Innovating With ADDIE

Every few years the theme of “ADDIE must die” pops up on the radar. This would be a good thing except there are always two major flaws in the argument:

  • Instructional Designers are misinformed about what ADDIE is — they refuse to believe that the development of a model such as ADDIE is also iterative in nature — their arguments are always about the first iteration of ADDIE. It almost seems as if they want to stick with the practice of waterfall methods.
  • They offer no suitable replacement.

To combat the first flaw I have written several posts on ADDIE. I recently combined these posts into an ADDIE timeline with a discussion on the timeline.

I don't have an answer for the second flaw, although I did write a series of articles on Agile Learning Design that can be used to extend ADDIE.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post — I recently listened to an outstanding podcast, Got X Problems? by Frog Design in which they discuss innovation and why are so few organizations are seeing results. In this episode they discuss solving wicked or complex problems from 21st century challenges that defy conventional planning. What struck me about their method is that it almost perfectly aligns with ADDIE, except that you have to approach it from a slightly different mind-set. In the podcast they use a four-step process:

  • Immersion — soaking yourself in the problem to harvest customer insights
  • Convergence — bringing together all things such as physical, technology, software, and services into a logical design
  • Divergence — exploring new advantages
  • Adaptation — stay nimble in a fast-moving environment by going in new directions when facing roadblocks — based on learnings

These four mind-sets would map with ADDIE as:

A new Mind_set for ADDIE

If you need a different mind-set when facing difficult challenges then I encourage you to listen to the podcast. The RSS feed is http://feeds.frogdesign.com/frog-design-blog/design-mind-on-air. The episode is Got X Problems, dated March 15, 2010. The podcast is about 15 minutes long.


BunchberryFern said...

Talking sense, as usual. Are you sure you've quite got the point of this whole internet thing? :)

You're right about the potential for ADDIE (and it's more-popular-in-the-UK but equally derided cousin the Training/Learning cycle(s)) but I guess that's where the trouble starts.

Here's a recent blog post on Csiksentmihalyi's conception of Creativity; it maps onto your ADDIE and pretty well (and much else besides, see my comment to the post):

If you start monkeying around with ADDIE (and by extension any tool or process) you can make it work. But it's difficult to escape the fact that ADDIE has neither 'Agile-ness' nor Learner eXperience/Flow baked in.

So, I ask two questions:
1. Imagine a world with no ADDIE. And a class full of eager-beaver novice Instructional Designers. Would you - as their coach/mentor/instructor, knowing what you know both about the process of learning design and the nature of performance issues in the enterprise - be satisfied with the introduction of such a key concept using an acronym like this with all the linearity and process-oriented metamessaging this implies? In other words, if we were starting again today, would we do what we did yesterday?

2. Is Instructional Design more of an 'art' or a 'science'? (I know by rights it should be a bit of both. But which one is it more like?) If it's a science, then something like ADDIE makes sense. If it's a creative discipline, then ADDIE makes much less sense. Even the most die-hard process fan wouldn't suggest that art be produced according to an acronym model...

To be honest, I'm being slightly contrarian here. I've agreed with you on the ADDIE issue enough times. :)

Donald Clark said...

1. I see ADDIE as a core skill, so yes I would teach it (and I have). This is because it only has linearity and process-oriented metamessaging built in if you first learn it that way and then refuse to move on to better ways of doing things. For example, it lost its linearty in the mid-eighties, but either IDers refuse to belive it or they are failing to stay current with their profession.

2. Depending on the project it could be more of either science or art but I do believe that in most cases the best way to approach it is to start with science for a firm background and then move to art to fill in the missing pieces and carry the project to "True Design."

BunchberryFern said...

Yes, I ADDIE can be used as a foundation and with guidance ISDs can move beyond linearity. But is it the optimal way to describe/teach the process of Instructional Design?

I realise the field might have lost its linearities in the 80s - but isn't the model inherently biased towards that mode of thinking?

I guess - and I hadn't truly realised this before - I look at ID as a design discipline first and foremost.

Something else to add to never-shrinking list of future blog posts: ADDIE - shut the heck up or think of something better!

Donald Clark said...

I learned ADDIE in the U.S. Army in an intensive two week ISD course during the mid-eighties. And the way we learned was the dynamic way as I explained in my postings.

Thus I just don't get this linear thingy. As I explained in my writings, even one of the most structured organizations in the world could not use ADDIE in its linear form, thus as far as I know they came up with the first dynamic model (and I have researched this rather intensively).

And look how it has performed for them -- ADDIE was first introduced right after the Vienam war. Its first big test was Desert Storm in Iraq and now the present two wars.

When I was helping to developing courses in the Army we alwyas ran either parts or all of the new learning project through several iterations, normaly through the use of small group trials -- anything less was unexceptable.

Secondly we were always working on different phases at the same time as going one step at a time was just too time-wasting.

Wes Stillwagon said...

Title: ADDIE's flaws and weakness.

While I applaud any effort to bring objectivity (LBO) in the reduction of performance problems, it is my firm opinion that the ADDIE process is flawed for many reasons. For instance, the instruction for immersion into the problem may have some merit, however, the people who are suffering under the problem have likely been deeply imerged for some time without being able to turn it around. Admittedly they may have long lost their objectivity as a result of their immersion. The ISD professional, without a conceptual framework beyond the very abstract direction to immerse may fare no better. In my opinion it simply is the wrong place to begin ISD. The right place to begin, assuming complex performance problems or issues, is at the problem analysis that includes an analysis of expectations of those wishing to reduce or eliminate the problem. The ISD professional would use a structured conceptual framework with practical process steps, (the ADDIE process can hardly be considered, structured) and tools that would enable direction, E.g. where to look first, enable justification or rejection of training as a remedy, economics, qualification, and quantification. While some may conclude that the immersion recommendation is the same as I am advising, I believe I can clearly demonstrate that it is not. I am quite certain that I can also demonstrate and support my criticism of other ADDIE suggestions or recommended steps. Let's see if this criticism even makes it to discussion first.

Donald Clark said...

Hi Wes,

I just want to be clear on one point - ADDIE is a tool to be used only when we have decided that the performance problem needs a training/learning solution. In a prior post I noted that ADDIE and other ISD and ID models were never designed to discover performance problems, thus when confronted with performance problems we need to first discover the actual cause by using a different tool – http://bdld.blogspot.com/2010/03/performance-and-addie-models.html

So the method discussed in this post should only be used when we have determined that we have a complex or wicked "training/learning" problem.

However, I would be interested in learning more about your "performance" solution.