Creating Effective Learning Objectives for E-Learning : 5 Tips to Know


For eLearning to be effective, include clear learning objectives. Here are some useful tips to set effective learning objectives for your eLearning courses.

Creating Effective Learning Objectives for E-Learning : 5 Tips to Know

I just finished reading the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and liked Habit #2 in particular: Begin with the end in mind. I felt it relates perfectly to our e-learning objectives. That is what our learning objectives should begin with – the end objectives – they should convey to learners what they should be able to do after completing the online e-learning course.

I would like to share a few tips for creating effective learning objectives.

A Few Tips to Create Effective Learning Objectives

Tip 1:

Keep your learning objectives simple, brief, and avoid long paragraphs. Since simple language is straight and appealing, limiting your learning objectives to a single sentence will help your learners concentrate better on what is expected of them. Moreover, it allows learners understand the learning objective better.

Tip 2:

Consider the following questions when developing objectives for your e-learning content. These questions help you keep your learning objectives grounded.

  • What should the learners learn?
  • What is the learners’ level of current knowledge and skill on the content or topic?
  • Do learners have any background experience on the content or topic?
  • What is the language level and style of language that learners prefer?
  • Do learners have any major misconceptions about the content or topic?

Tip 3:

The objectives of the e-learning course should be able to communicate its intent and leave very little space for interpretation. Select an appropriate action word or verb to describe the required behavior of the objective. Use Bloom’s Taxonomy of cognitive behavior for this. Some examples of helpful verbs include: Define, list, identify, recall, describe, diagram, draw, discuss, explain, analyze, compare, predict, relate, critique, examine, debate, interpret, illustrate, etc.

6 Beneficial Levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy – An Infographic

Tip 4:

Your objectives should communicate the intent of your course and specify three main things.

  • Performance: An objective must always state what a learner is expected to do after taking up the course.
  • Condition: An objective must describe the condition under which the learner is to perform the given task.
  • Criterion: The objective may state how well a learner must perform the given task as it provides a standard to check whether the performance is acceptable.

Tip 5:

To check whether what you have stated as a learning objective is relevant, ask yourself: “Is this what I want the learners to be able to do after completing this e-learning course?” Every activity and assessment must be connected to the learning objectives, as it ensures that the objective is being achieved.

“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” – Clay P. Bedford

These are a few tips I use while creating learning objectives for e-learning courses. If you have any, please do share your thoughts.

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Recent Comments

  • http://Samantha%20Jones

    6/03/2011 at 1:39 pm

    I love a good top tip! There are 2 other ‘tips’ that I recalled whilst reading this that also fit in with Habit #2:

    1. Get a good understanding of the SMART business objectives first so that the SMART learning objectives are aligned and relevant to all stakeholders.

    2. Write the learning objectives around SMART skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours which will demonstrate the outcome so that the learner is clear about the developmental requirements in these areas.

  • 6/03/2011 at 9:14 pm

    We developed these criteria for learning objectives in a higher education setting:

    Composition: Clear and concise, allowing students to easily grasp the learning outcomes expected of them. Stated using action verb(s).

    Alignment: Objectives are aligned with and contribute directly and obviously to the accomplishment of course goals or, for module level objectives, course objectives.

    Language: Free of educational jargon, confusing terms, unnecessarily complex language and puzzling syntax.

    Measurable: The measure(s) by which objective obtainment will be gauged is concrete and clearly spelled out.

    Intention: The objective not only describes the performance to be measured, but also the intent of performance “… in order to …”

  • http://Marsha

    6/06/2011 at 6:34 pm

    I’ve always used the following process to create my learning objectives based on a task analysis:

    A= Auidence
    B= Behavior

    The learning objective is a more detailed objective focused on the condition of the behavior.

    For example,
    Given a stethoscope and normal clinical environment, the medical student will be able to diagnose a heart arrhythmia in 90% of effected patients.

    This example describes the observable behavior (identifying the arrhythmia), the conditions (given a stethoscope and a normal clinical environment), and the standard (90% accuracy).

  • http://David%20Picard

    6/06/2011 at 8:39 pm

    The S.M.A.R.T. acronym is used for goal setting. (specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timely). Recently, I’ve seen it used to describe learning objectives, but I believe this is a misuse (or an overgeneralization). Goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. but applying this to learning objectives is a stretch.

    The three mush-haves I always come back to are 1. Is it Observable, 2. Is it Measureable and 3. What are the conditions for performance. An objective can meet the SMART criteria any conditions for performance.

    A truck driving course may include objectives and assessments about the student’s ability to control an eighteen wheeler. Meeting that objective is going to be very different on a a closed driving course, a Santa Monica freeway, and the ‘ice-road-trucker’ conditions shown on the Discovery Channel.

  • 6/07/2011 at 2:19 am

    • Concrete
    • Use action verbs
    • Numeric or descriptive
    • Quantity, quality, cost
    • Feasible
    • Appropriately limited in scope
    • Within the committee’s control and influence
    • Measures outputs or results (not activities)
    • Includes products, accomplishments
    • Identifies target date
    • Includes interim steps and a plan to monitor progress

  • 6/16/2011 at 11:58 am

    Thanks for your information. It help to create effective learning objectives.

  • http://Bidify

    8/08/2012 at 4:54 pm

    Some really wonderful content on this web site, regards for contribution. “Always aim for achievement, and forget about success.” by Helen Hayes.

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