Needs analysis is closely linked with evaluation and dissemination. Firstly, it is the crucial ‘diagnostic’ part of an effective evaluation (see LDC e-learning guide “Evaluating e-learning developments”). The purpose of evaluation is to offer a means to investigate, provide evidence, learn, share and make judgements about what we do and how we do it. Secondly, there are inevitably links with feedback gathered from dissemination activities, as you may engage with stakeholders who can inform the choices you make in your development.
A needs analysis is the starting point for defining the criteria against which judgements about success can be made. It will include a close scrutiny of the pedagogical rationale and outcomes of the curriculum and assessment design, which the planned e-learning (activity or environment) is intending to support or enhance.
Some of the areas your needs analysis should address may be determined by your stakeholders (those who are influenced or benefited by the development). Primarily, this is most likely to be your students (whose learning you are aiming to enhance), it may be yourself in terms of developing your own skills. However, there may well be other, perhaps departmental, concerns or questions which you might choose to include for others treading a similar path.