Back-to-School School with Amanda and Chris

Back-to-School School with Amanda and Chris

This week I have a chance to sit down with two prominent educators in home performance, Amanda Hatherly of Energy Smart Academy, and Chris Dorsi of the Montana Weatherization Training Center. In each video interview, though we have plenty of other things to discuss, my goal is to go a little deeper on the art of education. What if some of our online activities (for want of other safe ways to hang out) were spent upping our teaching games? In our conversations, we learn a bit about what it really takes to produce slam-dunk materials in this climate.

Have you checked out the Association’s Back to Work COVID-19 Resource GuideBPA has sifted through the mountains of documents and ever-changing information to curate a wealth of resources for its members. As it states, “The webinars we have included were developed for a particular state/utility program, but also offer useful guidance and best practices for all of us.” This editor took (and aced, thank you!) the four-hour course provided by Energy Smart Academy, COVID-19 Workplace Safety 

If/when you attended the online course, you may have noticed that it is well-organized, factual, fun, and educational.

“Description [from the write up in BPA’s Guidance site]

  • Extremely comprehensive four-hour, self-guided online training.
  • Divided into short 3-4 minute modules with quizzes, FAQs, downloadable transcriptions and checklists.
  • Provides recommendations for the weatherization assistance program (WAP) as well as other home performance companies.
  • Clear statement that state and local rules and regulations supersede these recommendations."


This course, developed by Amanda Hatherly of Energy Smart Academy, along with an OSHA advisor and a few others, makes the information clear via a program of frequent quizzes, short videos, and concise language that is itself as tidy as the information presented. I ask her how to do it, and her answer won’t fit in a weekend course, sadly, as she took a Master’s Degree to build this skill, however, you can strengthen your skills at producing such content by reverse-engineering this course. It’s all there.

Our videotaped interview is coming soon, as well as one I did yesterday with Chris Dorsi, founder of HabitatX, author and long-time educator, who now has an office on the campus of Montana State University in Bozeman, and along with his staff and the use of the schools multi-media department is great content that we can all enjoy without a student ID card. That conversation dives into education as well.


At your fingertips right now, if you attended BPA’s National Virtual Conference 2020 is a course I’m in the middle of taking, offered by Kelly Cutchin & Kristen Ferguson (currently in the same Master’s program Amanda was in), and Anna Sullivan.

You can get to that rich content the same way you access the goldmine of presentations from the Conference:

  • Log in to your Member Engagement Center at BPA,
  • Click the Membership menu item & scroll to Member Login,
  • Under the Quick Links menu item, scroll to BPA Learning Library,
  • In the Classroom Search dialog box, type Designing Engaging Online Training.

This is a world-class workshop, with course materials, engaging assignments, and reference to more instruction. The Live Q and A from that session is here as well. You’re welcome! Enjoy!


Have you taken the course and still have questions, have feedback, have on-the-job experience implementing these safety measures? What has it been like?  Please share in the comments.

Are you an educator jumping aboard the Zoom school and CANVAS bandwagon and collecting the pieces of gear you’ll need? What would you like to know about presentation software, lighting tools, editing skills? What resources do you have to share?

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  • Leslie, I'm planning some interviews with industry experts and am interested in your tips on presentation software and editing. What are your recommendations? I'm especially interested in conversations with two experts and how to best show them in short videos.

    • Hi Diane, thanks for your comment. These are recorded Zoom meetings. What's cool is you are sent both your sound and the guests' sound separately (and blended). 

      Makes editing nice. I'm also recording my own sound locally in Garageband so I have more control of the quality, but that's not necessary.

      One great tip from Bob Krell (who can give you a lot more advice than I can): There are decent, inexpensive ($40) USB mic-headsets that will do a good job recording and they are getting better and chaper!

      And another Bob tip: Put everyone's webcams a few inches above their eyes, so you are not filming up peoples' noses!
      Having a "ring light" or other good light source in front of the speaker is also essential.

      I find the most important peices of a good video happen before it is recorded (getting good light and sound) because those are hard to fix in the editor.
      I do the editing in Adobe Premier Pro. Do you know what you will be using?

      In Amanda's interview—mentioned in this blog—we will talk about a bit about Presentation Software ...Stay tuned!

      Best of luck, Diane!


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