“ADDIE is a good idea. But it’s not dogma…”

This was one of the most memorable points from our discussion with Aaron Silvers.  The week before, Cammy Bean suggested that sometimes people with ISD backgrounds can be arrogant; they may seem to believe that they have the one true way to approach learning design.

I couldn’t agree more with both of these suggestions.  Though the traditional ISD methods and tools we’ve learned in the UMBC program have validity and utility, understanding how to use them is not sufficient for successful instructional design. I’ve seen many excellent learning experiences created by people who had never heard of ADDIE, and I’ve seen painfully inadequate ones created by people who have studied it extensively.

So often, it’s the context that matters.  With time and resources becoming scarcer while the speed of change escalates, there often isn’t time for a full ISD approach.  Even when there is enough time, it might not be worth it.   A quick scan of the performance gap to be bridged and another quick scan of available tools, solutions, interventions or whatever we call them could well be enough to get started with creating an approach.  A faster, iterative approach to prototype-test-revise could arrive at a solution more efficiently – and effectively – than a more formal design-develop-implement-evaluate system.  And our deliverables may be more effective if they leave some of the content, methods and practice to the joint wisdom of the learners and facilitator, rather than prescribing every word and action.  (If I’m teaching a course designed by someone else, I’ll typically throw the leader’s guide out the window.)

That’s not to say the ISD professionals can’t use ADDIE to create exceptional solutions to performance problems.  We certainly can and do every day.  But the ones who are exemplary view ADDIE as a set of tools and techniques that can be mastered and used within a context, not as a rigid rulebook.  The real pros are open to other approaches that work.


One thought on ““ADDIE is a good idea. But it’s not dogma…”

  1. Chris, I was excited to hear Aaron’s comments about ADDIE also. Remember in week 1 of our class when Jeannette informed us that we needed to forget everything we had learned about ISD for this class? I thought at the time the comment was referring to the course, but apparently it is, at least in part, a longer term statement.
    I’ve been trying to formulate a context for informal learning and I may be close as a result of Aaron’s statements. I am a believer that there is a need for a foundation, something consistant, strong, and reliable on which we can build. I’m seeing formal learning as that foundation and informal learning as the building we put on top. I see ADDIE as the foundation and the more creative, dynamic, trial and error pieces as what we build on top. We need a structure to build on. If we are building a stone path we just prep the soil, if we are building a skyscraper then we need a complete foundation with all the pieces carefully considered. Every project may need more or less of the ADDIE model formally applied, it will be up to us to make the call how much each project will need.

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