Clearly defined learning objectives are crucial to the success of any piece of learning – whether classroom-based, elearning, or a combination of both. Without them, how will you know the training has been a success? Sometimes, however, they are a challenge to write. That’s where an instructional design model can come in handy. In this blog, I’ll look at one of these models – Bloom’s taxonomy – and discover how useful it is in elearning.
A brief history
Bloom’s taxonomy is now over 60 years old. It is organised into three domains: cognitive, affective and psychomotor. From a learning perspective, the cognitive domain is the primary focus, and includes six different classification levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
As with most things, age can take its toll. Bloom’s taxonomy needed to be updated for the 21st century. The revised version was designed to reflect the ways in which it was being used in the modern day. The names of the six categories were changed from nouns to verbs, and reordered slightly. The image below shows them side by side.
Using Bloom’s taxonomy to write learning objectives
Now let’s look at each part of the revised taxonomy in more detail to gain a clearer idea of what our learning objectives could be.
Remembering is simply recalling relevant knowledge from long-term memory. It is the simplest part of Bloom’s taxonomy. Your learning objectives could begin with words such as name, label or list.
Understanding is a step up from simply remembering. It’s about learners demonstrating that they understand the facts and ideas that you present to them. You could use words like describe, explain or contrast.
Applying means learners doing something with the knowledge they acquired from the first two levels. Learning objectives using words such as illustrate, demonstrate and use would work well here.
Analysing demonstrates a deeper understanding of a subject. Learners need to show they understand how the different parts of a topic relate to one another. You could use words like categorise, link and simplify.
Evaluating requires learners to critique what they see and make judgements as to whether they would have done the same thing in that situation. Your learning objectives could start with words including choose, compare or select.
Creating is the highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy. It involves reorganising information together in a different way. Use words like formulate, build or modify for these learning objectives.
Making sure you cover learning objectives
Now that you have your learning objectives written, you need to make sure you cover them in the course. At GLAD, we use a range of techniques to make our elearning as engaging and relevant as possible. These techniques help us make sure that each part of Bloom’s taxonomy is covered:
- Including relevant examples, and interesting videos and visuals can help your learners remember content.
- Using checkpoint questions and assessments can test your learners’ understanding of what they have just read or watched.
- Creating realistic scenarios that a learner might encounter in real life allows them to apply their knowledge.
- Learners can use their analytical skills to examine a case study.
- Case studies also allow learners to evaluate a situation, and consider what they would have done in that position.
- Drag and drop interactions give learners the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding by putting elements together.
Some aspects of Bloom’s taxonomy are easier to tie in with modern learning techniques than others. Sometimes a client might want a really simple piece of learning that doesn’t include certain types of interaction. ‘Understanding’ – step two of the taxonomy – is impossible to judge and, as a rule, instructional designers tend to favour leaving this term out of learning objectives.
So while it’s sometimes difficult for elearning to cover all the stages of Bloom’s taxonomy, it still provides – particularly if you consider the first three steps – a great foundation. Because of this, you can create learning objectives that are relevant, engaging and challenging for learners. This will help them get the most out of an elearning course.