What is the Magic Triangle: Aligning Learning Objectives, Training Activities and Assessment Methods

the magic triangle

The Magic Triangle represents the relationship between Learning Objectives, Learning Activities, and Learning Assessment. If these three components are built with the intention of interdependence, then instructional design and learning are greatly enhanced and superior outcomes are achieved.

If one or more of these three components is not optimal, then learners become discouraged, confused, bored, or unhappy, negatively affecting learning outcomes.

A key factor to consider with this model is that if one side of the triangle is missing, then learning collapses and is not effective. 

Learning Objectives

When writing Learning Objectives, consider the following:

  • Goals are outcomes for the student—not for the L&D team.
  • They should describe what the learner will be capable of at the end of a course.
  • Refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy to create objectives in behavioral terms.

Learning Activities

Learning Activities refer to the course assets: audio, video, animations, and the like. Mapped to the ADDIE model, Learning Activities are the actions the instructional designer plans during the Design Phase and the student carries out to learn in the Implementation Phase.

Keep the learner in mind when creating both Objectives and Activities. We’ve written before about the importance of learner experience—especially when the learner only has on average 1 percent of the typical workweek to focus on learning and development.

Shorter courses are usually the way to go, given the time crunch. Traditional eLearning courses usually are 30 minutes to 1 hour in duration, often incorporating multiple objectives. However, according to eLearning Industry, shorter, “bite-sized” learning can have a single objective, allowing the learner to not only absorb content better but also focus on a single objective.


Learning Assessments

But Learning Activities also encompass tests, projects, and presentations that form part of the third vertex of the Magic Triangle: Assessments. Assessments are developed during the Design Phase of ADDIE, and it is imperative that they are aligned with both the Learning Objectives and Learning Activities.

Subject matter experts (SMEs) are instrumental in creating the content used for both the Activities and Assessments. Instructional designers should collaborate with SMEs to determine if the initial Objectives are reasonable, and then design the mix of Activities and Assessments to meet those Objectives. 

L&D leaders should track all Objectives, Activities, and Assessments to determine what’s working and what’s not. Efficiencies can be uncovered by repackaging and repurposing content for use by different learners. By embracing newer ideologies like a Learning Design Systems (LDS), anyone can crowdsource training ideas, perform a needs analysis, convert technical content to learning material, and design training content—rapidly and at scale—that satisfies both your learners and your instructional design team. 


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What is the Magic Triangle: Aligning Learning Objectives, Training Activities and Assessment Methods