How To Write A Learning Objective For An Online Course

In this article, Michael Rackley breaks down the best way to structure an online learning objective.

Thanks to digital initiatives and impressive digitized instruction systems, digital courses are rapidly becoming accessible to more students than ever before. As with any digital course, there are still learn how to orient to the source material and the platform, facilitate discussion, and provide basic digital communications platforms for course participation. With so many options available for accessing, working on, and mastering online courses, it’s critical to understand and write appropriate learning objectives for an online course. These objectives can be drafted either before, during, or after the course’s start. When writing for these in-process objectives, two skill areas are critical: ideation and reporting.


The first exercise of ideation that should be applied to an online course is to briefly examine the text to fully analyze and evaluate the arguments and concepts presented. Proper strategy and approach are likely to be put into place as the learning objective is now on a path towards fruition. If an online course is intended to serve an interactive task, each individual learning objective should be broken down into smaller parts so that the options are concrete and easy to comprehend. For example, if readers are given 16 options regarding an elementary education concept, a verb form and visual properties (such as “create a piece of art that resembles”) should be evaluated against each of the options and a strategy should be developed for each. There may be two options for whether readers will need to use a tape measure to measure a child’s feet or whether parents can use a chart to visually calculate heights.

Sharing and Interaction

Ideation is interwoven within learning objectives. It is important to structure the learning objectives so that authors document to-dos and specific ideas which become interactive. Sharing terms and ideas to groups and facilitating the interpretation of concepts is one of the foundational steps in the learning objective process. In addition, studying visuals and research notes can be very useful in supplementing online course work. Having a record of all material that was read and discussed will highlight areas of greatest interest and provide important additional information for the focus of research once a learning objective is set in motion. Reporting is the next piece of the learning objective equation, considering that for each online course, an audience may consist of individuals who have the ability to review and comment on the material either individually or in a group setting.

Written Form and Project Marketing

Different technologies have differing learning objectives. For example, a digital learning objective should include the designer’s visual strategy; a video transcript, feed, and clip recording; and a document highlighting common themes among the website content created by the writer. It is extremely beneficial for the writer to include the number of views and comments generated during each step in the process, as well as a brief description of the domain in which the material was viewed. It is critical to note that the content and presentation should be a lively and engaged experience.

At the end of the day, learning objectives for online courses should focus on breaking down large, complex topics into small actionable pieces that are both functional and engaging. If a reader is asked to participate in a panel discussion and they have a generic perception of how the lesson could go, they will most likely not use the opportunity to fully participate. Instead, a journalist might provide an argument based on the reader’s misunderstanding or unfamiliarity with a given subject and a strategist would offer a written objective that guides the readers towards a specific outcome. The goal is to offer readers a viable alternative that, when effectively done, can encourage a deep exploration of and confidence in the subject matter, the authorship, and the content.

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