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Finding Our Purpose

Group of experts meeting online

Teaching, at its highest and best, is a soul-focused activity.

To teach effectively is to use your mind to help someone else move their mind from a less conscious point to a more conscious point along a particular path.

To teach effectively online we need to fashion forms, learning objects, and materials, that are capable of transmitting that growth in consciousness to others --  without us having to be physically present in real time.

That already seems like quite a miracle, doesn’t it? And when it works effectively, it really is.

The brisk market for online courses shows how eager people are to learn and grow. That is a wonderful thing. My mission as an educator and entrepreneur  is to ensure that courses effectively rise to the challenge of actually teaching people what they earnestly desire to learn, online.

Structured learning versus Unguided Discovery Learning

The kind of learning that people do in an online course that’s been constructed and built by an expert (like you), is very different from the kind of learning we all do as we find our way through life. 

When finding our way through life there is no carefully constructed path that’s been pre-designed for us by an expert.

We are each building our own path of learning through life, day by day, on the fly, as we go.

People exploring the rainforest

Even when we THINK

 we’re following a carefully constructed path through life, 

it often turns out that our true path

 does not lead where we thought it did.


Consider the poignant saying:

 “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”



When you’re learning from an expert you have every right to expect them to construct an orderly path along which you can proceed step by step, in order to achieve a well-defined learning goal. 


That's a big reason people TAKE online courses, and it's what I teach you how to do in the Course Design Formula® Master Class.


Winding forest walkway

When you’re learning from life however -- especially if you’re learning new things that have never been discovered by anyone before, as many people in the Learn and Get Smarter community are doing -- there is no pre-existing well-defined path.

I was discussing this situation with a wise mentor and she gave some very insightful guidance.

Here's what she said:

“Of course there is no path.

That’s because you are MAKING the path.

You are making a path for others to follow”.

Our Learn and Get Smarter community meeting is a group of advanced experts. What’s fascinating and unusual about this group is that we are experts in many different and seemingly unrelated fields.

In the past months, we’ve had the opportunity to meet weekly and engage in unguided discovery learning about the global pandemic.

There was no other option BUT to engage in unguided discovery learning, because we are all facing a situation about which no one has definitive prior knowledge.

This past Saturday, September 5th, we realized that we had reached a new stage in our collective journey.

When the pandemic started and the group first came together, we were simply trying to get a foothold in this new reality and find our sense of direction.

Our work together over the past several  months has created a strong community and a feeling of guidance and support that we have provided for each other. 

The participation and contributions of each and every community member has been important,  including those who have not  been able to attend in person but have been reading this blog and sharing their thoughts via email or in the Facebook group.

At the September 5th meeting, community member  Matt Champlin graciously shared  a very interesting technique that he’s learned in his work as a product engineer, cartoon artist, and creative expert. The technique is called the Lightning Decision Jam.

Matt introduced us to the technique, and we explored the possibility of using a digital tool such as Miro to create a group brainstorming experience.

Under Matt’s direction and guidance, we will continue this activity next week.

 If you’d like to join us next Saturday(I hope you will!) you might want to get a free Miro account and practice using it,  in preparation for participation in next week’s meeting.

The question that we decided to explore next Saturday is: 

What is the purpose of this group?

It may be helpful in preparation to reflect on how you would answer that question, and come prepared to write down three things that you feel the group purpose should embody.

I hope that you can join us next Saturday, September 12th, 2020, and  participate in what promises to be a fascinating online group learning experience. Heartfelt thanks go out to Matt Champlin for sharing his expertise on behalf of the group!

Come learn an interesting digital problem-solving technique and explore how we can use our collective expertise to fulfill our highest purpose as educators and entrepreneurs.


Come talk about it at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, September 12th or  in the Facebook group!

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, September 12th,  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!

Developing strategies to learn how to survive and thrive

A group of people helping each other survive and thrive

At our community meeting last week, we used the structure of a "how to" course to think about how to survive and thrive under conditions of extreme uncertainty, specifically, the current conditions due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

We decided that the "target audience" for the course we are creating together, will be us, ourselves... this Learn and Get Smarter community of experts and entrepreneurs who are focused on creating quality online courses.

Since we are designing the course for ourselves, we will be able to test its usefulness to us, once we have it developed.

At next week's meeting (on Saturday, April 18th, at 9 AM Pacific/ 12 noon Eastern) we will put the work we've done over the past two weeks together, to create a cognitive strategy course.  The learning goal for the course will be to help us think about what we need to learn (and how best to learn it) in order to cope with the current pandemic on all levels of our lives and society.

We decided to focus on using Maslow's hierarchy of needs as an organizing framework for thinking about how to survive and thrive at each level.

If you have my book, you can read about how to structure a cognitive strategy course on pages 156-157 of the paperback.

During the meeting, we will use the work we've done over the past several weeks, to figure out what the cognitive strategy (or strategies) should be. We've looked at both mindset changes and practical skills that will be helpful.... now it's time to put this all together in an effective and engaging way.

Come join us next Saturday!

many people online in a conference call

We will design a

 cognitive strategy ("learning how to learn") course

for adapting to change

 in the face of the current pandemic.

As these meetings evolve, my goal is to help you understand the different types of course design structures you can use to support different types of learning.

As a community, we are gaining hands-on practice and experience in building something new together, from the ground up.

When you design a course in your own area of expertise, you are, by definition, an expert.

The Course Design Formula® can help you overcome the "expert blind spot" that makes it hard for experts to see what non-experts (your future course participants) must understand in order to benefit from participating in your course.

During our Saturday community meetings, we are using aspects of the Course Design Formula® in a different way, though. 

In this case, we are dealing with a situation where no one in the world yet has the expertise fully needed to deal with a novel and unprecedented situation. We are living in what I refer to as the "fractal zone"...an area of swirling chaos and uncertainty, that is part and parcel of chaos theory.

In fact, chaos theory may be a useful organizing principle to help us think about these chaotic conditions and uncertain times.

Abstract Living Coral Reef Colorful Sea Swirl Spiral Pattern Trendy Colors Bright Pastel Orange Teal Light Blue Fractal Fine Art Nautilus Sea Shell

This Saturday, we will work on developing cognitive strategies for dealing with the uncertainty and risk inherent in chaos. Our goal is to optimize our own and each others' abilities to survive and thrive in unpredictable complex conditions.

Come join in the conversation and share in the synergy!