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Ainslie Hunter

Bloggers Have a Choice: Do Something Awesome

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I’ve been Twitter friends with Ainslie Hunter since…well, I don’t even know when! Soon after BlogWorld 2010 last fall, and I believe it was the lovely Jade Craven who was the mutual link. We became fast friends over our love of Glee, and in a few days, I’m excited to meet Ainslie face-to-face for the first time. Yay!

When BlogWorld started accepting submissions for speaker proposals, I was glad to hear that Ainslie was going to submit one. I personally don’t have any control over which proposals get chosen, but I sent a quick note telling the whole BlogWorld team how much I enjoy her blog’s topic, her proposed session, and her, just as a person.

Ainslie’s proposal was not chosen.

Like I said, I don’t have control over the people who are chosen. Heck, I don’t even see the submissions (and that’s fine with me – what a tough job). I don’t know why Ainslie’s proposal was turned down. Every year, BlogWorld has to turn down amazing speakers. Sometimes there’s another speaker who proposes the same thing but has more experience. Sometimes , the track is filled and the presentation doesn’t really fit in. Sometimes…well, a million reasons could keep a great speaker from being accepted. Ask Deb Ng if you want to know more. It takes to so to pick speakers not just because of the volume of proposals to read but because it’s a hard job to pick between awesome sessions.

Ainslie, upon reading her rejection, had two choices, right? Get mad or get even!

Those are, after all, the choices I’ve seen others take. Some rejected speakers got mad, privately or publicly. I’m not talking “I’m upset that I didn’t make it” or “I’m mad at myself” or even “I think they were wrong.” I’m talking “BLEEPITY BLEEP, BLOGWORLD, YOU BLEEPERS. BLEEEEEEEP!”

Some rejected speakers get even. They use the rejection as motivation to do better, be better, prove us wrong. It’s not really a terrible way to go, but it’s fueled by the same thing – anger.

So instead, I’d like to propose that there’s a third choice. Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Do something awesome.

Ainslie showed me that. When she read her her rejection, she didn’t rant on social media or her blog about how wrong we were. She didn’t go into a product creation frenzy, trying to prove that we  made a bad choice, getting even with us in some way. She did this.

That’s right, Ainslie said, “Oh well, maybe next year” and released all of the information that would have gone on her blog for free for her readers. She’s attending BlogWorld in full force and has continued to support the conference even more than some of the people who were chosen as speakers have.

Now, this is not a post about how I think you should support BlogWorld no matter what, or even how you should be okay with every bad things that happens to you and your blog. You shouldn’t. But you don’t have to get mad. You don’t have to get even. You can turn whatever negativity happened into something awesome.

The ripple effect is that Ainslie has a really cool promotional tool that she can talk about when she meets people in New York. The ripple effect is that the BlogWorld team feels a connection with Ainslie and is sincerely hoping to cross paths with her – and I can’t speak for the rest of the team, but I for one won’t hesitate to recommend her in the future. The ripple effect is that people want to help her because she comes from a place of positivity.

The ripple effect could happen for you too. Again, this isn’t about BlogWorld. What it is about is learning to take the bad things that happen, any bad thing, and make them good. A lot of people think the “get even” option is the good option, but if you’re only creating a product or writing a post or whatever to prove someone wrong, are you really pursuing your passion? Or are you just stroking your ego, protecting your pride? Is what you’re doing coming from a place of good or a place of bad?

We’re all hurt sometimes, and we all get defensive sometimes. Heck, maybe it’s even rightfully so. But when things are out of your hands, when people say no to you or don’t believe in you, nothing you can do will change that. Shed your tears, punch a wall…and then move on. Yes, even if it wasn’t fair. Negativity can eat you up from the inside out if you let it. I should know; I’ve been there.

Do awesome. Be awesome. I know that everyone out there is capable…more than capable… of it.When someone says no to you, when something bad happens, they can’t be any more of a roadblock than you become to yourself. Instead, simply learn from the experience, and keep on keepin’ on. That’s what makes a successful blogger, after all – the willingness to learn and the drive to succeed.

Monetization through Teaching: Ainslie Hunter on Online Course Creation

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Today, I have a little treat for you all. Ainslie Hunter, the mastermind behind Courses That Matter, has agreed to talk with us here at BlogWorld about a topic that might interest you if you’re looking for ways to monetize your blog – online course creation. In my opinion, she’s the undisputed queen of online courses, so I’m really excited to share her tips with you guys and gals! Ainslie and I met on Twitter through our love of Glee and some mutual friends (Jade Craven was likely involved, but let’s be honest – when it comes to networking, when isn’t Jade involved?), and have been friends ever since.

Check out the interview below, and make sure to check out her site, sign up for her free Teachers Lounge newsletter, and follow Ainslie on Twitter @ainsliehunter.

Allison: Thanks for speaking with us, Ainslie! How did you first get started as a blogger and online course creator?

Ainslie: I started blogging in 2009 on a site about Study Skills . It wasn’t a very popular topic but it gave me an opportunity to practice the craft of blogging. From there I became a staff blogger for parent and education sites. Last year I started my second blog with my dad. We write about the sport of cutting horses (http://cuttinghorselink.com)and teach others in the horse industry how to use blogging and social media to promote themselves and their business. And finally early this year I started Courses That Matter – a culmination of my teaching and online education experience.

I created my first online course in 2006 whilst completing a Masters of Online Education. The first online courses I designed were for students, parents and other teachers. I used closed intranet sites, or platforms such as Moodle or Blackboard to create the courses. For the past 6 months I have been creating online courses using email, membership sites and Learnable. I also help other bloggers create their own online courses.

Is it harder to teach online courses than typical in-person courses?

It is definitely harder to teach online. When you teach online you don’t get immediate feedback from your students to know whether your content, instruction or activities are helpful or confusing. As a teacher in front of a class I know straight away whether my explanation or activity is working for my students. You don’t get as an online teacher.

I love your “teach people, not topics” motto! Can you elaborate on that a little?

The motto is everything I stand for as a teacher and a reminder to all that want my help that I will demand the same from then. Teaching is not pontificating about your area of expertise. Teaching is communicating and connecting with your students, at their level.

What are some of the biggest problems you see with current online courses available?

The biggest problem I see with current online courses is a lack of teaching. By that I mean explicit instructions or activities that get their students to use the knowledge or content for their own benefit.

Let’s say I was teaching a course about writing a blog post. Many courses provide great content about headlines, blog post types and even SEO.

But not many courses break the content down into tasks and give explicit instruction on how to achieve all the tasks. “First write 5 headlines…Then write a plan….Then write a post….Now edit it using this checklist….Now check SEO….And now let me offer you some feedback”

I personally find that offering feedback is one of the hardest parts of teaching in any setting. I know it never helps the student to sugar-coat things, but I always worry about coming off as mean even when I’m trying to be constructive. Can you give us some pointers for how to best offer feedback to students of an online course?

Feedback shouldn’t be scary; it is the way we learn. As a child we learnt to walk because of the feedback from the floor. Then as a student we learnt spelling, writing and reading from feedback our teacher’s gave us. Children aren’t afraid of feedback, but adults are. Adults do everything not to get feedback.

So firstly, don’t think that feedback is negative. If you think it is negative, your students will think the same way. Then all you have to do is offer feedback that is constructive. Feedback is not “that is wrong, do it again”. Feedback is stating what went wrong, and offering a suggestion on how to improve the lack of understanding. For example “you have a habit of repeating yourself in your writing. An example is in paragraph 2. To stop yourself doing that I would read your work aloud and circle any passages that sound the same?”

Is teaching an online course right for everyone and every topic?

Let’s start with the second part of the question. I think that if you can write a book about a topic you can write a course about the same topic.

But can anyone be a teacher? The answer is no. Not everyone wants to spend the time connecting with students and doing everything they can to make sure their students understand what they are teaching. Not everyone wants to create activities or offer feedback.

What’s your single best tip for someone developing an online course?

Make sure your course involves lots of doing. Create lots of activities and tasks that your students will need to complete. And make the activities meaningful to your students and their problem. An online course without activities isn’t a course but a text book.

In closing, can you give BlogWorld readers some examples of great courses out there that they should consider?

Ohh, that is simple. Try and spend some time in a classroom. Take an art class or join a gym. Or better yet, head to Blogworld Expo. Watch how teachers explain their passion, connect with students and break down concepts into manageable tasks that everyone can attempt and achieve successfully. Those same principles can be used online; you just need to become more aware of them in real life.

I swear we didn’t pay her for the BlogWorld plug! Thanks again for the awesome info, Ainslie. Readers, remember to check out Courses that Matter to sign up for her newsletter and follow her on Twitter @ainsliehunter.

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