Setting up an online school – Part 17

This time I will finish up for now using needs analysis, how to make it an ongoing process, and make sure you get repeat business.

Needs analysis 3

Ongoing needs analysis

This time I will concentrate on how to incorporate needs analysis into everything you do. First, I will explain why it is important. As you are online, you are in new territory and are learning all the time. You have to figure things out yourself. And a good needs analysis allows you to prevent mistakes by taking note of anything that went wrong or didn’t go as well as planned and asking yourself “What questions should I have asked at the start when forming my needs analysis to prevent this from happening?” You need to devise your training plan, which feeds from your needs analysis, to make future classes work successfully.

Always strive for continuous improvement

So, if you get a company that wants you to provide training for its staff and you provide it, you need to sit down with the boss at the end, present your outcomes and explain what you will improve for the next session. If you show that you are in a process of continuous improvement, it will encourage them to hire you for more classes. After doing a course with a company or organization, you should always figure out what worked, what didn’t, what the students enjoyed, and what improvements they made. This must be a conscious process. Always look for regular feedback throughout the classes.

If you use the excellent Vedamo system, every participant is given a short feedback form to fill out at the end of every session and you should encourage the students to fill it out as they provide this quick way to get what you need. As I have emphasized throughout this series, using a professional system like Vedamo is a great way to ensure success of your startup as they provide you with the tools you need.

You need to use your feedback to plug any gaps in the students knowledge and to compensate for any deficiencies they have. Don’t be afraid, with companies, to change the course direction a bit, to allow for these, while doing the course. Your job is to fulfill the task requirements and being flexible enough to do this is what will get you repeat business. If you notice that some students are struggling with writing, or certain aspects of grammar, then a short intensive session to address that might be in order. It is a truism of teaching that no two classes are ever the same, even if, as I do in university, you teach up to three classes the same day with the same lesson. They are always different.

Use it to motivate your students

So, your needs analysis needs to be ongoing and flexible as does your training plans. Knowing that you will address the real needs of the students motivates them to get better, and the bosses to rehire you. Without motivation, there is no teaching as the old proverb about taking the horse to the water, but you can’t force them to drink tells you. If you care, in my experience, most students will also care and get motivated.

Try to find out how students prefer to learn

I also regularly incorporate Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence test early on to gauge how people like to learn. This can be found HERE and he divides intelligence into the following categories:

intelligence type capability and perception
Linguistic words and language
Logical-Mathematical logic and numbers
Musical music, sound, rhythm
Bodily-Kinesthetic body movement control
Spatial-Visual images and space
Interpersonal other people’s feelings
Intrapersonal self-awareness

People have different ways of applying their intelligence and I find that this method is a useful guide.

The test shows up which of these they are strong and weak in and it allows me to remember their answers and incorporate their preferences into the training. If, for instance, you are teaching financial English, you might find that most participants, if not all, fit into the logical/mathematical section and you can tailor the training to suit. Mentioning that you use this system, when putting together your needs analysis with the client at the start, might motivate them to follow through and hire you.

Your needs analysis informs your training plan

As I have mentioned before, no matter what you teach, you should use needs analysis to inform your training plan. If you are teaching carpentry, then finding out exactly what your students wish to make, and what tools they can lay their hands on, as well as the level they are at, will inform your training plan and allow you to deliver exactly what they want.

A great advantage of online teaching of such subjects is that they can be in their own workshop, with their own tools, as they learn. I truly believe that teaching trades and crafts will be the next big boom in online teaching because of this very factor. The old problem, of taking a course in something, but not being able to achieve the classroom results at home will disappear, as you will be at home. And the expert may be able to point out an alternative way to do something using the instruments you have.

Put together your own needs analysis forms

Finally, and I will leave this subject for now, you really should put together, over time, your own needs analysis forms. Yes, use, at the start, the many online ones you can find, but modify them constantly as you solve your problems. Eventually they will become your own and be part of your masterplan to creating your own successful business. It is the surefire way to understanding your clients needs and providing for them. And that is the strongest principle in business.

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Gus Worth is a highly experienced writer and educator having worked in universities for nearly 20 years and being first published at the age of six. Currently in the English department of the American University in Bulgaria, he also writes extensively for the web and in print for many companies. He has a particular love of online teaching and enjoys helping teachers take their first steps in the exciting world of the future where you can connect with, and help students develop, all over the planet.
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