The ADDIE Model
(An Instructional Designer’s Road Map)

Amun dropped the plumb line. The wall was absolutely vertical. Now he had to check whether the floor was completely horizontal or not, so he placed the two equal legs of the triangular frame on the surface and checked the plumb line again. It dropped down straight, aligning with the centerline of the frame. The pyramid was going to be symmetrical, as it should’ve been. After all it was going to be the abode of the pharaoh in his afterlife. Amun’s job was to make sure that the pyramid deserved to be the resting place of Pharaoh Khufu, and to achieve this feat, he had the tool crafted by the gods themselves – the plumb line!

We the instructional designers and the content creators too have our plumb line, which can help us ensure that our content development processes don’t go awry and it is called ADDIE. To make a process efficient and smooth, we don’t need an array of sparkling new, deliberately complex models – we just need the sweet, simple, and supple ADDIE!

Let us understand ADDIE and marvel at its simplicity.

A: The Analysis Phase

The first phase of any content development process should comprise Analysis. Analysis, in the context of content development, usually means gathering audience and task-related information and classifying it so that it could be used to make content more relevant and effective.

Put yourself in the shoes of an instructional designer who has been asked to create a course/training on Human Behavior for the Martians. How would you proceed? You’d probably want answers to the following questions:

  • Is there a need for this course? (Well, there must be otherwise why would someone ask you to make a course? Right? Wrong. Organizational slack often results in demands for training programs/courses that are not “needed.” A confirmation of a training need IS required.)
  • Why is the goal of the course? (The answer could be – they’ve got a negative attitude towards humans – they consider them uncouth and ill-educated, and barely up to the Martian standards. This incorrect notion (?) has to be rectified.)
  • What kind of people the Martians are? (What are their attention spans? Which medium, online/on-ground, are they comfortable with? What do they like...and/or hate? What is their demographics – eg: gender distribution: males/females/androids/machines?)

The three points above sequentially refer to the following three analyses that form the Analysis phase of ADDIE.

  1. Need Analysis (for establishing the need of the training/course)
  2. Task Analysis (for determining the goal and the establishing the objectives of the training/course)
  3. Audience Analysis (for determining the audience’s demographics, psychographics, and entry-behavior.)

These Analyses are essential for creating effective courses and training programs.

D: The Design Phase

The second phase of the ADDIE model is classified as the Design phase. This is the phase in which you begin to makes sense of the information that you have with you. In the Design phase, you use the instructional design theories and models to plan the content that you wish to present to your audience.

The Design of a course should tell us “how” the learning would be transferred. In the context of our course for the Martians, the design process would include activities such as: writing the course goal, breaking it down into smaller and more manageable objectives, and determining the kind of activities required to provide, reinforce, and assess the learning on the basis of the medium, the audience, and the content.

Thus, if our analysis tells us that Martians have a maximum attention span of 2 minutes, none of the activities could be of more than 2 minutes – and if they hate eLearning, we’d have send a brave trainer to Mars for conducting classroom training sessions for them.

D: The Development Phase

The Development phase is more relevant to content development in the eLearning scenario. Classroom training material too is “developed” – however, classroom trainers who are also the Subject Matter Experts seldom develop their material in detail.

Let us understand development through a drool-worthy analogy of preparing some cake for a party. Depending on whether your audience comprises non-vegetarians or vegetarians, or both, you would decide upon the kind of cake(s) you’d bake and their ingredients. However, when you actually make the batter by adding the ingredients, and bake it at the right temperature (and when the aroma escapes your house and reaches your neighbors) – you develop.

In the context of content creation, development pertains to the preparation of content and making it ready for the audience’s. In the case of our dear Martian audience that is averse to eLearning, you would develop the content by creating the trainer’s manual, the student’s manual, and the PowerPoint presentation (in a language that the Martians would understand!)

I: The Implementation Phase

When our content is ready, we “implement” it. Classroom trainings are implemented in the classroom while eLearning is implemented when the learner accesses the content on his computer. It’s a good idea to visualize implementation as the interface between the learner and the content.

In the case of classroom implementation, the trainer should be adept at using the instructional design principles for ensuring complete and effective transfer of knowledge. Our Martian audience with their short attention spans for instance, could be a real challenge for our trainer who is used to seeing eternally patient earthlings in her classroom. Thus, in addition to using instructionally effective training material, the trainer will have to think on her feet and use ID principles to generate relevant examples and activities on the fly.

E: The Evaluation Phase

Evaluation. Well. You know how we’ve got this fetish for evaluating everything – including courses and trainings. The competitive spirit of humans wouldn’t let us exist without the grand finale – the Evaluation! The main reason behind evaluating training programs and courses is to improve them by addressing the issues that the audience faced. Another important reason for evaluating training effectiveness lies in the fact that the training department needs to provide data on how their programs improve the organization’s profitability. Evaluation helps us establish the usefulness of a training program.

Evaluation comes in two variations (I love the first kind – the second is a bitter medicine – it isn’t easy to swallow!)

  • Formative Evaluation
  • Summative Evaluation

    Formative Evaluation is done to identify and then remove the glitches in the content development effort. This is a pre-implementation activity (sometimes, a mock implementation is done for formative evaluation.) For the course that we created for the Martians, we could conduct a formative evaluation by 1. asking Mars returned Earthlings or 2. asking a test-group of Martians, to take the course.

    Summative Evaluation is the final evaluation the evaluation done to determine the effectiveness of the training program or course. The most popular model for conducting Summative Evaluation is the Kirkpatrick Model, but the model deserves a separate article.

I believe that ADDIE is the most logical, the most generic, and the most adaptable Content Development Model of all. Get creative, use your logic and carve out your own development model from ADDIE. Trust ADDIE’s generosity - it’s always ready to show you the way.

- Author: Shafali R. Anand


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