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How to Define Your Learning Objectives

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how to define your learning objectives

How can you define your learning objectives? It’s a very common and very important task in the world of L&D; yet many learning professionals struggle. In this article we’re going to give you three super simple top tips to help define your learning objectives.


At Growth Engineering, we’re friends with a lot of learning managers – it goes with the territory. Even though we’ve been in this game for a while now, it never ceases to amaze us when we see the lengths to which our Academy Admins go to engage their learners and give them what they need to go further.

Although these learning initiatives take all shapes and forms, they all have one thing in common – they start with a learning objective. A learning objective states what the learner should be able to do by the time they’ve finished the training.

Without a solid learning objective, you’re simply pushing content in front of learners and letting them figure out the significance by themselves. Although there’s a lot to be said for learning informally in this way, it’s hardly the basis for a successful formal training programme.

So, with that in mind, here are a few pointers to help you nail your learning objectives down and kick your training project off to a flying start.

Three Top Tips To Help You Define Your Learning Objectives

Start with a clear goal

This is the first and most important stage of creating a good learning objective. If, in your excitement to create learning superheroes, you decide to skip this step, don’t be surprised if you don’t get fantastic results.

Although creating learning superheroes is a worthy cause, it’s not a SMART goal. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.

If you start out simply hoping for the best, you might get lucky, but you stand a much better chance of success if you form a clear picture of what that success looks like.

Perform a Training Needs Analysis

training needs analysisOnce you know where you want to end up, it’s time to work out how far along that road your learners are. Training Needs Analysis is what it sounds like – it’s the process of analysing your learners and the business as a whole to figure out which areas are in most need of training.

Training Needs Analysis takes into consideration things like past training initiatives, current applications and any upcoming changes to the organisation.

If you start planning a learning objective without knowing where your learners currently stand, you could end up wasting a lot of time creating training resources that nobody really needs. Worse still, you could miss that vital knowledge gap that’s potentially costing your business a small fortune.

You can find out more about performing an awesome Training Needs Analysis here!

Decide how the learning will be delivered

Once you’ve got a SMART goal worked out, and you know your training needs like the back of your hand, you can start figuring out how you’re going to deliver the training. At this stage, you should have a good idea of what’s possible in your training plan.

Let’s say you’ve got a world-beating, game-changing monster of a learning objective in your mind. This objective will change your organisational culture and it’ll make you look like such a hero, they’ll have a plaque with your name on it mounted on the front wall.

defining learning objectivesOn closer inspection, however, you realise that in order to achieve this objective, you’ll need to hire a bunch of instructors, build a futuristic training facility and install a high-tech 3D virtual simulator.

Although that would, admittedly, be pretty awesome, you might have a bit of trouble convincing the finance team to give you the budget. At this stage, you have two choices:

1. Go back to your learning objective and, with tears in your eyes, start the process of paring it back.

2. Research other ways to make your training dreams come true without the need of a hefty revenue injection.

We don’t want you to sacrifice your master plan just because of a prohibitive training budget, so the least we can do is help you out with point #2. You don’t need to spend a fortune to make effective training, you just need to find a way to engage your learners.

Final Word

So that’s learning objectives. We’ve looked at what they are, why they matter and how you can create them. With these simple tips you’ll be creating learning objectives that are SMART and help you strengthen your business where it needs it most.

If you want to find out more about how can level up your online learning knowledge why not download your very own copy of Online Learning 101? It will tell you everything you wish you knew, but nobody ever told you!

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