Ideas on getting rid of bullet points to state course objectives

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.

61 Replies
Bruce Graham

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

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

Bruce Graham

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

David Anderson

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.

deb creghan

I find that our learners often feel that they don't have time for learning, and often don't think the learning pertains to them.  They need to feel that the course is relevant to them in order to get anything out of it. So, starting with a common scenario or example - one that they could easily find themselves in - helps to 'hook' them and get them interested.  Then I tell them what they should be able to DO after completing the course.  These can be your objectives, but you don't have to use the term "objectives".  

William Brenner

I use illustrations or graphics that build into a theme and add to a larger picture with as little type as necessary...explaining all detail in the audio segments or live presentation. These can be simple geometric shapes. Sometimes I leave some areas blank and ask students to interactively suggest what they would like to walk away with at the end of the course.  And I try not to complicate the screen. A building is an example, where you start by clearning the land from rocks and debris, build a foundation, and then add four or five stories going up.  My goal is to try to use visuals to tell the story and minimize type on the screens and include humor wherever appropriate and relevant.. I have also used an animated character to ask questions that my students typically ask or interject.

Alan Landers

Hmmm, you got me thinking.  First, I'm assuming that we're writing about some sort of computer/desktop/mobile device-based, learner-directed training. I think you can cover course objectives in the course description or whatever it is you send to people who will or are thinking on attending.  I agree with the idea that course objectives are for the designer, not necessarily for the learner.  But, if you must, here are some off the wall ideas that allow the learner to select the objectives that are most important to him or her:

Take a Journey - Create a map at the front of the program with all the objectives as landmarks and let the learner plot his or her route through the course. Tests will ensure the learner acquires the knowledge the course set out to impart.

Complete a Puzzle - Start with a puzzle box that opens, all the pieces fall to the table top, the outline of the puzzle is completed by an avatar and the learner is instructed to find the pieces and complete the puzzle.  Each puzzle piece is a module (AKA objective).  The puzzle metaphor can be continued throughout the program.

Create a Tookkit - Start with a letter from the boss (or someone) saying that she needs a table/chair (something simple to be built).  The learner has to choose which tools to use.  The next screen has an empty toolkit illustration and around it are a bunch of labled  tools that the learner can select to build the table/chair/whatever. The learner has to learn how to use them and pass knowledge tests before the tool can be added to the kit.

The courses can be controlled through knowledge tests and remediation or addition of needed content.

Just some ideas...

Bob S

Late to the party so not sure if this has been suggested yet...

Anyone remember those old short-films in school about various social topics?  The ones that always started with a scenario where you saw something going wrong, and then the picture froze.

One way to open a training with a face full of WIIFM and no bullet points is to let them dive into a scenario  straight away, first slide. Then "freeze" it before the conclusion and introduce the course with a transition along the lines of "this ever happen to you?".

Bob

Julieanne Rice

This is a prevalent issue in Design, and one way I have seen it done really well is to ask the learner questions, which lead to the issues they currently face, and the answer those questions with how the module will help them.

For example:

"Have you noticed how people's eyes glaze over when the term 'training' is mentioned?" (learner clicks an option to answer YES, SOMETIMES, or ABSOLUTELY!) and the response appears, "well, you're not alone; this module will show you how to turn a glazed expression into an engaged expression, through focussing on how the learner will use the knowledge gained through training".

Or

"Do you feel 100% confident in presenting to a large audience?" (learner clicks NO, SOMETIMES, OR NEVER!) and the response appears, "Well, you soon will! This module focusses on presentation skills which will play to your strengths and confidece, and help you WOW your audience".

While I don't advocate leading questions as a learning tool, or aim to sound like an infomercial(!!!) in an online format it can help take the 'tell' feeling out of learning objectives, and inject some relevance and connection.

Keith Williams

Bruce Graham said:

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


Wow.... Bruce... You produced a Storyline presentation that is exactly what I had in mind, with the bullet letters dropping away.

thank you so much.... I think many other people in this forum will benefit from watching your quick presentation too!

cheers

-Keith

Shwetha Bhaskar

This is a fantastic thread, super helpful - I've scratched my head about this issue a number of times as well!

This may be more trouble than it's worth for many projects but one thing we've tried in the past to create a sort of 30 second 'movie trailer' to cover the basic aspects of the course, giving the learner an idea of what to expect. The ones we did were animated (modeled on the RSA Animate videos), but that's pretty labor intensive and requires illustration. A more low rent and much quicker option could be just be screenshots of the course with a few bells and whistles effects and clever voiceover/editing/background music. iMovie, Camtasia, or Storyline, may be good tools to use to get it done on the quick and cheap.  

Bruce Graham

Shwetha Bhaskar said:

This is a fantastic thread, super helpful - I've scratched my head about this issue a number of times as well!

This may be more trouble than it's worth for many projects but one thing we've tried in the past to create a sort of 30 second 'movie trailer' to cover the basic aspects of the course, giving the learner an idea of what to expect. The ones we did were animated (modeled on the RSA Animate videos), but that's pretty labor intensive and requires illustration. A more low rent and much quicker option could be just be screenshots of the course with a few bells and whistles effects and clever voiceover/editing/background music. iMovie, Camtasia, or Storyline, may be good tools to use to get it done on the quick and cheap.  


You could try this approach, just insert screenshots etc?

Could bee quicker?

Bruce

Cheryl Daubney

I like to use clickable check boxes so that the learner can check them off as they read them, or choose which objectives are most important to them.   For example:   have any of these things ever happened to you?

I also like using the markers in Articulate storyline with a graphic in the background (perhaps a scene or a set of people or objects).    

I have also used a click through using big red chevrons and layers  to move backwards and forwards through the list making the 'bullets' more interactive.  

I do think it is important to state learning objectives - as long as they are clearly linked in the content and in any assessment.   Anything that makes them a WIIFM statement helps.

Tracy Scott

We have taken each bullet and made its own slide so we are still stating them but through one sentence titles and graphics.  It goes something like this:

First slide - graphic that relates to how many objectives there are in the course

Second slide - first bullet topic with a grahic to support.

Third slide - Second bullet, etc.

These are very quick slides to introduce what we are talking about, then you can use the full bullet slides as transitions from topic to another. 

We have found that a person will remember the objectives more if you give it to them in a full thought with a graphic for them to recall.

Hope that helps

Edward Springer

Rather than use bullet points, I have begun creating a slide that contains a graphic element that relates to the topic of the course, or to the expected outcome. I then record a voice over where we state the purpose of the course and what the intended outcome is. I like to keep it short and sweet. For example: "Welcome to Safety 101, in this course we'll look at the basic requirements of the company's Safety and Health Program and your responsibilities under that program. When we're done, you will know what those requirements and responsibilities are and how to access additional information in the Company's Safety and Health Manual." For something like this, I'd probably use an image of a person performing a task similar to what our workers do, using appropriate safety equipment. A lead in could include animated text flashing on the slide with key safety terms before the narration begins. A little splash and dash never hurts.

EDU24 GT

Tracey Stokely said:

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.


Totally right!

Bruce Graham

The one thing I have (re)learned about "objectives" this year (as Aroldo pointed out above), is that there are always 2 sets - the objectives of CREATING the course, and the objectives of TAKING the course. Now that I know to look for it I see it time and time again.

Too often the objectives reflect the first one. These often just represent the Sponsor's or company measurements, and have NOTHING to do with the reasons the audience is actually viewing the course. The "Objectives" slide, (if you have one...) no matter how crafted will be pointless unless it addresses realities for your audience - things that THEY recognise as important.

Also - remember that bullet points are NOT just a way of listing things, they are a specific grammatical device. Using them incorrectly will make some of your audience think that you are sloppy in your use of the language. As an ID we need as many allies as we can get, and being seen as sloppy is not necessarily a good way to develop your personal brand!

Tracey Stokely

Yes, do away with course objectives for learners altogether! They should only be used for instructional designers. I think I got that message from Bob Pike back in the late 80's! Make the learning seamless for learners, don't bore them with unnecessary objectives.

https://enerdtracey.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/ditch-the-objectives/

Tracey Stokely
Manager of Documentation, Education, and Translation
Cincom Systems, Inc.

Bruce Graham
Tracey Stokely

Yes, do away with course objectives for learners altogether!

If there was a "Hallelujah" button I would press it now.

They should KNOW what these are by, for example, looking at the Course Description prior to enrolling. It just seems a tired way to design a course.