After having flown by the seat of our pants as far as strategic use of learning is concerned, the summer slow down has allowed me to sit down and think. I am trying to articulate some sort of educational strategy, as well as defining the company's learning philosophy.
It all seemed pretty straight foward untill I started doing it, and now I am hoplessly stuck. Beeing a clear minority in our company, my collagues and I want to set the stage for learning and not just publish powerpoint courses. An initial step has been to introduce objectives for everything we do. (You'd be surprised how difficult that was...)
RIght now I am working on setting the course curriculum, but I am uncertain whether I should work on learning outcomes or objectives. Using my best friend google, I find that the terms get mixed up a lot, therefore I wonder if anyone can provide good advice on how to relate these two terms.
My impression is that the outcomes are on a higher level e.g "Upon completion the learner should be able to drive a car obeying laws and regulations witout causing harm to anyone or anything."
while the objectives are more in detail:
"Using a car with stick shift, the students should be able to select and apply the correct gears for safe and economical driving."
In my book both terms should be exactly the same....."a rose by any other name etc". Objectives/Learning Outcomes if they are stated as they should be, should:
Be measurable (the trainer and the learner needs to know the learning has taken place) Have specific outcomes(no grey areas here, say exactly what is to be acheived. So not eg Use the Widget Machine, rather Set the Widget Machine to Operate Mode using the recognised Safety Procedure State a standard eg according to company standards via exercises provided by the Trainer
"At the end of the lab you will be able to :-
physically install a camera
access a camera on the network to get an image.
focus the camera to get a sharp image.
use the Camera Basic Setup menu, to fine tune the image settings for good image usability"
You could add the 'standard'. For example, 'according to company guidelines' (if you have them). But it is also useful to add:
"as judged by an experienced engineer" or
"as judged by the trainer" because at least it clarifies who says what is 'in focus' or 'a good picture'.
I've learned to also add a 'condition' - do they need to access any camera on any network? Or the camera in the test-network in the classroom?
I guess this would be an example of an objective including a condition and a standard: Given a straight brick wall, the participant will be able to correctly install a camera, as judged by the trainer
It's useful to be precise in your objectives. You may find your clients are unhappy with the picture, or the engineers weren't able install the camera in certain difficult environments - by setting the conditions and the standard beforehand you make it clear what your training will and what it will not achieve. It will also help you identify what is missing (maybe they should be able to install camera's on any type of wall, but you have not covered it in your training)
Both suffer from being born from behaviourist theorists. This means they put too much emphasis on behaviour. Forget this 50 year old language and go for a more sophisticated view of learning that takes the whole mind into account. And forget about putting those dull 'Learning objectives' at the start of courses - it's a waste of time and makes the first encounter with the learning experience boring. http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.com/search?q=Gagne's
Hey Donald, maybe we should start a separate thread on this because I think I'm about to go off on a tangent....
I don't really get what the problem is with the objectives - I know you say 'it's born from behaviourist theories' but I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say with that, or what is wrong about it. I'd love to learn though!
But here's my thing - behaviour is the main thing I care about in many of my projects. I'm 'hired' (be it internally) to get a group of techies to operate a network of devices.It's all bespoke technology, and even if it wasn't bespoke - I'm more interested in achieving the right behaviour than having my participants carry out standard commands or memorizing industry standards.
They need to perform in our organisation, have the right sensitivities, understand how different departments interact, and operate our bespoke technology. What I wish to achieve with my learning program is behaviour.
I've made all my friends watch TED videos which I think is incredibly inspiring. They're little use in my project though (other than icebreakers or context for the learning process). Also I wouldn't say the above if we were talking about the ongoing development of staff. But sometimes the job is to get a group of existing staff to take on a new bit of technology. Or to hire a group of new staff to take over existing duties. We can specify quite precisely, from a project point of view, what we need them to do. That's obviously behaviourist. But it also seems to me exactly what is appropriate.
And of course, in creating the training program we're using all the things we've learned as professionals, we cater for different styles and intelligences, use different media etc etc...but that is all so that we can achieve the objectives. (and - trying to really push your buttons here :-) then we evaluate... maybe even with Kirkpatrick)
I agree with Bas and I liked Norman's view too.
My advice always is keep it simple.
When I write an objective I use this template:
Here's what you're going to do........
So you'll need.......
And here's how we'll check you've done it.......
You can attach the terms performance, conditions, standard to these if you must.
I take Norman's point that the objective is what ought to happen given a fair sea and a prevailing wind.
The outcome is what actually happened, and it depends upon a wide range of factors being "set fair".
I often hear the same question raised about aims and goals. Are they the same thing; are they different?
You might say an aim is the same as a goal - it describes where you are going and an objective tells you how you're going to get there. My aim (goal) is to sell 3 million pairs of shoes at a profit, so I'll set a number of objectives to help me to get there; and then the objectives will be around design and manufacture, marketing, pricing, merchandising, sales aids, warehousing, stock control, distribution, the sales process, financial accounting, the selection, recruitment and training of sales advisers, management and supervision, incentives for staff to reach sales targets, and so on and so on. In all of these case the probable OUTCOME is a volume of sales.
I also take Donald Clark's point that however you express them objectives are not intended for consumption by learners. You don't ask to see the blueprints when you take possession of a building. You ask simple questions like "Is it in the right location; is it big enough; does it have somewhere to park my car; can I afford it?" An Estate Agent's hype will give the answers to the things most people want to know - what is in it for me? An Instructional Designer's "hype" need do no more. In sales speak - the only hint of objectives in the course itself ought to be framed insided a personal, meaningful and very brief benefit statement. In that sense you might give the end user sight of the desirable outcomes but keep the objectives to yourself.
When I first started to learn how to write objectives my professor told me a simple way to write them. Make it short sentences one line under 10,words. Understanding an aspect of objective is where application becomes the bridge of measurement for outcomes. Demonstration of an outcome can come easy for others .... where the process and the progress translates into the outcome. In my experience it is what your goals are for the student versus what the student learns. Often we look at what they learned and put ourselves down because we did not give extreme clarity to what we wanted as an outcome....so rework the objectives. When the goal is to get the student to demonstrate the outcome often we overlook how to create an application which they can measure understanding of what is the outcome from their processing.
Although you can cover the material and expect XYZ... the student often learns qrstuv on the way to XYZ. Objectives often are too busy in context and not simple enough for the student to relate to the outcome