My new friend, Marina

June 7, 2020

I have a new friend. Her name is Marina and she’s from Spain. She’s an online friend, unsurprisingly in the age of COVID-19.

Marina, like me, creates online courses. She serves a Spanish-speaking audience, but her courses cover similar topics as mine do. That means we have lots to talk about.

Recently, I wanted to get Marina’s thoughts on something, so I sent her a voice message on WhatsApp.

“Marina”, I said, “some of my course students say they’ve watched the videos, but haven’t done any of the exercises. What should I do?”

See, sometimes an evil voice in my head thinks, “okay, Mr. or Mrs. Student, how do you expect to get any results if you don’t do the work?” But then a more caring and loving voice comes out that says “let’s reframe that: how can I make it easier for people to do the work?”

Marina has been creating online courses for longer than I have and she has learned a thing or two. Being the good friend that she already is, she sent me back a voice message and told me this:

First, help your students get in the right mindset. Help them to see the resistance that may come up. So I took her advice and created an entire module to do that in my latest course, Big-Picture Productivity. It’s Module 1.

Second, Marina said that she always tells her students that it’s better to do something than to do nothing. Even if you go through one of my courses very slowly, even if you’re doing things imperfectly, you’re still making progress.

Marina also pointed out that it makes sense that people don’t get everything right away. It has taken people like her and myself years to grok what we now teach. Why would we then expect our students to grok everything in two weeks or five weeks or whatever?

(Okay, okay, she said “internalize” rather than “grok”.)

Some people, she said, will do a first pass, watching the videos but skipping the exercises or skipping some lessons. Some people will leave and will come back later. And that’s okay! The important thing is to stay engaged. She’s right—and now I am communicating this to my students, too.

Finally, Marina told me that we course creators cannot take responsibility for our students finishing our courses. We try to make it easy and we’re here to help, but ultimately the responsibility is yours, the student’s.

I am grateful for my new friend’s advice. It makes me feel better. It helps me help you. And, now that I am sharing her wisdom with you, I hope it helps you, too.

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