Every where I turn these days, I’m thinking about the instructional design process. I’m teaching an advanced ID course that begins with an overview of a number of different approaches to instructional design and an in-depth discussion about what each brings to the table. We talk about how designers use these models in their day-to-day work, and about the ID Debate – the occasional round of blog posts that take a stand on whether or not ADDIE is dead. I’ve also been reading up on constructivist ID, which has a slightly different take. And at work, we’re in the midst of a reevaluation of our ID process, looking to get LEAN in our approach to getting the work done.
With all that input, I’m beginning to think that part of the problem is that we try to conceive an overarching process when it might be more fruitful and useful to break the process apart so that we give each aspect the attention and flexibility needed to get the job done. One process just can’t handle all the potential variety. Think about it…
Analysis comes in many shapes and sizes. Organizational analysis, performance analysis, learning environment analysis, job/task analysis, learner analysis, and more – each conducted using any number of possible data collection approaches.
Design is a creative, heady part of the process that almost defies definition. A variety of important decisions get made during design, including delivery method and choice of instructional techniques or activities. And as we move to more specific detail design, new flavors of design are needed: game design, web site design, simulation design, social media design – techniques that weren’t much in the picture when most instructional design models were outlined.
Development needs to be managed on a case-by-case basis, because these days we could be developing anything – a traditional classroom program, a series of podcasts, a user-populated web site, a stand-alone e-learning program, or a combination of any or all of the above and more besides. One development process can’t be conceived to fit all of these situations.
Implementation requires facilitation of many different kinds of live events – on-the-job training, coaching, webinars, online learning and traditional classroom-based events. Administrative implementation requires its own expertise and might involve rules regarding elevation of web materials, set-up on a learning management system, or reserving and configuring physical rooms or virtual classrooms.
Evaluation seems to be the one area stuck in place – we still haven’t found widely accepted approaches to supplement or replace traditional models.
So with all that in the mix, maybe we should hone in on deconstructing ADDIE and using our best judgement to tackle each aspect of the process as it comes to the forefront. I really like knowing the features and strengths of a variety of approaches so that I can consider well how each project should be managed. A little of this and a little of that may seem at first to be too unstructured, but I don’t think so. All ID seems to be following an overarching ADDIE arc, but our watchwords are flexibility and iteration.
The only problem is, newer designers need and want more definition than that, and we need to figure out how to help people become skilled at crafting an appropriate process in relatively short order. Like all arts, it takes practice and experience to do it well.