You've probably heard the acronym, ADDIE, the most commonly used instructional design “model.” Learn why ADDIE is less of a model and more of a framework. Plus, discover why ADDIE is not as rigid as some would suggest.
- As an instructional designer, you probably have heard the acronym ADDIE the most commonly used and widely accepted instructional design model. ADDIE stands for the five phases of the model and names a systematic framework to analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate instructional strategy, processes, techniques, and products. As such, it serves as a foundation for many other instructional design models. As originally conceived, the outcome of each phase informs and guides the next phase in a sequential, waterfall approach. This characteristic of ADDIE has been the source of criticism and led to alternative models, particularly SAM, which provides for a more agile and iterative process. The criticism is not that the individual phases are problematic, it's that their linearity is constraining and time consuming. But, ADDIE is not as rigid as some would suggest. It can be flexible, agile, and iterative if you want to use it that way. Now, you may have wondered, where did ADDIE come from. Who first thought it up? And when did it make its debut? Some believe that, once upon a time, some clever designer conceived a fully formed ADDIE model in a flash of inspiration and used it, right from the get-go, just as we do today. A compelling story, to be sure, but in fact, there never was a single, original ADDIE model. It was not invented and promoted by a single designer. Researchers at the University of Florida developed a model which evolved into the Interservice Procedures for Instructional Systems Development and produced an overview graphic, which shows five top level headings, analyze, design, develop, implement, and control. Despite the similarities of the IPISD framework and the headings, this work was not the source of the ADDIE acronym. Rather, the use of the ADDIE label evolved informally and organically over years of practice by many designers, and was spread among them, mostly, by word of mouth. So, ADDIE is more of a colloquial term for what has become a commonly accepted sequence of procedural steps used to design instruction. It's not really a fully baked instructional model, such as the Dick and Carey, Kemp, Backwards, or SAM models, because ADDIE really doesn't explain how to do the work of each step or phase. It's more of a procedural framework, which has spawned a variety of models that share its basic structure and process, but unlike ADDIE, do prescribe unique operational design activities. That's why ADDIE doesn't dictate a linear design process in which each phase must be completed before moving on to the next. The ADDIE workflow can be agile and iterative, and these other models show how to work with ADDIE in this way. While it's true that the logic of the ADDIE acronym implies that its five phases occur in linear fashion, first we analyze, then we design, then develop, then implement, and finally evaluate in an orderly fashion, I don't want to suggest that we must complete each phase before we begin the next in strict sequence, or that activities in all phases cannot be conducted in parallel. They can and should be. And you'll find that this parallel processing often happens quite organically. Such is the art of design.