The topic of “learning objectives” and “measurable outcomes” is ubiquitous in higher education right now. In many of the conversations you might have come across already, the debate is around how to write objectives, share them, measure and align them. Although we don’t want to throw the proverbial measurable baby out with the objective bathwater, let’s begin EPIC with a little pedagogical heresy: we’d like you to read and discuss a number of positions that debate the value of learning objectives, especially ones that you state explicitly for your students. We ourselves have been wondering, as Gardner Campbell puts it, if our obsession over learning objectives is leading our students “toward compliance and away from more elusive and disruptive concepts like curiosity or wonder.” Ask the question with us and tell us what you think, then incorporate your thinking into this week’s build. See you on Slack!

Read + Discuss

Choose one sentence or idea that is surprising to you, and one that is affirming to you from these readings. Post them in our #reading-group channel in Slack, along with any other reflections you’d like to share. Please limit your initial post to fewer than 10 sentences and be sure to respond to your colleagues.

Case Study:

Check out this week’s case study and share your thoughts on our #case-study channel in Slack.

Build Something:

Before next Wednesday, choose one of the “build” options below and save or upload your work to our shared Google Drive folder. Submit a link to your build, as well as a self report on your work for the week, using the “Share” guidelines below. You’ll receive feedback on your build from instructional designers after you submit, but feel free to ask for help or feedback at any point in your process in Slack.

OPTION 1:

Write a letter to your students about why you’re here, teaching this course, and where you hope to go with them from here. While you may use any tool for letter writing (by hand, then scanned to digital?), we recommend trying Google Docs for maximum sharing capability. Here’s a short video to help you get started with Docs if you’re not familiar already.

PURPOSE: This letter should ultimately go into your course where students will find it on their first day. 

OPTION 2:

Where will your students to be in ten years? Imagine three possible futures, and for each of them explain where your course lies in the path to that future. Then, write 1-3 things that will happen in your class (i.e. objectives?) to put students on that path, toward that future. You can make a copy of this Google Doc template and use it to outline your thinking (click the link then go to File > Make a copy).

PURPOSE: This option takes you through a process for writing learning objectives. You should be able to revise what you write here to create learning objectives for your course. 

Share:

Use this form to self-report your progress this week, and share your build with designers and colleagues in the cohort.

Who’s Talking

Want to keep exploring this topic? Try following these thinkers on Twitter:

Gardner Campbell: @GardnerCampbell

Sundi Richard: @sundilu

Maha Bali: @Bali_Maha