Learning objectives are important. They give instructional designers / learning experience designers the ability to make sure they are including activities that allow learners to practice the skills that are the goal of the course and so they can be sure to include the content learners need to do the practice activities.
But do not list those learning objectives in the course itself; your learners don’t want to read them and will just skip over them.
I don’t disagree @learning.lane yet I wrestle with the hook, the value proposition that has some meaning to open the hearts & minds to the content being brought forward. Objectives, boring indeed so what would you offer as a way to bring forward the WIIFM?
I’m not against the hook; the trick is to make it conversational and pique their interest. But listing the objectives in the detailed, dry, analytical way that is used for planning courses is not something that sparks excitement. When planning the course, LXDs often use wording like this:
"By the end of this module, learners will be able to:
- Do XYZ by using the ABC job aid"
Item #5 in the presentation Dr. Ethan Edwards of Allen Interactions’ gave at Online Learning 2015 in Denver, 10 Ways to Ruin Your e-Learning: A How-To Guide in Reverse. Scrub to 30:00.
I think it’s all in the way you present them, you can still include them but as a conversation perhaps, part of the introduction. Objectives are conversation drivers as well as guides to the purpose of the learning materials, they help us convey the WIIFM to the learners.
This whole talk looks really useful, thanks for posting.
Agreed, there needs to be something responding to the ‘why should I do this?’ question learners will be thinking. But yes, let’s ditch the ‘By the end of this module…’ framing.
I know this is the current thinking, but i disagree with it. I’d say they should be presented to the learner for orientation, but not in the same way or perspective they are written for the designer.
In my experience, different people need different things, at different times. One potential learner may need more information than another to make a decision while ‘the other’ learner may need a much quicker way to understand the WIIFM aspect than having to wade through a list of learning outcomes. Learner audience characteristics (and even the point in their decision process about whether to sign-up or not) might be more relevant than a rule / trend about providing learning outcomes or not.
Good point, Belinda! The learning objectives (made a little more conversational) can be an important part of the learners deciding to take the course or not. Even with this thinking, though, I would argue that by the time the learner gets into the course and starts taking it, they’ve already made that decision. The information needed to make that decision shouldn’t be in the course; it should be available before they get into the course, through whatever medium being used to advertise it. Maybe it’s an LMS entry; maybe it’s a website like a company’s L&D intranet site; maybe it’s an email… To me, it makes sense to list those objectives there so the learner can decide whether or not to register for the course.
The course catalog should have it. But in corporate learning, people often get enrolled in classes by their boss who doesn’t fully communicate why or what it’s about. Stating the objective somewhere in the course content is sometimes our way of catching them up on why the heck they are here. This is why I feel the need to sneak the learning objective into the welcome section if it’s faciliated or the elearning opening summary.
I love how you say “sneak the learning objective into the welcome…” That sounds exactly what I’m going for - something that tells the learner “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) but without being a dry list of formal learning objectives. Love it!
We write LOs for ourselves as designers to guide our design, presenting the same set of LOs to our learners more often than not, will just see the learners skipping past them. One way is to present the LOs as questions as “we will answer for you” to increase the ‘learner centricity’ and use of LOs the ‘hook’.
I will admit, I even skip over the standard “By the end of this learning…” format. While we, as the designer, needs to be aware of the intended outcomes I feel the learner is more interested in the “why is this something I need/want to learn more about”.
So I think the way the objectives are framed plays a crucial part in deciding when and where to include them.
Standard Learning Objectives are written with the Learning Designer in mind. What do we want to accomplish with this training? To be relevant to the learner, the objective, or desired outcome if you will, needs to be written in a way that is relevant to them.
Love this, @JesseSt ! So true.
Hi @JesseSt ,
I'm wondering if AI can potentially assist in helping to reframe the standard learning objective- behavioral objective, into something new that is meaningful for the learner and the learning designer?
I think once it gets “smart” enough, it could be a good way to approach it. I think the challenge comes from where the objectives are coming from another source, for example, vendor-written standards.
I try to present mine in plain and simple language because I know the desired and expected outcomes. So I wonder if AI-generated ones would continue to do that by making it more “flowery”?
Hi @JesseSt ,
Good point! t I am very much looking forward to hearing more conversations on the framing of LOs using AI. I lalso like your point about vendor-written standards and I find this topic to be of great interest esp in LX design.
If you are writing objectives that your learners skip over, you should invest in learning to write better objectives.
I look at LOs as:
- A commitment to my learner (what is the pay off for you)
- A self accountability measure (is my curriculum doing what I told the learner it should do)
- My commitment to my stakeholder (circling back to the needs assessment, after completion of this training, which was developed with XXXX LO in mind, XXXX skill gap was closed).
When coupled with an assessment (which your learning objectives set the framework for) this system provides full and transparent accountability that supports that an Instructional Systems Developer developed their curriculum well and at an appropriate learning level.
If you are in a situation where your curriculum and execution are so well done that your learning objectives and what level of learning you are teaching at are obvious to anyone who looks at your course, you have achieved something I have not seen before.
With over 20 years in this field VERY rarely have I walked into an organization that uses objectives well. Or even passably. Most, do not use them at all.
Until you have mastered the creation and use of objectives, I would highly suggest continuing to use them for your learners as well as a checks and balances / self accountability system for yourself.
I do see AI possibilities in the future that can assist in helping folks create objectives that can be more appealing to learners. I see AI as an assist in curriculum mapping. I see AI in helping folks identify gaps in objectives and curriculum content (I am developing a tool to help me do this now).
But I see LOs as the key element that would drive AI in its ability to help create and tailor more meaningful content and learning experiences (for learners and curriculum developers). Without using LOs as a guiding principle / anchor, I do not see AI as providing much meaningful assistance.