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Stop Using ADDIE the Same Old Way and Get Agile

Written by Julia Borgini

Published on June 28, 2017

Technology and business are rapidly evolving, and it can be hard for learning professionals to keep up. You need to create more content that's more relevant than ever before, and do so more efficiently than in the past. So ask yourself, "Can I continue to use ADDIE to develop their learning programs?"

Yes* (with a BIG but)

According to Megan Torrance of Torrance Learning, the answer is yes, but not in isolation. ADDIE can be used as part of an iterative learning development environment, and shouldn't be used on its own. The ADDIE steps can be done in "rapid succession" during each iteration, as opposed to being done only once overall. This way learning designers don't wait until the very end of the project before getting feedback from everyone.

And that is the secret to being agile in the way you design course. Publish an early version of a course, get feedback, and use the feedback to create an updated version of the course. This process is repeated until a course is finish...the the extend a software training course can every be "finished."

Using ADDIE in an Agile world

The main drawback to ADDIE is that it's inflexible and it's hard to manage changes and feedback until the end of the process. Agile processes incorporate reviews and feedback earlier in the process, making it easier for learning designers to change their products more easily. It's the idea of revising (Agile) instead of re-starting (ADDIE).


Multiple ADDIEs instead of just one

Yet Torrance explains that you can still use ADDIE in an Agile world, but just use it differently. Instead of using ADDIE as an overarching process done once, it can be used in a compressed fashion within each Agile iteration. Learning designers should go through all the ADDIE steps more quickly in each iteration, so they can incorporate feedback more easily and end up with a finished, approved product more quickly.


Credit: A Quick Guide to LLAMA/Megan Torrance

ADDIE gives structure where there might not be any

While some people may think it's simply the iterative process that gives Agile methods their speed, it can be said that it's actually the freedom people are given that really does it. What do I mean? Well, in the Agile software development world, teams are often given free reign to do whatever they want in terms of development tasks, as long as they complete the work in the given time frame (or iteration). Developers are free to structure their days how they want, work on the parts of their product as they want, and work with whatever colleague they want. As long as the work is done on time in the sprint (or iteration), it's okay.

If you are not quite ready to ditch all of your frameworks and development methodologies, incorporating ADDIE into Agile gives you the best of both worlds. You've got a framework within which you can analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate within each iteration. ADDIE helps you with the low-level tasks you need to work through for the learning program, and an overarching "engine" in Agile that drives you forward in such a way that you can produce quality programs in the most efficient way possible. Structure and freedom at the same time.

ADDIE is still relevant, just used differently

Trend-watching learning designers may want to chuck ADDIE out the window entirely and focus on Agile methods like Scrum, LEAN, and LLAMA, but designers like Megan Torrance disagree. She just advocates for using it a little differently than in the past. It is still a relevant process for learning designers, but it should be used in addition to iterative approaches in order to get the full value of both (ADDIE and Agile).

 The ServiceRocket Guide to Better Agile Course Development

Developing courses is hard. It takes a lot of work, and it is time consuming. Depending on the type and length of course you need to develop, it could take weeks to create and ship to your customers. In a fast moving software world, this is too long. And speaking of Agile and ADDIE, we wrote a guide to help you speed things up and build better courses using scrum.

After you read this guide, you will have the tools to build better courses, faster, and more aligned to customer needs. 

Don't waste any more time. Download The ServiceRocket Guide to Better Agile Course Development.

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Originally published Jun 28, 2017 1:00:00 PM, updated Jun 28, 2017