Tag Archives: Instructional Design

Writing Learning Objectives

Last week a colleague asked me if could recommend any resources to help out with writing objective statements. I had to admit right from the start that I, too, could use a refresher.

The Basics

It may not be the most glamorous part of the design process, but it is oh so important to nail down before moving on. The learning objectives serve to clarify the purpose of the experience you are about to create. Key questions to consider as you get started:

  1. How should the learner be changed after completing the lesson?  Will they know something they didn’t know before, be able to do something they weren’t able to do before?
  2. How will you know the change has taken place? This leads to how learning can and will be assessed. (Good to start thinking about this now.)
  3. At what level are you writing these objectives? Objectives can be written on multiple levels – program, course, module, lesson – and should be connected. Have higher-level objectives already been written?
  4. Do performance standards already exist that might guide your work? Depending on the context of the learning experience you are creating, and the content topic (think medical training, teacher education, etc.) there may be professional organizations or regulating agencies that provide standards that need to be met.

All too often the writing of learning objectives is rushed or left out completely resulting in a product that is not effective as intended – failing to provide the learners with what they need to achieve that ‘change’ that was required and expected.

Who writes, reviews, and approves learning objectives? A Subject Matter Expert may provide the learning objectives or the Instructional Designer may draft for review. Ideally, this is a collaborative process – there is a lot to consider in terms of expected outcomes, content, delivery, and assessment.

A Few Resources

  • A Quick Guide to Writing Learning Objectives – Big Dog Little Dog – There are a lot of nice posts on this site. This one provides templates and examples.
  • Writing Learning Objectives – The eLearning Coach – Another favorite blog. This post is Part 1 of 3 in a series.
  • Guide to Writing Learning Objectives – NERC – A comprehensive document with writing prompts, and lots of good and bad examples from a professional organization/industry perspective.
  • Action Words – There are a lot of these lists available online. This one seems to be one of the more comprehensive versions out there and is organized according to Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Share your experiences!

What’s the most difficult part of writing learning objectives? Who on your team writes, reviews, and approves the learning objectives? What tips would you offer others asking for help?

Image credit: Mark Brannan, Flickr

Open or Commercial? Selecting eLearning Development Tools

Whether you are creating a storyboard, editing a photo, writing a training guide, or developing a presentation there are endless choices of applications available. How do you choose? If you are the one making the decisions about which tools to use to develop an elearning project – either you’ve been assigned this task in your organization or you’re freelance – you find that some tools are free to use, while others require the purchase of a license. A previous post listing tools freelancers might choose, included a mix of open and commercial recommendations.

I suspect that there are multiple ways to approach this. My time in organizations with limited budgets saw supervisors asking us to fully review and test open options first, before making a purchase. While private employers often insisted upon specific commercial products and sometimes proprietary ones developed in house.

A few considerations:

  • Budget – What can you afford? This one question may be the deciding factor for you or your organization.
  • Context – Does the choice change based on where the eLearning is to take place? (higher education, K-12, corporate, industry)
  • Input / Output – What raw materials will you be working with in terms of file types, images, etc.? What do you need to end up with, again, in terms of file types?
  • Utility – What functionality do you need? There are different considerations and implications for choosing something like an LMS (Moodle vs. Blackboard) versus a photo editor (Gimp vs. Photoshop).
  • Support & Training – Where can you turn if you need help with a product? Is there an additional cost associated? There is also an investment in time required to learn how to use something new. What is available in terms of tutorials and user communities?

Resources:

Your thoughts?

This post contains more questions than answers. Please consider sharing your experiences and preferences in the comments here.

Image credit: stock.xchng

Tools for Freelance Instructional Designers

A recent LinkedIn eLearning Guild Group member asked “What are the top tools for freelance elearning design and development?” and 100 comments later, there was quite a list.

The result was a nice mix of both specific software for getting the work done and advice and suggestions related to running a freelance business.

Here is my attempt to categorize and capture all of the recommendations, in no particular order of course. While I tried to include everything that was mentioned, my apologies if  I may have missed one or two…

  • Software Suites and Packages – Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe eLearning Suite, Articulate Studio, Microsoft Office, Open Office, Google Tools

  • Rapid Development – Captivate, Lectora, Cam Studio, Camtasia, Articulate
  • Screencapture/Screencast – Jing, Screenhunter, Snagit (very popular!), Snap4

  • Image/Photo Editing – PaintNet, GIMP, PaintShop Pro
  • Video – Sony Vegas Pro, Sorenson Squeeze, After Effects, Celtx Script Writing
  • Audio – Audacity, Soundbooth, Levelator
  • Delivery – LMS, Portal – WordPress, Drupal, Blackboard, Moodle

  • Synchronous Communication – Skype, DimDim, Elluminate, WebEx, Centra, LiveMeeting, Oovoo
  • Programming Skills – PHP, HTML5, CSS3, SCORM
  • Project Management – Gantto.com, OpenWorkbench, MSProject, LotusLive
  • Business Operations – Dropbox, GetHarvest.com, Adobe Acrobat, PrimoPDF, QuickBooks, FreshBooks, MyHours.com, FastTrack, BullZip, PDFPen, Zoho, and a local small business Accountant
  • Professional Development – Books – Roam, Clark, Horton; Advice – Entrepreneurship.com, Forbes.com; Networking and Mentorship – professional associations recommended: ASTD, IPSI
  • And more… Notepad++, iSpringFree, Flash Firestarter, SwishMax2, MindManager, Prezi, Xtranormal, ReadtheWords.com, Tokbox, Adobe Kuler, Wampserver, Balsamiq, Questionmark, Madcap Flare, Color Schemer, Fireshot, and Compliance testing sites

A few absolutes to close: Internet access, a powerful computer with multiple monitors, coffee, aspirin, a sense of humor, and a support system!

How about it, Freelancers? Any corrections or additions to the list?

Update! (12/1/2010): Please see the cross posting on OpenSesame. They have graciously provided links to each of these tools! Very helpful.

Image credit: keepthebyte, Flickr