Recently I was working with a client in a 1:1 consulting session and we were looking at their emerging lesson plan for a 2-hour workshop. I noticed some misalignments between the draft learning outcomes they’d written and the content and activities they’d designed into the session.

The alignments between content, activities, and assessments (if relevant) is the best place to start when analyzing your own or someone else’s lesson plan. When I’m reviewing a client’s plan and I see there’s a learning outcome stated but no activity associated with it my question is: “Do you need to eliminate this learning outcome or create an activity to align with it?”

Alternatively, when I see there’s an activity included in the lesson plan but no learning outcome stated to align with it my question is then: “Do you need to create a learning outcome to align to this activity or is this activity not needed?”

Essentially, if you write a learning outcome about something you need to create an activity (or activities) for participants to DO something where you can see them achieving that outcome. If you don’t think you need an activity around the bit of content, then it likely doesn’t need a learning outcome – and should be a VERY short inclusion in the session.

So…match ’em up! While lesson planning for any workshop or course (in person or online), keep looking at your outcome statements and activities to see if you need to add, revise, or delete one or the other.

By the way, this process of constructive alignment also helps you solve the “but I have so much content to cover” problem a lot of people think they have. When you realize that a long bit of content isn’t aligned to a learning outcome you know you want to keep, you can likely remove that content from the session or shorten it substantially. (Especially if there’s no activity associated with it!)

Want more guidance on how to constructively align a lesson plan? Download this one page Steps to Alignment guide, just one of the pages from my Design Foundations for Creating Virtual Learning resource available at

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