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#160: Creating Meaningful Course Objectives: The Essential Foundations for Course Creators

Introduction

Hi there and welcome back to the Entrepreneur Mindset Podcast!

In Episode 159 we began a new series where I am walking you through the process and concepts that I share with my 1:1 clients who are creating and launching courses and coaching programs. We began with the foundation of vision and values so that you build a business that you actually want to work in and on.

Today we are going to talk about course objectives. One of the very first things that I talk about with clients is what they want their students to be able to know, think and do at the end of the course. A lot of times people start with what they want to teach and go from there, but today I’m going to walk you through why that will be a mistake that costs you money and what to do instead.

The Key Components

The very first step to course creation is to identify the purpose of the training or course – this is what matters to your students. Do your students want more clients, finish a crocheting project, kick burnout to the curb, or get their kiddos to sleep better at night?

Identifying the purpose of the training can be more challenging than you think because you have to think about what your potential student wants, not just what they need. We talked about wants versus needs in Episode 142. I always smile a little because when I’m developing a course for my college students, what they need is college credit so I make sure to tell them what credit they will earn if they put in the work, but then we shift into what they need. It is a delicate balance.

Once you have the purpose of the course in mind, you can work on an overarching learning goal – this is the end result of learning. Many people call this a transformation statement, it can be your one-liner in the words of StoryBrand, or even the learning goal if another word was used for the purpose of the course. The idea here is to simply state how their life will be different as a result of your course. This also works for a coaching program as well.

I love the format that author, William Horton, provides in e-Learning by Design. He uses, “Teach a subject to a group of people who know certain things already.” (pg 9). For example, Teach sleep hygiene to parents of toddlers who are working to improve the quality of their child’s sleep. You can use this learning objective to highlight any prerequisites that your student needs to be successful or needs to already know, think or do. In the example I shared, these students need to already be thinking about their child’s sleep quality and working on improving it.

You want to be sure at this point you are thinking about the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that your students will possess at the end of the course you are creating.

Once you have the purpose of the course and the overall learning goal, you can start to identify the objectives that will make that goal a reality. These learning objectives are going to be to a roadmap for your students and for you as you create the course. Each concept that you teach, example that you provide, and activity that you share should enhance at least one of the learning objectives that you have outlined.

The key to a good learning objective is specificity. You want to make sure that they they are clear, you know exactly what the student will be able to know, think, or do at the end of the course, and that it can be measured. Oftentimes you will hear the use of the SMART acronym here. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result-Oriented, and Time-bound. For example, “Parents will be able to apply the principles of good sleep hygiene in their home.” “Parents can identify sleep hygiene issues when they arise.” “Parents will be able to identify problem spots in their child’s sleep routine that impact sleep quality.”

Take your time here and then seek feedback. We often have blindspots for objectives because we are experts in what we are teaching and can miss key elements simply because we do things automatically. In fact, this is good practice throughout your course creation. It is one of the reasons that I have clients seek out feedback at each step of the way.

Pitfalls

One of the biggest mistakes that I see course creators making is to create their content before nailing down their course objectives. And I understand why they skip right to the teaching points. It is easy to get excited and start writing down all of the things that you want your students to know, but this can create a haphazard course experience and one that doesn’t lead to the desired outcome or purpose.

When you start with the purpose and objectives clearly defined, then you can build the content, examples, activities, and even tests of their progress through the course with greater alignment.

The key to successful course creation is to take meaningful action each step of the way. Start with those objectives first. This will tell you exactly what to teach. You won’t be trying to fit in information that doesn’t fit and creates confusion for your students.

Make a Chart

If you are struggling with the concept of objectives, one thing that I like to do is make a chart of what I’d like my students to be able to know, think, and do at the end of the course. The more formal terminology is what knowledge, skills, and attitudes do you want your students to possess at the end of the course. And while, this is more accurate, I often find that beginning with know, think, and do gets the ideas flowing just a little easier.

Action Item

This week take some time to step back and think about the purpose of your course. This should be in alignment with your values that we talked about in Episode 159. Then begin to break down the objectives that will get your students to this transformation.

If you are currently looking at a wall of sticky notes that has all of the things that you want to teach, do this activity somewhere else. I want you to step away from that brainstorm so that you aren’t influenced by it any more than necessary.

Conclusions

I cannot wait to hear about your course goal, learning objectives, and all of the details that you uncover along the way. This step feels like it can be completed after you get all of your ideas for what to teach out on paper, but it actually works best the other way around.

Be sure to share your objectives with me on Facebook or Instagram with a quick DM at DigitalCourseCreatorGuide.

I’ll see you back here next week for another episode of the Entrepreneur Mindset Podcast, where we focus on mentoring, community and implementation. It’s all about taking action so that we can remove the overwhelm of building a successful and profitable business and add in a little dose of momentum.

Until next time, have a healthy, safe, and happy week.

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