Before you start writing learning outcomes, let’s take a moment and identify the elements of a learning outcome. Here, I’ve given examples of what to do and what not to do. When you put the four parts together, you have a well-written learning outcome.
State who will be doing the learning.
Don’t: “Anyone will…”
Don’t: “I will show you…”
Do: “Participants will…”
2. Use action verbs that can be measured.
Don’t: “Learn how to build a house.”
Don’t: “Know how to build a house”
Do: “Demonstrate how to build a house”
3. Specify the condition that you’ll measure learning.
Don’t: “After this lesson…”
Don’t: “Because of my presentation…”
Do: “Through this activity…”
The idea here is to select a time, activity, or assignment that you’ll be able to observe or measure learning during.
Set up the environment so that you can see if learning has taken place.
4. Add the measurement criterion of success.
Don’t: “…better than anyone”
Do: “…according to the checklist”
Here, we have to signal what we’re measuring to the learners. What goes into your rubric or checklist? How are you grading the success of your learners?
This is the criterion that you want to communicate early on to your learners ahead of time before the assignment or condition takes place.
Learning outcomes include these 4 elements to be useful. That is, when you write learning outcomes like this, it specifies the goal for the learners and how you’ll assess their learning.
That’s half of the design right there! Not only is this a time saver, but it’s also a way to motivate your learners to achieve the goals you create for them.
Being a freelancer, I get to choose the projects I spend my time on, but this project in particular is rare and beautiful.
🤸🏼 It’s a chance to make a huge impact around the country for marginalized communities, AND the clients understand the importance of inclusive curriculum all the way from crafting the content to designing the visual aspects, and assessing in a way that’s responsive and sustaining for the culture of the learners. 🏳️🌈
It’s true! Intersectional Design is a method of designing by thinking through how factors of identity (gender, race, sexuality, class, and many more) interact with one another.
In understanding how these factors combine, we can more deeply understand the context of use and an individual learner’s priorities.
For example, giving options on how to consume content and assess learning helps create onramps for intersections of identities. Personally, as a neurodivergent parent, asynchronous videos (with transcripts) and quizzes sprinkled throughout the videos help me learn in the spurts of time that I have between toddler activities.
What online learning strategies work best with your intersectional identities?
But it’s true… It takes vulnerability to learn something new. So, let’s work extra hard to include our learners in on the messy (but organized) process of learning so we can turn their curiosity on rather than turn them off from the learning environment. 💡
What’s with the blank stare? I get it, it’s a pretty broad question.
You can also answer this question by answering some others:
What do you want your learners to be able to do as a result of being in the online learning environment?
How would learners demonstrate what they’ve learned?
These questions all point you towards learning goals/objectives/outcomes. This is were the designer starts to align their content and assessments within the learning environment.
The tip here is to be explicit when stating your goals for the learners. This takes the guessing game out of learning and directs learners to what you’re intending for them to get out of the environment. State your goals at the beginning. State your goals often, and state your goals for each assessment. This helps the learners connect the dots throughout the learning experience.
Whose voices are you elevating in the online learning environments you design? Not sure? Let’s take a look together. I’ll wait. 😁
First, review and assess the content and sources that are being shared with your learners.
Ask yourself these questions:
Are there a variety of perspectives and experiences represented?
What was your criteria when selecting these resources?
How might your learners see themselves reflected in the content you curate?
Next, search for more diverse authors, contributors (like guest speakers), and entrepreneurial creators on the topic. This is hard sometimes. We’ve gotten so used to perpetuating the majority voices, it’s difficult to actively create a new system. Overtime, it gets easier if we all work to adjust our habits.
A way to make your learners feel comfortable in the online learning space you create is by co-creating community norms for interactions before any learning occurs.
This might look like…
voting on community guidelines in a shared document
an open dialogue about what environment everyone would like to contribute knowledge towards
a video submission from your learners discussing their learning strengths and needs from a learning environment
The idea is to work together with the learners to decide on what the learning space will provide everyone, the expectations of the facilitator/instructor and the student, and how to keep each other accountable.
I’m curious how you co-create community norms with your learners! What’s the process that you follow?
We all want to build online spaces that makes everyone feel like they are involved and that they belong. But… how? I’ve broken down four concepts that we can take a look at a little further.
Build your cultural competence. This is step one, because it helps (or hinders) all other steps. When you know better, you can do better.
Another way to dial into this a little more is to create learner profiles. This is something that can build your empathy and learn more about a specific profile of learner. Another way to push this tip to the next level is to interview past learners and ask questions like, “How did you feel when in the learning space?” or “What else could the online space offer to help you feel like […fill in the blank of the feeling you hope your space provides..]?”
Encourage curiosity and humility. This is hard, because we can’t intellectualize it into one action. We can start by relearning a different mindset and to seriously consider something that might feel out of the norm. If you’re the instructor/facilitator it might look like saying, “I’m not sure why I’m doing it this way.” or “That’s a good idea; let’s try it that way.”
This part takes work. Create a habit of active listening and being open to relooking at things you may have thought were great. It’s amazing what can happen when designers, instructors/facilitators, and learners all collaborate on co-creating a learning space!
Share multiple perspectives in your content. For far too long, education and development has been reserved for the privileged. It’s important to find minoritized or underrepresented perspectives to share because it can relate to many of your learners and provide a valuable missing link to your content.
This is also another one that takes intentionality. Searching for content that shares the perspectives that haven’t always been given a voice ensures that you’re not leaving a piece of the puzzle out of your curriculum.
Role-model the behaviors you desire from your learners. If you are the creator of the space, then you must also abide by the community norms. If you’re asking learners to do XYZ, then you too should do XYZ. This helps flatten the hierarchy and start to relax the environment to set the stage for co-creation of knowledge.
This may look like participating in discussion posts, or posting a video, and participating in the discussion throughout the week with your learners (if asynchronous). As a facilitator, it could mean crafting feedback for the whole group to keep the direction of the discussion moving towards your learning objectives.
What other tips have you found that helps create inclusive learning spaces? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
I’ve taken a small hiatus from writing personal blogs, but I’ve been working with the ACPA Online Engagement & Experiences Task Force (soon-to-be Commission) to create a blog, submission pipeline, reviewer rubric, and invitation sequence to open dialogue on higher education online engagement and experiences.
To kick off the ACPA OEE blog, I’ve written/co-written a couple of blogs. I’m sharing one that I wrote solo on here because I believe there are people in my network who would like to read it:
The blog post linked above was written to shed light on the parallels to the faculty experience of struggling to move higher education student/academic affairs work to online spaces at the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic. I wrote this blog citing the other well-known and passed-around work from InsideHigherEd OpEd article, Remote Instruction and Online Learning Aren’t the Same Thing. It seems that most of the practitioner literature focuses on faculty and teaching courses. Where this is truly important work, I felt like the work of Student and Academic Affairs professionals who also pivoted to a fully online version of their programs, meetings, and learning during a pandemic was being overlooked.
Take a read, and sign-up for the OEE Task Force Newsletter if you’re wanting more updates on the news from the Task Force. We’ll be putting out a call for blog submissions in the upcoming months to review, edit, and post on the ACPA OEE blog. If you’re interested in this blog post, then please do consider writing a blog for the Task Force!
In the meantime, let me know what you think about this topic. Have you considered what you’ve moved online for the pandemic could be upgraded by learning more about online learning? How might we all work towards more quality online engagements and experiences for our students and colleagues in higher ed? I’m here to listen and provide feedback! After all, this is part of my current research.