Many educators are familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, a method of classifying learning objectives according to the different levels of thinking skills required. The 1950s-era taxonomy is generally depicted as a pyramid, with lower-order thinking skills at the bottom. Once these are mastered, learners can practice higher-order skills.
The original pyramid featured these skills:
In the 1990s, the taxonomy was updated to use active verbs: remember, understand, apply, analyze, create, and evaluate. They also switched the placement of the top two skills — create (formerly synthesis) and evaluate (formerly evaluation), placing “create” at the top of the pyramid. This recognizes that learning and thinking are active processes and places creation of new ideas and patterns at the pinnacle of human thought.
Human thinking and learning occurs along a continuum from basic cognitive activities, also called lower-order thinking skills, to higher-order skills.
The foundation of the Bloom’s pyramid — the lower-order skills — includes:
Much corporate training focuses on these three levels.
Higher-order skills, often called “critical thinking” skills, are more abstract, thought to require more cognitive processing. They are useful in new and novel situations in which lower-order skills, such as remembering, might not help. These higher-order thinking skills include:
Bloom’s Taxonomy provides a structure for guiding learning.
In 2008, Andrew Churches created a version called Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, adding verbs that address forms of learning and creating that reflect the digital age.
Like the original taxonomy, Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy offers lists of related verbs that instructional designers can use to develop learning objectives. In creating content, they can progress from lower-order skills like recalling information and defining terms, to higher-order skills like applying information in new situations, identifying connections among concepts or ideas, and analyzing and evaluating content to form an opinion or determine whether information is credible.
The digital taxonomy integrates verbs and tasks used for digital learning and creating, and includes verbs and suggested activities that pertain to eLearning and other approaches to online learning and exploring, such as:
Simple games layered on top of content
Scenario-based games that use the content
Fan excessive competition among employees or teams by offering large prizes for top performers and/or shaming those with lower scores
Challenge employees to beat their own past performance, or design a leaderboard that shows each employee only the four scorers above and below them
Points, rewards, badges
Award points or levels for completing sections of training or playing for a set number of minutes
Award levels, badges or points for recalling or applying content correctly, demonstrating mastery
As more training moves online, understanding terms like hybrid learning and blended learning is essential to figuring out the best approach for your learners.
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