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Needs Analysis and E-Learning

Whatever kind of project you’re managing, you will have a defined set of objectives. Whether you meet these or not will ultimately determine whether your project has been a success or a failure. To maximise your chances of delivering project objectives successfully, it is necessary to map out and analyse the factors that will ultimately help or hinder you in your journey towards this goal. This is often known as a needs analysis, and is a process embodied in accredited project management methodologies.

The success of e-learning courses depends on sound project management, just like any other project. For this reason, a ‘needs analysis’ in this context is hugely important, but it is equally vital that a balance is struck between gathering and interpreting the information you need to put courses together and actually delivering the courses to your intended audience. If you go by the mantra of creating courses where the content is real to the learners, the chances are you won’t go far wrong. This should be at the heart of all the analysis you do regarding e-learning. Here are some quick tips on how to collect the information you need to create relevant and engaging e-learning courses:

Get out from behind your desk

Pressure of deadlines invariably means you can lose sight of what’s going on around you, particularly if you design e-learning programmes away from the world of your learners.

You cannot make accurate deductions about the physical learning environment of those who will be taking your course without getting out there and seeing it for yourself. Therefore setting aside some time to investigate is important as it will help put the course in proper context and leave you better placed to understand what you are dealing with.

Meet your learners

As well as knowing about the learner’s world, you should also get to know the learner. Understanding their needs and how they will use the information you plan to impart in their daily lives will help you to deliver better, more relevant content.

Assemble a pilot team

Putting together a pilot team of people who represent your learners can be a good alternative if you are unable to get out and meet them, and it’s actually a good idea in any case.

They can act as a sounding board to give you meaningful insight into how to make course content relevant. Guard against having only experience and expertise on the team though, as the input of recent learners will be just as crucial.

Continuously test your courses

Waiting for your course to be perfect is inevitably going to be mean delays in getting content to your audience. Today’s tools enable you to quickly build a course, test it, gather feedback and make adjustments as you go.

The building of your course can be further aided by drawing on your users or pilot group to set the right context. This can be done by getting them to brainstorm instances where they would use the content. Not only will you get the benefit of learning more about their jobs but you get to rapidly prototype scenarios for use in your courses.

Create a survey

If you know you won’t get to meet your learners, create a survey. Although not as dynamic as spending real time with people, it is still a means by which you can collect good information. You can probably reach out to more people this way too. As with all surveys, for them to contribute meaningfully they should collect the right information and avoid gathering collateral data that will impede your ability to process it.

As alluded to earlier, the success of e-learning project management will come down to how well the need to collect and analyse information is balanced against the need to deliver timely and relevant content. Adhering to PRINCE2® project management principles can make the prospect of achieving this equilibrium far less daunting. To see how its methods can be applied to the planning and delivery of effective e-learning programmes, contact us today.