What would constitute an Analysis and Design Document – Any Thoughts?

The Analysis and Design document is an important document for any e-learning project. It is a document that states the findings of the Needs Analysis and is a written agreement of what will constitute the course and how the course will look like.

Most companies have standard templates and all that you have to do is fill it with all necessary information. At least that was how it was in all the companies I have worked so far. However it is important to know what must go into the Analysis and Design document. Analysis and Design documents are usually written by senior instructional designers in big organizations. However, in small organizations, this is not true.

In this post I attempt to identify some important sections, one must include in the Analysis and Design document. Please note the Analysis and Design document is written as per the standards of an organization. My attempt here is just to make people aware of what must constitute an Analysis and Design document.

Let me now list the rough table of contents for an Analysis and Design document as follows:
1. Training Need

    At the outset, mention why the client needs an e-learning course.

    Specifically mention the Gap Analysis as follows:

    Ideal Situation

    Current Situation


    Please check this post of mine to learn more.

    2. Course Goal

    Mention how the e-learning course will help the learners. List down what the learners will achieve at the end of the training.

    3. Audience Analysis

    List down the findings of the Audience Analysis. Better list the findings in a tabular format as follows:


    Audience Details

    Implication on the course

    Please check this post of mine to learn more.

    4. Instructional Approach

    Mention whether the course would be just web or CD based training or blended training that is web based cum classroom training.

    List the highlights of the course such as audio, video, animations, graphics etc. In simple words describe how the concepts would be taught.

    5. Functional Specifications

    Mention the number of modules the course would constitute and also mention how learners can access it that is whether it will be hosted or be available in a CD ROM.

    6. Macro and Micro Strategies

    Describe in detail the strategy to be used in the course. Macro strategy is the overall treatment of the course. Micro strategy is slide by slide design of the e-learning course.

    Explain the overall treatment of the course including how the course would begin and what would be the backdrop or theme of the course. Also mention the navigation design that is what all buttons would appear in the navigation menu.

    Describe how each slide of the course would appear and what interactivities would be used.

    List all assessment items would be used to test the learner’s knowledge.

    Describe the visuals, animations or videos that would be used in each of the slides.

    When you describe the macro and micro strategies make sure you discuss with everyone involved in the project. Also make sure that you are convinced with the strategies. Above all write about the strategies in a detailed manner. If necessary create prototypes of the course pages to show how it will look like.

    In the section you can also mention the instructional model such as ARCS or Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction that you would use in the e-learning course. Make sure you mention what elements in your course would satisfy a specific instructional model. If it is ARCS model, you need to explain how your course would capture learners’ attention or how your course would convince the learners’ that it is relevant to them.

    Please check this post for sample micro and macro strategies.

    6. Detailed Course Outline with Learning Objectives and Instructional Strategies

    This section is crucial to the design document.

    In this section you need to list the course topics in a logical fashion. The course could be divided into modules and lessons or whichever way you think is right.

    For each module and lesson you need to list the learning objectives and explain the instructional strategies you would use in detail.

    It is recommended that you put the course outline, the learning objectives and the strategies in a tabular format.

    If it is a task based or skill based course, you need to give the detailed task analysis.


    Knowledge based courses just give information, concepts or facts about the subject.

    Task or Skill based courses are designed to help learners acquire a skill which they can use on a day to day basis.

    Please check this post of mine for some tips on how to design the course flow.

    I listed whatever I thought were the main sections of an Analysis and Design document.

    To sum up, all that I would like to say is that a lot of thinking has to go into the Analysis and Design document. The document tells you what you have promised to the client. So make sure you know and understand what you have promised.

    Now it is your turn

    Please let me know if I have missed out on anything or if I mentioned something which ought not be there.


    One Response

    1. I work for an IT company as an Instructional designer. I can identify with all the points that you have mentioned that would go in a Design document. However, I think even the evaluation of the learning should also be part of this document. Finally, the client would want to know how you are going to assess the learning. Usually is most of the projects, we just deliver the course on CD of deploy it on an LMS. We never really follow up and check with the client whether the learner’s have actually found it useful enough in their day to day tasks.

      Our company is in the process of re-designing the Analysis and design documents. However, Learner’s evaluation is one area where we find it difficult to come up with evaluation strategies.

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