How to Conduct an eLearning Needs Analysis

When starting a new eLearning project, it’s easy to jump right in and start designing the course. However, it’s important to take a step back and determine what exactly your eLearning course is attempting to accomplish; or better yet, whether or not an eLearning course is needed at all! This is where an eLearning needs analysis comes into play.

While conducting an eLearning needs analysis might seem like some arduous process, it’s actually pretty straightforward. A proper analysis can help you pinpoint and tailor your eLearning content on actual performance needs, rather than knowledge alone.

Here are three simple and practical steps for conducting an eLearning needs analysis.

Determine the Desired Level of Performance

How to conduct an eLearning needs analysis by tim slade

The first step in conducting an eLearning needs analysis is to determine the desired level of performance. What business goals are you trying to achieve and what are the steps learners need to take to reach those goals? The answer to these questions is usually why your stakeholders requested the creation of the course in the first place.

While your stakeholders and subject matter experts can usually define the desired level of performance, don’t stop there. Take the time to really dig into the topic or process in which you are attempting to tackle. Research your company’s best practices regarding this process, or conduct a Task Analysis to fully understand the behaviors learners need to exhibit. This will help you later in the process when you attempt to determine the cause of the performance gap.

Determine the Current Level of Performance

How to conduct an eLearning needs analysis by tim slade

After you’ve determined the desired level of performance, the second step in conducting an eLearning needs analysis is to determine the current level of performance. This is how you’ll determine what gap(s), if any, exist between what learners are supposed to be doing and what they actually do.

There are quite a few ways you can go about determining your learner’s current level of performance. Start by looking at any data sources or metrics that can help you uncover clues regarding current performance. If possible, take some time to talk with your learners and see what they have to say about the process.

Determine the Cause of the Performance Gap

How to conduct an eLearning needs analysis by tim slade

After you’ve defined the desired level of performance and compared it to the current level of performance, the third and final step is to determine the cause of the performance gap (if one exists). While understanding the cause of a performance gap might seem irrelevant if you’ve already established that a gap exists, it can actually help you determine whether or not an eLearning course (or learning in general) will solve the problem.

Not all performance gaps are solved with learning. This is because performance gaps aren’t always caused by a lack of knowledge or skill by the learner. For example, a performance gap might exist if your learners aren’t motivated to meet the performance goal, or if the process they are required to follow is clumsy and convoluted. Performance gaps related to the motivation or environment of the learner can’t be solved with training alone.

If you did your due diligence in the previous steps, it should be apparent what is causing the identified performance gap. Furthermore, if you determine that there is a lack of knowledge or skill by the learner, you’ll now have a clearer picture of the behaviors you need to change in your eLearning course.

What other tips can you share about conducting an eLearning needs analysis? Share them by commenting below!

Additional Resources

Tim Slade
Hi, I’m Tim Slade, and I’m a speaker, author, and award-winning eLearning designer. I’ve spent nearly a decade working to help others elevate their eLearning and visual communications content. I’ve been recognized and awarded within the eLearning industry multiple times for my creative and innovative design aesthetics. I also speak regularly at national eLearning conferences, and I’m a recognized Articulate Super Hero and co-author of the popular E-Learning Uncovered book series.

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *