Why Are We Here?

Welcome to Learning Event 1 (#LE1): “Why are we here?”

(Need more info about Learning Events in general? Visit the Learning Commons for a full description of this series.)

Learning Event 1 (#LE1) focuses on writing (or revising) learning objectives. Learning objectives provide clarity for you and your students to understand “why are we here” in their coursework.


Learning objectives are statements that define the expected goal of a curriculum, class, course, lesson or activity. These statements identify demonstrable skills or knowledge that will be acquired by your students upon completion of educational activities.

Clear learning objectives help you identify and express the “terminal behavior” or desired outcome(s) of your course.

If you already have learning objectives written for your course but need to move your work online, start by considering whether they’re still valid. When revisiting your learning objectives, you have an opportunity to refocus on the most critical components of your course. This practice also gives you a chance to openly talk with your students about what you’re planning and why. Given the challenges you might encounter as we move online, take a moment to talk with your students about what is most important during the remainder of the semester and how you’ll help them meet the course learning objectives.

Check out the materials presented below to learn and engage more!


Learning Objective – EduTech Wiki. Learning objectives should be formulated in a way that specifies how learning will be observed or measured and are thus intertwined with evaluation methods. Words that describe what the student will do to show that he or she understands are more useful.”

How to Write Well-Defined Learning Objectives – Chatterjee & Corral, 2017. “An effective learning objective should include the following 5 elements: who, will do, how much or how well, of what, by when. The mnemonic SMART—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound—can be used to describe the elements of a well-written learning objective.”

How to Write Measurable Learning Objectives – Emmanuel College. “A learning objective contains three major components: 1. The skill or behavior to be performed. 2. The conditions under which the student will perform the skill/demonstrate knowledge. 3. The criteria used to measure performance.”


Goals, Objectives, and Learning Outcomes from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Oakland University. (4:42)
Cope & Kalantzis on Multimodality in Meaning Making (12:23)
Writing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) Learning Objectives. (2:23)


How can we work to ensure our course learning objectives are authentic, valuable, and meaningful for our students?


Write, revisit, or revise your learning objectives for your course(s).


Do your learning outcomes…?

  • identify the thing (knowledge, usually a noun) you want students to learn?
  • identify the level of knowledge you want? (In Bloom’s Taxonomy, there are six levels of learning. It’s important to choose the appropriate level of learning, because this directly influences the type of assessment you choose to measure your students’ learning and the instructional activities you plan to prepare students prior to assessment.)
  • include a verb to describe an observable behavior students should display when they reach the desired level of learning?
  • have enough additional criteria to indicate how or when the outcome will be observable to add context for the student?

We would love to hear about what you created or implemented as a result of this Learning Experience! Please send an email to hello@onlinelearningcollective.org if you have something to share!