Set Your Learning Goals
To set your learning goals and write down your learning goal statement is a fun activity. For me, it sparks my brain in high gear as I go through all the things I want to teach people about my selected topic. I like the process of breaking it down to small pieces, individual goals that I will build my course on.
Learning is the process of acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviours, skills, values, or preferences. Wikipedia
As such, it makes only sense that teaching is the process of facilitating the process of acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviours, skills, values, or preferences.
As a course developer and publisher, you take on the role of creator and facilitator for all the recourses, content and systems by which people will learn what you are teaching.
In the online world, you are in control of what your audience will learn from. You are taking the responsibility whether they have what they need to learn and achieve your learning goals. So, it is critical that you know what learning goals are and what the learning goal(s)1 is for your course.
What will your students learn? What is the learning goal for this course you want to publish?
Learning goals are specific statements of intended student attainment of essential concepts and skills.
After you defined the topic for your course in the first step earlier, you should be able to start writing down the Learning Goals for your course.
Here are some questions you need to ask about your course before you begin designing it.
1. What skills will they walk away with?
If you are teaching your audience how to paint miniature models, start by making a list of each specific skill they will need to learn.
Maybe, it would be a list that includes:
- Preparation of the surface for painting
- How to Sand the surface
- Primer, how to apply
- Applying the paint
- Spray techniques
- Paintbrush techniques
- And the list goes on…
2. What knowledge will they possess?
This is about more than real tips, it is about the knowledge they will need to have about the topic. Again continuing with our miniature model, we could include:
- When and Why we need to prepare a surface for painting (the how is a skill)?
- What kind of paint we should use, when and where?
- What is the advantage of a particular technique over another one?
I’ll come back to this example shortly. Before we do that, let’s look at other learning goals.
3. What feelings or motivations will they gain from your course?
If you are teaching personal development courses, you are not only teaching about skills and knowledge, you are also trying to motivate people to use these new skills or the information you give them for a long time. You may be wanting to change the way they think about themselves or their current situation in life.
As an example, if you are teaching a course on Personal Productivity, you want your learner to feel empowered about taking control of their time and workload. You want them to feel like they will have more time left to do the things they are passionate about. You want them to feel excited about the future -once they apply what your course is teaching them.
Ask yourself what makes you excited about this topic? That could be the same thing your learners are looking for? Make that a learning goal.
4.If your course is about ‘fixing’ or changing how people do things, what are the correctives actions or changes will they apply?
Let’s say that most people are painting miniature models the wrong way and that because of using the wrong methods they have poor results. There a list there on the specific steps they need to take to “do it right” like the TV renovator Mike Holmes would say.
If your course is about better use of Outlook to handle emails, then what are the steps they need to learn. Start by steps addressing what they need to do to ‘clean up’ their Inbox so that they can start fresh. Then, list the steps they need to do when the next email comes in, and the following steps and so on.
Back to our miniature model painting example, we could end up with a hybrid list that has skills (S) and knowledge (K) together. It could look like this:
1. Preparing the surface before painting.
Why and when we need to prepare the surface (K)
What product or material to use for preparing the surface (K)
How to prepare the surface for priming (S)
2. Painting the surface
What type of paint to use (K)
What are the different application methods we can use, and when (K)
What types of Brushes (K)
Paint Spay Tools and AirBrush (K)
How to paint with a brush (S)
How to paint with Airbrush (S)
How to paint with Spay cans (S)
3. Finishing and Decals
A review of finishing options (S)
When should clear coat be used (K)
How to apply the clear coat (S)
How to apply decals (S)
And so on….
The reason I do it this way is that by making this list, I kill two birds with one stone. Do you see how your extended learning goals now have become an outline for your course? I will use and expand this list as I build my course. It will also be a great start to the information you need to market your course.
Now, I need to look at my list and write soon one or two sentences that will become my official Learning Goal statement.
For the miniature model painting course above, my learning goal statement could be:
“In this course, you will learn how to Paint Miniature Models. You will learn what methods and techniques work best for the results you are looking for. You will also understand the reason why we recommend these techniques and will be able to adapt what you learn to your specific needs. You will be proud of the beautiful miniature models you have created.”
What is your Learning Goal Statement?
1 I use the singular goal, but some courses will have many goals. Just make sure you are focused on a single area. Learning Goals that are too broad don’t work.