One of the most important thing to do before embarking on an e-Learning project is to identifying the e-Learning objectives. Learning objectives outline to the learner what is important, helps enable good assessment development and helps with course structure. However, good e-Learning objectives are annoyingly hard to define, so I thought I’d share a few things I try to do.
When identifying the e-learning objectives
Talk to your client or SME
It may seem like the obvious thing to do but talking to your client or SME is by far the best way to find your e-Learning objectives. Mainly because they are the people who want the e-Learning, so they should know why it is needed. Although I occasionally feel a little awkward asking a client “So, why am I doing this?” it nearly always helps and is often the quickest way to clear things up. Whether you get good or bad information from this it gives you something to start from.
Talk to a proficient user
SMEs, clients, training managers or whoever you are working with are often too close to the work and their objectives are often hypothetical. A ten minute conversation with an actual user who deals with the issues day-to-day will provide you with infinitely more real information. These are also the people who have gone through the process first hand and really know what problem people will encounter. It is not always possible to do this but if you can, do it!
Get to know the content
Knowing the content is key to understanding why a course is needed. Once you know the content you can start to split it up. A large amount of your content can be split into either tasks, concepts or values. Once you have split them into these groups it makes it much easier to identify the difficult tasks or the more complex concepts. This will help you identify your e-Learning objectives much more easily.
When writing e-learning objectives
Aim your objectives at the learner.
Far too often you see e-Learning objectives that say that “section xx of yy states that you must…” or “It is corporate policy that…”. You have to try and move away from this. Explain what the problem is and relate it back to the learner. This will keep them much more engaged and willing to learn.
Make your e-Learning objectives clear and concise
Your objectives need to be simple, try to keep everything in short sentences. Your e-Learning objectives should give a clear overview of the issues your e-Learning is addressing. If the learner has to decipher what the objective, they will think they have no hope of understanding the course.
Ensure your objective is SMART
As much as possible, e-Learning objectives should also be written to be SMART. Which stands for Specific, Measurable, Acceptable (to your learner), Realistic to achieve and Time-bound. If your objective is not all of these your learner will not take the course seriously.
Use verbs when writing your e-Learning objectives
Using verbs when writing is vital. It gives the learner the sense of doing something. This makes it much easier for the learner to work out what has to be done and when they have completed. Some of the verbs I like to use are:
But if you are looking for more verbs look no further than Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom compiled thousands of action verbs that work to demonstrate different skills.
When using e-learning objectives
Structure your course around your objectives
Once you have got your objectives written down you should build your course around them. Not every objective necessarily needs an individual section, but building your course around the objectives helps give the learners a sense of progress. I also find this help me ensure that I have actually addressed all the objectives.
Split your e-learning objectives into smaller objectives
e-Learning objectives are often a larger goal. If this is the case it is important that you break them down into more digestible sections. This makes it much easier for the learner to digest the information and feel that sense of completion. On the flip side, if you have a long list of e-Learning objectives try to group these into similar objectives and present them as sections. Nobody reads long lists…
Add an objectives screen throughout the course
Learners like to know what they have done. If an objective has been completed tell them. This gives them a little bit more drive. This is also a principle that can be easily adopted if you want to start implementing gamification.
Do you think something else should be here? If you think so just leave a comment below.