The Secret Levels of Learning

(This article is a follow-up to How to Make Your Content More Actionable. It's a good idea to read that one first.)

Can I let you in on a little secret? There is a way you can figure out which type of activities to include in your online course.

Well, it's not exactly secret. It's just not widely discussed among entrepreneurs and marketers who make online courses. It starts with something called Bloom's Taxonomy.

If you can already feel your eyes glazing over, hold on! Taxonomy is just a ten-dollar word for classification. Allow me to simplify Blooms and explain how you can apply it to your course.

Learning is a Spectrum

In HTMYCMA (whew!), I mentioned the spectrum of learning. Basically, learning doesn't happen on one wavelength. There are different classifications and categories of learning. 

You already know this intuitively. For instance, you know that memorizing a vocabulary list is a low-level of learning compared to, say, creating a Tony award-winning play using only the words on that vocabulary list. One is at the top of the pyramid (creating); the other is at the base (remembering). 

There are a lot of layers in between memorizing and creating. And they build on each other to look something like this:



How to Apply This to Your Course

Okay, you caught me, I'm talking a little about learning theory. And we all know that theory isn't super sexy. It's sexier to talk about six-figure launches...yay!

But my mission is to help you take your course to the next level. Knowing the different levels of learning and when to apply them helps your course deliver better results. And results, my friend, are muy sexy. (Okay, they also ultimately make you money too.)

If you know how to classify a learning topic, you’ll have a better idea how to present it and measure it, i.e. what format to teach and which activities to create. 

Activities for Understanding

or example, if you want your learners to understand something, here are some activities that support that:

  • Outlining

  • Reading

  • Writing a summary

  • Creating a graph, chart or table

  • Compare/contrast exercises

Finding Content Gaps

Sometimes you might have content that's written for the wrong category, causing gaps. Bloom's helps you figure out where those gaps are. 

Let's dig in to explore exactly how that works, shall we?

Say you tell your learners that they'll be able to sell their copywriting services after taking your Marketing for Copywriters course. Since selling is a skill, it requires practice and higher-level activities. 

If you only give your learners information on how to market--that they read and do nothing with--they won't be successful. They need to apply the information, analyse their results and, probably, create proposals, etc.

See how this works?


I'm going to stop here because this stuff can get heady--trust me, I know. Just remember: truly remarkable online courses move your students along the spectrum of learning--from remembering to creating. Here are some other tips to remember:

  • Taxonomy is just a fancy word for classification.

  • Bloom's Taxonomy is about classifying the levels of learning

  • Different classifications work for different learning objectives

  • Complex objectives require higher levels of learning

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