Tag Archives for " online learning "

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

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Reduce cognitive load to make your course more scalable

Man and woman carrying large orange bar graph

As our forced global experiment in online learning is showing, it’s more challenging to create online learning, and more challenging to learn from it, than is the case with classroom-based learning.

But...why?

The reason is that the online learning interface adds cognitive load to the learning experience.

But again… WHY???

Two factors that add cognitive load to online learning are lack of immediate feedback and reduced social presence.

When the instructor is not in the same physical location as the learner, in real time, it’s harder for the instructor to know when learners are getting lost or confused, and it’s harder for learners to get the help they need.

Crossroad signpost saying this way, that way, the other way concept for lost, confusion or decisions


Another factor that is specific to online learning is the extraneous cognitive load added by the need to NAVIGATE the online interface.

It’s not always clear and obvious to learners where to start, where to click, or what to do next.

And taking the time to make it clear and obvious cuts into learning time and is not the most fun and engaging aspect of online learning and teaching, even though it may be necessary.

In general, it’s important to spell everything, including navigation, out  very clearly and specifically when setting up your online course.

Sometimes the only way to know you have NOT done that enough, is to listen to the tech support calls you get once you launch.

It’s not the most fun part of a launch, but hearing directly from your course participants about where they are getting stuck, lost, confused, or facing challenges, is an important part of the E in the “ADDIE” model of online course design.

 (ADDIE stands for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate).

If you EXPECT to receive this type of feedback and take it in a spirit of discovery about how to continue improving your course, you will compensate for some of the lack of feedback otherwise inherent in online teaching.

So... let’s say you get feedback that students are struggling with course navigation.  A helpful approach is to create upfront guidance on how to navigate every aspect of the course, and make sure to respond to tech support calls as soon as they come in.

Creating a culture of openness to feedback, willingness to make necessary changes, and caring support, is an important aspect of effective teaching...whether online or off.

The thing is, though, that that way of teaching is not scalable.

 It’s doable for 30 students, or maybe even 50, in a cohort. 

It’s NOT manageable (at least, not by a solo edupreneur) for 500 or 1000 students at a time.

Group of experts meeting online

So simplifying course navigation and reducing cognitive load as much as possible 

are critical to making an online course more scalable.

But there’s a catch, because often the things that make a course more engaging, -- such as varying the types of content and including interactive activities -- add to navigational complexity.

A course that’s a series of talking head videos one after the other is very easy to navigate. But it’s also not engaging from a learning point of view. Students can easily go from one video to the next. But there’s not much for them to DO while watching long videos.

But including engaging activities that require a switch from video to PDF downloads to interactive games, adds complexity to the navigation along with adding engagement to the course.

Bulldog trying to get through a cat door


So in other words:

 as a course creator, it’s easy to get stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Sigh.

These dilemmas have business implications, because if you have to be personally available in order to ensure a good learning experience for every learner, then the number of learners you can serve at any one time is limited by your own time, energy, and capacity to address whatever comes up.

As I see it, there are four qualities that an online course business should aim for,  in order to  fulfill the promise of online learning (a promise that many are feeling has NOT been fulfilled, right about now).

Ideally, we want our products and services to be:

  • Service-oriented: helping people make their lives better in some way
  • Serviceable: effectively delivering the promised transformation
  • Sustainable: able to be provided in an ongoing way that does not exhaust time, energy, and resources
  • Scalable: able to be offered to large numbers of people

These factors are CONSTRAINTS…limits or guidelines we must address in order to make an online course business work for both our learners and ourselves.

And the challenge is making all those components work together and stay in balance, all at the same time.

Join the January 2021 cohort

of the Course Design Formula® Master Course

Space is limited.

Enrollment is via private interview only.

Reducing navigational complexity (while maintaining as much engagement and variety within the course as possible) will make a course more scalable.

The challenge is how to do that without also removing engagement and interactivity.

What is the sweet spot where each of the factors is optimized?

My sense is that it’s not necessary to optimize all four factors in the SAME version of a course, as long as we are able to optimize all four factors in our BUSINESS as a whole.

You can offer a high-level mastermind (that is not scalable, but provides tremendous value) to a very small number of select, highly motivated learners.

That course can have a lot of interactivity even at the cost of adding complexity to the navigation,  because you will be available to help shepherd people through.

You can also have a different course, with simpler navigation and little or no personal interaction with you, that is infinitely scalable. 

Chocolate cake with bonbon


 It may not be possible to have our cake (in the form of a highly customized and personal learning experience for our learners) and eat it too (in the form of a highly scalable hands-off online course), all in one course.

 A possible solution is to have multiple courses that serve different purposes for different segments of your target audience.

Two Chocolate Cupcake On A Wooden Board


What are your thoughts? 

Have you grappled with these, or similar, issues in designing your own courses?

Let’s talk about it in the Facebook group,

 or join us at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting to share your thoughts in person.


 Save your spot 

in the January cohort of the Course Design Formula® Master Course

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

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, December 12th,2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Asking the Right Question

Thoughts and options head with arrows

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

It was:

 “How are your customers feeling?

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



Which reminds me: how are YOU feeling?

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

Book with heart love shape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it’s much more than that.

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

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

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

Join the January 2021 cohort

of the Course Design Formula® Master Course

Space is limited.

Enrollment is via private interview only.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Businessman looking at coiled and tangled rope

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

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

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

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


Meanwhile, how are  YOU feeling? 

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

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

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

Let's talk about it!

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Use the Course Design Formula® to customize learning

whimsical illustration of a lightbulb with a brain in it popping out of a box

I developed the Course Design Formula® to help you optimize the way you teach online, in the courses you create.

Learners can also use the formula to enhance the way they learn online, from courses they take.

Why is this important?

Let’s use an analogy from the world of health and medicine. When you go to the doctor, you may be given some kind of medical treatment. But the actual healing work that makes the treatment effective, has to come from you, from inside your own body. The medical treatment provides an outside catalyst or impetus to get the healing process started, but the true work of healing has to come from within.

In order to teach effectively, we have to set up a series of events that, step by step, lead to long term behavior change in the learner. But it’s up to the learner to make the decision to actually TAKE those steps, and implement the changes that demonstrate real learning has taken place.

Decoding and understanding problem, face to face explanation concept

As teachers, we can and should do our best to make our online courses effective, engaging, and fun. The Course Design Formula® will help you do that for the courses you teach.

But even if you’ve created an outstanding course, there’s no way to make it work perfectly for every single learner.

(In situations where complete individual customization is an absolute requirement, one-on-one coaching may serve you and your customer better than a course.)


Let’s say you’ve done a great job of optimizing your course, using the Course Design Formula®:

  • Your course has a single, clearly defined learning goal that takes the learner from Point A to Point B.
  • You’re clear on the domain of learning for the course as a whole.
  • You’ve set  up your module structure  properly to deliver the promised transformation.
  • You've built in motivational factors that appeal to what motivates your target audience.

    Many of your students come to class enthusiastically, do all the work on schedule, and are getting amazing results.

But what about the other students?

What about the ones who aren’t attending class… who signed up and paid for your course, and maybe (or maybe not even) attended a few sessions, and then vanished into cyberspace never to be heard from again, no matter how many email reminders you sent them?

How can you help THEM learn and get smarter using the Course Design Formula®?

It’s hard to impossible to get inside someone else’s head. The very fact that a student is NOT coming to class, or responding to your email, means you have no way beyond pure conjecture (which isn’t very effective) to actually know what their reasons may be, for not participating fully in your course.

You could spend every waking minute creating unlimited customized versions of your course to address the needs of every single learner, but you’d never be able to make it perfect for everyone.

That’s why I adhere to the adage “Done is better than perfect”.

Perfect is not an option. 

Once you've done your best to optimize your course,

the only options you have are done, and not done.

Remember when I said that if completely individualized customization is a requirement, then one-on-one coaching is the solution?  True...but  coaching is not scalable either. From a business model perspective, you as a teacher can only coach for as many hours as you have available. An online course on the other hand can be sold to an unlimited number of students.

That’s good in terms of making money for the course creator, but unless the course is custom-tailored to each student’s learning goals, preferences, and needs, it may not work ideally for the learner.

As an online instructor, if you have a large number of course participants, there's no way you can customize, adjust and adapt the course to each individual student's unique learning needs.

You know who CAN achieve that level of customization though? Each student individually.

The solution is for EACH STUDENT to become their own self-coach, 

customizing their learning journey through your course

(and any other online course they take) in ways that work specifically well for them.

This realization about how to make your course

 both scalable AND highly effective for each individual learner,

marries your business model to best practices for highly effective learning.

Colorful silhouettes of business people with icons suggesting conference, seminar or meeting


Research has shown that learners remember new material better when they are allowed and encouraged to find their OWN unique ways to process it for storage in long-term memory.

You may have experienced for yourself that when you want to be sure to remember something, for example the name of a person you've just met, it helps to relate it to something you already know.

For example, if you meet a new person named Sarah, who happens to look like your friend Sarah from college, mentally strengthening that association will make it easier for you to remember that this new acquaintance's name is Sarah, the next time you meet.

That same association wouldn't work for the colleague standing next to you, though, who didn't know your friend Sarah in college.

Your colleague might use a different method of remembering this new friend's name, such as noticing that you met this new Sarah while standing in front of the Saran Wrap at the supermarket. You and your colleague are each using your OWN method of what Gagné calls "Semantic encoding",  to store and process the information about your new acquaintance's name.

worker searching for something on warehouse shelves


So, the process of taking in new information and processing it for storage in long term memory, is called semantic encoding.

 Imagine a busy warehouse with packages (of new information) being pushed through a narrow doorway (of short term memory) into a tight processing space.

In that tight processing space, each packet of new information needs to be unpacked, sorted, labeled and stored on the right shelf in the vast warehouse of long term memory, so that it can be found and retrieved again when needed.

If you've ever crammed for a test, done well on it, and then promptly forgotten everything you'd learned, you are familiar with what happens when those packets of information don't get properly stored on the long-term memory shelves.

It's possible to do well on a test or otherwise parrot back information, without having truly learned it in the deepest sense of the word.

If you've truly learned something, you can recall and use it later... even much later.

What makes many online courses less effective than they could be, is that not enough attention is paid by either the instructor or the learner, to this process of semantic encoding.

As a learner in an online course, it's not your job to be an expert in how THEIR course is designed. That part is the instructor's job.

But you ARE an expert (the world's FOREMOST expert) on how YOU, personally, learn best.

 No one else. ..including the instructor... knows as much as you do about how you can best take in, process, and store, information.


The instructor may feel their job is done once they've presented the instruction. In our warehouse metaphor, that's equivalent to dropping the information packages off at the warehouse door.

The learner may feel they've done their job once they've gotten the information package through that doorway (into short term memory).

That's equivalent to bringing the package into the intake area of the warehouse, without actually opening the package, seeing what's in it, relating it to everything else that's already in the warehouse, labeling and tagging it for future retrieval, and storing it on a shelf in the long term storage area.


whimsical illustration of a lightbulb with a brain in it popping out of a box

As you can see, there are a lot more steps involved in actually learning something, than just presenting information (on the teacher's part) or superficially taking in information (on the learner's part).

The Course Design Formula® was designed to help course creators optimize the way they teach, to facilitate learning.

The formula can also work to help learners optimize the way they learn, to get more out of any course by creating a customized learning experience tailored to their own unique learning preferences and style.  

We'll explore this topic more in future blog posts. I'm creating a cognitive strategies course (learning how to learn) that each student can use to customize and optimize their own learning in any online course they take.

While you as an instructor can't customize  your course for every single student, you CAN make it easier for every student to optimize their own learning experience as they go through your course.

That's what I'm working on next... creating a way for  course participants to optimize their own learning using the Course Design Formula®.

 I'd love to hear your thoughts, reactions, questions, comments, or concerns.  My goal is to make not only teaching online, but also learning online, a gracious, harmonious and successful experience for everyone through effective learning design.

Now that so much learning, globally, has moved online due to the pandemic, making it a positive and accessible experience for everyone is more important than ever.

Let's continue the conversation in the Facebook group,

 and at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting next Saturday.

I hope you can join in and share your thoughts.

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, October 24th,  2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Ensuring Learner Success

Happy people jumping for joy

How can you ensure learner success in your online course?

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

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

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

  • Learning Design

  • Lesson Clarity

  • Engagement

Learning Design

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

How does one reconcile these two things?

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


Triumphant business people standing in front of rays of light

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

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

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

Silhouettes of people with colorful speech bubbles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do I mean by that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

The Perspectives of 2020

group of people on Zoom

If you think back to New Year's Eve, 2020 (that sweet and innocent time Before the Dawn of Covid), you may remember that the general mood was one of happy expectation.  Individually and collectively, we were hoping for great things from 2020, not least because the number makes us think of having perfect vision and a clear perspective.

Well, be careful what you wish for, as they say.

Now that we're almost halfway through the year, what's clear is that 2020 really IS giving us a new perspective... on just about everything.

Sunglasses on a table, with 20 on one lens and another 20 on the other (as in 20/20 vision)

At the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting last Saturday, we talked about how we can gather data  to look for meaningful patterns in business and society and life.

We discussed how accurate observation of what we see going on around us, and appropriate interpretation of the signals, messages, and lessons implied, can help us forestall problems and avoid crises.

The pandemic is giving us a new perspective by breaking our existing mental schemas-- the patterns we have previously found useful for understanding the world. 

This is a painful thing to go through. We have to let go of comfortable ways of seeing  and doing things, and instead learn to cope with chaos and tolerate complexity in a new reality where the BEST one can hope for is to be able to say, "It's complicated".

At the meeting last week, we talked about  the relationship between taking care of ourselves and taking care of others, at the level of our businesses.

Taking care of our clients and customers can be part of a positive feedback loop that nourishes rather than depletes us.

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The key is to build self-care and rest into our schedules. Although what we do as online educators can't compare with the level of sacrifice being made by front-line workers in hospitals, factories, grocery stores, transit, and emergency services, there is a way in which online educators are on a different kind of front line: 


Online educators are on the front line of helping people learn in the new reality we all face.

 Learning is the process of adapting to one's environment in order to promote survival.

So learning is one of the most important things people can and must do in order to survive and thrive.

At next week's community meeting (on Saturday, May 23rd, 2020) we will explore how one can have a balanced life under these new conditions:

  • Personally, with balance between work and rest
  • Socially, with balance between self and family, one's own needs and community needs
  • Communally, with balance between personal freedom and public good

In a situation where no one has all the answers (and sometimes we feel as if we don't have ANY answers), the important thing, as we've discussed  before, is to ask meaningful questions.  

And once we've asked the important questions,  we can work collaboratively to find answers based on patterns that start to emerge from accurate, meaningful, scientific data.

When we focus on collaboration rather than competition, we recognize that while none of us has THE answer, by co-creating things collaboratively we can allow everyone to contribute their own expertise to find solutions that benefit everyone.

Questions to ask on a community and societal level include:

  • How can we strengthen social capital?
  • How can we make sure everyone has what they need?
  • How can we take care of the very young and the very old?

Questions to ask on a global level include:

  • What is working for people in other countries?
  • What systems can we find globally that we can all learn, from each other?
  • What social structures are working for people (in families, workplaces, and communities) and which are not?

2020 has yanked us all out of our comfort zones and caused us to confront whatever needs strengthening: in ourselves, in our families, in our social and health care and financial systems, our supply chains, and our planet as a whole.

We've been forced to contract into our own spaces, to question everything we do, to ask life-or-death level questions about  going to the grocery store.

If we can tolerate the discomfort of staying outside of our comfort zones long enough to accurately evaluate the data that we are gathering,  the end result will be expanded awareness and improved collaboration and a more sustainable global culture.

So 2020 is giving us the gift of perspective… not an easily won gift.

Through collaboration we can create something that none of us can create on our own. Our role as teachers  is not to have all the answers, but to provide spaces where meaningful questions can be asked and collaborative problem solving can occur.

If we learn to look for the silver lining, while accurately assessing the clouds, the end result can be expanded awareness, improved collaboration, and a more sustainable global culture.

You are invited to contribute your expertise, insight and wisdom at next week's community meeting. I hope to see you there!

Woman struggling to carry a heavy present

Register for the meeting

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 noon Eastern

Many people portrait on a tablet screen