ADDIE vs. Agile

Written by: Mike Thorpe, Sr. Training Project Manager – Serco
Today it’s all about: “how fast can you get it to me?” and “how quickly can I see it?”  Thanks in part to social media and the “now” generation, clients and organizations want to see training products much faster than before. I usually get requests for prototypes or samples from clients days and weeks into the development process.

It used to be when developing learning (ILT or eLearning) all you had to know was the ADDIE (analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate) methodology and you sat down and meticulously worked your objective to completion. For decades, the ADDIE approach to instructional design was the predominant in the field. ADDIE made it possible to manage the process of creating useful training programs systematically. But in today’s fast-paced environment, it’s showing its age, and this top-down, slower, waterfall based process doesn’t feed the need to “see it now!”

So along comes Agile, which initiated in software development and is just now starting to invade project management and instructional design in the learning and development field. The key to Agile design is the multiple, short development cycles. You develop in short pieces called Sprints, and these pieces are shared with clients and target audiences early to gain their feedback and approval. Adjustments are made throughout the design and development process rather than after development and/or implementation.

Agile gets the client or potential learner involved early in the process and can satisfy the, “see it now!” craving that today’s clients tend to have. This frequent review cycle reduces the risk of spending a lot of time creating a very polished product that ultimately isn’t very useful. Agile turns clients and potential learners into active participants throughout the design process, which makes it more likely that your solution will actually be integrated into an organization’s workflow.

Is Agile right for you and your project? Maybe or maybe not, but if you are not familiar with the Agile methodology I would suggest you start doing your research.

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