How Learning Objectives Guide eLearning Development

September 10, 2021

Introduction

When writing an eLearning course, one of the most difficult parts is deciding what success even looks like. Often, we approach eLearning as “I know that all my employees need to know about sexual harassment, so they don’t do it”, and we think this is enough direction to get started. But is it? Is it enough to “know” about something to direct behavior?

Let’s look at two different course outlines for a sexual harassment course:

Comparing Two Approaches to a Sexual Harassment Training

Information Dump Approach Objective-Based Approach

Welcome to this course on Sexual Harassment

This is what sexual harassment is

This is the different between harassment and quid-quo-pro

This is what to do if you see sexual harassment

Please don’t sexually harass

10-question quiz

Targeted Behavior Change: Read this scenario we see commonly around here. Do you think it’s sexual harassment? Yes, it is. We have a problem with this at our company.

Knowledge: This is what sexual harassment is. Brief. To the point.

Targeted Behavior Change: This is the most common sexual harassment we are currently seeing.

Attitude Focus: This is why sexual harassment is awful. It’s bad for harassers, victims, the company… watch this very motivational video from an ex-harasser and a victim.

Targeted Behavior Change: Read this scenario. What would you do if you saw this type of behavior? Was it harassment? Should you report it? Yes, you should! This was harassment and should be reported.

Knowledge: This is what to do if you see sexual harassment.

Attitude Focus: This is not who we are. Don’t sexually harass.

What was different here?

  • The information dump was not targeted to issues at the company.
  • The information dump didn’t include scenarios and decision making.
  • The objective-based approach thought about what the learner needed to learn, do, and feel to not sexually harass. The objective-based approach didn’t rely on a quiz for engagement.
  • The objective-based approach is much more likely to change behavior and accomplish the goal because it focused on the issue from multiple angles.

The big difference you may not have seen here was that the objective-based approach was more thoughtful and time consuming to put together. Designing and developing it would require more time too. The instructional designer would have to ask questions about the top issues, most common scenarios, and put together motivational video content to help learners “feel the issue”, rather than just learn about it.

Because objective-based design takes more time, it’s often not used. Most projects are okay with lower quality to push something out quickly. We argue that if you do not consider thoughtful objectives in your eLearning development, your course may completely fail. This is a waste of everyone’s time. Your time, the eLearning developer’s time, and the learners. It goes back to the age-old argument “what’s the point of doing something if you’re not going to do it right?”

Developing eLearning with Objectives

First, let’s talk about what learning objective is. A learning objective is NOT a list of what is being covered in a course/training.

A learning objective is a small goal of what the learning will know, do, or feel differently after completing the course.

Here’s how we classify learning objectives:

Educational Objective
Change Knowledge
Behavioral Objective
Change Behavior
Attitude Objective
Influence Attitude

Define

Explain

Identify

Label

List

Match

Recall

Recognize

Apply

Calculate

Demonstrate

Locate

Perform

Use

Advocate

Comply

Cooperate

Decide to

Support

Recommend

Example:

Explain what qualifies as sexual harassment.

Example:

Report incidents of sexual harassment.

Example:

Report incidents of sexual harassment.

Notice how these objectives thoughtfully consider what the learner will know, do, and feel after completing the eLearning. With this approach, the eLearning will be more engaging and likely to accomplish the goals and purpose of the course.

 

How to Write eLearning Objectives

If you’re ready to take the step to write quality objectives for your eLearning, follow these 5 steps:

  • Define a business goal
  • Find your audience
  • Choose the “verbs”
  • Add measurements (if possible)

 

Let’s walk through these a bit more

#1: Define Your Goal
Define the overall business goal of the training/education. What is it that you would like to see accomplished by this training? It’s best if this is a business goal with an identifiable key performance indicator (KPI) that the eLearning will help adjust.
Example: Decrease the number of sexual harassment claims by 40%.

#2: Define Your Audience
Define your audience. Bear in mind that sometimes different audiences need to accomplish difference objectives.
Example:All employees need to comply, but the department with the most claims is Information Technology. They may need more intervention.

#3: Choose the Verbs
Select actionable verbs that audience need to take to reach that goal.
Here are some examples of verbs for each type of objective, and sample objectives:
Educational
Change Knowledge
Training
Change Behavior
Attitude
Influence Attitude

Define

Explain

Identify

Label

List

Match

Recall

Recognize

Apply

Claculate

Demonstrate

Mocate

Perform

Use

Advocate

Comply

Cooperate

Decide to

Support

Recommend

Example
Explain what qualifies as sexual harassment.
Example
Report incidents of sexual harassment.
Example
Decide to not participate in sexual harassment.

 Example:

All employees: Explain what sexual harassment is

All employees: Identify situations that are or are/not sexual harassment

All employees: Refrain from sexual harassment.

All employees: Report incidents of sexual harassment.

Information Technology group: Support our sexual harassment policy

#4: Add Measurements (if applicable)
If you can add some kind of measurement to the objective, it will add a degree of mastery and make it possible to measure the success of the objective.
Example:All employees: Report incidents of sexual harassment within 3 business days of the incident.

After writing your objectives, take the time to thoughtfully evaluate your list of objectives and determine if you think it will help accomplish the business goal. This will ensure you eLearning is a true value add to the business and the time of your audience.

Nicole Boswell

Nicole leads instructional design for Trainicity. In her 10+ years of experience she has developed high-quality online and instructor-led training to effectively impact business goals and strategies.

Ready To Get Started? Contact Us

Want to learn more?

Our team is available to answer any questions about
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.