Starting your eLearning course without defining the learning goal is like setting out on a road trip without a destination. In eLearning content development there are lots of tasks involved, lots of tools to use, and lots of parameters that can impact the success of your eLearning course. One such parameter is defining scripting of performance based learning objectives for the course to explain the purpose, relevancy or need of the training.
What are Learning Objectives?
Learning objectives or the course objectives are the statements that describes what the learner will be able to achieve at the end of the learning process or the course. These objectives need to be very specific and measurable. A learning objective should clearly define the expected outcome of a course in terms of demonstrable skills or knowledge that will be acquired by the learner. Therefore, learning objectives are the backbone of a successful eLearning course.
Learning Objectives are the framework around which entire eLearning content is created and designed, also bring coherence and specificity to the training. Without learning objectives, learners just drift through the eLearning course without knowing the purpose of training. That’s why, learning objectives plays a very important role in overall eLearning experience.
In essence, learning objectives should be brief, simple, and concrete statements about what your learners will be able to do, as a result of the teaching, activities, and learning that has occurred at the end of a lesson. Learning objectives are also known as learning outcomes.
Importance of Learning Objectives
The Learning objectives are measurable skills, abilities, knowledge or values that the learner demonstrates as a result of course completion. While designing a course, it is crucial to plan how learning objectives will align with the given curriculum to help learners acquire their desired results. Some of the significance of learning objectives are:
- Provide a clear goal for learners to concentrate their learning efforts.
- Guide evaluation methods and range of learning activities.
- Help an instructor to create appropriate learning activities to offer full-fledged learning.
- Helps learners learn more effectively.
- Instructors have a clear direction while making assessment decisions.
- It sets shared expectations between learners and instructors.
- Help learners to focus on what they are expected to learn and understand.
- Provide course developer guidance on selecting instructional materials, teaching methods and, assessment methods.
- Guide in developing training content.
- Help you manage resources better.
Qualities of good learning objectives:
When it comes to good learning objectives, ‘SMART’ goals plays a crucial role and makes a huge difference in designing overall learning objectives. It is the well-respected approach to goal setting and the best way of determining effective, engaging, realistic and, informative learning objectives.
SMART is an acronym in the learning and development circles that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound/Targeted.
Specific: The learning objective should be well defined and clear. It should contain direct information including the: who, what, why and how of the objective. This makes it easier to communicate to the learner and let them know what exactly he or she should learn. It also give them a clear idea about the things they should be able to do once the training is successfully completed. If it isn’t specific, you will never be able to focus on what is important.
Measurable: The learning objective should provide a benchmark to accurately track your understanding on the topic of discussion, therefore it should be observable and quantifiable.
Attainable: Means there should be a realistic chance of achieving the goal. Meaning, the learners should be able to accomplish learning process within specified conditions and without external help.
Relevant: It means that the objective must be relevant, reasonable and learner seeks the value in their learning process. It should be related to person’s skills, experience, role and, interest.
Time-bound: Finally, this SMART learning objective includes setting a designated timeframe to achieve the goal. It should be aligned with learners’ expected performance level.
There is no doubt that defining SMART learning objectives for an eLearning course can be extremely beneficial since they give course development the right direction and also influence some crucial aspects of design.
The SMART method is a great way to keep you focused on building useful learning objectives and works as a quick and easy “checklist” for overall eLearning course.
Tips for Framing Performance based Learning Objectives:
Writing strong learning objectives is key to the success of your blended learning program. Learning objectives describe the learning outcomes of a training course. Clear learning objectives are the best way to show learners the tangible benefits of the elearning course. Here is a simple 3-step guide on how to write effective learning objectives to best support your eLearning course.
- The stem: The stem of the learning objective gives the learner an idea on what the course will provide.
1. By the end of course, the learner will be able to,
2. By the end of this training, the learner will
- Choose the Right Verb Using Bloom’s taxonomy:
The verb that you use to describe your learning objectives will determine how clear your message is. Use Bloom’s Taxonomy to find the verb that corresponds to your desired learning outcomes.What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?
Bloom taxonomy was proposed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist at the University of Chicago. It is a classification of the different objectives and skills that instructors set for their learners to assess learning at different cognitive levels. The taxonomy is best represented as a pyramid with the learning levels advancing from the bottom to the top. Bloom’s taxonomy consist of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Later in 2001, Lorin Anderson (one of Bloom’s student) edited original bloom’s taxonomy by replacing the original nouns used for each level with verbs to streamline better learning efficiency. So, Bloom’s revised taxonomy was changed to remember, understand, apply, analyse, evaluate and create.This revised Bloom’s Taxonomy is used by instructional designers across the globe to frame learning objectives for eLearning courses and assessments. As learners move through each level, deeper comprehension of subjects is attained until learners reach the highest level. Let’s see how each level differs from the other in framing learning objectives.
- Remembering: This is the first, most basic and foundation level of bloom’s revised taxonomy that involves retrieving, recognizing, and recalling factual information for long-term memory. This level is dependent upon learners’ ability to memorize and recall key facts and concepts. The common verbs used for learning objectives for this learning level are: list, outline, define, name, match, recall, identify, and label. One of the best way to implement this level is using quiz assessments like fill the blanks, multiple choice questions (MCQ’s) etc., to exhibit memory and retention power.
- Understanding: The Next level of Bloom’s revised Taxonomy where learning goes beyond memorizing is, understanding of concepts and facts. At this level, learners should exhibit a deeper understanding of ‘how’ and ‘why’ of things and able to explain ideas and concepts in detail. Interpret, identify, classify, explain, outline, describe and, paraphrase are common verbs used in learning objective for this learning level. To test understanding, you can include drag-n-drop, match the columns, arrange in sequence, etc., for this level of learning.
- Applying: At this level, learners use their understanding of information to move from theory to practice. The learning objectives at this level should enable learners to apply the information they have learned to perform a task or activity.Organize, plan, implement, execute, calculate, apply, solve, show, illustrate, use, demonstrate, determine, and perform are a few of the common verbs used in learning objectives for this level of learning.
- Analysing: This level focuses on the analytical and comparative aspects of learning. At this stage, learners should be able to think critically, analyse a given situation and, apply that knowledge to perform a task or activity. The verbs used for learning objectives at this level are differentiate, classify, break down, categorize, analyse, criticize, simplify and, compare.
- Evaluating: At this level of Bloom’s taxonomy, learners can make judgements and take decisions based on their assessment or knowledge acquired. At this level, learners can make judgments and form decisions based on the knowledge acquired.The verbs used for these learning objectives include choose, compare, measure, determine, prioritize, interpret, support, defend, judge, grade, argue, justify, support, convince, select, evaluate, assess and, rank.
- Creating: This is the last yet highest and most effective level of Bloom’s taxonomy, where learners demonstrate their ability to create new hypothesis or idea based on their existing knowledge. During this level, learners put various elements together to form a new pattern or structure to support their learning behaviours. Develop, design, improve, adapt, solve, modify, perform, formulate, build, invent, create, generate, derive and, compose are the common verbs used for learning objectives.So, Bloom’s taxonomy provides a great foundation for developing objectives and establishing benchmarks. Applying Bloom’s taxonomy to your corporate training strategy can help in framing learning objectives that enhance the learning experience, mobilize goals, and provide the analytics that your organization needs.
- Specify Learning Outcome – The remaining part of a learning objective specifies the goal or task for which the action verb is used.
Specific, well-define and, measurable learning objectives are the backbone of every successful eLearning courses. Learning objectives serve as a centre-piece for your entire corporate eLearning course design and provide clear direction, purpose and, value of leaning.