Instructional Design – Art or ADDIE

Clive Shepherd makes a case for successive approximation in his recent blog post. Makes sense, after all, most learning professionals in the industry are arguing that ADDIE is not relevant today.

I have always thought that as a method, the E looped back to A in ADDIE. Clive talks about how those who work in classroom could teach instructional designers a thing or two. But aren’t trainers implementing ADDIE model, except perhaps in quick succession? Isn’t putting together a quick and dirty design and then trying it out in the class to tweak it the next time and time after that ADDIE with E looping back to A each time?

Enough’s been writing about the evolution of the ADDIE model. With rapid prototyping, we are crunching the time it takes in each phase. And since the time is short, the phases overlap and are repeated, making the process more iterative (successive approximation?). As Geetha Krishnan puts it, ADDIE has been interpreted as a rigid non-iterative process. The problem is not so much with the model as with the way it has been used (or misused).

However, the issue I have with this completely iterative process is not whether ADDIE is dead or alive. It is how do we know a project has ended and a new one is required to begin? ADDIE can help define a “project” – with a definite start and a definite end. I am envious of Clive’s new project. Clive has…

“warned them not to expect voluminous design documents and specifications. We’ll sit down and assess the situation; I’ll create something rough but functional for us to look at; we’ll show this to real users and see what they think; we’ll tweak it based on the feedback we receive and test it out again. This process won’t ever really come to an end; we’ll continue to monitor and enhance the offering long after it’s gone live. After all, unlike content that’s distributed in print or on CD, online content doesn’t have to be right first time. It’s just work in progress.”

It would be interesting to know if Clive’s client is paying for the project a fixed amount or on hourly rate based on time spent. And how do they control their budget for the project? Is there even a budget for this? How do we finally measure success of a project? I am very sure clients are not expecting instructional design projects to be perpetual research projects.