Preactive Stage: Needs Assessment

Preactive Stage: Needs Assessment

Barbara A. Frey (D. Ed. University of Pittsburgh, USA), Richard G. Fuller (Robert Morris University, USA) and Gary William Kuhne (Penn State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-865-4.ch007
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Strategies For Needs Assessment

The online instructional designer in the preactive phase must ask several questions regarding each of the stakeholders to better understand his audience. Learner needs must be addressed through several lenses. What are the learner needs? What is the background of the learners? Where and how will the learner use the knowledge, skill and the analysis/synthesis problem solving that is to be learned in the course? What is the student’s access to technology (i.e., software, bandwidth Internet access)? What are the technological capabilities of the learners in regard to their ability to use and understanding technology for learning? What is the learner’s access to the necessary learning platforms? Having a deeper understanding of the answers to these questions will better prepare the developer to design online learning lessons that are relevant in content and appropriate methodologies. Knowing your audience and the learners becomes part of the differentiated instruction planning process. By understanding the learners and their needs, you can provide a variety of learning opportunities that are specifically targeted at the learners.

The educational institution offering the program or course of study may also have needs that must be addressed. Many educational institutions have accrediting bodies that mandate standards. What are the standards of any accrediting bodies that need to be met? The standards may necessitate goals, objectives and outcomes as well as success rates. These need to be understood upfront and built into the design process. Institutions may also have limitations with regard to resources and any financial implications that play a role. Class sizes and the number of online faculty members that are able to provide online education and costs associated with the learning management platform are also institutional factors. The institution may have a strategic plan that targets specific goals and objectives of the online programs that need to be taken into consideration. The online instructional designer needs to have an understanding of any of these issues that may affect their online planning in the preactive phases.

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