Applying Bloom's Taxonomy In eLearning

Applying Bloom's Taxonomy In eLearning
Summary: Bloom's Taxonomy provides a framework for developing strong learning objectives. However, when it was created in 1956 when eLearning didn't exist, it was intended for in-class style training. How can you adapt it to create strong learning objectives for eLearning?

How To Adapt Bloom's Taxonomy In eLearning

Bloom's Taxonomy has played a key role in learning since 1956. If you have ever studied as an educator, then it is likely that you have learned a considerable amount about Bloom's Taxonomy. We aren’t going to go into the actual concept of this ‘theory’ here. It is likely that you already have a solid understanding of it, or at least you can easily find out more information online. Instead, we wish to focus on how a relatively old concept can be applied to something new; eLearning.

It is worth noting that the various stages that you find in Bloom's Taxonomy may have different names depending on where you are reading about the concept. Try not to worry too much about that. As you go through this information, we will take you through the various steps. As long as you go through the steps in this order when designing your eLearning lesson plans, you should not have too many issues.

1. Knowledge

This is the most basic stage. You are giving the learner knowledge and you are hoping that they will absorb it. Thankfully, this stage is probably one of the easiest to implement in the eLearning environment. You can share a video or a piece of text. There may be a small question at the end to ensure that they have absorbed the information, but nothing too crazy. They will just be answering a question related to the video, as opposed to going out and doing more research.

2. Comprehension

This is where you need to test the knowledge. Remember; knowledge is knowing something. Comprehension is about understanding something. Again, comprehension is something that you can easily implement into an eLearning environment. We are not going to tell you how to do this as it is up to the individual educator. However, you should have the tools at your disposal to ask questions. You can frame them however you want. The idea is to ensure that they have taken in the information that you have given them and they have understood it.

Remember, your SMART goals should come into play here. Any measuring you need to do must be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Based

You could probably scrap the last one of these SMART goals if you wish. It can be difficult to make things time-based in an eLearning environment.

3. Application

This is where things become a little bit trickier when you are in an eLearning environment. This is because the constraints of eLearning can make it difficult to put the knowledge to use. Some educators will ask the students how they have put this knowledge to use in their day-to-day life, which is fine, but you can’t really test that.

We are going to assume that you are designing courses for a business environment. One thing that we have seen a lot is the creation of online simulations. For example; if you are training people how to use the cash registers where you work, then an online simulation of that would work wonders. It should require little extra effort to program. If you are teaching people how to interact with customers, you could either have a short quiz on how they should react in certain situations or, better yet, you could ask the group to get together via video lesson (everybody on webcam). You can then come up with situations and tackle them together. It is a very effective method, you just need to ensure that everybody is around at the same time, which can be tough when it comes to eLearning.

4. Analysis

This is the stage where a person starts to develop a strong understanding of the subject matter. In a normal learning environment, the educator may ask questions with very little contextual clues and the learner must work out what is meant then provide an answer. While you can do this through an eLearning environment, we feel that there is a better way.

Most online education systems will have a discussion board in place, on which students will be able to interact with each other. This is brilliant, as it means somebody could go in and ask for advice (encourage them to do this), and the rest of the students could provide a solution. It is very informal, but it certainly fulfills the analysis criteria. You could even judge them a little on this. One of the best things about these discussion forums is that you will be able to tell which concepts you have not been enforcing enough. This can change the way in which lessons are planned going forward.

5. Evaluation

Due to the restrictions of the final stage, most eLearning training will end here. Not a bad thing by any means, but it would be nice to reach the final stage as well.

With eLearning, evaluation can take a few forms. Most people will go down the route of the SMART goals as it can test how well the employee has absorbed the information. However, there are better routes. Many of the best courses around encourage the people who have reached the end of the course to mentor the newest members. They can act as a sort of teacher. They can do this through the social discussion boards. Of course, the course leader will still need to keep a watchful over this, but it works. Failing that, regular appraisals could also work well, although this is going to be dependent on the subject matter.

6. Creation

This is the final stage of Bloom’s Taxonomy, but most people will not get here, as it is exceedingly difficult to apply to an online learning environment. At this stage, people will be putting together wholly original work based on the concepts that they have learned. The only way this could potentially work in an eLearning environment, is by scheduling ‘group meetings’ where each group is asked to put together a working plan for the business to change up a process based on the information. Essays could work, but we do not feel that this fosters any real socialness. Reaching this stage is fantastic, as it means that learners have the potential to shape the business they work in. You will be surprised at how many ideas are generated at this point.

Remember: as eLearning changes, and it is at a rapid rate, many of these stages will be shaken up somewhat. New technologies will allow educators to get closer to the original Bloom's Taxonomy, still with some limitations, but it can be easier to plan tasks.