How to Write Learning Objectives for an Online Course

One of the many tasks you will have to complete as you create an online course is writing your learning objectives. While this can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. The following considerations will help lead you to success with these objectives. 

Why “Milestones” May Be a Better Term

Before we get into how to write learning objectives for an online course, it’s worth noting that “learning objective” is not the ideal term for this. This tends to be a bit more teacher-centric, but we want to be learner-centric. A better term is milestones, as there are set goal posts that your students achieve. By creating milestones versus objectives we increase engagement and retention of the information. 

With that in mind, how do you create your milestones? 

Start with a Learner-centric POV

As mentioned, you want your objectives to be learner-centric instead of teacher-centric. It is not about what you as the teacher want your students to achieve; it is about what they want to get out of the course. Creating this mindset helps ensure that you develop a course that appeals to your students and fits their needs. If you need help identifying who your learners are, check out this blog post we wrote on identifying the target audience for your online course or eLearning

Creating a course your learners will love helps you encourage people to take your course. Whether that makes it easier to get employees to complete internal training or convinces people to buy your external eLearning program, that is essential. Because of this, whether you successfully take a learner-centric point of view can be the difference between a successful course and one that flounders. 

Create Action-based Milestones

As you create your milestones, you want them to be action-based. This helps make them more achievable and fits into the idea that your learner is going through a process from point A to point Z. 

In other words, your major milestone should include several smaller milestones along the way. So, if your ultimate goal is to get learners from A to Z, you could have smaller action-based milestones at every other letter of the alphabet. This division helps make the final milestone more achievable. 

As you create those mini-milestones along the way, as well as the final milestone, remember to take the perspective of your learner. 

Consider Value Proposition

Finally, make sure to consider the value proposition of your eLearning program. This requires you to think about the starting point or point A of your learners. The value proposition is the ability to take learners from point A to point Z. 

The value proposition can also be a learner transformation statement (LTS). This highlights the fact that at the end of the course, it is something that your learners have transformed to achieve. They were transformed by your course and now have an additional skill or piece of knowledge. It lets you highlight the value or transformation of your learners. Thinking about it as an LTS instead of a value proposition also helps with a more learner-centric approach. 


Instead of using the term “learning objectives,” consider calling them milestones. This is a more learner-centric approach. To create your milestones, work from the point of view of your learners, focus on action-based mini-milestones, and consider the value proposition of your course - what is the journey you are taking them on? 

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