Content Learning Objectives

key differences between experts and novicesThe first step of instructional design is to identify a need. Shawn needed to be faster on the manual register. We then design a learning solution to satisfy that need. To do this, we ask two things:

  • What information do you want your learners to know? This is about content, or knowledge that will satisfy a need.
  • What skill do you want your learners to practice? This is about process, about action, about doing something that will satisfy a need.

Think about Shawn’s situation in regard to content, or information that he needs to comprehend in order to be faster on the manual register. If my task was to make Shawn faster, how would you have me do it?  What knowledge would you have me impart? What content does he need to know?  Clearly, Shawn can do math. But, should we assume he understands the concept behind borrowing from the hundreds column and giving to the tens, or does he just know the process? Does he even need to understand that concept to improve his speed at the register?  The exact content needed for a course isn’t always easy to identify.  This is why we often see classes jammed with peripheral information that is not always relevant to the task at hand. The logic being that if we dump all the content we know on poor shawn, he will be able to eventually find what he needs. Ask yourself, “What information does he truly need to know for this situation?”  What would be your content learning objective for Shawn?

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