Ep 004: The Secret to Actionable Learning

How do you keep your course focused? How do you keep your learners from getting overwhelmed? This episode dives in to how to use learning outcomes to keep your content intentional and actionable.

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So after the first three episodes of this podcast, you've now marked out your learner's journey so you know where they are now and where you want to get them to you. And you've also created an amazing guiding goal statement to really hone in on the why of the transformation of your learning experience. So what we're going to do today is tune into the key actions that need to happen in order to get your learner to the goal that you've established, to really make sure that they take the steps on that journey and get to the end point that they're hoping to arrive at. 

Why talk about learning outcomes?

The difference is as online entrepreneurs, we're creating these courses specifically for our people because we know they need a specific result. They're buying the course because they have a problem and they want us to solve it or because they're not happy with how they're feeling right now and they're looking to feel differently. So how do you actually get people the results they're looking for? How do you make sure that when they've put their trust in you, they've paid for the course, they are ready to go... how do you make sure that you get them that transformation?

The answer is by having actionable content and in order to make sure that your content is actionable, it's really important to know what the actions are and that's where learning outcomes come in. 

What is a learning outcome?

So what the formal definition that often gets played around for a learning outcome is:

learning outcomes are statements of what is expected that a student will be able to do as a result of a learning activity.

So that's really kind of convoluted way of saying a learning outcome is an action statement. It's saying that this is the clear action you will be able to do after taking this module, after completing this lesson or after completing this course, and having a clear set of learning outcomes at the heart of your course really supports the learner in multiple ways. 

  1.  In one hand, you're really giving them a promise. You're saying if you show up to my course, you do the activities, you watched the videos and you go through this, you will get these skills. It's a promise between you and your learner.
  2. It also supports them because as adults we like to know where we are. We want to have a clear concept of where we are, where we're supposed to be, and where we're headed, and when you outline these learning outcomes, you really are giving your learner a set of criteria. You're saying by the end of module two, you'll be able to do X.

For example...

Let's say we had a goal statement for a course on interior design that said : The goal of this course is to empower learners to be able to design a living space they love, so they can relax in their home and focus on what matters most to them. 

What are the key actions that the learner needs to be able to take or needs to be able to do to reach that goal? So if we want to empower them to be able to design a living space they love, what do they need to be able to do? 

A learning outcome for this course might be that the learner will be able to identify areas that aren't working ior it might be they will be able to configure the room in a logical way that allows for flow. So what we can see with both of these statements is there's a very clear action. There'll be able to identify areas that aren't working and they're currently out or they'll be able to configure the room in a logical way that allows for flow. There's clear actions associated with it. 

Tips for writing strong learning outcomes

So the important thing with learning outcomes is it's not just a matter of throwing together a bunch of sentences or statements that start with verbs. There's actually a couple little tricks to creating strong learning outcomes so that once you have them, it's really easy to put together the activities and the content for your learning experience. 

Be as specific as possible

So one of the really key elements I can say it can only urge you so many times about with the learning outcome, is to be as specific as possible. Pick one clear action verb per learning outcome and try as hard as you can to be as specific as possible. Really try to avoid vague learning outcomes, like they'll be able to understand ___ or they'll be able to appreciate ___ or they'll know ____.

One trick for getting through the vague-ness, is to ask yourself: 'how will I know that they understand? how will I know that they know?'  And a lot of the times the answer is because there'll be able to apply what they're being taught. 

How many learning outcomes should I have?

 I really wish that I could just give you a default template that said you need this many learning outcomes for your course and this many learning outcomes for each module. Unfortunately, there really isn't a set number. The important thing that I always cycle back to you is ithat t's important to be realistic . You have to remember, if you're saying that these are the outcomes that they're going to have, these are the actions they're going to take... They have to do all those actions. So you don't want to overwhelm them . On top of that, YOU have to teach them how to do all of those actions, so for that reason, a lot of people seem to find between three and five outcomes is kind of the happy number. 

Learning outcomes help you be intentional and stay focused

My challenge for you is to pick a course that you have or maybe it's an ebook or workshop, and I want you, if you haven't already, to create a goal statement and then I want you to create learning outcomes.

 I want you to ask yourself, what are the key actions that my learner needs to be able to take in order to be able to get to the transformation I'm promising them as part of my goal statement.

And to help you do this...

What I've done is put together a one-page, giant list of verbs to inspire you when you're writing your learning outcomes. This giant list of action words will help you hone in on what the action is. 

Once you have your learning outcomes, I want you to do 2 things

1) First of all, I want you to look at your learning experience and give yourself a rating from one to 10 and ask yourself with these learning outcomes in mind, how intentional am I being about everything that is part of this learning experience? How focused is this learning experience and how accessible is the learning experience? Using the Course Wellness Wheel, add your ratings under Content.

2) The second thing I want you to do is share your learning outcomes with me. So my favourite place to hang out is Instagram. You can find me there @coursewellness or you can tag me (#coursewellness). I love to answer any questions you may have and most importantly, I just love see what you're working on.

Want to go even further?