How to Stay Focused with Course Learning Outcomes

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Let’s say you have decided to create your first online course. You are super excited, highly motivated and have heaps of ideas! However, after a couple of days, you might become slightly overwhelmed and kind of ‘lost’. Your ideas may not connect with each other and you begin to lose track of your course. Many MOOC teachers experience these moments of uncertainty.

Luckily, there is a simple solution – learning outcomes.

Here are 3 simple steps to setting up learning outcomes to keep you and your course focused.

Step 1: Set your course learning outcome

The course learning outcome is a clear statement or set of statements of what you want your students to achieve by the end of the course. It’s simply the answer to the question:

What do I want my students to know or be able to do by the end of this course?

For instance, in a course about Italian Cuisine, the course learning outcomes might be:

❖ Students will be able to use a variety of herbs in Italian cuisine, or,

❖ students will demonstrate the ability to prepare one Italian soup, one main dish and one dessert, or,

❖ students will prepare the collection of 20 Italian recipes.

The number and type of outcomes depend on the scope of the course. Setting one or two outcomes for a course is always a great start.



Step 2: Set learning outcome for each module

Once you’ve determined your course outcome(s), set specific learning outcomes for each module. This outcome will direct you when choosing the content and activity for the module.
If one of the “Italian Cuisine” course modules is ‘Appreciating Italian Herbs’ a specific learning outcome could be “Students will be able to use varie a y of herbs in Italian Cuisine”.

Step 3: Link the activities you create to your course and module outcomes

So you’ve identified the learning outcomes and its time to shift to the second step. Continue by answering these questions:


Let’s take a look at our “Italian Cuisine” course again. Once you’ve set your overall course outcomes and learning outcomes for each module, it’s time to link these outcomes with activities.

❖ Your activity is based on your module learning outcome and learning content (such as videos, wiki page, pdf files, etc.).
❖ The activity is something you let your students do or experience. For example, you want your students to learn about Italian herbs. In the activity, you might ask them to go to the supermarket and buy at least 5 different Italian herbs and cook a meal using them.
❖ The activity is the direct evidence of your student’s effort. This evidence might be posting a picture, posting a comment, posting a video of the food they prepared with these 5 Italian herbs.
❖ Final activity is the direct evidence that the course learning outcomes have been met. For instance, your students will demonstrate the ability to prepare one Italian dish by sharing a picture of their dish, sharing their friend’s views on that dish…you get the idea.
It’s now your turn to start setting course outcomes and get focused!
What is your experience with setting your course learning outcomes and activities? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences

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