At the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions conference this week, Jean Marripodi convinced Steve Acheson and myself to host a debate on the viability of ADDIE in her ID Zone. While both of us can see both sides of ADDIE, Steve uses it, so I was left to take the contrary (aligning well to my ‘genial malcontent’ nature).
This was not a serious debate, in the model of the Oxford Debating Society or anything, but instead we’d agreed that we were going to go for controversy and fun in equal measures. This was about making an entertaining and informative event, not a scientific exploration. And in that, I think we succeeded (you can review the tweet stream from attendees and some subsequent conversation). Rather than recap the debate (Gina Minks has a short piece in her overall summary of the day), I’ll recap the points:
- ADDIE provides structured guidance for design
- ADDIE includes a focus on implementation and evaluation
- ADDIE serves as a valuable checklist to complement our idiosyncratic design habits
- ADDIE is inherently a waterfall model, and needs patching to accommodate iterative development and rapid prototyping
- People use ADDIE too much as a crutch for design without taking responsibility for using it appropriately
- It assumes courses
Steve showed how he does take responsibility, putting evaluation in the middle and using it more flexibly. He uses Dick & Carey’s model to start with, ensuring that a course is the right solution. The fact that the initial ‘course, job aid, other problem’ analysis is not included, however, is a concern.
It also came out that having a process is a powerful argument against those who might try to press unreasonable production constraints on you. If a VP wants it done in an unreasonable time frame, or doesn’t want to allow you to question the analysis that a course is needed, you have a push back (“it’s in our process”), particularly in a process organization. You do want a process.
The obvious question came up about what would be used in place of ADDIE. I believe that ADDIE as a checklist would be a nice accompaniment to both a more encompassing and a more learning-centric approach. For the former, I showed the HPT model as a representation of a design approach considering courses as part of a larger picture. For the latter, I suggested that a focus on learning experience design would be appropriate.
Using an HPT-like approach first, to ensure that a course is the right solution, is necessary. Then, I’d focus on working backwards from the needed change (Michael Allen talked about using sketches as lightweight prototypes at the conference, and first drawing the last activity the user engaged in) thinking about creating a learning experience that develops the learner’s capability. Finally, I’d be inclined to use ADDIE as a checklist to ensure all the important components are considered, once I’d drafted an initial design (or several). ADDIE certainly may be useful in taking that design forward, through development, implementation and evaluation.
I think ADDIE falls apart most in the initial analysis, not being broad enough, and in the design process: e.g. most ID processes neglect the emotional side of the equation, despite the availability of Keller’s ARCS model (which wasn’t even in the TIP database!). Good users, like Steve, take responsibility for reframing it practically, but I’m not confident that even a majority of ADDIE use is so enabled. Consequently, I worry that ADDIE is more detrimental than good. It ensures the minimum, but it essentially prevents inspiration.
I’m willing to be wrong, but I’ve been looking at the debate on both sides for a long time. While I know that PowerPoint doesn’t kill people, people kill people, and the same is true of ADDIE, the continued reliance on it is problematic. We probably need a replacement, one that starts with a broader analysis, and then provides guidance across job aid development, course development and more, that has at core iterative and situated design, informed by the recognition of the emotional nature of human use. Anyone have one to hand? Thoughts on the above?