Use learning objectives

Using learning objectives is the first and probably most important cornerstone for e-learning course creation. What will your learners know or be able to do after they’ve taken your course?

By Kasper Spiro on Jul 4th


To answer this question, you need to set a SMART goal for your course or assessment. This is a must-have! Make things easy by breaking down your goal into a set of specific, measurable learning objectives.

Goals vs. learning objectives

Goals are not the same as learning objectives. A goal describes what your learners will be able to do after completing the course. To reach that goal, learners usually need to complete multiple learning objectives. These objectives are specific and measurable.

Imagine you want to take part in a 10k run later this year. To get ready, you’d probably take up a variety of measures, like practicing every day, watching your diet, buying the right gear and clothing and getting your mindset ready.

In this case, you could see your goal as follows:

Goal: To finish the 10k run in under one hour

As you work toward reaching this goal, you’ll focus on the specific, measurable learning objectives:

Learning objectives:

  • Get prepared by building up your weekly mileage. Start small so you can field out your limits, figure out where you need help and ask for help without interrupting other runners, for example.
  • Learn the ideal foods to eat (and what not to eat) to enhance muscle strength for running, improve hydration and boost energy during your run.

As you can see, the learning objectives stem from the overall learning goal. The key to defining a clear goal and learning objectives is to stick to a structure. To make this easier, use Easygenerator’s free, built-in Learning Objective Maker. It helps you easily define your course’s learning objectives.

Learning objective maker

The influential education researcher Benjamin Bloom developed a taxonomy to serve as a basis for defining learning objectives. The Easygenerator Learning Objective Maker uses this taxonomy to guide you when defining your e-learning course’s goal.

Learning Objective Maker

Action mapping: take learning objectives a step further

We are big fans and advocates of Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping technique. According to Moore, simply creating learning objectives is not enough. Moore argues that the statements of learning objectives should describe actions and not just knowledge. Let’s use the same example as above and see how we can define actionable learning objectives:

Knowledge-driven learning objectives
  • Remember your basic preparations, like building up your weekly mileage, starting small so you can field out your limits, figuring out where you need help and asking for help without interrupting other runners.
  • Understand what to eat and what not to eat to build your core muscle strength for running.
Action-driven learning objectives
  • Schedule running time in your daily routine and build up mileage using mileage charts.
  • Undergo fitness testing and compare the results with the required fitness levels.
  • Consciously distinguish which foods to eat and not to eat to prep your body for the marathon. Which foods are necessary for building the desired levels of weight and muscle strength?

Combining the fundamentals of Bloom’s framework with Cathy Moore’s principle of actionable goals, Easygenerator’s Learning Objective Maker guides you in creating descriptive, meaningful learning objectives.

Read the next article as part of the e-learning best practices blog series: “E-learning design: doing things in the right order“.

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About the author

Kasper Spiro is the CEO of Easygenerator and a recognized thought leader in the world of e-learning. With over 30 years of experience, he is a frequently asked keynote speaker and well-renowned blogger within the e-learning community.

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