What would the life of instructional designers be without instructions?
How could we live in a world without methodologies and procedures? I honestly believe it would be impossible. A learning and performance development workplace without a deployment of a structured process containing the guidelines for planning, analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and measuring learning would be the closest to an instructional designer nightmare as we can get.
By now, you know that I am referring to the well-known ADDIE model. This wonderful and well-structured model is short for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. Most instructional systems designers, including myself, follow it to achieve the highest level of learning and development quality, consistency, and efficiency.
While the concept of ISD has been around since the early 1950s, ADDIE first appeared in the mid 1970s. It was created by the Center for Educational Technology at Florida State University for the U.S. Armed Forces. It was greatly improved in the 1980s but highly criticized in the late 1990s due to its complexity and demand for a thoughtful deployment time. However, it has not been discarded nor replaced.
ADDIE matured to become one of the best and most recognizable processes in the learning and development community. But as with every live process, ADDIE also has its gaps and opportunities for improvement. If you follow the model to design e-learning solutions, you notice that each phase of the model should have been treated slightly different, otherwise the very same model would bite you in the back during the Implementation and Evaluation phases.
Why it's needed?
We know that the gaps I mentioned need to be addressed. But what is the best solution to align the model to web-based training and e-learning solutions?
The focus on each phase needs to be adjusted to support the needs of technology-based training. That was when I started to call this refurbished model "e-ADDIE." That was exactly what I needed. I didn't stop following the original model by any means. I just felt the need to have two different sets of procedures that would guide me through my instructional designer routine.
e-ADDIE guidelines and procedures are not extremely different from the well-known original version. I still follow the ADDIE guidelines to design learning solutions that require less involvement with technology and media. The same intuitive flow is used in e-ADDIE, but what differs is the main focus during each phase.
e-Analysis. We still need to deploy measurements such as needs assessment, audience analysis, and content analysis. However, it is important to include in this phase a "technical analysis." How things are taught greatly depends on the technology available. In some cases, technology might determine whether some skills can be taught online at all. If instructors design content unaware of technical constraints, that content might not be usable.
In the technical analysis, you should establish the following before you move forward to the design phase:
- minimum requirements, including processors, memory, hard drive space, hardware, software, and bandwidth for learners and instructors
- the tools needed to develop the course, including all software and hardware
- the server capabilities and systems (LMS) needed to deliver and manage the course
- the learner requirements for video, audio, plug-ins, and other media.
e-Design. As in the original model, you still need to use the data and information found during the e-analysis phase to wisely use your designing time and prioritize tasks. You still need to identify the expected learning outcomes, write the learning objectives, establish criterion reference, research existing sites and resources, design lessons and materials, and determine evaluation approaches. The main focus will be on creating flowcharts or storyboards, planning media utilization, and designing the interface.
It is important to note that we should not use media just because we can. There should be an instructional reason for its use, and it should support the learning objectives.
Flowcharts or storyboards should include all course components: main menu, modules or headers, lessons (web pages for each lesson), pretests, quizzes/tests, discussion forums, images, color specifications, page display time (if the course is asynchronous), help items, and other elements.
e-Development. Based on the information obtained through the prior phases (e-Analysis and e-Design), you can start authoring the content. The media creation is the main procedure in this phase. The instructional designer or developer should be mindful and take into account the different learning styles. Media may include text, images (still or animated), video, audio (steaming or downloadable files), games or simulations, or e-books.
Make sure all media is optimized to match the minimum requirements as determine in the previous phases. Test a prototype or beta before full development. Find potential problems and technology challenges at this stage, and adjust them, rather than waiting until development is done, or worse, until you get poor results after implementation.
e-Implementation. Promotion, delivery, and reporting are still important steps within this phase, but you will need to pay more attention to distribution and maintenance. If you have an LMS available, you can enroll, manage, track learners, and electronically document the learner's educational progress.
Once the final product is launched, you want it to perform impeccably, and web technology, as does all technology, needs maintenance. All links must function, servers must perform appropriately, and Internet access must be reliable. Poor delivery of an e-learning solution may compromise the entire learning experience and your reputation as an instructional designer.
e-Evaluation. As in the original model, I follow the best practices on the measuring of the learner's reaction, learning results, behavior in the workplace, business results, and return-on-investment. We are all acquainted with the Kirkpatrick and Philips models of evaluation. But our challenge here is how to deploy them and support the reliability of the data collected during the evaluation process. The use of electronic scorecards and surveys has been efficient. It can also be implemented, tracked, and documented by an LMS and delivered online. Another idea is the administration of a pretest prior to instruction to be used as a benchmark, and comparative data to be used when measuring behavior and knowledge retention.
Make sure to measure, among the traditional data usually collected during the 4 Levels of evaluation, the efficiency of the e-learning initiative itself. Use surveys to identify the learner's opinion on:
- the amount and appropriateness of interactive exercises
- the ease of navigation and use of tools
- the quality and relevance of multimedia.
The easy-to-follow ADDIE model is memorable and intuitive. There is no need to stop using it and reinvent the wheel. All the e-ADDIE guidelines presented here are supplementary. They are a way to refocus on efficient procedures, with technology being the main conductor of the entire process from the beginning.
e-ADDIE is an extra option. It is another learning solutions development tracking tool that systematically facilitates the production of customizable and suitable learning solutions, with end results and learner knowledge and skills development in mind.
Bruno Neal will be presenting on the topic of e-ADDIE at the MUSE 2011 International Conference (Nashville, Tennessee, May 2011) and at the Indiana University Health Group Educators Forum (Bloomington, Indiana, March 2011).