Involving students in the needs analysis process helps you to engage with them as the main beneficiaries (or sufferers!) of any new e-learning approaches you put in place. It can encourage more active participation in the development process. You might consider holding an initial focus group with students explaining your aims and the e-learning being developed and ask for their ideas and feedback as things progress. The students can also propose areas for investigation and can give feedback on the effectiveness of your evaluation questions.
Many techniques are available for eliciting student (user) needs. One problem is that students often do not know or cannot articulate what they want in the course context For example, new students who have not studied a subject beforehand may not have the necessary language/terminology. They may lack the knowledge that comes from experience of using technology: selecting those that have experience of e-learning activities. Often students who volunteer for focus groups or interviews or return questionnaires are the technophiles, the technophobes not wishing to publicise their lack of skills. This can skew your analysis considerably. Selection of students to involve in a needs analysis therefore requires careful thought, to ensure you obtain responses that are reasonably representative of the whole student group. You may have to use elicitation techniques that build knowledge as well as keep a focus on the users own needs.