So it’s always easier to have a tried and tested model or methodology to fall back on, and that is the strength of ADDIE (there are other models, but most of these are derivatives from ADDIE).
But following the ADDIE model takes time and effort. Aren’t we trying to get product out quickly? Can we afford to spend time analyzing and designing the course beforehand?
Well, here’s the thing. If we don’t follow the ADDIE model, we will probably find ourselves developing great looking content quickly, but end up with a course that does not meet the learning objectives, enable learning transfer or improve performance. Reminds me of the old saying “Haste makes waste.”
The rapid authoring tool is designed to reduce the Development time, which is always the most time and resources consuming, but be sure to work though all of the steps.
Let’s take a closer look at each step, and the danger of ignoring any of them.
- Analysis – define the purpose and the audience for the training. If you don’t have a clearly defined purpose, then how can you set learning objectives? And it goes without saying that if you don’t know the audience is, you simply can’t craft the message and style correctly. Consider this: your course style will be quite different if you are developing a safety course for miners than if you were developing course teaching teenagers how to dance.
- Design – at this point, you might decide whether to buy off-the-shelf, or develop a custom product. You should also determine whether a rapid tool such as QuickLessons will do what you need it to. Courses that involve detailed simulations for example often need a different treatment (and also need more meticulous design). Bear in mind that rapid tools have a built-in structure which acts as a guide to the flow of the course. This means that the Design phase does not always need the level of detail required when you are building from scratch. Experienced designers will create a storyboard at this stage; this will be a graphic representation of the flow of the course, and perhaps give some indication of the pictures and graphics that will be needed to support the learning. You might even want to use the storyboard to do a high-level walk through with the users or a group of your peers. The reasons for this step should be self-apparent.
- Development – now you’re ready to get your authoring tool out and get going. You will find this step lives up to the rapid promise if you have completed the Analysis and Design steps adequately. If you are using a collaborative platform such as QuickLessons, then you might ask the editors, your peers and some users to work through the course, and share comments, before it is published. This will provide you with an opportunity to make changes before publishing the course. And of course if you miss this step, then you will not have a course at all! So no one misses this step, but sadly it is often the only step followed when we are trying to get courses out quickly.
- Implementation – At this point you make the e-learning course available to the users. The great thing about using a rapid authoring tool is that courses are very easy to change and re-publish in short time and with little cost. So if it’s not quite making the mark, you have the opportunity to improve the course.
- Evaluation – This is possibly the most involved step, and should measure:
- learner reaction – did they like the course?
- learning results – e.g., test scores
- behavior – has the learner’s behavior changed, and have they been able to transfer the skills back to the job
- results – these would include increased productivity, fewer accidents, more sales for example
- return on investment – in financial terms, do the results exceed the investment made in developing the training?
The first four steps known as levels are from Kirkpatrick, and the fifth has been added by Jack Phillips. It’s unlikely that you as the instructional designer or course developer will be involved in all of the above, although you should build the first two levels into the course. The Learning & Development department must concern itself with all the levels of evaluation though. This will help you develop better and better courses, and if the return on investment is positive, it should also unlock bigger budgets for course development.
So it is worth your while to follow the ADDIE model in your development efforts, even if you are using a rapid authoring tool. This will ensure that you produce quality eLearning that engages learners, and meets the instructional objectives.