How to Conduct an eLearning Task Analysis

Before starting development on a new eLearning project, it’s important to make sure you’ve collected and analyzed all the information used to justify the creation of an eLearning course in the first place. One of the ways you do this is by conducting an eLearning needs analysis to determine the root cause behind the gap in performance and whether or not eLearning (or any learning intervention) is the right solution. Another method of analyzing the learning need is by conducting an eLearning task analysis.

An eLearning task analysis is a process of analyzing a specific task to determine how it’s completed, step-by-step. While this might seem pretty straightforward, a task analysis can get pretty detailed. When done correctly, a through task analysis will be broken down into procedures, primary tasks, and subtasks.

But, why should you consider conducting an eLearning task analysis in the first place? Well, the results of a task analysis can be used to determine many different variables about your project. First, a task analysis can help you ensure your learning and performance objectives align with the actual tasks your learners need to perform. And second, a task analysis can help you determine the total scope and complexity of what you need to teach your learners. This information can help you decide whether or not additional learning interventions are required to accomplish the desired learning goal.

Here are three simple steps for conducting an eLearning task analysis.

Step One: Identify the Primary Procedure.

The first step for conducting an eLearning task analysis is to identify the primary procedure your learners are expected to perform. When identifying the primary procedure, you want to avoid being too broad, which could result in performing a task analysis on something that should actually be separated out into multiple procedures.

How to Conduct an eLearning Task Analysis by Tim Slade

For example, if you were conducting a task analysis on a financial auditor, performing an analysis on their responsibility of “auditing financial records” would likely be too complex. The reality is that this responsibility is comprised of multiple, individual procedures (i.e., completing the daily finance audit, organizing and sending audit results to the audit committee, submitting the monthly tax report to the Internal Revenue Service, etc.).

In this case, we’ll look at the procedure of “completing the daily finance audit.”

Step Two: List the Main Tasks.

The second step in conducting an eLearning task analysis is to identify and list the main tasks for completing the primary procedure. Similar to identifying the primary procedure, you don’t want to be too broad or too specific.

How to Conduct an eLearning Task Analysis by Tim Slade

When listing the main tasks, and the subtasks, use action verbs to describe each task. For example, for our procedure of “completing the daily finance audit,” it might look something like this:

  1. Download the daily finance report.
  2. Review the daily finance report for inaccuracies.
  3. Report inaccuracies to the corporate finance auditor.

Step Three: List the Subtasks.

The third and final step for conducting an eLearning task analysis is to break the main tasks into subtasks. The subtasks are where you start getting granular with the level details of each task.

How to Conduct an eLearning Task Analysis by Tim Slade

Using the first main task from our example of “completing the daily finance audit;” here’s what the final task analysis might look like, broken down into subtasks:

  1. Download the daily finance report:
    a. Login to the finance operating mainframe.
    b. Click the Run Daily Report button.
    c. Click the Download Daily Report button.

Once you’ve successfully completed your task analysis, you should have a holistic, step-by-step outline of what’s involved in completing an identified procedure, which you can use in designing your learning intervention. What other tips can you share about conducting an eLearning task analysis? Share them by commenting below!

Additional Resources

Tim Slade
Tim Slade is a speaker, author, and award-winning eLearning designer. Having spent the last decade working to help others elevate their eLearning and visual communications content, Tim has been recognized and awarded within the eLearning industry multiple times for his creative and innovative design aesthetics. Tim is a regular speaker at international eLearning conferences, is a recognized Articulate Super Hero, co-author of the popular E-Learning Uncovered book series, and author of the The eLearning Designer’s Handbook.

4 Responses to “How to Conduct an eLearning Task Analysis

  • Nice article Tim. I’m wondering why you use the term “eLearning needs analysis” when there is a likelihood that the results of the needs analysis could suggest that the problem is better solved in a non-instructional manner (job-aids, performance support, coaching/mentoring, or process changes)? In your example, you focus on procedural analysis. How would you approach an analysis for goals/performance related to process, rules, or ill-structured eLearning (such as soft skills).

    • Hi Curits!

      You have a keen eye! First, let me say, I totally agree with you. The reason I used “eLearning task analysis” was simply due to search engine optimization (SEO). I hope that helps explain it a little more.

      • Thanks Tim… I think you are dong a wonderful job! I enjoy your posts & articles, and I looking forward to reading your new book.

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