The Evolution of Online Teaching: Introducing Kim Shivler

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I’m beyond excited to introduce you to Kim Shivler!

The first time I met Kim, she was speaking to a few hundred people in Las Vegas about how to launch a successful online course.

Since then, I’ve gotten the online education bug myself, and Kim’s materials and advice have been absolutely vital.

No matter what kind of learning management system (LMS) you pick, Kim seems to cover it.

She also talks about the business aspects of online courses, the technical skills required to build them, how to create engaging course content, how to avoid overwhelm…

You know, basically everything you need to know.

Plus, the stuff you didn’t know you need to know.

Kim Shivler and

Thank goodness Calculus is both difficult and unexciting.

[That’s explained in the interview below…]

If you’ve ever thought about sharing your expertise through online training, you need to do 2 things right now:

  1. Bookmark Kim’s site and set aside some time to get educated
  2. Read Kim’s answers below…and probably take notes

How do you choose the right LMS for you? That’s covered.

What kind of equipment do you need for recording audio or video? That’s covered, too.

Even if you didn’t want to build an online course before, take a look through How To Build an Online Course and you’ll be so inspired, you’ll want to teach people everything you know.

For those of you who aren’t planning on going to e-course route, though, keep an eye out for to go live.

I have a feeling there will be a lot more valuable information there, too…

I’ve seen Kim teach in person, and if you ever get that opportunity, you should jump on it.

Meanwhile, even her interview is packed with loads of useful information!

Did I mention that she’s incredible?

An Interview with the Magnificent Kim Shivler

How did you become an online teacher?

I actually started my career as a high school English teacher in the 1980s. I was an English major planning on teaching for a short while, then going to law school.

I call myself an accidental technologist, because in college (around 1983) I found out I could take computer programming as a math credit. I was willing to do anything to get out of Calculus. Although I was more of a hack than a good programmer, I fell in love with tech, particularly the applications that were just coming out like word-processors, spreadsheets, and databases for desktop computers.

After I received my Master of Education degree, I taught school and was always using applications plus writing grading programs and other tools to help me teach. In the early 1990s when corporate America put desktop computers on everyone’s desks, I was perfectly positioned. I knew the technology and how to teach it, so I went to work as a technical trainer and became a system administrator and database administrator.

At that time, Prodigy and CompuServe were still available and AOL was still mainly just for gaming and email, so we weren’t doing internet training. I worked on some CBT (computer based training) applications that ran over local networks, but not online.

In 1995, I started hand-coding HTML on UNIX systems as a way to write help files for my users. I then launched my first web development company in 1996. During this time, I created my first online courses. They were simple HTML pages linked together manually with quizzes programmed using CGI scripts. Remember, these were still the days when many people were on dial-up modems.

Though I created a few online courses early on, my career was focused on more live training, technical writing, and support for many years.

I left technology (as a primary career, anyway) for several years and worked in the skincare industry. During this time, I did live training and was creating and running Drupal membership sites for skincare professionals. From 2006-2008, these membership sites included elements of online training within the memberships. I did not have access to the Learning Management Systems that I have today, in my WordPress installations.

In 2012, I found WordPress, and because of requests from those around me, returned to technical training – both live and online. It was during this rebirth of my career that I started incorporating more business strategy training into my programs, because my customers aren’t looking to build websites and online training courses for fun. They are doing it to improve their businesses.

What do you think about platforms like Udemy and Teachable compared to hosting online courses on your own website?

There are pros and cons to each. Managing it all on your own website means you have the power to do whatever you want. You own the platform. Obviously, that’s a huge advantage. As I say when I teach learning platforms, I create my own platform, membership area, forums etc… because I want the party to be at my house. If you’re using things like Facebook groups:

1) you don’t have control of your platform. They can change the rules at any time, and

2) particularly on Facebook, people are very apt to be distracted by other posts. “Look Mary posted another picture of her cat.”

Having said the huge advantage of your own platform, though, it comes with more overhead. You have to either configure it yourself, or pay someone to. It may include premium plugins when we are discussing WordPress, and of course, as with any WordPress site, there is ongoing maintenance and updates.

How do you decide which configuration is best?

I think that it’s important for people to start with their requirements and figure out which platform works best for them. This is why I provide planning guides, planning consulting services, and teach more than one option.

You might also want to consider the size of your current audience and your marketing capabilities. One of my students did not want to build a platform, so he built his course in Thinkific. This is my favorite of the 3rd party hosted platforms. In his case, he chose not to create his own site to advertise the course. Instead, he partnered with someone who has a much larger audience. The course is advertised as part of this network, and they split the profits.

Do you find it challenging to teach effectively in an online course? What sort of things do you do to get your point across and create an educational experience?

Teaching online is definitely different from live delivery. I frequently explain this when I teach. If I’m live, I can look at people’s faces and tell who is not getting it no matter how much they might be nodding their head in agreement. Online, you have to make sure you can reach everyone because you aren’t there to gauge their responses.

There are several keys to making sure your online course is successful:

  • Break it down into very small steps.

  • Include interactions like quizzes, email support, or forum support to help make sure students are learning what you are trying to teach.

  • Make sure you have assignments that force them to do the tasks you are teaching. We never really learn anything we haven’t done.

If someone wanted to create an online course to share their knowledge and make a profit, where should they start?

Start with making sure you have a clear understanding of your business.

  1. Who is your target customer?
  2. What do you want to teach them?
  3. What is the size of your current audience?
  4. What inspires you to believe your current topic is one that your audience needs, and one that they realize they need right now?

Once you have that knowledge, decide how to test the validity of your assumptions. I’m a big believer in pre-selling. You don’t want to build a course and have no one come.

In one of my podcast interviews at, Dave Mooring, who is a successful online and offline trainer, shares how he created a course that his audience didn’t need and opened to 0 attendees. He shared great advice about making sure you reach the audience’s needs at the time of your course. Now, when he launches a course, he has students attending.

What’s next on the horizon? What are you working on now?

My key is that I see teaching, and all the variety of ways that we can teach others, as bigger than just business. It can create deep connections between us, and I have a passion to share this message.

I started sharing this message by taking my online training teaching and showing entrepreneurs how to use the courses they create to establish their expertise in order to make sales easier.

During this time, I have realized teaching isn’t what I do. It’s who I am. I have always been part teacher, coach, and a huge encourager of others. I have now stepped out into full motivational speaking as I present my message – that we should all teach others, and share what we know, to make the world a better place.

If you’re interested in more, keep an eye on which will launch later this year to show the multi-faceted projects I’m creating.

What’s the best thing about building an online business?

Anyone can do it, and personally I believe everyone should. There was a time when building a business took significant amounts of money. With the internet, you can create a part-time online business with less than $100.

I don’t believe in get rich quick schemes, which unfortunately are common on the internet, but the truth is that you can build a business and begin making income online. You can do this at almost any age, and in almost any circumstance. The value of this process goes beyond the added income. It can be a wonderful learning experience, can lead to personal discovery, and allows you to grow your connections with others.

Make sure you find the right teachers and coaches who can help you cut through the hype, and find the right opportunity for building and maximizing your business, then get started. Nothing happens until you take action.

Kim, I think it should be pointed out that you, I, and Kenny Eliason (from yesterday’s interview) abandoned law school to eventually pursue online careers. There’s probably some kind of wisdom behind this trend, but I’m not sure what it is yet.

Perhaps I’ll start asking everyone in future interviews whether or not they considered law school.

Thanks again and again for sharing so much wisdom and advice in this interview, Kim! Your answers can only be described as profound. I’m excited for the launch of, and I’ll be all over your websites during the release of my own upcoming courses!

If you’d like to get in touch with Kim, you can find her live and self-paced courses on her website,

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