Another great blog from Tom Kuhlman at Articulate. My comments are quoted here:
For corporate elearning, it's all about Mastery Learning, right? When would it not be about Mastery Learning? The only time I can think of is when one must comply with some statutory regulations which require an organization to document a certain amount of training annually or periodically. In those cases, just make the assessment the first thing you do in the course. If you fail the initial assessment, then you must take the course and complete a final assessment.
... I almost always start with question #3: how will I prove what I know? This was one of the important points taught to me during my BS.Ed. courses on creating Evaluations and Assessments. It’s a Covey-ism “begin with the end in mind.” My dad called it “thinking like an engineer.” Bottom line: start with how you will assess the learning, then work backwards from there to design learning objectives which will allow the student to pass the assessment. Its a simple concept that can accommodate very complex learning situations.
Of course, good instructional design really doesn’t start with the assessment. It starts much earlier defining learning goals and aligning them with business goals, etc. But, assuming those are done and out of the way… when the rubber meets the road - you start with the assessment. Then you create multiple learning activities designed to help the student pass the assessment. This is, in a nutshell: Mastery Learning.