When planning an eLearning course or curriculum, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details. Details are important, but with the right process, multiple inputs can be wrangled into an engaging eLearning course that meets the needs of your learners.
But how do you know what your learners need? It takes time to figure it out.
The ADDIE model (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) is an iterative process used by instructional designers to carefully consider all of the elements leading to the best result. While some instructional designers might dismiss ADDIE as a throwback approach that limits creativity, there’s something to be said for doing everything you can to get it right the first time.
In ADDIE the design team carefully considers each step before moving onto the next one: imagine a writer penning several drafts of a chapter, creating a mountain of balled up pages before they’re satisfied—then repeating the process again for each chapter. Let’s take a look at each step.
This phase requires a complete analysis of the instructional goals and objectives. The team is hammering out answers to these questions – and more:
Skills deficits? Communication issues? Lack of diversity awareness?
Now that you know your audience, the next step in the ADDIE model is to think about creating a course that fills in the gaps. This is where you:
After all of these elements are determined, you’re ready to create storyboards so you can see the big picture.
Ready, set, action! Now it’s time to bring those storyboards to life. Look back at the previous steps to make sure you’re focusing on your audience and the best way to reach them. This is where you create a prototype for the customer to make sure you’re on the right track. If you get the green light, start creating course content—videos, audio, animations, assessments, graphics, hands-on tasks, instructional guides, multimedia presentations—whatever the team determined was the best delivery method in the DESIGN phase. This is also where you choose the look and feel of the course, which includes fonts, colors, and other design elements that reflect the learning environment culture.
Instead of creating the entire course then dumping it all at once on your reviewers, it’s a good idea to divide the course into modules to save development time. This way, while the customer and/or QA is reviewing a module, the development team can continue working on the next one. Pay attention to your Quality Assurance colleagues, who have the end user in mind, and are also really good at catching simple typos and more complex structural errors. Build, test, then rebuild: remember—the key to ADDIE is iteration!
This is also the time to reach back again to the DESIGN phase to make sure the timing is right. If the course is taking too much time to complete, it might be time for the chopping block.
Roll ‘em! This is the nail biter stage where you find out whether the design team paid close attention to the previous three steps: it’s time to present and teach the course material to your learners. Here, you’re not only paying attention to learners’ (and instructors’, if that applies) reactions to the course itself, you’re also looking at whether the delivery method is working. Were there hiccups in accessing the LMS? Did learners have adequate wi-fi coverage? Were the instructors prepared? Did learners need constant guidance? Did the assessments tell you what you needed to know? Did the learners achieve the learning outcomes you set out to achieve?
The development isn’t over yet; you’re paying attention to learner feedback so you can make the course even better.
You paid attention to everything you learned in the implementation stage and delivered the course. So, how’d you do? Did the learners learn what you wanted them to learn? Were they able to apply new skills? Were they motivated to learn? You can find out by checking assessment targets through the LMS, surveying learners and instructors, conducting interviews—whatever method you choose to get feedback.
Based on that feedback, you can evaluate whether or not you achieved the goals you identified in the ANALYSIS phase, and, based on the answer, either forge ahead, make a few tweaks, or begin the ADDIE process anew.
The thing is, if you did everything right—allowing for an iterative process, completing each stage before beginning the next one, paying attention to your original course objectives, acting on feedback from your team, client, learners, and instructors—you have a pretty good chance of getting it right the first time.