Instructional Design

Reviewing the ADDIE Model
[Extract from ASD From the Ground Up: A No-Nonsense Approach to Instructional Design by Chuck Hodell]

A summary of each of the five elements in the ADDIE model of ISD follows.


During the analysis phase of ISD, a designer needs to make sure that every atom of data is collected. Designers need to be data magnets and attract everything of value into the design process. They must

  • ask every question and not move on without an answer
  • fill boxes full of results from web searches or other data if necessary
  • conduct focus groups or undertake other data-gathering methods as necessary.

When they have gathered all the data, designers need to ask four questions:

  1. How will learners be different after the training?
    Will they have a new skill, knowledge, or ability, such as enhanced language capabilities or a better way to process anger in the workplace? Designers should always determine the objectives.
  2. How will learners meet the objectives?
    Have the distribution and instructional methods been selected? The choices are endless, but designers must decide methods early in the process to eliminate wasted time and energy later.
  3. How will designers know when the learners have met the objectives?
    Have designers decided which of the evaluation methods are appropriate for their objectives and methods? Designers should prepare evaluations at the same time that they write the objectives.
  4. How does the sponsor of the training define success?
    If the sponsor’s expectations are unknown, there is little chance of ever making him or her happy. It is almost impossible to hit a moving target. Designers have to ask until they get an answer.Design
    Design is the unique element of ISD, with no professional equivalent in other fields. It is here that the project gets a designer’s touch. Designers prepare the objectives and evaluation tasks—writing, rewriting, and writing again until they work. They choose the distribution and instructional methods and prepare drafts of materials and media. During design, the data gathered in analysis evolves into the clarity and purpose that a project needs to be successful. A design plan becomes the blueprint for the rest of a project.

    Development is pasting the project together. Sometimes designers do it all and develop their own materials and media. Other times they are responsible for managing the process. It can be challenging to work with computer programmers, graphic artists, compositors, video producers, and printers, but it is also satisfying to see ideas become great materials, ready for final production after pilot testing.

    Pilot testing ensures that a project is ready for the big time before it moves to implementation. Actors rehearse their lines before a play opens, and musicians practice for hours to perfect a melody before an audience hears a note. In similar fashion, designers use pilot tests to give training an opportunity to muff its lines or hit a wrong note before learners have an opportunity to take a course.

    Designers shouldn’t get discouraged if they end up doing the design and development work without any help. Multimedia CDs, four-color manuals, and videos with high production values are the exception to the rule for training design. Most organizations can’t afford to implement every project on the web or have materials that have the appearance of a coffee table book. The resources and funding for design work are still largely limited.

    Implementation usually finds designers in front of the learners or in back of them. Designers may be facilitating, evaluating, or both. Until people outside of the process of ISD acquire an appreciation for all the work that goes into it, they are not likely to be aware of any ISD element but implementation. However, designers know that implementation is the ISD equivalent of hanging a newly completed painting. The work is now ready for appreciation. Designers make sure that the evaluation plan is in effect and that all of the information from the evaluation process is gathered. The facilitator may make necessary changes in the training on the fly during implementation, or the designer will make them later as the dust settles.

    Evaluation, the fifth element in the ADDIE model, is always looking over a designer’s shoulders. Just as three-year-old children believe that Santa knows if they have been good or bad, evaluation always knows whether training has met the mark. Santa and evaluation share the same quality of vigilance. The difference between good training and bad training is listening to what evaluation has to say. This is hard to do if a designer does not allow evaluation to be a major component of the design process.

    Kirkpatrick (1998) has given designers a brilliant framework for evaluation: four different boxes into which most evaluation needs fit. A designer may want to use two, three, or all of these levels of evaluation, depending on the needs.

    Level 1 evaluations are based on learners’ reactions to training. Did they like it? Did they find it worth their investment of time? Did the distribution and instructional methods find favor with the learners? Were the bagels fresh and the coffee hot? These are all reactions to the training, every single moment of it.

    Level 2 evaluations are the same as the evaluations written for objectives. Designers are measuring each learner’s ability to meet an objective. Designers must always be sure that the learner is meeting objectives.

    Level 3 evaluations are the way to determine if the training made any difference in a learner’s ability to meet the objectives. It is not unusual for evaluations to be performed 3, 6, or even 12 months after the training. This information allows a designer to compare results and determine the staying power of the training.

    Level 4 evaluations measure the business-level impact or return-on-investment (ROI) of a project. Although usually best left to the accountants because of the financial nature of the process, level 4 evaluation has a place in most projects, and designers should not ignore the long-term value that it brings. Large corporations can calculate business impact in the millions of dollars; a community group can figure the bottom-line impact by the number of new adult readers who can perform a valuable skill. Either way, designers’ work has value, and they should think about the effect the training may have on the learner or sponsor.

    Accumulation of Advantages
    The introduction to this book mentioned the term accumulation of advantages. It is the process of performing a number of separate design skills that meld together to become a finished design project. All of the ADDIE elements need to be present for an accumulation of advantages to exist. Doing less than five phases, such as eliminating analysis and evaluation, offers little hope for a successful training project. Accumulate all of the advantages offered by using ISD and reap the benefits of well-conceived and delivered training.

    Rechecking Your Skills
    Now that you have completed all of the chapters, you can evaluate how your ending skills compare with those when you began this book. This is a pre/post evaluation of your progress. Look again at the list in table 1.1 and answer the questions “yes” or “no.” When you are done, compare your answers to the skills inventory you completed when you first read the Introduction. How did you do? If you are still uncertain about any of these instructional design elements, review the chapter associated with the skill.

    The Power of ISD
    The real power of ISD lies in its ability to provide a foundation for the instructional design process. The work that builds from this foundation can have numerous variations to fit designers’ changing needs. The system itself is endlessly evolving within the mind and imagination of each individual designer. This process is only as rigid as a designer wants it to be. Feel free to play a dominant role in the evolution of the ISD process by revising the ideas in this book to fit your particular needs. With the new skills now in your inventory, you should be ready to meet any design challenge.