How do you identify learning objectives?

Question to the masses:

When tasked with an e-learning project, how do you go about identifying the learning objectives? 

Does your boss or client provide them to you? If no,  are there any specific questions that you ask your client or boss to help you identify the learning objectives? 

Do you analyse source content to identify them yourself? If so, what is your method for doing that?

Any tips, tricks, experiences, or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. 

Thanks in advance!

31 Replies
Michael Jones

As an internal ID, I have found it sometimes challenging to establish what I know to be "good" Learning Objectives. Our Stakeholders and SMEs have a history of creating their own training while our team was being built. The result is a wide population of our internal clients think that "know" and "understand" are the only type of objectives that need met.

However, with careful discussion and lots of questions about the purpose of the training and their ideas for what content should make up the training, I gradually shift the conversation to the desired performance outcome. By posing the questions to the SME or Stakeholder, I've found it much easier to guide them to coming up with what the objectives should be. It's really enjoyable to watch them make the light-bulb go off in their own head. It's much more pleasant than having the never ending debate on whether or not you can observe someone understanding, or if that act of "understanding" is really the goal of the training in the first place.

This guiding and allowing the client to have the realization on their own helps to foster a much better working relationship, especially when our internal department tends to otherwise be viewed as an order-taker/PowerPoint Masseuse. 

Nina Gerke

Dear Rachel,
even though it might be a bit late I want to thank you for your blog post. Right now I am struggling with learning objectives and how to phrase them properly. You can google yourself into oblivion and all you find are many many theoretical approaches, or long discussions where everybody agrees on the importance of well written objectives. It is so nice to have some simple examples because I am not a native speaker of English and find it hard to follow the scientific approaches. Thank you for providing some nice examples I can learn from.
Cheers from Hamburg,
Nina