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From problem formulation to learning outcomes

e-Learning course

When creating an e-Learning course, there are different steps that need to be taken to improve the effectiveness of the course and gain retention. Therefore, do not start with creating the content of the course, which most authors will do. First, you need to think about your goals and the purpose of the course. Why do you make an e-Learning course? What do you want your learners to achieve? What knowledge and competencies do you want them to acquire? There are a lot of question that must be asked.

WHAT?

At first, start to formulate the overall goal of the course. This means a broad and overall statement of what will be achieved. Never lose sight of this goal and create your course around it. If you don’t do this, there is no point in setting these goals in the first place. Most of the time, this goal arises from a concrete, specific, practical problem. For example, in your company you experience a lack of knowledge about the norms and values of the company among your employees. The goal of the course will be to provide clear information about the norms and values of the course.

Some would say this goal is a little vague and too difficult to create an e-Learning course out of it. That’s why there is an important second step. The overall goal needs to be divided in concrete, measurable, assessable learning objectives (sub goals). Keep the learning outcomes that you want to achieve in your mind after reaching the sub goals, these two should always match.

The next step will be building the structure of your e-Learning course. Start with creating the questions that will assess the learning objectives. This will tell you what the learner needs to be able to do or know. The final step is adding content that is directly connected to the questions. Less is better!

WHY?

 But why should you put any effort in creating the goals and outcomes? Learning development starts with creating the goals.  The design and development strategy needs to be based on these goals. As a preceptor it is important to get some insight into how to provide meaningful, interactive and informative learning experiences, which should focus on achieving those goals. This way you will create the best possible learning environment for your learners. When you teach your learners something, it needs to have value for the learners, they want to achieve something when taking a course. It’s your goal to meet these needs and increase the motivation. Create e-Learning experiences that motivate and engage the learners. Knowing the desired outcome will enable you to create a strategy that encompasses necessary information, tools, and activities and not deluge you with an overload on cognitive information. The fact that you don’t have a predetermined goal of what you want to achieve will prevent you from achieving it effectively.

HOW?

After knowing what learning goals and outcomes are and why you should create them for your e-Learning course, I’ll explain exactly how you can make them. Here are four questions you should ask yourself which will help you develop the objectives of your e-Learning course; who are the learners completing this course; what do you want them to be able to do after completing the course; what do they need to know to do this, and what must the learner understand to be able to do it?

Another important aspect to keep in mind is knowing how to communicate the objectives. Clearly communicating your goals is just as important as developing them. Be as specific as possible and tell your audience precisely what your e-Learning course is going to offer them. Remember to always think about the learners’ perspective. Easygenerator has developed a tool for this: The learning objective maker.

The learning objective maker in Easygenerator is an easy tool to create the sub goals of your e-Learning course. While creating the goals and objectives, you have to think about what the learners should be able to do at the end of your e-Learning course. This tool guides you through the formulation of the sub goals. First you need to decide who the learner is. The next step is to decide what you want your learners to be able to do. The tool is based on Bloom’s taxonomy, this will allow you to choose the learning level and the right verbs to clarify the goal. After choosing the verbs, you need to define what the task is. The final step is describing the learning conditions. After following these steps, the learning objective or sub goal is created. Then you can start again and create another one, three or four objectives will be enough.

Next step: Structure your course

Once you’ve carefully formulated the learning goal(s) of your e-Learning course, all of the other aspects of your e-Learning design and development strategy will fall into place. It helps you organize the material in a proper way so learning becomes as effortless as possible and thus more immersive. First, decide (based on the learning objectives you set) what and how you want to assess your learners. This is important because the learning goals needs to be adapted to the learning outcomes. These outcomes be achieved by setting the right assessment. Based on the assessment you will use, make the content. This content should be made after setting the assessment, in this way you won’t give too much unnecessary information to the students, which will make the course specific and to the point. This kind of courses make it more efficient and interesting for the learner.

One last thing to remember: Always keep an eye on the learning objectives, never lose sight of what you want the learners get out the experience!