Teaching and learning online takes true grit

My intention for How to Teach Online is to become better at my craft by creating artifacts, facilitating the flow of learning, making connections, and by listening and reading deeply. My intention is to create harmony, cooperation, sharing and a deep respect for learning as a community.

My intention is the quality of consciousness I bring when I’m immersed in different learning activities. I will work to align my intention with what I say, what I do, and how I behave. My intention is the cause. What I do is the effect. The gap between the two is my learning path.  When I begin to align my intentions with my path I begin to realize my authentic self.  My intention is to create authentic power.

If your real intention is to create harmony instead of discord, cooperation instead of competition, sharing instead of hoarding, and reverence for life instead of exploitation, act on it, because it is an intention of love and can create only healthy and wholesome consequences. When you do this, you are creating authentic power (Gary Zukav).

One important issue is the ability to move from a fixed to a growth mindset about learning. When we put the emphasis of learning on hard work and tapping into our passions, we become more open to taking risks, facing challenges, finding solutions and enjoying the process of learning.


Another important issue is online self-awareness. Online communication is often interpreted incorrectly. Misunderstandings lead to problems. When we are self aware we can manage our emotions and compassionately work with other peoples emotions. When we look at ourselves first and identify the emotional patterns and tendencies that keep us from being kind and compassionate and understanding, our emotions no longer control us, and we can find meaningful solutions. Vicki Zakrzewski  adds,

So unless we were lucky enough to have socially and emotionally competent teachers or parents growing up, our explicit training in the development of empathy, compassion, gratitude, and other social-emotional skills was nil.For teachers, these skills are imperative not only for their personal well-being but to improve student learning.  According to Patricia Jennings and Mark Greenberg, leading scientists in the field of social-emotional learning, teachers who possess social-emotional competencies (SEC) are less likely to experience burnout because they’re able to work more effectively with challenging students—one of the main causes of burnout.

When we are able to develop our own self awareness we help our learners through our action.

A final issue is the development of self directed learning in the online environment. Self directed learners need to have passion and perseverance to achieve their goals. Angela Duckworth sees achievement as the product of skill and effort (Achievement = Skill x Effort) and she calls this grit,

Distance [is] an apt metaphor for achievement. What is achievement, after all, but an advance from a starting point to a goal? The farther the goal from the starting point, the greater the achievement. Just as distance is the multiplicative product of speed and time, it seems plausible that, holding opportunity constant, achievement is the multiplicative product of skill and effort…

Learning online isn’t about just putting in any kind of effort (often based on old beliefs) that will help us build the right skills and lead to a high level of learning.  Learning new skills comes from training and practice more than natural ability. Successful learners who rise to greatness tend to have three things in common:

1. They both practice and rest deliberately over time;
2. Their practice is fueled by passion and intrinsic interest; and
3. They wrestle adversity into success.

These three things together are the very essence of “grit.” Self directed learning takes “true grit”.

I would like to see community develop among participants by learning together.  We learn best when we learn together. Seth Godin, in his latest blog post explains,

Learning together serves a crucial function… it makes learning happen. The dropout rate of massive online courses is higher than 97%. It’s easy to be exposed to education, but actually quite a challenge to learn. Access to education isn’t sufficient… something else is going on. I think it’s important for many of us to step up and lead and organize and teach.

In the blog post, Q&A: Tribes and the reality of worldview, Godin hits the mark on the type of community I hope we will create.

The goal isn’t to find people who have already decided that they urgently want to go where you are going. The goal is to find a community of people that desire to be in sync and who have a bias in favor of the action you want them to take.

I look forward to building a learning community and creating experiences that members already want to have.



3 thoughts on “Teaching and learning online takes true grit

  1. This is a beautifully written post, with quotes, added video and true depth and breadth for your subject. I can feel how inspired you are for the ingenuity of MOOC to enable new pathways for learning for the personal, community, tribal and global spheres. Thank you !


  2. Particularly interested in self-directed learning/autonomy in connection with online learning and really like the three things you listed, Greg, that make up grit – let’s see if we’ve got them too! Looking forward to resting deliberately at the weekend 😉


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