ADDIE Design in the Workplace

Development without Design

In the ADDIE instructional design model, the training specialist first creates a comprehensive training plan and then develops the training materials. Design and development are two separate and equally important phases in the theory. Yet, sometimes companies choose to reduce the time they devote to the design phase.

In this section, we'll take a look at some of the choices that companies face during the ADDIE design phase.

Let's be clear. Every fully developed course will have some form of instructional strategy and a course format. It's virtually impossible to create a course without

somehow answering each of the following four questions:

  • How will content be grouped and sequenced?
  • What activities and exercises will the course contain?
  • How will the course assess learners' accomplishments?
  • How will the course be delivered to learners?

When a project follows the ADDIE model, these choices will be made during the instructional design phase. However, if the choices aren't made during the deisgn phase, they will have to be made during course development. Hasty and unplanned decisions are still design choices, but the choices can weaken the quality of the training materials and the entire course.

Planned Design vs. "Winging It"

In some situations, a company may choose to entirely skip over the ADDIE design phase and jump straight into course development. Some companies may make this choice because their decision makers aren't aware of the ADDIE model. However, other companies make this choice because of project deadlines. They'll say, "Yes, we'd like to spend time on design, but we have to get this project written immediately." From what our training specialists have seen, omitting the design phase generally plays out in one of three ways:

Scenario Key Issues Possible Results
A skilled instructional designer makes design choices during the course development phase.
  • Does the designer accurately understand the learning objectives, business goals, and the learners' needs?

  • Does the designer clearly know what materials must be included in the course?

  • Does the project's leadership and champions trust and actively support the designer?

  • If everything else in the project goes smoothly, the course materials may be adequate but not ideal.

  • If everything else doesn't go smoothly, the course's quality will be harmed.

  • Minimal (if any) time savings.

The development process comes to a complete halt while the team debates design choices.
  • How many people will be involved in these debates?

  • How well do they work together and communicate?

  • Do they understand instructional design principles?

  • Can they reach decisions quickly?

  • If the team can quickly reach agreement, the delay may only be slightly longer than the design phase would have been.

  • High chance of long project delays.

  • Materials may need to be redeveloped.

  • Can they reach decisions quickly?

An unskilled or semi-skilled course developer creates the course without consciously making design choices.
  • Has the developer ever created a course before?

  • Does the developer understand adult learning and instructional design principles?

  • Development can be quick.

  • The course may seem unorganized, unfocused, and unclear to learners.

  • If the course developer creates an effective course, it will be through luck not skill.

Here's an irony. Course developers who skip over the instructional design phase are often the people who most need the structured planning the phase offers. They don't have the formal training or experience to know how to make sound instructional design decisions. The quality of the course really depends on the skill of the instructional designer.

ILLAFTrain's training specialists haven't seen a value to skipping or reducing the instructional design process. Instead, when courses rush to development, the project team often discovers a host of issues at the end of the development process. These problems may be detected during the tabletop review—if there is even a tabletop review. We've seen courses rush to the delivery phase, and the training material's quality reflects that haste.

The costs of redevelopment, from our experience, often greatly exceed the costs of the ADDIE instructional design phase.

Next, we'll take a look at the choices company face during the development phase.