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Ideas on getting rid of bullet points to state course objectives

User Rank Tom Kuhlmann

702 posts

Posted Monday, December 12, 2011 at 2:58 PM  

I wanted to start a thread to collect some ideas on how to make the objectives more emotional and interesting than the standard bullet point list of objectives.

 

I've built courses in the past where we start with simple scenarios that connect the learner to the content and expose the learning objectives.  I had some people ask for some additional ideas so I'll throw it out to the elearning community.

 

If you wanted to get rid of the bullet point objective list, what are some other creative ways to state the objectives?  if you have some examples, feel free to post them.


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Posted Monday, December 12, 2011 at 5:23 PM  

Suggested Answer

I think objectives get a hard knock. I guess almost all bullet lists do. In the last few courses I have developed I have encouraged subject matter experts to think of ways to express their key messages in a more casual, human way. The results are, of course, visual. Here is a sample of 3 methods I have recently used - all basically telling a mini-story similar to watching a movie preview that helps create interest and prevents tune out from happening at the very beginning of an elearning course.


 


1 - Use the SME or other individual to introduce the course and in by doing this, outline the objectives in the form of key messages. I usually also have the same person come back at the end of the course to recap.


 


2. Take the usual bullet list and create visuals for each of the points. Abbreviate text greatly and use narration to describe each (briefly).


 


3 - I've used a post-it note idea that doesn't follow the expected "click next" approach where objectives appear as the next slide. Instead, a post-it note slides in, the user clicks the note, they see the objectives expressed visually in a lightbox and can close that lightbox to return to the "home" screen then continue on with the course.


 


Stephanie


 



objectives.jpg
Tracey Stokely

22 posts

Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 8:15 AM  

Wasn't it Bob Pike who preached for years that Learning Objectives were for those who are teaching (or instructional designing) not learners and they should be left out of the final training. So I usually leave them out - unless the customer insists, then I still try to talk them out of it.


Tracy Newman

24 posts

Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 9:04 AM  

I agree with Tracey! I always hate it during an elearning or a presentation when I have to sit through someone reading the objectives to me. I can't help but think, "Stop telling me what we are going to learn and just tell me the information!" It's reminiscent of the first day of grade school when the teacher tells you about all the cool stuff you will be learning that year, but you don't actually get to learn about anything that day. I always hated that.

 

Don't most learners already know what they are going to learn, based on the description of the course or the presentation? I think a road map is a good idea, but it doesn't seem necessary to me to spend (or waste!) time with explicit objectives when you could be using the time to teach the material.


Nancy Smith

4 posts

Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 1:48 PM  

For a recent module I created for judges, who tend to be very conxervative, I began the module with a story based on an actual difficult situation a judge found himself in.  I gave the learners the opportunity to choose a possible response the judge might have made (What Would You Do: WWYD), then after they chose and received feedback, showed what the real judge actually did to solve his problem. THEN I showed the learning objectives.  With context, they became real to the learners. Of course, I chose the opening story I did because it so aptly illustrated WHY the judges need to learn the material.


Jill Lyall

3 posts

Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 7:34 PM  

Suggested Answer

Hi, looking for ideas......we have a national system of training specifications in Australia that sets out the specs for all accredited training.  The specs are set out in Qualifications frameworks and units of competency, all in very dry language.  One of the qualifications in this system is called Certificate IV in Training and Assessment which is the qualification people must have to deliver accredited training - and part of my role is to deliver units in this qualification. 

 

So at the moment I am grappling with turning the dry and boring language into something with humanity and meaning!  Here are the "outcomes" for one of the units, called "Design and develop learning programs" Element 1:

 

1.1 Clarify the purpose and type of learning program with key stakeholders

1.2 Access amd confirm the competency standards and other training specifications on which to base the learning program

1.3 Identify language, literacy and numeracy requirements of the program

1.4 Identify and consider characteristics of the target group

 

I have been inspired by Tom's approach and will definitely try to incorporate some of his ideas but wouldn't mind picking the brain of others - I have already translated the above into "plain English:"

 

1.1 Who wants our training and why do they want it?

1.2 How do you know what to base your training on?  Are there specified requirements?  Where do you find these?

1.3 What level will you need to pitch your training?  What support will be required?

1.4 Who are your trainees? How will you find out?

 

Next I have to create some engaging ways of putting these over - any ideas are most welcome !!


User Rank Bruce Graham

7,299 posts

Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 12:48 AM  

Suggested Answer

Jill Lyall said:

1.1 Who wants our training and why do they want it?

1.2 How do you know what to base your training on?  Are there specified requirements?  Where do you find these?

1.3 What level will you need to pitch your training?  What support will be required?

1.4 Who are your trainees? How will you find out?

 

Next I have to create some engaging ways of putting these over - any ideas are most welcome !!


Jill,

A hard task!

I would try and go one mopre step with these, and "lighten them up" a bit.

So:

1> I would not, (and try never) to call them "Objectives". I would try "The Survival Kit", or "Things You need to Know Before Starting" etc.

I would focus on the learners more,or make the "Objectives" into questions which you will answer during the course, (questions that people need and want to know the answers to...).

 

"The benefits this training brings to learners"?

"What to base your training on".

"What needs to be in the courses?"

"Writing a course that's useful for everyone".

"What do I do if things go wrong, or if I need help?"

"What are my clients/customers actually like?!"

 

I am sure there will be plenty of of other ideas. Have a look at Tom's Blog - here for some more.

Good luck,and let us know how it goes.

Bruce

 


User Rank Phil Mayor

9,949 posts

Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 2:52 AM  

HI Tom

 

Our recent courses we created a flash interaction for course objectives on slide 6 http://moodle.mylearningspace.me.uk/file.php/1/demo/player.html

 

BUt you could also use the FAQ engage interaction for this

 

I like Bruce's idea of avoiding objectives, unfortunately I work in an industry wjere learning objectives are seen as a must!


Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 8:28 AM  

Suggested Answer

Rather than a list of objectives, I like to use a "Why are you here?" statement. I usually try to incorporate the end result in that statement.


Nancy Smith

4 posts

Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 8:41 AM  

I also use questions as a means of stating learning objectives, as suggested by several above.  I try to vary the approach to stating objectives to maintain interest across modules, but keep a familiar framework so folks feel comfortable undertaking a module. And please, use words your audience can understand without having to work to hard. As a certified teacher, I could understand the language in Jill's original objectives from Australia, but reading them sure didn't make me anxious to take the course!  Arghh!  Jill, keep working at changing the "dry and boring language" into something with "humanity and meaning."  I applaud your efforts!


User Rank David Anderson

3,237 posts

Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 10:48 AM  

We used to refer to poorly written objectives as "stray dogs" and "broken promises" because they never showed up after the opening screen.

 

It kind of makes you wonder why learning objectives are laid out like multiple choice questions:

 


Krista Allen

1 posts

Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 11:02 AM  

Call me old-school, but I think learning objectives, when written and presented correctly, are an essential part of any course. I love the suggestions for making it more conversational/WIIFM-y! Most of my courses are learner-driven; the opening page gives the learner several paths to follow and gives the option of which to explore first. If it fits in with the flow, I'll present it as a "map": "By the end of this course, you should be able to do XYZ. If you want to be able to do X, click here and go down this path..." If objectives don't fit in with the opening flow, I insert a button in the lower left side of the screen that the learner can click to view the objectives and then return to the original screen. I do cringe when I see bullet-point "objectives" that are actually goals. ("At the end of this course, you'll know about TPS Reports." Really? And how do you know that?!!)


User Rank Bruce Graham

7,299 posts

Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 11:05 AM  

Krista Allen said:

. I do cringe when I see bullet-point "objectives" that are actually goals. ("At the end of this course, you'll know about TPS Reports." Really? And how do you know that?!!)



LOL!

I have never seen this differentiation so beautifully phrased and illustrated

Bruce


User Rank Phil Mayor

9,949 posts

Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 11:32 AM  

Krista Allen said:

"At the end of this course, you'll know about TPS Reports." Really? And how do you know that?!!)


I suppose if you ensure you cover this in an end of module test, when we use learning objectives we ensure the end of course test actually covers the learning objectives, although more importantly we ensure the course actually covers the learning objectives


Jill Lyall

3 posts

Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 2:43 AM  

Bruce Graham:  thanks so much, you have helped move my "teacher's block" - I was frozen in a mire of technocratic language!!  I really like the ideas you have suggested and think I can utilise them and move to the next step a little more lightly


Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 8:19 AM  

Suggested Answer

I really like the idea of a scenario that sets up the learning objectives.  You're basically making the case for the user 'needing' this course in a way that's relevant to them rather than just a list.

 

The objectives need to be there in my opinion so that you have something to measure against when the course has been completed but the way they are put across is essential to get the 'buy in' from the user right from the start.

 

I was considering the scenario stuff on the course I'm currently designing, but seeing the 'Emergency Preparedness Kit' demo this week has made it a definite. Thanks again Tom.

 

: )


User Rank Bruce Graham

7,299 posts

Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 1:38 PM  

@Jill - my pleasure, glad to be able to help

I am currently working on a course that has these elements, AND the "setting up a scenarion idea that Gary has made above.

The course starts with some strong visuals of emotional people, and statements such as "Have you ever found yourself losing a deal because........?", "Have you ever found that there's just too much information on Product xxx?" etc. and then goes into "Well, this course is going to help you overcome these, because.....".

I know the emotion "questions" are real, because the SME has told me that this is what gave the impetus for the course in the first place.

So, overall again it is taking "theory", and passing it through a "so what?" filter. Take the objective, and ask "What would this look like if you saw it happening in the office?".

Many people have initial problems with writing objectives this way until they think about it, then it makes traininig much more "real", more "measurable". If you can explain an objective (in the commercial world), in a way that makes sense to the Board, you are getting so much closer than the usually waffly, "people are our greatest asset" way of training that we so often see.

This CAN be done very well using bullet points, however you need to think not about what you are trying to teach, but about the real-life benefits your teaching will bring, written from the LEARNER'S perspective, not the trainer's / facilitator's

Good luck.

Bruce


Kate Holmes

21 posts

Posted Monday, December 19, 2011 at 11:12 AM  

Jill Lyall said:

Hi, looking for ideas......we have a national system of training specifications in Australia that sets out the specs for all accredited training.  The specs are set out in Qualifications frameworks and units of competency, all in very dry language.  One of the qualifications in this system is called Certificate IV in Training and Assessment which is the qualification people must have to deliver accredited training - and part of my role is to deliver units in this qualification. 

 

So at the moment I am grappling with turning the dry and boring language into something with humanity and meaning!  Here are the "outcomes" for one of the units, called "Design and develop learning programs" Element 1:

 

1.1 Clarify the purpose and type of learning program with key stakeholders

1.2 Access amd confirm the competency standards and other training specifications on which to base the learning program

1.3 Identify language, literacy and numeracy requirements of the program

1.4 Identify and consider characteristics of the target group

 

I have been inspired by Tom's approach and will definitely try to incorporate some of his ideas but wouldn't mind picking the brain of others - I have already translated the above into "plain English:"

 

1.1 Who wants our training and why do they want it?

1.2 How do you know what to base your training on?  Are there specified requirements?  Where do you find these?

1.3 What level will you need to pitch your training?  What support will be required?

1.4 Who are your trainees? How will you find out?

 

Next I have to create some engaging ways of putting these over - any ideas are most welcome !!



It might be cool to set it up as a scenario - 4 people brainstorming, asking each other these questions.


Mereki White

29 posts

Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 9:44 PM  

Kate Holmes said:

Jill Lyall said:

Hi, looking for ideas......we have a national system of training specifications in Australia that sets out the specs for all accredited training.  The specs are set out in Qualifications frameworks and units of competency, all in very dry language.  One of the qualifications in this system is called Certificate IV in Training and Assessment which is the qualification people must have to deliver accredited training - and part of my role is to deliver units in this qualification. 

 

So at the moment I am grappling with turning the dry and boring language into something with humanity and meaning!  Here are the "outcomes" for one of the units, called "Design and develop learning programs" Element 1:

 

1.1 Clarify the purpose and type of learning program with key stakeholders

1.2 Access amd confirm the competency standards and other training specifications on which to base the learning program

1.3 Identify language, literacy and numeracy requirements of the program

1.4 Identify and consider characteristics of the target group

 

I have been inspired by Tom's approach and will definitely try to incorporate some of his ideas but wouldn't mind picking the brain of others - I have already translated the above into "plain English:"

 

1.1 Who wants our training and why do they want it?

1.2 How do you know what to base your training on?  Are there specified requirements?  Where do you find these?

1.3 What level will you need to pitch your training?  What support will be required?

1.4 Who are your trainees? How will you find out?

 

Next I have to create some engaging ways of putting these over - any ideas are most welcome !!



It might be cool to set it up as a scenario - 4 people brainstorming, asking each other these questions.



The people brainstorming could work well - you could always have a manager (who wants it), the business or process owner (the standards or requirements), the end user (what level are they at and what do they already know)...  They could all be sitting on your shoulder, asking you to consider their point of view, so you end up with a list of questions which need to be asked when planning the program? 


Jill Lyall

3 posts

Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 12:48 AM  

Hi guys, thanks, I like that idea of a scenario and a group of people brainstorming around those questions.  I am even thinking I could use GoAnimate and create a comic strip scenario.  Jill


Greg Rider

59 posts

Posted Monday, January 07, 2013 at 12:23 PM  

I love all the creative ideas posted about presenting or sharing learning objectives.  I t hink that however they're most effectively used and contextualized, it is important to clarify for the learners what the end result will be for them.  And sometimes the learners do not have any idea what the course goals and content are or they have a very different sense of what those items are.  Clarifying that up-front (or very near the front) in my mind helps everyone to manage expectations and be clear about what will or will not happen during and after the learning activity.

 

Stating the LO also provides the learners with the choice to continue or opt-out, if they realize the activity does NOT meet their expectation and /or need at that particular moment.


Barb Geisler

3 posts

Posted Monday, January 07, 2013 at 2:35 PM  

Suggested Answer

Oh my- is it too late to post to this 2011 thread?  [Somehow I navigated here].  My approach to this dilemma has been comingling the agenda with the WIIFM statement.  You can preach your agenda until you are blue in the face, but until you link your agenda/learning objectives with the benefit to the learner, they can easily tune out.  So, my advice based on what has worked for me is to preach your WIIFM first (What's in it for me) and better yet, merge your WIIFM with your agenda - with bullets, with pictures, or by painting a picture of what your end result is going to be. Here's an example of how we approached it if it helps.

http://www.turbotap.org/portal/Tap_toolkit_2011/Career_Toolkit/module8/player.html

 


User Rank Bruce Graham

7,299 posts

Posted Tuesday, January 08, 2013 at 12:24 AM  

Hi Barb!

It's never too late to contribute to ways of ridding the World of bullets... 

Your point re WIIFM is true, not a case of "easily" tuning out IMHO, but certainly tuning out. Why would they bother to listen/watch if they cannot see a course is relevant to them, in ALL courses.

This is probably the part of being an ID that I spend the most time on - trying to make the "translation" between the SMEs vision, and the business requirements in terms of learning, action and subsequent impact on profit, loss and business risk.

Paint a picture, and a vision to the learner, so that they see a benefit to them.

Spot on.

Bruce


Keith Williams

65 posts

Posted Tuesday, January 08, 2013 at 2:06 AM  

Hi Bruce,

Great feedback.. i am also struggling with the bullet point type objectives... However, I am going to use some of your suggestions to overcome my fears of appearing radical with a change of pace with my 'staid curriculum design ways...'

 

Hell who cares... Give it a go... And see what happens, eh?

 

cheers... Keith


User Rank Bruce Graham

7,299 posts

Posted Tuesday, January 08, 2013 at 2:14 AM  

The easiest place to start, (IMHO) with "Bullets", is just to get rid of the bullet and make it start with a capital letter.

It is then called a sentence... 

Most bullets are not - they are sentences.

A bullet point is a very specific grammatical device - yet many people think it's something you use to represent a lit of sentences.

For that - just use sentences, it makes things so much clearer and professional.

Bruce


Keith Williams

65 posts

Posted Tuesday, January 08, 2013 at 2:32 AM  

Hey Bruce,

 

Get this... Using a capital letter instead of a bullet...??

 

H ... ave you seen the world this close before?

I... f you haven't ... You'll love our approach.

W... atch and  explore from the comfort of your browser.

 

... You could put  these type of bullets into a video as the intro to the course... But show them one line at a time one after the other... the bullets just drop away one after the other....

 

I was thinking of that Bob Dylan type intro as inspiration, where he showed one card at a time with one expression (objective), and dropped each card onto the floor as he went along.... 

 

I know that's quite 'out there' as an idea, but as a visual way.... Might just work?

 

Wanna expand on this idea?

Cheers

-Keith

 

 

 


User Rank Bruce Graham

7,299 posts

Posted Tuesday, January 08, 2013 at 3:39 AM  

Keith Williams said:

Hey Bruce,

 

Get this... Using a capital letter instead of a bullet...??

 

H ... ave you seen the world this close before?

I... f you haven't ... You'll love our approach.

W... atch and  explore from the comfort of your browser.

 

... You could put  these type of bullets into a video as the intro to the course... But show them one line at a time one after the other... the bullets just drop away one after the other....

 

I was thinking of that Bob Dylan type intro as inspiration, where he showed one card at a time with one expression (objective), and dropped each card onto the floor as he went along.... 

 

I know that's quite 'out there' as an idea, but as a visual way.... Might just work?

 

Wanna expand on this idea?

Cheers

-Keith


What - like this?

Bruce


User Rank David Anderson

3,237 posts

Posted Tuesday, January 08, 2013 at 5:02 AM  

Great ideas!

 

Here are a couple ways I like to go about it: 

  • Rewrite as a question and allow the narration to answer the question
  • Shorten bullet points from full sentences to a phrase or even a word
  • Use one bullet point per slide
  • Use an image, graphic, chart or animation in place of each bullet

And here's a post w/Screenrs showing before and afters.


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