#075: Autism & ABA Online Training – Interview with Emaley

aba online training

When I first met Emaley McCulloch in person, I couldn’t believe that she was only thirty years old. She’d already started her company Autism Training Solutions, which provides ABA online training programs, and was a leader in the online education space for the autism community. Emaley “fell” into autism when she was in high school, where she trained as an in-home therapist. By the time she graduated from high school, she’d already had nearly three years of experience under her belt.

After graduating from college, Emaley moved to Hawaii to start a school for children with autism. Soon she found herself going back and forth from Tokyo to Honolulu, training different groups of people about ABA therapy. She found that she was presenting the same kind of information over and over again, but it lacked the follow-up that she felt it needed.

I had experienced the same sort of dilemma. Traveling and speaking about ABA therapy wasn’t letting me reach the number of individuals I knew I could be helping. So when Emaley and her business partner reached out to me to collaborate in their online education venture, I was thrilled. I believed in the power of online training; there are more children with autism than there are professionals who can meet the needs of people that need to be trained effectively, and I wanted to help fix that imbalance.

Online learning is a lot of time and effort up front, but over the long run, it is incredibly cost effective. Of course, you can’t just throw up a video and talk at your audience. Emaley and I talk about some of the ways we’ve integrated online learning with hands-on learning, and we discuss the many ways ABA online training can increase learning retention.

Technology can be a powerful tool to teach, to connect, and to help children reach their fullest potential. Using all of the tools we have at our disposal will help us strengthen the autism community wherever they may live in the world.


Emaley McCulloch co-founded Autism Training Solutions (ATS), an online learning company, in 2010 which has trained hundreds of thousands of professionals and parents around the globe in evidence-based autism interventions. ATS was acquired by Relias in 2014 and after serving as the VP of Research for years, Emaley is currently the Vice President of Clinical Products at Motivity Systems. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and holds an MA in Special Education. She has over 20 years experience in the field of autism and ABA and has provided and overseen services to hundreds of individuals between the ages of 18 months to 24 years in homes, schools and clinical settings. For eight years, she served as a consultant and Clinical Supervisor at agencies based in Hawaii and Japan where she trained groups of professionals and parents.


  • Why stories increase the learning retention rate for students.
  • The benefits and drawbacks of online learning for adults.
  • A real-life example of how Emaley uses online learning to train and teach caretakers.
  • How online ABA learning can help train more professionals to meet the needs of the autism community.

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Transcript for Podcast Episode: 075
Autism and ABA Online Therapy — Interview with Emaley McCulloch
Hosted by: Dr. Mary Barbera

Mary: You're listening to the Turn Autism Around podcast, episode number seventy-five. And today I have a special guest who I will introduce in a second. We are going to talk all about the power and the research behind online training. Before I get to introducing my friend Emaley McCulloch, I wanted to give a listener shout out to Katie Cat, who left a five-star rating a review on Apple podcast. She said, As a parent of two autistic kids, I find Mary's Turn Autism Around podcast to be very inspirational. The podcast has given me info that is not often talked about, such as legal issues with autism and possible causes of nighttime urinating. As a BCBA, I'm given reminders of going back to the roots of baby cautioning of pitfalls with professionals and best practices. BCBA's who work alone can get isolated and into routines. Mary has helped me to step outside of my comfort zone and grow as a parent and professional, and she said I can't wait to start the verbal behavior bundle online courses.

Mary: Thanks for keeping us all up to date and informed. It's evident that your passion is to help improve the quality of life for autistic individuals and their parents. Thank you so much for that great review. Katie Cat. And if you have if you're listening and you haven't given a five star rating and review, I would love it if you do that. If you've enjoyed the episodes, it helps me reach more people. So now let's get on to my introduction of Emaley McCulloch. I've known her for over a decade and she is the co-founder of Autism Training Solutions, which was then acquired by Relias Training. Those professionals listening will probably recognize Autism Training solutions and Relias as being the leaders in the beginning of online training in the world of the ACA. So Emaley has herself published research on the online training world within the online training world, and she talks all about that and gives us some really good ideas on some of the benefits and pitfalls about online training. So let's get to this special interview with Emaley McCulloch.

Mary: OK. So I am so excited to have my good friend Emaley McCulloch here. Thanks for joining us,Emaley.

Emaley: Hi. Thanks, Mary. Thanks for inviting me.

Mary: Yeah. So I always start with the same question. Describe your fall into the autism world. And I do remember you telling me how you fell into the autism world and it's quite fascinating. So why don't you tell our listeners?

Emaley: Well, I was really lucky to know when I was young that I wanted to work with kids, especially in this field of child psychology. So when I was in high school, which was in the mid-nineties, I happened to read a book about a child with autism and just fascinated me. And so when I saw a flyer where for parents support group looking for volunteers, I called them up and asked if I could come to the support group and volunteer. And so through that, I met some parents that were starting this new therapy that they were trying, which was Lobos therapy. I guess that's what they called it then. And so they wanted me to come and help with their kids during this this workshop. So I got to attend a Lobo's workshop when I was 15 years old.

Emaley: Then through that, they actually wanted they actually hired me as an in-home therapist. So I was really lucky to be able to start working and getting trained and discrete trial training and a B.A. at a really young age. And then by the time I graduated from high school, I had worked with three different families and I was trained through the Lobos Institute and also through Autism Partnership. So when I left high school, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I loved it. I loved to see just the growth that the families could see in their kids and see the kids say their first words. And I was hooked, completely hooked. And it wasn't it was the children with autism that drew me to the field, but it was the science that got me hooked.

Mary: Wow, that's great. So you went on to become a BC ABA and then a BCBA, eventually. And when you were a BCABA back, I think it was. I'm not sure exactly the year that you and I met, but it was because you and your friend and my friend Amy Wish lived in Hawaii and you both started together Autism Training Solutions. So you had reached out to me to see if I wanted to be an advisory board member. And that's kind of how we initially met. But what year did you start?

Emaley: That was 2010, I think. And I think Amy and I kind of stalked you, actually, I think. I remember at the time when we met, we went we bought your book and we had bought your book before, but we bought your book and had met you at the book signing at the ABA conference. And then you signed it, right? And then afterwards, we hung around to talk to you and talk to you about what we're doing. And you're so welcome and nice and excited about what we were doing. So, yeah. Yeah, I moved to Hawaii. And after I graduated from college and I had at that point, I had about six years of experience in ABA. So when I moved to Hawaii, I had a great opportunity to become a clinical director and a trainer at multiple agencies because they just didn't have a lot of expertise in Hawaii at the time. So it kind of got put into leadership positions at a pretty young age. And I got the opportunity to start a school for kids with autism in Honolulu, where I was just thrown right into the fire.

Emaley: You had to train a lot of people, a lot like constantly. And then we had a lot of kids from Japan coming to Honolulu because they just didn't have ABA programs. A lot of ABA programs in Japan. And so parents that had the means to send children from Japan to Honolulu to the school that we started. And so through that experience, we decided to open a school in Tokyo. So we opened a school in Tokyo. So then I was going back and forth between Honolulu and Tokyo. And through all of that, we found just huge barriers of having to disseminate this information. All of the time across distances and going into trainings and having to repeat the same information to new groups of people. So this really kind of was the catalyst for me and my colleague Amy to start Autism Training Solutions, which was an online training platform to disseminate applied behavior analysis to parents and to organizations, children with autism.

Mary: Yeah. Which you started in 2010. And that's when, you know, shortly after I think you reach out to me about being an advisory board member. And at first I was like, you know, I don't know if I want to get into this, but at the same time, at the same time, I was pursuing my PhD. I had just left the Pennsylvania Verbal Behavior Project and I was in homes with birth to three, a birth to three, contracted and developing, really honing in on my step by step system to help parents of very young children. And as I was finishing up my PhD, people were like, well, what are you going to do now with your PhD? And I was like, I need to figure out how to get this out online. Because like you, it was the same information I was presenting and I was going to Australia and to UK and France.

Mary: And I was being paid, you know, large sums of money to travel, to be there, to present. And then in some cases, I would only present for an hour or two, and do a keynote presentation. And it just seemed like so inefficient then. And then even if I presented for a day or two, my videos didn't show Johnny on the floor with Potato head. So the next day or the next week, when the therapist or the mom would try to get potato head out with her child, you know, Johnny would be on the floor and they'd be like, well, Mary's kid wasn't on the floor during her video.

Mary: And so there was that disconnect of not being able to follow up with anybody about what skills were missing, what other areas, you know, should potentially be prerequisites. And all those sorts of things. So. I agreed to be on the advisory board partially because I wanted to come to Hawaii, which was cool, I got to go to Hawaii three times with being on the board of ATS, which was a lot of fun.

Mary: And then partially because I knew the power of online training, even in its early stages when you and Amy were just getting started. And I was really wondering how to have my information be online. So it was a really looking back on it. It was a really good decision that I. I said yes, and I thank you for reaching out to me, because I think we both learned a lot and it was great. And so, ATS, the videos. Go ahead.

Emaley: Oh, some of our most successful courses that you helped us create, like the potty-training course was like one of the most popular courses that we had. So we loved it.

Mary: Yeah. So one time I was flying over to Hawaii and Emaley had asked me to do a webinar, a two hour webinar for CEUs on potty training. This was back in like 2011, just finishing up my PhD. And because I'm a registered nurse for since the mid 80s, I do come to the table with a lot of potty-training information and know how. And then added my BCBA and added my experiences potty training, my own kids and my clients. And so I have been called the potty queen. And so working with Emily and ATS, we were able to come up with a two hour potty training, training that is actually still available for sale on the Relias' Web site. So at some point and I forget the year you could probably, you know, Relias which is a bigger training company, bought out ATS. Is that right?

Emaley: Yeah. Yeah. So. So when ATS, we pretty much launched in like 2010 and we grew pretty quickly once we were able to demonstrate through some research that we did and through our presentation we did, the effectiveness that of online training and that can it can work. And also the efficiency of online training, especially because there's waiting lists and there's more children with autism then there are professionals that can meet the needs of people needed to be able to train efficiently. Once we were able to demonstrate that it is effective, we were able to grow our user base pretty substantially within four or five years. And so we were noticed by a larger online learning company called Reliance, where they provide online learning for hospitals and for post-acute care and also safety off police officers and stuff. So they were interested in they saw that that we had very similar interests in terms of training health care providers. And so they wanted to have an autism offering. So they acquired ATS. Yes. And then I joined Reliasand worked there for quite a few years.

Mary: Yeah. So. So but you when you were at Relias, you were responsible eventually for more than just the ABA portion of their training. So you actually became a vice president of research, right? For their part of their company? Or how did that work?

Emaley: Yeah. Right. So when I joined Relias, ATS was actually the only company. So Relias was pretty much a group of smaller companies kind of merging together. So different online learning topics. So there was like post-acute care and there was acute care and there were speech and language and it kind of like pulled it all together into one and out of all of these companies pulled together.

Emaley: ATS was really the only company that had done some research, some published research. And so we when they saw this and saw the work that we had done, they wanted it to be replicated at Relias. So then they created the Relias Institute, which was a research department, and then had me head up the research department, which was pretty exciting because I I really loved doing research, but I had never thought that I had would have been have gone in that direction because I would never read like I guess I would never have thought I was going to go more like an academic direction. But I was surrounded by doctors and nurses, PhDs and able to learn from all of this multi-disciplinary team to do research outside of autism on the effectiveness of online learning. And I learned so much and I really loves that position I had a Relias.

Mary: Yeah. So today I want to focus mostly on the research regarding online training, so we might as well. Let's start with your research paper and project and study that you did for your Masters thesis. Because I think that would have a lot of the professionals listening would have probably heard of autism training solutions and Relias because you have an RBT training, Relias does, and a lot of the continuing education credits which are still available on Relias. But let's start back farther when you were at ATS and talk about the research that you did within the autism online space.

Emaley: OK. One of the experiences that we had right away when we started talking to ABA organizations or autism organizations was that online learning was not something that most organizations had accepted as effective. It was like second rate learning and really only done for like onboarding processes and like H.R. stuff. So when we propose that clinicians and parents can learn how to actually apply evidence based interventions using online learning. There was a lot of pushback that, oh, it's you know, the face to face is a much better it's much more effective. And so that's one of the reasons we decided to do this research, because we wanted we had looked at research in other fields like this, in the medical field, health care business, all kinds of fields.

Emaley: There had been established research demonstrating that online is as effective and in some situations more effective than didactic instruction or face to face learning. So we wanted to do some research in the autism space. So we did a study. We partnered with the school districts in Hawaii and we did as multiple baseline design study with three pair of professionals that had no training in ABAand then three children on the autism spectrum. And what we wanted to do is we wanted to pick one area of ABA instruction that we could really measure well. So we picked mand training. So teaching children to be able to request when they want things. I'm sure you've talked about mand a lot and your best guess because it's verbal behavior, verbal offering.

Emaley: So there is a very specific set of ways that you teach manners in children with autism. And we wanted to see if using this this online format using like video modeling, showing teachers how to do all the steps of man training and then having it interspersed competency checks and a checklist that they followed would increase the fidelity or increase the quality of their instruction. And then in turn, we wanted to see if that would actually increase the number of requests or mands given by the students with autism.

Emaley: So we found through this research study and there is a multiple baseline design that after these paraprofessionals had this mand training that immediately, their implementation of mand training increased in affected, in quality or fidelity. And then what was really cool to see was that immediately the children's mands increased and they steadily increased over time and it maintained over time. This one was published in the journal Education and Training in Autism Developmental Disabilities in 2013.

Mary: We can link the article in the show notes. So that's great that this research really showed both the benefits to the adult learner as well as right away showed an increase in mands to the children, which is awesome. And I do remember that being really powerful for me to learn about back. It was published in 2013. So in addition to that research, you also had other research that was published more recently when you were the vice president at Relias And you can tell us a little bit about that. It wasn't directly in the ABA field, right?

Emaley: I mean, some implementation practices could be associated with ABA like task analysis, but it was in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities for adults.

Mary: OK, so and it was online training and supervisor feedback on safe eating and drinking practices for individuals with developmental disabilities. I'm just reading the title here and I know that since Lucas is an adult now, one of the common causes of death among people with intellectual disabilities actually choking, which I learned more recently. That's. That's correct. Right?

Emaley: Right.

Mary: Yeah. So why is that? Why? Why do people with intellectual disabilities choke more often?

Emaley: From the literature reviews that I did, a lot of it has to do with some of it has to do with the muscles in their throat and their mouth depending on the disability they have. There's also some of them have dysplasia, which is the ability to not be able to chew very well and also swallow, swallow or swallow.

Mary: And then also some kids and adults like gorge food, like they eat too fast. So like it's like a behavioral. They get into a bad habit where they're putting too much in their mouth at one time. But I think you're probably right is probably more of the muscle tone and the dysplasia. But that would affect the choking. Yeah, I do know that that is a cause of death.

Emaley: Or other behavioral issues like pika or impulse control. So some of those issues.

Mary: Yeah. OK, so this study you did online training to train direct care staff. And what did this study show?

Emaley: So this study was focusing on an online training that was more of a simulation, so paraprofessionals are the ones usually in charge of overseeing the meal time or not paraprofessionals, direct care providers. So the direct care providers are usually ones overseeing meal time. And so they're not the ones preparing the meals, they're usually the ones just getting the meals out. Sometimes they're packed from home or there's a meal delivery service that has them. So they're the ones that get them out and kind of get them going on their own their meal.

Mary: And direct care staff members. I know from the adult world, which Lucas is now in. He's still living at home. But the direct care staff providers tend to have just a GED requirement. They could have English as a second language. So there's lots of barriers, too. They're not paid very well. There's poor benefits like the direct care staff. There is a crisis in terms of, you know, the add, the number of applicants and the retention rate and all that stuff, which I can't imagine. That's part of the need for training on safety procedures that could cause death if you don't train on them. So that's like another whole issue, I'm sure, as part of this training. So you're training the direct care staff, which are very entry level providers with, you know, who knows if any background or knowledge.

Emaley: Yeah. And they're the ones that are the most hands on with these individuals. And there's a high turnover. So there needs to be an efficient and effective way to train these people to maintain the safety of these adults with disabilities.

Emaley: So what we did, we created a training that only took one hour and it gave them a lot of background information about dysplasia and why this is common incidents and that choking can happen. And we showed a story about a real story about an individual that died to kind of just give them kind of a motivation to really understand what they can do. And then he talks about diet orders and the three levels of consistency of food consistency, and then how to recognize how to read diet orders and understand them, because diet orders are almost like a behavior plan in the ABA world, but it's a plan for their eating.

Emaley: How should they be sitting? What tools or utensils do they need? What foods are off limits? What consistency do you see? What size it needs to be cut up into all of that stuff? And they need to be able to read the diet orders and understand them and then be able to understand like what puree is vs.. What the different chop chopping consists? What is chopped? Right. What sizes? So we actually did a simulation where in the training they presented these difference of vignettes of individuals that had different diet orders, taught them how to read the diet orders, and then showed them a meal and said, OK, here's a meal we're serving Caleb. And Caleb has these issues and this is his diet orders. Now, they had to then select all the items in the meal that were dangerous for Caleb. And then they would, if they didn't select them. It was almost like a game. If they didn't select them all, then it would be like, oh, sorry. Caleb had a choking incident because blah, blah, blah.

Mary: So it was like motivating like you said, you killed Caleb.

Emaley: No, no, it didn't go that far. And there are things that could happen. So this was one hour training. And then we did we did onsite assessments. We did what we did an online assessment of just knowledge retention. What did you learn before and after the training? And then we did onsite assessments where I actually went on site and I brought in meals and I said, OK, here's a diet order. And they read the diet order, and I said, what? What meals are? Oh no, I didn't give them a diet order. I actually asked them questions based on their clients. So I said, oh, your client RB, like the initials. This is her meal. What's dangerous about this meal? And then I made the answer key based on the diet order. So everyone had to answer questions based on their own clients. And then I scored those. So we did an interview with real meals. And then I scored those interviews and then we did a before and after. So what we found was that the training did significantly increase the knowledge, but also the ability to identify in person dangerous situations and meals.

Mary: So they were able to take the online material that they learned. They were able to apply it and they also had some retention of the information which you checked when you went. Which interestingly I did my PhD dissertation, which I can link in the show notes as well, and we can link this article with a Individuals with Developmental Disabilities article as well. But at my PhD dissertation, looked at fluency-based procedures to teach people, in this case educational leaders. But they were just college, you know, master's level students to teach people to name the verbal operates. And we had the control group just get a lecture with a PowerPoint and the experimental group got a short lecture, but hands on training that I developed. So that's all in my dissertation.

Mary: But one of the, as part of the literature review is some of the things I learned about training or like when you're talking about a live training, which you were saying back in 2010 and going forward for a few years. People were like, that's the gold standard. That's the best. And this online stuff is second class.

Mary: But really, what I learned by doing my dissertation was that if you bring together alive training for just let's just say 100 people, you know, you are if you figure out the costs of that alone, you know, you have to figure out the costs of the presenter, the cost of the room, if there is any. The cost of all of those hundred teachers or hundred directives, direct support instructors to take time off from work and to get fill in coverage because we're all essential. Right.

Mary: And then the cost of the launch and the cost of the travel reimbursement. And I remember doing it just quick math. And it was tens of thousands, if not a hundred thousand dollars for this training. I mean, it was just and then learning that in a lecture situation where it's stand and deliver without a lot of application and a lot of the Hands-On activities that people forget and don't retain, 90 percent of the information.

Mary: And it becomes like a bad game of pass down the alley. Plus a trainer, you know, may not be an expert, may be at the beginning of their career. And that or they may know ABA, but they don't know adult learning theory. They don't know how to present in an interesting way. They don't know how to tell stories. And I know from the online marketing space that if you don't use a lot of stories, people aren't going to remember much. If you don't make it like Caleb's gonna die if you get this wrong. Like, it's important. And the less you're telling stories, like I remember the story of you starting ABA. when you were 15. Pretty much because I got to Hawaii and you were like 30. I'm like, how in the world did you form this company? And you're so young.

Mary: And it's like, you know, I remember that story and I have a very bad memory, actually. But stories are what gets people's attention and also videos of demonstrating and hands on activities which can be controlled, all of that. The information can be very step by step. The applicable hands on activities can be well thought out. And I just find that there there are a lot of drawbacks to live training versus online training. And I'm glad to see that it seems like people are moving along with seeing the benefits of online training. So and I know I just spewed off a bunch of benefits, but are there benefits that I missed with online training?

Emaley: Yeah, I mean, I think there's some that stand out to me, one is adults want control over their own learning. So online learning allows them to be autonomous. They can learn when they want, where they want and for and had to space it out the way they want, if they want to rewind it or they want to do that again, because I forgot. So the autonomy of online learning is really a huge benefit for Fultz. I think also retention is another one because most of the time online learning is broken. Micro learning. So micro learning is basically still taking a.... If you go to an all-day workshop, eight hours. Right. You just said the forgetting curve is like 90 percent, which is very accurate. So if you. But if you take an eight-hour workshop and you break it down into like half hour chunks and you spread that out across weeks, you're going to have much higher retention rates. And that's just much easier to do online and then face to face.

Emaley: You're also going to see there's with online learning, you're going to get a lot more opportunities to individually interact with the content. So you can put in a lot of assessments to see like how people are responding to the material. Right. Then you can also make it adaptive. So if there's some courses that you can take where you will like what we designed in ATS is if you watch a video and you do some demonstration or you watch in demonstrations, you will ask you some questions. And if you don't seem to be understanding or if you don't get the questions right, it will take you to another part of the training to have you review it or to like provide additional examples. So those are a few benefits.

Mary: Yeah, I think those are really good. Do you know of any research that shows that the costs are less expensive than gathering it like, oh, what I said. Like gathering everybody. Now you have to pay the costs to fill in. And it may not be convenient. Like I think online learning because you could do it at your own time frame has got to have a cost savings to it. Oh, absolutely. I don't know of any research in that area, but it does make sense.

Emaley: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Research. I mean, I can't spit off like. Yeah. And stuff like that. But I have inlet reviews. I mean, that's a big benefit of online learning is how it's also cost effective. And so you create them. It's a lot of time and effort upfront to do a good online training. You have to apply certain principles just to face to face training. If you just stand up there in front of people and talk to everyone for hours. Right. That's not going to be effective. It's the same way for online learning. If you just throw up a video and talk at them for hours. It's not going to be effective. The modality is not really what's the most effective.

Emaley: It's the way it's designed. So there needs to be interaction. There needs to be you need to ground them in motivation. Like you need to set up stories. You need to tell like, why is this important? And it used to be able to easily be digested in tiny pieces. So if you do that online versus face to face, that's the way people learn online. It's just you have to only create at one time when you create it one time. And of course, it's updated over time, but most of the work is all up front and then it just keeps reaping the benefits after that. People can just keep coming back to the content. You don't have to redo it every time.

Mary: Right. Right. I know with my online courses. So I have two courses now. One is for toddler preschooler, mostly parents and early intervention professionals. And that's going really well. It's a 60-day course. And then the next course is the verbal behavior bundle and which I started the first part of the verbal behavior bundle 5 years ago and 2015 was when I launched it. And it has been such a great thing because I've had parents and professionals from over 80 countries take my courses. In many cases, English as a second language and I don't have a lot of real like pop up on the screen to measure retention and things.

Mary: But what I do have is I have homework that's optional, that's not turned in but ways that, OK, this is how you assess. Here is an assessment form. Here's Johnny. Here's me assessing Johnny. Don't forget not to give him visual cues if you're assessing. Touch your head. Don't show him touching head. It's the same time you're saying touch your head because you're then testing imitation, too, you know? And so like. Those kinds of things, and then I go through the assessment form, show them what to do, and then their homework is to do it on their child or their client to do the form. And what we found is the people that do watch and do progress through the courses are just seeing unbelievable progress.

Mary: I mean, there's somebody posted like I joined the course two weeks ago and now my child is talking for the first time. And it's like I can't even believe how well online learning works. I mean, because up until that point, I had up until 2015, it was just me working with the kids. So if magic happened, if we got words within days or weeks, you know, I wasn't even so sure how well this would work. But it's just been such a blessing to so many families around the world who, you know, can understand English enough to take the course.

Mary: And there's a there's even a little tip, because I watch actually a lot of online courses to learn to do things like podcasts and webinars and all my training materials. And there's a chrome extension that you can download to fast forward through video. So you can actually set me at one and a half speed or I can set the podcast, you know, or you can slow it down if your English isn't as strong. You can slow it down to, you know, 75 percent speed.

Mary: So it goes a little slower. You can slow down parts or rewatch parts. Oh, I want to see that video of Mary with Potato Head again. And so those are some of the advantages. But it's probably not all, you know, unicorns and daisies here. There's probably some drawbacks to online learning or some obstacles. So, ah, what are the one of the top obstacles or barriers with online learning?

Emaley: I would say no one would be rapport building. So when you it depends on the purpose of the training. But it's a lot of times the purpose of the training is, is to train staff within your organization or train parents that you're working with, and if you were training through an online platform, you are missing that face to face component with your relationship building. And that's a pretty. That could be important, especially when you're looking at staff retention or you want parent buy-in. Parents need to feel like they trust you. So in those cases, that's where face to face instruction is very important to have that rapport building.

Mary: And I would say with rapport building, too, and with like community building, there are ways to help the situation by. Like with my courses, for instance, there's Facebook, private Facebook apps where people can come in and introduce themselves, like there are people within my world that I've never physically met and I may not ever physically meet that I still have a connection with. And they feel like they have a connection with me and I have a connection with others in the community. So there are definitely ways to mitigate that a little bit. How about the technology? I'm sure like back in 2010, you had much less technology choices to like put your online course on and that sort of thing. But now it seems like so complicated. I know even for me it's like, OK, now I'm going to use this system and then I'm going to like I'm bringing in zoom through vemix and I'm going to try to signocast, Facebook and YouTube. And it's like every day seems like a new challenge to me. So, I mean, I think technology, some people are scared by it. Do you see that?

Emaley: Yeah, I do. I think that it's getting better. I think it's becoming more commonplace now. But yeah, back in 2010, actually, the study that we did in Hawaii, we had two people drop, two of the paraprofessionals drop out just because they couldn't figure out technology and it was stressing them out. And, you know, in research, if you know, if research is stressing them that out, you don't want you know, you don't want to feel it, give them pressure to stay. So they think they dropped out of the study. So that was definitely a bit bigger barrier then. But even now, even now, it could be for individuals. But I think it's less that way now. But one of one of the things that I think it's important is, I mean, right now we're going through a time of where people are not connecting these Face-To-Face. And we're finding ways around it. We're finding that you can connect and build relationships with people in other ways through technology, which is a beautiful thing about technology. So like, you know, last night I was able to talk my grandpa, who's like 88 years old, into using face time.

Emaley: And I was able to see him and see him for face to face. And he hasn't been able to see any of his grand cancer as children for like a month now. So it was great to get him on face time and he's now holding it up. And so there are ways to connect to your Facebook group with a great smile.

Mary: Yeah. And with the Corona virus pandemic where we're recording this in April of twenty twenty. So we are in the middle of shutdown situation and scary times. And now more than ever, I think parents and professionals are seeing the value of technology and online learning and seeing, you know, like you said with your grandfather. My parents are 80 years old. You know, we had a zoom Easter kind of chat with my family and them and my parents listened to my podcast on technology. And, you know, it's great that we've evolved.

Mary: And I think now we're just scratching the surface. For most people like you and I have been in the online space for a decade now in some capacity or another. And so now it's like we are scratching the surface because it is a powerful tool to just teach, to connect and to really help kids reach their fullest potential. So it's a very exciting. OK. So what are you doing now with your professionally who you now have left Relias and you're working somewhere else. So tell us about that.

Emaley: Yeah. So I'm kind of now addicted to the technology world and how technology like we've just been saying how it can make lives better for people, especially in healthcare. And of course, with behavioral science. So when I left Relias I really wanted to join an organization that was dedicated to using technology to improve lives with behavioral science. And so I joined a startup company, which again, I love startups. Startups are there's a lot of energy and creativity and innovation. So I started it. I joined a startup called Motivated Systems, which is online data collection company that's more like Next Generation. Tip of the Spear doing some really cool stuff. Motivity Systems is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health grant.

Emaley: So they've received. We've received multiple grants of over five million dollars to build this awesome technology. One of the things that we're looking forward to coming up with me. You just submitted a grant and got a perfect score for a technology for parents on how to engage parents in the therapy goal of home using mobile devices. So back it's coming. We're going to be working on that soon. And I'm super excited about that. And I know, Mary, that's something that is something you're excited about is getting parents engaged in the home? Yeah, it would be really cool to collaborate with you some eventually on it.

Mary: Great. So. Do you have a Web site or how can people follow your work?

Emaley: The Web site is motivity dot net.

Mary: Motivity dot net. We will link that in the show notes. So before we wrap up today, part of my podcast goals are for parents and professionals to be less stressed and lead happier lives. And you have two teenage kids right now. You're married. Do you live in San Diego? Any tips for how to reduce your stress that you want to pass on?

Emaley: Sure, especially right now, I think, with them being home and having the family in the house together. One of the things I've had to tell myself is to just ease the pressure off myself. The house is not going to be as clean as it can be because everyone's here all the time. Right. And not everyone's going to be engaged all the time in. What I think is the most productive things, there's gonna be a lot of screen time, there's gonna be a lot of people getting in people's space and stuff, so just lowering kind of just putting the pressure off and just enjoying the moment of being together and putting pressure off of the kids as well, like.

Emaley: This is a sort of a scary time for kids. They don't know. They never experienced anything like this before. And there's a lot of information coming from different directions. Like so letting them just be and letting them have their time in their space and like having structure is a great thing, but sometimes if it falls apart, it's OK.

Mary: Yeah, I love that. Yeah. We're all kind of in a very similar situation, I think. Fingers crossed, it won't go on for very much longer. But, you know, it's unknown. So I think I appreciate that that advice of lowering your expectations and easing off the pressure because I think it has a lot of together time. Let's just put it that way.

Mary: And yeah, so. All right. Well, you have provided our listeners and me some great information today. It's always wonderful to catch up with you. It's been too many years since we actually have not physically been in touch, but I feel like we're still very much connected. So I wish you the best of luck with your position with Motivity systems. Look forward to many, many more years of ongoing collaboration. So thanks so much and stay safe and be well.

Emaley: Thank you. You too. Thanks.