ELearning in Action: Turning Performance Goals into Objectives

The reasons why people are taking a course in the first place can sometimes get “foggy.” Instructional Designers know that learners have a gap in their performance…but the dilemma that they face is how to articulate that gap in learning objectives.

Here are some ways to do that:


Understand your audience: People tend to turn to learning when there is a perceived gap between what they SHOULD know, and what they ACTUALLY know. Therefore, before developing content, make sure YOU understand the objectives your learners should accomplish.


Change your focus: Be action-oriented, and instead of focusing on the knowledge that the course will impart, build content that will turn knowledge into specific actions to be learned to meet the objectives.


Get real: Content that merely paraphrases written materials won’t help bridge the gap between learners’ goals and the courses’ learning objectives. Instead, add real-life examples or simulated use cases to ensure the objective of the content further reiterates performance goals.


Be multi-pronged: Set multiple learning objectives, both primary and supporting, to meet a single goal. For example, if the goal is to expedite delivery of a package to customers, a primary objective might be “After completing the lesson, you should be able to finish delivery of a package within 1 hour.” Your supporting objectives, on the other hand, may cover planning your route; stacking deliveries by route; organizing paperwork for quick action, and so on.


Be SMART: In real life, performance goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely – and so too should the learning objectives be. From information content, to the related simulations to quizzes and course assessments, everything should be geared towards SMART outcomes.

With distance learning on the rise, and leaps in learning theories and technologies, eLearning professionals must do a better job of matching performance goals to learning objectives than ever before. The steps outlined above will help you make eLearning more effective.

  • Marina, you’re absolutely right – matching these two, learning objectives and learners’ goals, is a basis to build a decent course. Not taking it into account while creating the course may result badly and actually I think it’s a senseless action. Why making a course if it won’t be understood by learners?

    June 25, 2015 at 1:30 pm
  • Robin Anna Pernice

    Very thoughtful assessment. Too often the learning objectives and learning goals are not aligned which causes the program to fall short of its overall goals. It is absolutely imperative that they are aligned before any program can be successful in delivering the results you are expecting..Thank you Marina

    September 14, 2015 at 10:14 am

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Instructional Design for ELearning program