How Course Creators Can Use Bloom’s Taxonomy For Online Courses

If you speak to me for any longer than fifteen minutes about teaching, I’ll probably mention Bloom’s Taxonomy at some point. If you chat with me for another fifteen minutes, I’ll probably mention my disdain for most online learning structures, especially from course creators who don’t have an educational background. You know, the classic information dump that you usually get when you enter an eLearning platform or online course. Talk about a terrible student experience. Or, the step-by-step process on how to do something that kinda works, but isn’t an effective way to learn. Instead of just throwing all of the content up for students to read whenever they want, we need to work with course creators and design curriculum structures that anyone can use to design an effective learning continuum. The ladder approach is a handy way that course creators can use a simplified version of Bloom’s Taxonomy to encourage the best outcomes with online learning.

Why The Ladder?

Have you ever mentioned the term « Bloom’s Taxonomy » to someone without an education background? And if so, at what point did they stop paying attention? Basically, it’s a great way to introduce a foreign concept by linking it to a familiar object. Also, the ladder approach gets rid of the emotion and action-based taxonomies and only focuses on knowledge. It also doesn’t differentiate between the various learning dimensions. This is vital in a classroom setting if you’re working with people who may not be trained educators.

Why Does It Work?

Like we touched on briefly earlier, often online education structure leaves a lot to be desired. For starters, many courses and platforms simply dump all of the resources on the first landing page and expect the student to do all of the work from there.

Also, a lot of courses and online training programs will only cover lower-order thinking skills. This is partially due to the way eLearning is run. It’s a lot easier to record videos or write blog posts with all of the information and post it. That covers a lot of the « Remember » and « Understand » parts of the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, but doesn’t cover much in regards to higher-order thinking.

In order to achieve higher-order thinking, and in turn, mastery, you have to think outside the box. This means you’ll need to be creative with curriculum design. Designing a course or training program based around a simplified version of Bloom’s will ensure that course creators and trainers can design resources and activities that do more than throw content at students and hope it works.

Example: Online Course

Let’s see how it works in action. Let’s assume the course creator is designing a course on how to write a novel. This particular section is one you could use on character development.

  • Remember: Remember all the parts of a character. What does every protagonist need to have?
  • Understand: Answer the question “What makes a good character?”
  • Apply: Create a “character profile” template that is to be filled out when you create a character. What information should be included in that template?
  • Analyze: Rank the character traits in your profile template from most important to least important.
  • Evaluate: Using your answers from past tasks, choose a protagonist from a book you know and see how they stack up to your definition. Write a short paragraph explaining your answer and what improvements the author could have made to their character. Once you’ve done that, make any adjustments to your profile template if need be.
  • Create: Complete a character profile using your template.

Example: For Businesses

Now, let’s try something that a business owner might use in their daily life. Let’s say you’re creating a course for a business or enterprise to teach point of sale (POS) service.

  • Remember: List all parts of the POS register and service process.
  • Understand: Summarize the process in a short paragraph.
  • Apply: Roleplays and case studies.
  • Analyze: Select the most complete list of activities regarding POS service. What steps are the most important?
  • Evaluate: Reflect on your progress during your « apply » phase. How do you think you did? What could you do next time to be better? Would your strategies work with all customers?
  • Create: Create a process/checklist to go through at the register.

So, as you can see, when we break Bloom’s Taxonomy down it can be used in a range of different settings.