Instructional design

ID Models (2/5): ADDIE


ADDIE dominated instructional design for decades and, to give it its credit, has provided many of the base ideas for the instructional design models that came after it. Its beauty is that it is essentially a linear process that is easy to understand:

  • Analysis: Who are the learners? What is their current level of performance and where do they need to be? What about timeline, resources, constraints, etc?
  • Design: Define your learning objectives. Review and organise the content. Decide on exercises and interactions and how they will be delivered (e.g. courses, quizzes, videos, text, etc).
  • Development: Storyboard (describe in words and images the experience of using the training) and then create the learning content.
  • Implementation: Rollout and promote your learning content.
  • Evaluation: Evaluate how effective your training has been in relation to the learning objectives, possibly using an evaluation model like Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Learning Evaluation.

On first impressions it seems logical, manageable and uncomplicated. But today very few organisations use ADDIE (at least in its classic unaltered form). Why?

Imagine an instructional designer and developer take on a new project and beaver away for weeks creating a piece of learning content. Triumphantly they unveil it to stakeholders. The fanfare fades away. The marketing manager didn’t think it was going to work like that. The sales manager’s unhappy with its appearance. The managing director has a host of ideas about how it could be improved. But the budget has been spent and the course is launched as-is. Learners find it confusing to navigate and are disappointed that it doesn’t cover some key areas.

ADDIE’s great weakness is that there is little opportunity for stakeholders to provide feedback until the project reaches its end, when it is too late to make significant changes.

Consider though what would happen if there was a way of getting such feedback, not at the end of the project, but just 10% of the way in, when you could easily change direction. What if you could also get feedback at 20%, 40%, 70% and at any other point?

Enter the next instructional design model outline in this series, Rapid Prototyping.