Prometheus Training, LLC

Who's Your ADDIE?

Making instructional design work in an eLearning world

Who's ADDIE? Why do Instructional Designers give a leap about her? And is she still relevant in the world of eLearning design?

Who's ADDIE?

When you build a course, where do you start? How do you know what to put into the course? How will you know if the course works? Since the 1960's, Instructional Designers have looked to ADDIE for the answers to questions like these.

The name "ADDIE" is an acronym for the steps in the most commonly used instructional design model: Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate.

The ADDIE model was popularized by Walter Dick and Lou Carey (The Systematic Design of Instruction). Based on the "systems approach," ADDIE provides an iterative, step-by-step process for getting course design right. The "systems approach" foundation is what makes this model so robust, because it builds in a mechanism for detecting problems early, when they are still readily fixable. The idea is to stop after each step in the process, re-examine your assumptions and make the necessary adjustments, before moving full-steam-ahead to the more costly, labor-intensive and media-intensive steps.

content areas diagram

Why ADDIE matters - maybe more than ever

These days, some people dismiss ADDIE as "so Twentieth Century." We disagree. Here are some reasons why she still matters today:

  • ADDIE can help you build anything - from a single course to a complex curriculum - to the satisfaction of clients, stakeholders and learners.
  • Although ADDIE was created in the days when classroom was king, she can be applied across any training format. Whether you are building classroom courses, eLearning courses, complex multi-media or simulation-based courses, or even blended learning, ADDIE provides a uniform roadmap through the process.
  • Need to talk training design with non-trainers? ADDIE provides a common vocabulary and logical sequence of events for cross-functional training design teams.
  • Need to build training to support a quality initiative or complex process improvement project? ADDIE shares her "systems approach" background with models such as Total Quality Management or PMI's Project Management Process. And that makes it easier for you to marry up your training design methodology within a larger-project framework.
  • Getting Subject Matter Experts more involved in creating training programs? ADDIE is simple and streamlined, which makes her as usable for first-time course designers as for experienced training pro's.

Adapting ADDIE to an eLearning world

ADDIE is the little-black-dress of instructional design models. Just add the right accessories, and she'll rise to any training-design occasion with grace and style.

For example, if you are building e-learning, here some ways we commonly "accessorize" ADDIE:

  • Add a "technology audit" to the Analysis step, to ensure that we understand any IT system constraints that might impact our ability to deliver content, or our learners' ability to receive it. (Result: No horror stories about creating an audio-based course, only to find out that learners can't use audio in their workplace.)
  • Add a "rapid prototype" to the Design step, to ensure that our Stakeholders and Subject-Matter Experts really understand the way our course navigation will work, the types of interactivity that we intend to use, etc. (Result: Reviewers and design team members get to suggest changes to the cosmetics of the course early, when it is still cheap and easy to fix it. Because everyone on the team gets to "use" the prototype, there are fewer misunderstandings about how the finished program will look and play. Once everyone commits to a prototype, you can move on to the course development step with confidence that you are working to a firm set of specifications.)
  • Add "usability testing" during Design and Development steps, to make sure we understand how learners will react to our eLearning program. (Result: Fewer surprises, and a program that is calibrated to the preferences of the learners as well as the design team.)

ADDIE is not the only instructional design model out there, but she is certainly the most popular. We get Requests for Proposal specifying ADDIE from clients of every size and stripe. Why? Because she allows you to create training that meets your learners' and your stakeholders' goals, reliably and systematically.

About the author

Helene Geiger is CEO of Prometheus Training, LLC.

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