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What Am I Going To Learn Here?: How Clear, Measurable Course Objectives Define The Student Experience

Erin Dotson-Kelly

The absolute most important part of creating your online course is your learning objective.  As I discussed in my earlier blog about how to start the design of your course, your learning objective should be the first thing you figure out. Not only does it set the stage for how you start developing your content, but it’s also the piece by which your potential students will decide whether or not to purchase your course. For these reasons, it is the most important piece of the course creation process.

What’s a Learning Objective?

Simply put, the learning objective is the end goal for your course. It’s what all your lessons and modules lead up to. It’s the culmination of all the knowledge you’ve shared. The learning objective should take the form of one sentence, but you can have multiple learning objectives for your course. You should just take caution to not include too many; this can make for an unwieldy course that is either too long or one that doesn’t actual provide content to master all learning objectives.

How Do I Determine My Learning Objective?

Think about what you want to offer your students. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the most important thing for them to learn?

  • What do you want them to know, to understand, to be able to do once they’ve completed the lessons you have created?

  • What skills, what knowledge are they going to walk away with?

Write all of your ideas down. Look at your list with purpose. Which of your items is truly the end goal of your course? Which of your items can be “nested” under the course learning target?

For example - say my course was about cooking Thanksgiving dinner. My learning objectives might look something like this:

  • You will cook five dishes for Thanksgiving dinner by using a clearly outlined cooking plan.

  • You will serve all your dishes at the same time by timing their start and end times correctly.

Here, my objectives are clear. My students will 1) cook five dishes for Thanksgiving, 2) will finish all five dishes at the same time, and they will do it by 3) using an outlined cooking plan.

When they see these statements, they know what they will be able to do by the time they’re finished with my course. They will also have a clear metric by which to measure whether or not they’ve mastered the learning (or that my course delivered on its promises!).

The next step here would be to further breakdown the course objectives into smaller targets that will become the focus of your lessons and modules. We’ll discuss in a later blog post!

How Do I Communicate The Learning Objective?

Your objectives are how your customers know what to expect from taking your course. Because of this, you have to communicate them clearly to your customers before they purchase your course.  

Your objectives have to be clearly stated on your course landing page. This is one of the factors that will entice your potential customers into purchasing your course. If you are clear about what you will teach, they are clear about what they will learn, and they are more likely to purchase from you.

If you’d like to chat more about how your course learning objectives, set-up a discovery call, or contact me for more information about my services!