Online Course Development - How to Create Effective Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives are an important component of eLearning. These are what students should know, be able to do and under what circumstance at the completion of the unit or course.

Learning Objectives help define the below much clearly.

  • They set the guidelines for what knowledge and skills should be taught and what students should learn
  • They determine what learning experiences the learner needs and the type of eLearning strategies to employ
  • Lead to what the learners need to be assessed on
  • Set up assessments to reconfirm objectives are achieved and where the skill gaps are

Let’s take the following scenario below to create learning objectives.

  • Client: Giant Telecom Provider
  • Course: Implementing Payment Plans
  • Target Audience: Credit Officers
  • Client Goal: To ensure that credit officers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to organise, calculate and create payment plans.

At the end of this course, the learner will be able to:

  • Identify the root cause of late payments leading to arranging payment plans
  • Discuss the various options available to arrange a payment plan
  • Calculate the minimum repayment amount required under a payment plan
  • Create a payment plan for the client
  • Recommend steps to the client for avoidance of late fees

So, now we have 5 learning objectives. Let’s take a closer look at each of them and dissect it further.

Identify the root cause of late payments leading to arranging payment plans

The learner needs to be made aware of how to identify the root cause? Will they be presented with real life examples? Will they be presented with research findings? Will there be presented with images or scenario based learning?

How will they help with resolving the issue? Will there be a case study or a scenario based learning concept? Will there be principles presented to show how to resolve the issue.

Discuss the various options available to arrange a payment plan

What type of options?

What are payment plans? Are the learners aware of what payment plans are? If not, a section on payment plans has to be introduced otherwise the leaner will not be able to know or help the client on the types of options available

Do you just present facts, or can you introduce characters and create a simulation?

Calculate the minimum repayment amount required under a payment plan

How will the learner calculate? How will you best articulate this in the eLearning? Again, does your target audience know what a payment plan is? If no, do you need to create a section and explain the governing laws of what they can and cannot offer the client? Has the client provided you this information?

Create a payment plan for the client

Create? Create in excel, create in word. Do you need to offer a simulation or an example sheet in the course so that the learner can acquire the skill to do this at the end of the course? Do you add an assessment based on this to test their understanding of how to create a payment plan? Can you include resources in the resource tab?

Recommend steps to the client for avoidance of late fees

Recommend? How do you recommend steps to the client? Will steps be shown in the eLearning course? What are late fees? Do the learners have an awareness of what is deemed as late fees? If no, it has to be presented in the eLearning course.

Now, having further expanded the Learning Objective, it becomes clear that there is something missing. Some of the objectives do not clearly define under what circumstance the learner should know and be able to do something.

This is something many eLearning specialist can debate about but it really depends on the overall goal of the course. If you feel that you need to state this, then you have to ensure that this statement can be assessed and sometimes, in an online learning course it is almost impossible to do unless there is a face to face training or assessor who can validate this.

To illustrate my point, let’s go back to this learning objective

  • Create a payment plan for the client
  • Create a payment plan for the client in 5 minutes

If I create the second learning objective, how will this be assessed within the online eLearning framework? This will be an external assessment the client will have to perform to ensure that the learner can really complete this activity in 5 minutes.

Learning objectives are there to help guide the process of course development and to ensure you stay in line and meet your client expectations. Remember, the moment a learner clicks on the start button, there are there to learn; either something new or going through something they already know in a little more detail. It is up to you and your ability to identify the target audience, what they are supposed to be learning and how it can be measured.

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