June 26, 2004

COURSE ANALYSIS: Why Analysis Matters

Analysis is in many ways the most important phase of course development, but too often novice developers who are eager to start writing or creating a graphic interface dive right into the design phase without performing an adequate analysis.

They almost always suffer for it later.

As you can see from the outline presented here (click the image to enlarge it), the decisions you make during analysis affect every key aspect of your course. If you rush into design and development without making sure you've addressed all of these issues, you're likely to face one or more of the following problems:

  • A course that doesn't teach what you want it to
  • Content that needs to be revised almost as soon as it's developed
  • An interface that students don't respond well to
  • Technology that doesn't meet your (or your students') needs
  • A system that you can't easily maintain
  • Budget and schedule overruns
  • Frustrated and unhappy students and staff
  • A course that is discontinued because it is ineffective.

In the end, all this translates into wasted time, effort, and money.

Of course, no matter how many times I say this to first-time developers, there's no teacher like experience. The single most common comment I get from former participants in my classes is: "I just developed my first course module and I wasted soooo much time and energy. Now I know what you meant about performing an adequate analysis."

Posted by Joanne Tzanis at June 26, 2004 11:13 PM

Yes, I've also seen this with site Web development and even traditional course development.

I think part of this comes from the desire to get "hands on" with applying what they've learned immediately, so a portfolio-project type of approach can help make sure students work through analysis during class... but, of course, there's no guarantee that students won't skip some of this step when they're in a real-world development situation.

Posted by: Joanne at June 27, 2004 12:38 PM


I have found that exactly the same is true of web development. No matter how much time you spend on the creative brief, analyzing client requirements, thinking through information design, navigation and technology requirements - as soon as you've assigned students their first web assignment it is like they've tossed all of that into the wind and are pounding out web scripting like there's no tomorrow.

I agree - there is no teacher like experience.

Chris Davis

Posted by: Chris Davis at June 27, 2004 10:43 AM