‘If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter, which way you go.’ – Lewis Carroll
Sometimes our online courses resemble mere activities without clear objectives. No one benefits from them. Learning objectives clearly specify, in measurable terms, what learners will be able to do after the training. They are not a cosmetic makeover to show off the course, but decide the end outcome and steer the instructional design process.
1. Keep learning objectives specific
Learning objectives have to be specific and pinpoint the expected performance.
If you are looking to develop a product training course for your sales force, what do you want reps to gain from it? Do you want them to know the product features, describe the working of your product, or list its features compared to competing products.
Try answering these questions keep learning objectives grounded:
- What should learners learn?
- What is their current level of knowledge and skill on that topic?
- Do they have any misconceptions about the topic?
2. Keep learning objectives simple and concise
Keep learning objectives simple and brief for better understanding. Avoid long sentences, paragraphs, and complex terms.
Complex & incorrect – Be equipped to articulate value selling versus features selling and support the customer throughout the sales process
Simple & correct – Explain the importance of value selling compared to features selling
3. Say NO to ambiguity
A learning objective should communicate its intent clearly and leave no room for misinterpretation. Select an appropriate action verb to describe the required behavior. Bloom’s Taxonomy will aid you in this aspect.
Wrong usage – Internalize a growing awareness about our new product line
Right usage – List the products in our new product line
The phrase ‘internalize a growing awareness’ leads to confusion as there is no way to gauge growing awareness. The second statement offers clarity on the action –list products.
4. Specify expected performance
Learning objectives should specify the exact performance desired from the learner after taking the training. For example, if you expect learners to name the steps involved in a process, the learning objective should say just that – label the steps of the process.
On the other hand, if you expect learners to explain each step of the process, the learning objective should be written accordingly.
5. Align assessments & activities with learning objectives
Your course assessments, content, and activities must be aligned with the learning objectives. They need to go hand-in-hand. If the learning objective says ‘learners will identify how our product is better than that of competitors ’, the course should include relevant content and assessments should test learners on identifying product specs that distinguish it from others.
To be successful in any venture, it always pays to begin with the end in mind. The same holds true for setting learning objectives too. Ensure they specify the expected performance in simple and unambiguous terms.