Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to E-Learning Development
Bloom’s Taxonomy is a commonly referred to educational concept, but how does it apply to e-learning, particularly in a corporate training environment?
In brief, Bloom’s Taxonomy defines the different levels of cognition. These levels can then be used to provide an order for learning behaviours, although this doesn’t have to be done in a hierarchical way. The levels can also inform and guide the e-learning development process.
Brief Overview of Bloom’s Taxonomy
Originally developed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom, Bloom’s Taxonomy was revised in more recent times to reflect modern views on education and training. The modern version of Bloom’s Taxonomy sets out six levels of human cognition. They are:
It’s important to note that you don’t need to go through each level for every e-learning training course you create. For example, there will be some training courses where achieving the “Remembering” or “Understanding” cognitive level will be enough.
However, when more detailed knowledge or higher levels of skill are required, the e-learning development process should ensure the finished course aligns with the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
How, then, do you apply the six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy when designing new e-learning courses? The specific answer will depend on your course, but a high-level overview of each of the six levels is set out below.
How to Apply the Six Levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy to E-Learning
The remember level is about knowledge, so it involves presenting learners with the information you want them to remember. This can be achieved via text, videos, images, etc. You can also use quizzes to ensure learners are absorbing the information you are giving them.
Understanding goes deeper than remembering, where you need the learner to fully understand the information in addition to being able to recall it. Explainer information, case studies, testimonials, and practical examples are some of the ways you can help learners develop a deeper level of understanding.
We can use training on a new business procedure as an example. The previous “Remembering” stage involves explaining the steps in the process. This “Understanding” stage of Bloom’s Taxonomy could involve explaining why the process itself is important, or the importance of the order of steps. A practical run-through or demonstration of the procedure can also help learners achieve the “Understanding” cognitive level.
The most important point with this level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is to give learners an opportunity to put into practice the new knowledge you have given them. The objective here is not just that they remember and understand, but that they can also use the information.
In an e-learning course, you can include scenarios that call on learners to make decisions and take actions. Gamification elements can also be effective.
At this point in Bloom’s Taxonomy, we are getting to a high level of cognitive ability, as you need to bring the learner beyond the point of remembering, understanding, and applying to a stage where they can also analyze and make assessments.
According to the taxonomy, this cognitive level involves learners having the ability to break information down into smaller parts so they can, for example, assess and investigate the relationship between different ideas.
Case studies can help helpful here, as can opportunities to interact in-person with instructors and other learners to ask questions and have discussions. As a result, a blended learning approach is often helpful for e-learning training topics that are designed to help learners achieve this cognitive skill level.
The important element here is that instructors should not simply provide answers to questions. Instead, they should provide guidance to help learners find the answer through their own analysis.
In many corporate training e-learning courses, this level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is connected heavily with the previous analysis-related level.
Branching scenarios are one of the best tools for helping learners achieve this level of cognitive skill, particularly if you make the scenarios as challenging and close to real-life situations as possible. In other words, you don’t want the learner to make a decision in a branching scenario because it was explicitly explained to them in a video a few minutes earlier. You should instead challenge the learner with a more difficult and/or less clear-cut situation, where the learner needs to assess the best course of action before applying what they have learned and understood.
Also, branching scenarios are more effective than standard scenarios at this level of Bloom’s Taxonomy because there are multiple paths that learners can take, with each decision impacting the next.
Creating is the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy for a reason, as most e-learning courses won’t need to bring learners to this level. It is a level that only applies in very specific situations where it’s important that learners develop the creative skills needed to produce an original solution, idea, piece of content, or object.
Understanding Different Cognitive Levels
Using an example can help further clarify the application of Bloom’s Taxonomy in e-learning. In this example, we’ll use training on social media marketing as the topic of the e-learning development project.
- Remembering – all employees can benefit from knowing about the social media marketing strategy used by the company.
- Understanding – it is also helpful when all employees understand why the social media marketing strategy is important and how it contributes to the company’s objectives in the UAE and/or Saudi Arabia.
- Applying – only those with marketing, communication, or sales responsibilities need to go to this level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, as they will need to know how to create and post content to social media in accordance with the strategy.
- Analysing – we can narrow the audience further at this point to those on the marketing team, as they will need the ability to analyse the performance of social media content, as well as the performance of the overall strategy.
- Evaluating – at this point, we might only have more senior members of the marketing team involved, as they will need skills that enable them to evaluate certain situations to determine the best approach to take on social media. For example, if there is a negative story about the company that is circulating online or in the news.
- Creating – we are now at the top level, which would involve training an even narrower group of employees on how to develop a new social media marketing strategy.
Defining Your Learning Objectives and Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to E-Learning
In summary, the power of Bloom’s Taxonomy in e-learning development is twofold:
- It helps to define and clarify the learning objective
- It ensures the e-learning course, content, structure, and presentation are aligned with the learning objective
The ultimate goal is to ensure the e-learning course delivers on the needs of your business, whatever level of cognitive ability you want your team to develop.