Your central purpose for teaching online

The sun coming up behind a nountain

The members of the Learn and Get Smarter community who have been coming together on Saturdays since the pandemic began, have been exploring ways to survive and thrive during these challenging times, especially with respect to how our businesses can adapt. Since we are a group of educators and entrepreneurs, our focus is on how we can provide transformative online courses that meet the needs of the times. 

At the community meeting on Saturday, July 25th, 2020 we started by reflecting on gratitude, which had been the topic we arrived at the week before. In our consideration of systems thinking, we had reached the profound and surprising revelation that gratitude serves as the engine that drives the interconnecting systems that operate at all levels in our lives. 

Community member Alli Berman, interactive artist and creator of the PuzzleArt™ Therapy  system, had shared that she was grateful for the sun. This turned our thoughts toward the sun and its role as the central actor in the solar system, and the driving energy source for all the systems that operate within it: from the rotational paths of the planets to the production of food.

Our group discussion then delved much deeper into the metaphor of the central "sun" as the organizing principle in any system at any scale. 

You  take on the role of the “sun” (the central operator  or driving force) relative to your business and your course.

Energy can’t be created or destroyed, it just changes from one form to another. When you develop an effective and engaging online course, you are creating a learning system that allows you to transfer the energy you've gathered in your life... allows you to share your expertise in a way that produces benefits for others.

When we teach, we are transferring our energy, our store of resources, to those who are here to learn from us. We are passing on that stored energy in a way that has the potential to continue far beyond our own lifetimes.

What are the benefits that your course, as a learning system, will provide? How will  peoples’ lives be better, as a direct result of taking your course? What are the results that your course will produce? And how can you set your course up to accomplish that?

The Course Design Formula® is a course development system whose purpose is to produce online courses that really teach. In transferring an existing course from in person to online, you have to break the whole system and start over.  The Course Design Formula® shows you how to do that in the least disruptive and most effective way possible.

If you instead try to just transfer an existing offline course to the online space by simply digitizing it (without redesigning it first),  the result will not be engaging, effective, or dymamic. The online version won't teach as effectively as the original face to face version, as many are discovering right about now.

But....what does it mean to "really teach"? 

Educational researcher and theorist Robert M. Gagné defines teaching as "arranging a series of events that promote learning".

What is learning and how can we tell it has occurred?

Gagné says that learning has occured when the teacher observes a change in behavior that persists over time.

(For example, you haven't really adopted a mindset change about healthy eating if you stop eating junk food for a day or a week and then start right back up again).

Robert M Gagne tells us that learning is demonstrated by a change in behavior that is persistent over time

So the central purpose of any system can be seen in observing what it produces. An anecdote that illustrates this concept is mentioned in the movie Annie Hall, to the effect that one might not want to tell someone they are crazy for thinking they are a chicken, if one is benefitting from the "eggs". 

The Covid19 pandemic is smashing the "eggs"  (the benefits) that many of our existing systems provide. How do you know when a system is no longer producing benefits and needs to be scrapped? How do know when the "eggs" are turning rotten and are not worth holding onto?

When systems break or stop working, how can we reformulate them in more adaptive ways?

And how does one change a system without causing major chaos and upheaval?

These are all questions that we're seeing played out on all levels of our lives, from the personal to the political, these days.

The pandemic has forced us all to go into a dark, quiet inner space and reflect on how we want to transform ourselves. 

We've been gifted, whether we wanted to be or not, with a long contemplative period to think about what matters and what we can let go of.

How do you want to reinvent the world for yourself, going forward?

In order to be able to rethink and adapt a system due to new conditions (such as the pandemic) you have to go back and reflect on your central “why”: what is the purpose of your system (whether your business, your course, etc)?


As an educator, your job is not to just pour your own light onto others but rather to support and encourage the growth of their  light, helping them to express their own inner purpose.

Systems come and go and change and evolve and die. But the difference that you make for people will always live on.

Get super clear on your central purpose.

What is the transformation you want to bring into the world? 

Existential question What Is Your Why typed on vintage typewriter with copy space.

Getting really clear on your central purpose will help you operate all the systems in your life at their highest and best, and will strengthen you to withstand and overcome unstable circumstances and obstacles that appear in your path.

So to sum up, here's what our unguided discovery learning has led us to appreciate about what works so far:

  • Gratitude
  • Clarity of purpose
  • Service to others

What’s YOUR mission? What’s the central guiding purpose of your business? What’s the overarching transformation you want your online course to deliver? 

Let’s talk about it in the Facebook group... or send me an email to Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com.

At next week's community meeting on Saturday, August 1st, 2020 we will explore methods of gaining deeper insight into ways to express our guiding purpose through online teaching.

We'll have a special in-depth presentation from one of our very insightful community members, who will teach us a method she uses to help us understand more about our own teaching and learning style and those of our students. You won't want to miss this!

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, August 1st, 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.