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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A Complex Undertaking

Written by: Greg Kearsley, Ph.D.
Dr. Greg KearsleyBeing an instructional designer is a complex undertaking.  Generally speaking, I feel that Instructional design programs aren’t as effective as they could be in preparing people for this vocation. While most Instructional Design programs provide good coverage of instructional theory and the process of curriculum design,  some skills areas don’t get addressed, but are critically important for instructional designers to have. Some of these skills include:

  • Project Management – getting courses done on time and budget
  • Collaboration – successfully working with content experts
  • Management – handling organizational/management issues that affect course development
  • Environment – creating a suitable learning environment
  • Creativity – being original

As with all industries, classroom and professional settings vary greatly. Like so, instructional design activities in the academic domain are quite different than the training world (i.e., lack of performance outcomes). When key skill areas go unrecognized in the classroom,  new instructional designers lack the skills needed to be proficient, and it takes a long time to acquire these skills on the job. To ensure instructional designers are fully prepared to enter the work force, instructional design programs must consider the benefits of internships and project-based coursework, and integrate these components into curriculum.

For a longer discussion on this topic please visit this post on What Instructional Designers Really Do.

Dr. Kearsley is the director of online graduate programs at the University of New England, Adjunct Instructor in the ISD program at UMBC, and has written a number of articles and books about eLearning.

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