Learning objectives and their component skills are the backbone of an OLI course, helping to provide content alignment, cognitive focus to the student, and the hooks for OLI's analytics engine that analyzes student interactions and gives true learning data to instructors on the Learning Dashboard.

In OLI courses Learning Objectives are attached to (and govern content alignment for) pages, and skills will be associated questions in practice exercises and scored assessments.

Skills in the OLI environment are defined as discrete, demonstrable pieces of knowledge, and they are a course’s foundation upon which the Learning Dashboard collects and analyzes student learning data. For example, OLI’s Introduction to Biology course includes a Genetics unit that assesses on a skill “Describe the function of meiosis as it relates to sexual reproduction.” This is one demonstrable piece of knowledge around which instruction and assessment have been designed, so we can collect information about students’ ability to learn it.

A Learning Objective is collection of one or more component skills, and provides a goal your students should expect to meet for success. The meiosis skill above is one of three that comprise the Learning Objective “Apply the law of segregation and predict the possible offspring in heredity problems.” These skills and Learning Objectives are worded such that instruction and practice/assessment can be created to illustrate a student’s mastery: “describe, apply,” etc.

In general, low-level Learning Objectives can be comprised of a single skill, while higher-order objectives may contain three or more discrete skills. Assessing these skills using practice and scored exercises can be done both by asking questions that let students demonstrate they’ve acquired individual skills, or with more complex problems or simulations that require students to synthesize and apply their skill acquisition to measurably meet the Learning Objective.

Skills are not restricted to inclusion in only one Learning Objective, though every Learning Objective must have at least one skill. In each of these cases the skill and Learning Objective are identically worded, but must be created individually and tied to each other.