Just like it happens in real life, when we have a direction, it’s much easier to focus on our objective and achieve our goals. And the same goes for e-learning courses.
Setting clear objectives is the first step to generating real learning. It will allow you to measure the knowledge your audience is acquiring… and enjoy the process! Want to know why SMART learning objectives are the best way to succeed with your courses? Read everything about it in this post 😊.
Okay, so let’s start with the foundation.
What are your learning objectives?
A learning objective is a measurable and real result of what you want to achieve with your course. In a nutshell, it answers the question What skills will my audience have at the end of the process?
Here’s an example. Imagine you’re a physiotherapist and you’re planning a training course about sportive injuries. This would be a good objective for it:
“At the end of this course, you will know what the best knee rehab exercises for football players are, depending on different injuries”.
Why is it so important to set objectives before creating your e-learning course?
Basically, to make sure that you’re on the same page as your audience, that you all want to reach the same point:
- Clear objectives help design relevant training. They help define the information you will include for your audience to learn in an effective way.
- They help you manage your resources more efficiently, focusing on the information, formats and activities that do add value.
- Training objectives help measure the evolution of your course Remember: it’s not all about the content. You also have to evaluate if learners are assimilating it correctly.
5 keys to set SMART learning objectives
Experience shows that learning objectives are usually too general. This doesn’t work. You have to delimit them so they are useful for you and your audience. Other way, they lose all their value.
The word SMART should be your guide. So, your objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound:
Specific: what are the requirements your audience need to learn? Set two or three and make them short and concrete.
Measurable: by the end of your course, you can evaluate your audience with a multiple-choice test to determine if all the important concepts are set and ready to be applied.
Achievable: If you can make clear how they will learn the theory, then your objectives are achievable.
Relevant: Make sure the content you include (the theory, formats and resources) is useful to generate effective learning.
Time-bound: Set a specific period of time for your audience to start and finish the course. It will allow you to allocate tasks better and your team will organize according to their routines.
Here comes an eazy tip. When setting your objectives, think about the smaller tasks your team will develop when the course is over. For instance, will they be able to sell a product effectively to a tough client? And explain specific concepts to better develop their duties?
Great! Let’s continue with some practice. This is the difference between a good and a bad objective:
A BAD LEARNING OBJECTIVE IS…
“This course will explain why it’s important to add to your web elements like pop-ups, banners and forms, and how they help you increase your conversion rate”.
Why is it a bad learning objective?
- It doesn’t set a period of time.
- It’s not forwarded directly to your audience.
- It’s too long and complex.
- It’s not possible to measure its results.
A GOOD LEARNING OBJECTIVE IS…
“By the end of this course, you will be able to differentiate between most common knee injuries: anterior cruciate ligament, fracture and torn meniscus”.
Why is it a good learning objective?
- It’s forwarded directly to your team.
- It describes precisely what they will be able to do once the course is over.
- It sets a specific period of time.
- It includes action verbs and its results are measurable,
Okay, so now you have your objectives all set, how do you adapt them to your e-learning course strategy?
The model ‘Say – Show –Do– Apply’
In order for you to reach your objectives effectively, you must have an strategy that ensures knowledge transmission. The model ‘Say – Show –Do– Apply’ is a great start, since it covers the 4 phases of the learning process.
Phase 1: TO SAY or to inform
This is the moment to present the information to your learners, answering the questions what?, why?, how? and when? Now you can communicate your objectives, tell them what they’re going to achieve and what techniques and tools you will be using.
Use questions, tests and exercises to know the level of knowledge they have. This way, you’ll know if your objectives are sensible or if you should make changes.
Let’s say you’re a physiotherapist again. Before starting with the theory, make a Q&A test. Does your audience know the knee ligaments, muscles and tendons? And what are the most common injuries? And specific injuries in football players? And their causes?
Later on, no matter the content you’re offering, use metaphors, stories and visual elements that help understand new concepts. Playing with familiar ideas will make the start of the course easier for everybody 😉.
Phase 2: TO SHOW
Always use examples to show how theory can be applied to real-life problems. The strategy that works the best is customizing through experience,
Case studies, scenarios, simmulations or videos help create a context and understand more complex ideas.
For instance, if you want your team to learn to identify the most common knee injuries in football players, add an interactive video with:
- Different types of radiographies.
- A real case of an injured football player.
- Symptoms and consequences entailed.
In this post, you can read everything about interactive videos for e-learning and why they’re a great recource to catch your audience’s attention right away.
Phase 3: TO DO or to practice
So, here’s the part we all love the most, practice, where learners put to the test the knowldge they’ve aqcuired – and trainers observe how well they’ve assimilated it.
The best strategy is to focus on activities that mimic their real environment. Interactive resources like games and simmulations are perfect to make them feel a part of the process.
Let’s go back to our example. If your want your team to learn how to examine a knee injury to treat it correctly, simmulate a real visit. Create the most truthful scenario possible and make them write their own script.
Also, make possible for your audience to give and receive feedback throughout the course, not only when it’s over!
Phase 4: TO APPLY through assessment and in real life
In this final phase, after observing their performance, you measure it. Now you can evaluate whether you’re achieving your objectives or not, what concepts you need to reinforce, add new ideas…
You can use strategies like an objectives evaluation map, pre and post-test, review questions, more games and role-plays…
Summing up, think about this: How will you develop high-quality content if you don’t know what your team needs? How will you know (for sure) your course was effective? What tools do you have at hand? Answering these questions will allow you to achieve the results you want and engage your audience more efficiently.
Always use tools that make this process a breeze. The best option: a content creation software that offers resources you can set up in a few clicks. Resources to create, organize, add, remove… in a blink of an eye! And of course, that allow for evaluation. Create your first course now with the free trial of isEazy and discover why it’s the #1 e-learning solution!