Write Effective Microlearning Objectives


Hi, This is George Hanshaw, and I teach instructors and designers how to create microlearning modules that are effective and connect meaningfully with learners. The first step to creating effective microlearning is writing an objective and communicating that objective to the learner in a way that works.

Research shows that writing specific objectives create greater learning for that particular topic. This nugget of knowledge fits with microlearning perfectly because by its' definition microlearning is focused learning.

Here is how we are going to learn to create effective microlearning objectives.

  1. Define the number one reason why objectives are useful and vital for microlearning

  2. How to write an objective for microlearning

  3. How to deliver the intent of the objective to the learner

  4. Quality check them with CAMP

1. The number one reason objectives are useful for microlearning is because an accurately written objective creates focus. I think we can all agree that we need focus when creating microlearning. We need to keep our learners focus where it needs to be for maximum learning. We have a limited amount of time.

What is focus?

Focus is where you place your attention. Think about that for a moment. Microlearning is by its nature is focused learning, and by default, the objectives have to be focused or place the learner's attention where it needs to be for maximum learning. Psychology research has found that the more we multitask or split our attention, the worse we do at tasks. Create the focus with a well thought out learning objective. Clarity will help you as the designer as well as your learners.

2. When writing your objective, use specific words to maximize the learner's attention to the content. Let's take a look at a general objective and then make it more specific. A general objective may be something like Given a manual and tools each learner will be able to perform periodic maintenance on their vehicle with no defects. That is very general and not suitable for microlearning.

What do you think about Given a manual and tools each learner will be able to rotate the tires on their vehicle with no assistance? Is this still too general? How about breaking this into tasks and create microlearning pieces for each task? This will allow greater learner decision making. How about we start with, Given manual and tools each learner will be able to safely lift the vehicle with the supplied car jack with no deviations from safety procedures and no assists? That is a more focused objective, and you can see how you can create a short video that learners can manipulate to get the parts they need to view. One thing that is helpful for process skills is to create an interactive video with chapters. The video is still microlearning, and the chapter titles help focus the learners' attention even more. An example of this could be a sub-topic of locate correct Jack placement. Think of how your objectives help with learner focus.

3. Does academic speak need to be presented to the learner? My thought is no. The objective we discussed is just for us as the designer or educator. We need the learner to focus on what is essential.

Psychologically they will do this anyway so we need to facilitate this phenomenon to help them focus where they have the most significant potential for learning. What are the essential words in the objective? Do you think they may be safely, lift, vehicle, and jack? These are the words we need to use to help the learner focus. They do need to know the objective of the microlearning and it needs to be real language, not academia speak. There are several ways to do this.

For skills, I like to use how to's. For instance: How to safely lift your vehicle with your supplied jack? This helps to focus the learner right away. They are now ready for what they are going to learn. Reply back with how you would write the objective for your learner. What technique do you use?

4. Always test what you have written with CAMP. Does your objective help the learner to Connect with the learning? Does the objective facilitate learning that is Authentic and Meaningful? Is the objective written purposefully?

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