyboard with notepad and pencil. Concept of E-Learning using laptop and mobile devices.

If you're like me, ie, a normal human with feelings, you may be feeling discouraged, alarmed, or appalled about all this right now.

It's only natural to feel that way.

BUT...there is good news for our community of mission-driven, service-oriented online course creators and the good news is:

Online teaching and learning

 are clearly here to stay. 

Learning how to teach impactfully online

 has gone from something many people may have thought might be nice to do "someday",

to something we will all be better off for having already learned how to do well, yesterday.

One of the design principles I teach about in my book,

is the idea of affordances and constraints:

Affordances are those things that a design situation

 makes it easy, convenient, and effective to do.

Constraints are those things that a design situation 

makes it difficult, ineffective, or impossible to do.

The constant and unpredictable nature of the pandemic places constraints on many factors, situations, and activities we've all come to expect and enjoy and consider as normal parts of everyday life. 

There are constraints right now on systems as far reaching as supply chains, in-person meetings, family get togethers, air travel, and all sorts of recreation and fun.

And that's just if we're lucky. 

Many people all over the world are facing severe constraints on things like earning a living, getting enough to eat, or simply staying alive. 

So what does this unprecedented (in our lifetimes, at least) situation,

AFFORD us the opportunity to do especially well?

This is an amazing time

 for long-term, focused, introspection

and creative online work.

Online Learning Services Presentation and Infographics. Close-up shot on LCD screen.


In other words,

 this is the perfect time to

design, develop, and deliver

an online course.

It's not just that the course you've been carrying around in your head for all this time is important for YOU to create. 

Your course may be desperately needed as a path to a more meaningful and focused life, for the people you serve. 

Your course may be the difference your audience is waiting for:  to help them make a living, improve their physical or emotional health, learn new skills, or otherwise improve their lives. 

There's no better time to commit to making it happen, and getting it out there in the world, than NOW.

Inspiration quote - If not now, when?


And the most impactful way to do that is to

commit to your course design process 

by enrolling in the January 2022 cohort of the Course Design Formula® Master Course.

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 18th, 2022) is right for you.

 Spaces are limited so book your call now.

(If you can't find a time slot that works for you on my calendar, 

just send me an email to Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com

with "Master Course" in the subject line).

Join the January 2022 cohort

of the Course Design Formula® Master Course

CLASS STARTS JANUARY 18TH, 2022

Book your enrollment interview now!


We'll resume the Saturday community meetings on January 8th, 2022.

Come join us to talk about how to survive and thrive

with online courses and online business in these challenging times.

2022. 2022 business goals concept illustration. Business team seeking new opportunities. Leadership. Vision. Achievement. Success vector design


Designing your life and work for the year ahead

Kids arranging arrow symbol

It's an interesting time of year as we collectively reflect on 2021 and start envisioning the lives we want to live in 2022.

With so many things out of our control these days, it's more important than ever to focus and be intentional about the things we CAN change,  and the difference we are here to make.

At this time of year, many experts provide helpful guidance in how to do this:

  • Michael Hyatt's LifeScore Assessment helps you identify the areas of life you want to focus on most.
  • Chris Brogan has a process called "My Three Words" that helps you select the three words you want to focus on this coming year.
  • Ryan Deiss, CEO of Digital Marketer and the Scalable Company, is running a "Top to Bottom Challenge" focused on how to scale your business.

Here in our own community, Puzzle Artist Alli Berman graciously shared her "Color Your Gratitude for the New Year" mandala-making activity at last week's Learn and Get Smarter community meeting.

You can learn more about mandalas and how Alli uses them to create focus and intention that brings all the important aspects of our lives together, from this short video.

You can learn more about Alli and her work on her website.

If you're interested in a "Color Your Gratitude" class for yourself or your organization, email her at alli@puzzlearttherapy.com with "GRATITUDE" in the subject line.


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

And.. would you like help doing it?

The fifth cohort of the Course Design Formula® Master Course wrapped up last week...with amazing results.
 
At our final class meeting, I used the Mentimeter app to focus and capture the group's feedback, and saved it in the flipbook you'll find below.

My students have given me permission to share their feedback about what they can now do and how they now feel about creating online courses for their own businesses, as a direct result of participating in the Master Course.

Check out what they have to say in the flipbook below.
(On a computer or tablet, click on the white square in the lower right corner of the blue rectangle, just below the logo, to expand the flipbook to full screen for easier reading. On a phone, use landscape orientation and drag across the book with your fingers to make the pages bigger).

I am so thankful for and proud of my amazing Master Course students, for all their hard work and accomplishments over the past six months.

 I'd love for everyone in this community who feels ready to do so, to experience it for themselves!

The Course Design Formula® Master Course starts 

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

4 PM Pacific/ 7 PM Eastern

January cohort screenshot

Would you like to be part of it?


If you'd like to join the course,

click here 

to schedule an enrollment meeting

and/or 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!

 I'm here to support you in your online teaching journey. 

How do YOU want to change the world in 2022 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

(We meet on December 18th, 2021 and then again on January 8th, 2022).

No meetings on Christmas Day and New Years Day... HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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

Novel Solutions to a Novel Crisis

Person enjoying online group cal from home

What do you do in a totally unprecedented situation, when there are no answers?

One thing you can do when you don't yet have answers is focus on asking more effective questions.

Another thing to do is to reach out to others to create communities and networks that can provide resources, guidance, and support.

None of us has all the answers, but together, we can move closer to asking the right questions.

That's what our Learn and Get Smarter community has been doing for the past several weeks, and our collective efforts have been yielding powerful results.

At last Saturday's Learn and Get Smarter community meeting we put together our work from earlier meetings to set up a cognitive strategies ("learning how to learn") course.

We decided to call the course

"Novel Solutions to a Novel Crisis."

cognitive strategies course screenshot

Individually and collectively, we were impressed with what we came up with as a group, because none of us alone could have created what we all created together.

I want to extend a very special thank you to everyone who has been part of this process. If you haven't been able to participate so far, come next time and contribute your ideas!

At next week's community meeting we will start to plan and develop the media needed to build the course (media such as PDFs, Word Docs,  interactive elearning activities, and PowerPoints.) 

I hope you can join us to add your wisdom, insights, and perspective!

Join us on Saturday

many people online in a conference call

We'll start planning and developing our actual course media!

To develop the course content, we'll draw on the question banks we came up with in previous weeks, relating to attitude adjustments, practical skills, and learning strategies that can help us cope with this unprecedented situation.

  • Attitude questions

  • skills questions

  • Learning questions

What mindset changes do we need to make?

After exploring helpful mindset adjustments we can make, we realized that mindset change is only PART of what we need to focus on. We decided that our course will not be a mindset course, but it may have some mindset change components in it.

trello mindset course screenshot

The process we are using to develop this "crowdsourced" learning experience, differs in important ways from the process you would use to create your own individual course in your own area of expertise.

The pandemic is an area in which none of us has expertise. Even the experts in global health don't yet have the full range of expertise needed to handle such an unprecedented situation effectively. We are all participants in a global learning experience in which the stakes are as high as they can possibly be, for everyone involved.

Learning is always about adapting to one's environment in ways that promote survival. But the stakes are not usually as clear and as stark as they are now.

As experts in our own fields who are interested in developing transformative online courses, the pandemic provides an opportunity to learn about learning itself (and online learning in particular) in ways we have never seen before.

In your own area of expertise, you can use the Course Design Formula® as a set of guidelines to structure your extensive prior knowledge in ways that help people benefit from what you already know.

But when, as in this situation, no one yet has the right expertise, we must instead rely on unguided discovery learning

We are feeling our way in the dark, and finding out where the limits and edges are by running into them. Working together as a community, we can find those edges faster and bring our collective wisdom and energy to bear on a problem that impacts us all.

Join us next Saturday

to continue this journey of exploration!

Designing the different levels of a course

Russian nesting dolls standing in a line

We've talked about the five domains of learning defined by educational researcher and theorist Robert M. Gagné.
Gagné divided learning up into the following major types:

  • Verbal information (declarative knowledge)
  • Attitudes (mindset)
  • Cognitive strategies (learning how to learn)
  • Intellectual skills (how-to)
  • Motor skills (physical movement)

The  Course Design Formula® that I teach in my book and course provides research-based guidance on how to set up a course based on each of these types of learning.

But what if your course contains more than one type of learning?

Many, if not most, courses do.


The way to handle that is to realize that a course has more than one LEVEL, and each level of the course can have its own domain of learning. 

To make this concept easy to visualize, think of those nested wooden dolls where one fits inside the other.

Your course as a whole is the outermost "doll", which holds all the others. So the first thing to do is set up the course as a whole based on its domain of learning. Let's use an example-- an intellectual skills  ("how-to") course about How to Change a Tire.

The next level inside the course is the module level: the large sections or chapters or chunks that hold the lessons. Each module can have its own domain of learning, which might be different from the domain of learning for the course as a whole.  

The first module of our imaginary "How to Change a Tire" course might be called "Things you need" in order to change a tire. At the end of this first module, learners won't yet be able to change a tire. They will be able to state/list/describe the things you need to have in order to be ready to change a tire. So the first module of this how-to course teaches verbal information.

Now let's go inward another level to the lesson level in this module. Let's say the things you need in order to change a tire include several different tools, the right mindset, the ability to read your car's user manual,  and a specific wrist motion. You could create a different lesson inside that first module to teach about each of those things.

The lesson describing the tools would be a verbal information lesson. You  would also have an attitude change lesson, a cognitive strategy lesson teaching how to approach reading a car's user manual, and a motor skills lesson teaching the wrist motion. 

And within each lesson you might have more than one learning object. Learning objects are the individual media items in a course (an individual video, text document, PDF, PowerPoint, etc).

Let's say that in the cognitive strategy lesson about how to read the user manual, you have a text document explaining where to find the manual, a video demonstrating how to find the tire-changing section of the user manual, and a short audio file encouraging learners not to stress about reading the manual. That's three separate learning objects in one lesson, each with its own domain of learning (verbal information, intellectual skills, and attitudes).

Being able to adjust the focus of your design to the course, module, lesson, and learning object level gives you tremendous power and control and flexibility in how to design your course. 

Here are the key concepts to keep in mind:

  • Set up the whole-course level first. That is the outer layer that holds everything else.
  • Then move inward to the module, lesson, and learning object levels, in that order.
  • Design each level based on its OWN domain of learning.

What this means is that you can (as in our example above) have a how-to course with a verbal information module that has a cognitive strategy lesson containing learning objects each with its own domain of learning.

If you are clear and precise about the level you are designing, and always get THAT domain of learning right, your course will fall into place beautifully and just "click".

At our community meeting last Saturday, we used a mindset change (attitudes) format to think about how to adapt to change given the current Coronavirus pandemic. We came up with a lot of very creative and insightful ideas. The question then came up: is this a mindset-change COURSE?

The answer was, no. A mindset change might be an ASPECT or COMPONENT of what is needed in order to adapt to the current situation, but it's not enough in and of itself to be the total answer. We can change our attitudes all we want (and we should), but just doing so will not be enough to cope. We need some practical how-to skills as well... which is what we will be working on for this coming week's community meeting. You can register for the meeting here and help brainstorm what those practical skills might be:

Come join us on Saturday!

many people online in a conference call

We will design an "intellectual skills" ("How-to") course for adapting to change in the face of the current pandemic.

My suspicion is that practical how to skills, while important, are also not the total picture of what is needed to cope with the current situation. If we were, as a community, to create a "course" about how to cope, my best guess is that it would be a cognitive strategy course... learning how to learn how to adapt to these unprecedented circumstances. A mindset change and some practical skills might be PARTS of the strategy, but would not provide the total picture.  

Since we are not experts on this topic, we will use a process of unguided discovery learning to see what we can figure out. We will try the how-to course structure as a way of holding our collective thoughts and ideas.

You may notice that earlier, I said that one should design a course starting from the whole-course level (top down) and THEN fill in the modules and lessons. Yet in our exploration of the current pandemic, we may in fact be designing some of the smaller components of the course first.

That's because in this current crisis, no one on the planet is an expert with complete understanding of how to cope and adapt. This situation throws us all into unguided discovery learning where we are feeling our way in the dark.

We tried the mindset structure to see if it would work to help us think about the problem. It was helpful but we realized it was not the biggest picture. It was not the outermost doll. I think the outermost doll when we get to it will be a cognitive strategy course... and that the mindset and how- to components will be aspects of the strategy needed to learn how to cope.

Come participate in the community meeting on Saturday and let's see where our explorations take us! 


Engaging the senses in online learning

composition of human face and technological elements to serve as background in works on mind, reason, intelligence and imagination

As the world goes through a sudden, enforced global experiment in living online, we've all come face to face with what the online interface can, and can't do well.

The online interface CAN (thankfully) connect us in ways that allow us to interact with each other, conduct many kinds of work, and counteract physical distance with social and emotional closeness.  Thank goodness for all of that!

It's more challenging, though, to get the online interface to give us the rich sensory experience that life in the physical world provides. We can't physically experience taste, smell, or touch through a computer screen. 

But there are things we can do to punch up the sensory richness of online learning activities, to include more of the whole person who is sitting on the other side of the screen.

Plugging more sensory modalities into your online course will help the learning come alive!

Electric plug and power socket as brain organ as symbol of brainstorming, creation, learning process, cognition, perception, success innovation, use your brain

Would you like to learn how to add fun, creative activities to your online course that will make the learning more engaging and interactive for your course participants?  

This Saturday, March 28th, 2020 at 9 AM Pacific/12 Noon Eastern, during our community meeting on Zoom, we'll do a short, fun, interactive exercise that will expand your thinking about the types of activities you can include in your online class.

(I've set the community meeting up as a weekly event for the next several months, but right now we are only talking about the meeting for Saturday, March 28th, 2020 at 9 AM Pacific/12 Noon Eastern.)

Come to the meeting!

many people online in a conference call

Register here to receive the meeting link and password.

In the meantime, if you're eager to get started making your lessons highly motivating and engaging, read chapters 11 and 12 of my book, Course Design Formula: How to Teach Anything to Anyone Online.

Course Design Formula™ Book

We'll also have time at the meeting to discuss any course design issues, challenges, and concerns you are working on.

If there's a topic you'd like to be sure we cover, please email me in advance at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com.

Hope to see you on Saturday.... you can register here!


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.

Tiny House, Huge Impact

A young couple live in a van. She is lying down and reading a book on the bed. He is working on a laptop in the space next to the bed.

In my book, Course Design Formula®: How to Teach Anything to Anyone Online, I use the process of building a house as a metaphor for the process of building a course.

Watching the fascinating series, Tiny House Nation,  on Netflix recently, I realized that building an online course is not just like building ANY house.

Building an online course is, specifically, like building a TINY house.

The reason for that is that the limits of working memory are very small. Working memory is the aspect of cognitive processing needed to take in and learn new information.  

Research (and experience) have shown that we can only hold about 5 to 7 separate things in our minds at the same time. (That's one reason telephone numbers have 7 digits). 

Trying to absorb more than a very limited amount of new information at the same time, quickly becomes overwhelming, causing the learner to tune out and stop learning.

The reason an online course is like a TINY house, is that the limits of working memory are very narrow.

So when designing an online course, it’s important to work within very tight design limitations, because you  have a very small amount of cognitive processing space to work with.

What makes Tiny House Nation so fascinating is the process the builders and craftsmen use to make  very small spaces work so elegantly  for the specific needs of the people who will be living there.

The builders conduct extensive interviews and  create customized structures (such as staircases with built-in storage cabinets, or a butcher block table that transforms into a ladder). The customized structures make use of the small space and enable the home’s occupants to fit  the things that are most important to them into their available living quarters.

The key to living well in a tiny space, is customized LIVING DESIGN.

The key to  creating an effective and engaging online course, is customized LEARNING DESIGN.

Interior of a van that a young couple live in. The shot is focused on the kitchen counter, pull-out drawers, and bed. Ther is wood paneling on the sides and roof.

If you haven't already seen Tiny House Nation, or have missed some episodes, check it out!

Watching host John Weisbarth and design expert Zack Giffin solve seemingly impossible challenges, is awe-inspiring!


Here are just a few of the things they have made work in tiny homes:

  • An indoor rock-climbing wall for kids
  • A grand piano
  • Comfortable sleeping space for six people
  • And much, much more!

Customized course design will help you create effective lessons that stay within the limits of working memory, keeping your course participants actively engaged and learning.

If this idea sounds intriguing, you are welcome to schedule time with me to talk about your specific project goals.

Expert instructional design lets you pack a lot of learning into a little space!

Book your free strategy session

Let's explore the unique design challenges

 your course presents.