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How to Save Time by Applying Iterative Design to ADDIE

Posted by Alan Magnan on 2/24/14 3:00 AM
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ADDIE is a simple and effective approach to instructional design. Each letter is a phase we go through to meet a training need. Here is a quick breakdown of each phase:

Analysis: Determine the training need, and the skills and knowledge that will meet the need.
Design: Select the training activities that will teach the above skills and knowledge.
Development: Produce the materials that will be used during the training activities.
Implementation: Deliver the training created above.
Evaluation: Determine how well the training needs have been met.

There are hundreds of ways to implement these phases of instructional design. They are all subject to one common and frustrating drawback — stakeholders don’t see the finished product until after the development phase, which is usually quite close to the delivery launch date. When they do see it, they want to make a lot of changes, improvements, and tweaks. This leads to a mad dash in the final days of the allotted design/development time.

Here is one adaptation to the ADDIE model that can dramatically reduce the rework I just described. It’s called Iterative Design. In this approach, you don’t do all your analysis, design, and development work in one fell swoop. You chunk it up into mini-projects, which you repeat until the course is completely developed. Each mini-project, or iteration, is on one segment of your course content. Each iteration is reviewed by the stakeholders as it is completed. This means stakeholders see the finished product much earlier in the life of the project. It also means the changes requested by reviewers get smaller and fewer at each iteration. Some professionals who’ve used iterative design have estimated it saved them 30% of the time they needed compared to prior projects. And the best perk: no mad dash near the delivery launch date.

How much of your course to put in each iteration is up to you. The smallest unit of instruction you can use is one lesson. You certainly can include a few lessons in an iteration, however, the trick is to find a balance between two factors. Make your iterations small enough that the review/revision process won’t be daunting, but not so small that clients get annoyed by the number of requests for review/revision.

There’s a lot on the web about iterative design. Feel free to explore the different ways others have used it. Using it as your project structure, you can save time and better meet your clients’ expectations. May all your instructional design projects be great successes!.


Instructional Designer Starter Kit



Alan has been a course leader with Langevin since 1996. He studied business administration at Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology. Alan’s philosophy on training is that it can be fun, engaging, and active, but that’s just what’s on the surface. Training must also be practical, realistic, and applicable. Alan is a computer geek at heart and enjoys programming and gaming in his spare time. He’s also a great fan of the outdoors during the summer months, and when the winter moves in, you’ll find him reading, or recording and playing music.

Topics: tips-for-trainers, instructional design

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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