Tag Archives for " online courses "

Thankfulness through the lens of learning

Thank You note text on a sticky note placed on a keyboard.

Learning means adapting our behavior in ways that promote survival.

This past year has been a massive, forced, global learning experience of the most profound, and often heart-wrenching kind.

Our literal survival on a personal and societal level has been and continues to be at stake.

It’s amazing that in the swirling maelstrom of chaos we’ve all been exposed to, teaching online has emerged as one of the most positive and helpful things we can do.

Giving thanks with pumpkin assortment still life and thankful message


Being able to help the people we care about and are here to serve, learn and get smarter in ways that make life better for them, is a tremendous blessing. Being able to do meaningful work in ways that don’t endanger our own health or that of our learners, is wonderful.

The pandemic has pushed online learning as a global communal experience, forward exponentially.

People are exploring new and creative ways to connect, learn, create and grow using online platforms and media.

 It’s also exposed challenges, weaknesses and drawbacks of those systems…from physical problems caused by too much sitting, to the social and emotional ravages of isolation and loneliness.

What is your role in all of this? What do you personally and specifically want to teach online, and how will that make the world a better place?

As you start thinking ahead to 2021 (YES!), what are your goals to uplevel your online teaching practice?

If you want to be a transformational global educator who truly makes a difference in peoples’ lives, I invite you to consider joining the January 2021 cohort of the Course Design Formula® Master Course.

Admission is by private interview -- so if you’re interested, connect with me now to schedule a time to talk.

Join the January 2021 cohort

of the Course Design Formula® Master Course

Space is limited.

Enrollment is via private interview only.

My mission is to support you in YOUR mission of helping people survive and thrive by teaching online. My goal is to make online learning the most dynamic, engaging, interactive experience it can be… taking the whole person on the other side of the computer or phone screen, into account. My goal is to help you get your expertise out of your head and into the world where it can help people improve their lives and also help you improve yours through safe, meaningful, and rewarding work.

Photo of two generations males drinking coffee near fire in nature


We’re all in this together, learning and growing as a global community. 

Not everything we try works out. Sometimes we run into walls, come to a dead end, have to pivot.

 It hurts and it’s hard. This past week I’ve spoken with several entrepreneurs who are succeeding brilliantly at teaching online…they have eager students and are earning good money.

 But this comes at the price of working 14 hour days seven days a week, which is neither balanced nor sustainable.

 I haven’t solved this problem, I have it too. I’ve been working 18 hour days without a break for the past 12 years, and it’s an honor and a privilege to do it… but we all need rest and balance in our lives if we are going to make online teaching work effectively in the long run.

So the first thing I will ask you is: what are you planning and building into your life, to get some rest and some time away from the screen, over the holidays? 

I know that’s easier said than done when our main way of connecting with loved ones involves MORE online meetings.

And those are important.

But take some time this week to connect with nature, and your own inner self, as well.  

Take some time to reflect on this mind-boggling year in the history of the world, and what it has meant for you.

Falling Autumn leaves before sunset


What have you learned this year that has helped you survive and thrive? 

The most important thing I’ve learned is the power of connection, the power of community.

The most amazing process I’ve observed, through the Learn and Get Smarter community meetings, in the  Course Design Formula® Master Course, and elsewhere, is the synergy that happens when mission-driven, service oriented experts who have spent their whole lives developing their unique expertise, come together in the service of a common cause.

Shift Key

My job is to be the stone in the Stone Soup.. the catalyst that inspires and encourages everyone to contribute what they can to a group endeavor that becomes much more than the sum of its parts.

In the community meeting over the past six months, we have learned about:

  • systems thinking
  • how to deal with chaos and complexity
  • human motivation and behavior
  •  how to improve memory and concentration
  • how to uplevel our online presence
  • and of course, how to teach anything to anyone online.

We learned that gratitude is the most important driver of success in powering our online learning programs.

Through it all, the thing that has been most sustaining is knowing that there is a group of people who truly care about each other, who provide each other with wise guidance under difficult conditions, and who have each other’s back.

I want to take this moment to express my profound thanks to my students, mentors, colleagues, and peers, and to everyone who has attended the Master Course and  the Learn and Get Smarter community meetings, and to invite you to join us if you haven’t already.



Come to the community meeting

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

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

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!