Supporting Bloom’s Taxonomy Learning Objectives with Digital Methods

For several decades, Bloom’s taxonomy has belonged to many L&D professionals toolbox. While the frameworks itself are somewhat dated, they still provide good tools for structuring learning objectives. In fact, along with Kirkpatrick’s model for training evaluation, the taxonomy is perhaps the second most prevalent industry staple. While in the future we are likely to move more into performance-based learning objectives, we still continue to educate people in knowledge heavy areas where immediate performance impact is not self-evident. Hence, it pays to evaluate how we can use Bloom’s framework today in the learning space where a digital forms a large part of the delivery. Therefore, we’ll look at Bloom’s taxonomy in more detail and how to support it with digital learning methods. 

The six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy progress as follows: 

  1. Knowledge
  2. Comprehension
  3. Application
  4. Analysis
  5. Synthesis
  6. Evaluation

Delivering “Knowledge” with Digital 

For a long time, digital (or eLearning for that matter) has been a common way of delivering knowledge. However, to fulfil the knowledge part of the learning objectives according to Bloom’s taxonomy, we have to pay attention to the delivery. Firstly, it’s highly important to understand what helps learners to remember and recall knowledge. Tools and methods like spaced learning and microlearning are modern ways of structuring digital content to aid in just that. 

Ensuring “Comprehension” with knowledge checks

When developing learning, we’d naturally like the learners to grasp the concepts beyond just the factual level. Hence, it’s important to build adequate comprehension elements into digital learning experiences. While an increasing part of the comprehension analytics can be accomplished with seamless learning tracking, on many occasions it’s good to build proper assessment. Generally, you should build assessment and knowledge checks that go beyond factual recollection. Furthermore, it’s beneficial to distribute the knowledge checks within the materials and space them over time. 

Supporting “Application” with digital 

Generally, the application part of the Bloom’s taxonomy and learning equation occurs in the workplace. However, that’s not to say we shouldn’t utilise the power of digital to facilitate that application to the best of our ability. Ideally, the scope of your learning analytics would cover the relevant behavioural and performance metrics to find out whether application is actually happening. In case your data capabilities are not yet at that level, you can (besides contacting us for help!) use different techniques to try to gauge the rate of application. For instance, digital surveys and 360 evaluations provide tools to assess behaviours on both individual and organisational level. However, keep in mind that self-reported data is often full of bias! 

Facilitating the “Analysis” of knowledge

A good part of learning deals with understanding what we already know and how that related to the grand scheme of things. Naturally, you can facilitate the analysis part with various types of self-paced assignments requiring critical thinking. In the age of digital, however, you could use the power of social media tools to facilitate social learning. Modern social learning tools provide a good way for learners to develop a deeper understanding of the concepts at hand and their relationship with current workplace practices and strategy. This enables learners not only to rely on their own conceptual understanding but to learn from others’ as well. 

Providing a platform to “Synthesise” information

Building on the analysis stage, the synthesis of knowledge is highly important to bring the learning back to the workplace. With highly abstract topics (e.g. leadership, soft skills etc.), collaborative learning activities can deliver high impact. As synthesis is a lot about creating new ways of working based on the newly learnt and existing knowledge, you’ll want to focus on that. At this stage, the confines of the learning system (e.g. LMS) become too narrow, and we need to find other pathways to success. Collaboration tools (e.g. Slack) provide a good platform to not only support learning, but also to produce and share work and practical applications of the newly learnt. If you’re not yet employing collaborative platforms, user-generated content can be a meaningful way to execute some of this as well. Learners can e.g. share their experiences of different applications and learn from others. 

Enabling reflective “Evaluation” via digital platforms

The highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy is evaluation. Evaluation generally involves presenting and defending opinions based on the developed conceptual knowledge and synthesis. Similar to “Synthesis”, collaborative and social learning tools provide great mediums for facilitating the evaluation level. Learners can share their own opinions, engage with others’ and hence refine their thinking. While there’s a lot of tools for this type of delivery, a proper mindset is equally important. As an organisation, you should encourage the sharing of opinions. To do this successfully, you naturally need to acknowledge that those opinions may be critical or not aligned with the current practice. However, you should not aim to silence all the critics as it is these types of discussions that spark internal innovation in organisations. 

Are you using Bloom’s taxonomy to structure your learning objectives? Would you like to find out more about different digital methods to support the learning process? If so, just contact us here – we’re happy to share! 

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