Don’t avoid implementation of what you’ve taught in your online course

Welcome to the “What NOT to Do When Offering a Course in an Online Community!”  In this article, we’ll cover a problem that is easily overlooked in an online community:
Don’t avoid implementation of what you’ve taught in your online course.
There is a joke in colleges and universities that may have a strong undertone of truth: “Those who can’t . . . teach.”  In simple terms, there are a lot of instructors out there who can talk about a subject, but are unable to implement what they’ve taught in a real situation.  In turn, they don’t show their students how to do what they teach in practical life.
I’m not picking on someone who is simply unable to do the work.  This includes those who have special needs, or are facing a debilitating health situation.  That’s not where we’re going with this subject.  No, I’m talking about someone who tells students to do something, and then avoids the application of what is being taught.
For example, I have heard real estate expert “gurus” recommend particular strategies which were supposed to be easy to do and readily available around the US.  I specifically remember hearing about the idea of purchasing foreclosed homes at the county courthouse steps from a handful of real estate teachers.  They said there were great homes being auctioned once a month and this was a “can’t miss” opportunity.  It’s not worth getting into the details of what was actually happening “on the steps,” but let me say there were a lot of people showing up and they didn’t have a clue on what to do.  These new “buyers” were overpaying for properties they really had no business purchasing in the first place, and then they were getting stuck when it was time to complete the purchase.  In other words, the professionals who were actively involved in these auctions – the county court employees, the county recorders and assessors, and even the “regular” purchasers of these properties – were getting really frustrated as hundreds of people were showing up and messing up the process.
I ended up talking to a couple of these “gurus” in a private setting about the whole “courthouse steps” purchasing opportunities.  What they admitted was that they hadn’t purchased anything on the courthouse steps, and had no intention to do so.  But they were more than willing to teach strategies which were shared with them, simply because they sounded good.  The unfortunate situation was that the “gurus” were taking the word of others without checking it all out themselves.  Eventually the “gurus” lost credibility and even some business because aspiring real estate investors were led into situations where they lost a lot of money because the information they were given wasn’t very good.  This was a failure on so many levels to the point that I am still surprised that no one was actually served with a lawsuit.
Instead, make it a point to be able to do what you teach.  Show your students how what you are teaching actually works.  Give them testimonials and real-life stories, including from people you trust.  It doesn’t mean that you have to do the work all of the time.  But it does mean that you actually can say with all honesty that you’ve done the work and you’ve figured out how to do it with excellence.
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