Bloom’s Taxonomy and Online Learning

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Bloom’s Taxonomy is a concept you’ll come across pretty quickly once you start exploring the world of learning. Although you’ll normally see it in the context of teaching children, Bloom’s Taxonomy applies to learning at all levels.

If you’re teaching adults in a training and development environment, it can be an incredibly powerful tool to help change behaviour and get better results from the training programme.

To better understand it, first picture the learning journey as a staircase. At the top of this staircase you have mastered the topic but to get there, you need to go through a few stages.

On the first step, you’ll simply have knowledge of the topic. As you progress, you’ll become more familiar with it and the knowledge will turn into behavioural change.

Where does Bloom’s Taxonomy come in?

If you’re an instructional designer, a teacher or a lecturer, it’s up to you to help your learners move through every step. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a list of verbs that you should be used for learning objectives in each step.

As you can see in the lower half of the diagram above, there are certain tasks that are appropriate for your learners depending on where they are.


The lower levels on the learner’s journey represent basic knowledge. At this stage, the learners should be able to remember things that they have learned previously. If you want to make sure they’ve mastered this step, you’d ask them to define a concept, repeat something they’ve already heard or list the steps in a process.

Knowledge in online learning

In an online learning context, you can use different assets to deliver the knowledge that your learners need. We’ll take a tutorial video as an example. If you wanted to use Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide, you would follow this video with a question that asks them to repeat something from the content.

At this stage, you’re only checking that they’ve been paying attention and they’ve absorbed the knowledge – checking their understanding comes in the next step.


Knowing something is not the same as understanding it. For the learning to have any real impact, it’s pointless to simply learn a sentence by rote. At this step in the journey, you’ll want to check if your learners can translate the knowledge into their own terms.

Comprehension in online learning

You can check comprehension in several ways in an online learning context. Learning management systems usually come equipped with flexible testing tools. It’s down to the learning manager to ask the right questions to take the learner beyond the stage of simple knowledge recall.


Once the learner understands the concept, they need to be able to apply what they’ve learned in a practical context. If you want to help your learners past this level, you’d ask them to ‘use what you have learned…’ or ‘demonstrate an occasion when you applied this knowledge’.

Application in Online Learning

Applying learning is a powerful indicator that you’re delivering the message effectively. Depending on your industry, you could create exercises on your LMS or host simulations online. For example, McDonald’s used an online simulation of their tills to train their employees.

This type of simulation is known as a ‘serious game’. Game-based learning is a growing field that’s getting impressive results. The main reason for its success is that it targets learners further up the chain of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and doesn’t rely merely on knowledge recall.


Analysing a concept is the next step on the journey to truly mastering it. It goes a step beyond simply applying the knowledge and it demonstrates a deeper understanding. Typically, a trainer would present the learner with a problem or an issue without giving too many clues as to the solution. This extra challenge makes learning more engaging and leads to better results.

Analysis in Online Learning

Testing functionality and questions can be used on the LMS as before, but there are other ways to spark an analytical approach. If your LMS has social functionalities, you can unlock opportunities for informal learning.

Things like discussion forums and expert areas encourage learners to ask each other for advice and offer their own insight. In this way, the learners take ownership of their professional development. This gives the training much more meaning and, ultimately, a greater impact.


You can think of evaluation as a more confident form of analysis. At this stage, the learner has gained enough expertise to make recommendations based on their analysis. It’s perfectly reasonable to give these learners responsibilities within the training programme. They can start acting as tutors to those learners who are still in the earlier stages of their journey.

Evaluation in Online Learning

In the realm of training and development, reaching the evaluation stage does more than simply train the employees. It can become the catalyst for real cultural change within the organisation. Such a powerful thing needs to have the right technology in place to maintain momentum.

In this case, the learning management system takes on a whole new purpose. It becomes a social network for everyone in the business and it secures employee engagement from induction through to the higher levels of professional development.


The creation stage is the final point outlined by Bloom’s Taxonomy. Here, the learning manager is placing greater responsibility on the learner. They might ask the learner to create a plan for a process within the business. The learner needs to have followed all of the other steps if they are going to feel confident enough to complete an objective at the creation stage.

Creation in Online Learning

Few training initiatives are robust enough to even reach this stage and fewer still can tackle it online. Planning at this level takes a huge amount of collaboration and it’s essential to gather all the knowledge from every branch of the organisation.

In an ever-changing world, the online platform also needs to allow the users to review and evaluate all the assets it contains. With these capabilities in place, learners who are creating a new process can use all this information, fully confident that it’s accurate and up to date. This process also ensures that anything they end up creating is perfectly tailored for the organisation’s unique needs.

Most online learning platforms can deal with the earlier stages in Bloom’s Taxonomy. When it comes to changing behaviour, they’re often found lacking. Does your LMS engage your learners enough to deliver meaningful learning experiences? Can you create an environment that promotes and captures informal learning? Are your learners able to collaborate and help each other go further?

If you’re not getting the results you want, it’s time to try something different. Our learning management system is designed with engagement at its core and it’s transformed the culture of dozens of organisations.

Book a tour and let us show you what the Academy LMS can do for you.

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