Here is what a world without objectives might sound like–
“I don’t know. What do you think? Last year we covered ice breakers. How about a session on humor this year?”
“Well, I’m not entirely certain what scenario-based elearning would do for us, but I know our competitors are doing it.”
“I want to build a great program for the reps, but not sure what to do. Role plays? Job aids? Videos? Drills? All of them? How do I decide?”
“We got a really good speaker. She is funny, really a hoot. Let her talk about whatever.”
“Mobile devices are all the rage and I think we should put this on them, so they can check them out whenever.”
“I like panels. At least one of them will have something substantive to say.”
“Review the programs we built. Can you write some objectives for them? The funder is demanding objectives now. Ha. If we write objectives to the programs we built, we have a great chance of meeting those objectives.”
“Well, how would we evaluate this? No clue where to start.”
“Let’s just serve up a smorgasbord of rich online resources and see what happens.”
“There is so much here that I can’t tell where to focus. Do I need all of it? How do I get to what I need?”
“I’m looking at some high production value here, but I can’t judge whether it would work for us or not.”
My good friend Marc Rosenberg posted a column at Learning Solutions magazine. The title: Why I hate instructional objectives.
It set me off. Marc doesn’t dislike objectives, not really. We share disdain for crummy objectives that over-promise and under-deliver, and for objectives that natter on without speaking to real world concerns. Admittedly, many objectives do that, creating cynicism in their wake.
But that doesn’t mean we should abandon objectives. Please, no. We don’t want to encourage instructional designers to flop about without clarity of purpose, purposes derived from analysis of the work, worker and workplace. We must begin with the ends in mind. That is what objectives are.
What we need is not fewer objectives or no objectives, it’s better objectives. I LOVE good, useful objectives and make my case in a counter opinion, also at Learning Solutions.
Hope you will weigh in.