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.