Saturday, August 14, 2010

Week 8: My Project Plan ……. How to Identify My students’ Needs?

As I’m on holiday these days, I’ve prepared a project plan. This plan is not a result of one or two days, but the whole course. In Week 2, I described my students, setting of classroom and technology tools available. In Week 4, I described some issues that technology might help with. In week 5, I described a technology-inspired change that can be a solution for the issue I’ve selected. This issue was related to the difficulties that my students face when writing. Through reading a lot about web 2.0 tools that provide many opportunities for students to be heard all over the world, I found blogs as a very good tool that can improve my students’ writing skills, change their negative attitudes towards the writing experience and develop their HOT skills. In weeks 6 & 7, we were asked to find a partner for peer review. Fortunately, I found two wonderful partners (Bostan & Juliet) with the same interest.

In this week, we are asked to write our first draft of project plan or report. Frankly, I've spent more time to accomplish this task. The planning process is not an easy job. It needs careful thinking of every step expected to be applied. One of the questions that took a lot of time was “How to identify students’ needs”. To answer this question, I surfed the internet to know more about it. Let’s share these information with me.

What is needs analysis?

Needs analysis includes all the activities used to collect information about your students' learning needs, wants, wishes, desires, etc… The process also sometimes involves looking at the expectations and requirements of other interested parties such as the teacher/teacher's aid/ tutor (you), administrators, financial supporters, and other people who may be impacted by the program (such as students' family members ). A needs analysis can be very formal, extensive and time consuming, or it can be informal, narrowly focused and quick.

Why Needs Analysis?

The information gleaned from a needs analysis can be used to help you define program goals. These goals can then be stated as specific teaching objectives, which in turn will function as the foundation on which to develop lesson plans, materials, tests, assignments and activities. Basically, a needs analysis will help you to clarify the purposes of your language program.

Steps of Needs Analysis?

The needs analysis task includes three steps:

1) Design:

When designing the needs analysis, the aim is to:

  • Assess the current situation
  •  Define the problem - what gaps exist?
  • Determine if there is a need for training/learning
  • Determine what is driving this need for training/learning
  • Evaluate existing training
  • Assess the possible learning solutions
  • Ascertain information about logistical considerations/constraints

2) Conduct:

The following methods, or a combination of these methods, can be used:

  • Interviews
  • Questionnaires
  • Follow-up surveys from previous students
  • Observation
  • Action Research
3) Analyze:
Gather the information and sort it into categories that help you identify themes/topics that need to be addressed.
  • What topics/issues can be prioritised?
  • Which, if any, elements are common to all responses?
  • Are there any inconsistencies in the responses?

How to identify my students’ needs?

After getting an idea about needs analysis and the methods of measuring students’ needs, I’ve selected the questionnaire method. Actually, I’ve remembered the questionnaire that Deborah asked us to complete at the beginning of this course. I liked it very much as it helps me to know what I have and what I haven’t.

Then, Which Tool can do this task?

I’ve used a free website that is specialized in creating e-surveys: Reading two wonderful manuals: Smart Survey Design and SurveyMonkey User Manual, I’ve managed to create my own needs analysis survey. Its title is “Your Way To Write Using Technology”. Here is the link: Here are some of its pages:

Personal Information

Basic Internet Skills

Creating & Using Blogs


Resources Used:

1. Casper, A. (2003). Needs Analysis. Available online at:

2. Monkeysurvey (1999/2010). Smart Survey Design. Available online at:

3. MonkeySurvey (1999/2010). MonkeySurvey User Manual. Available online at:

4. Wynne, R. Learning Needs Analysis. Available online at:


  1. Dear Azhar,

    I like so much the way you present your learning process in this course!
    I am impressed that you searched for material to help you design your project. Yes it is important to plan carefully…we have a saying in Arabic that means: "if your plan is not good you planned for your failure".

    I understand you are using blogs right? Well my first plan for my project was using blogs but this week since I had my first wiki classroom site I changed my mind and I am planning another project that includes using a wiki room.

    Good luck in your project,

  2. Dear Khuloud,

    Thanks so much for your comment. Like you, after tasting the great Google Sites, I've decided to use both blogs and wikis. I will ask students to write their stories on their blogs. Then, we discuss all things on our class site. In this site, they will find many things, videos, homework assignments, announcements, songs, exercises, .. etc. It will be a basic resource for me and them.

    Thanks again for sharing your ideas!