Why the ADDIE Learning Model Needs a FaceLIFT

by Julie Winkle Giulioni | Posted | Learning

Why the ADDIE Learning Model Needs a FaceLIFT

ADDIE — the Analyze-Design-Develop-Implement-Evaluate learning model commonly used by instructional developers and learning professionals — has hit middle age. Created originally in 1975 for the U.S. Army by Florida State University, the system quickly found a home in corporate and educational circles because of its simultaneous simplicity and rigor.

The five steps of the ADDIE learning model

The system has served the learning and training community well for 38 years, guiding us with its familiar five steps:  

  1. Analysis — Conduct needs, requirements, task, and audience assessments.
  2. Design — Architect the solution including learning/performance outcomes, delivery methods, content, and instructional strategies.
  3. Develop — Write, create, test, and revise all instructional materials including facilitator’s guides, participant workbooks, learning maps, job aids, elearning storyboards, video scripts, etc.
  4. Implement — Execute all dimensions of the learning intervention with the target audience.
  5. Evaluate — Measure the extent to which the solution is delivering the intended behavioral and/or performance changes.

But the conditions facing training and development professionals today are considerably different from when the ADDIE learning model was introduced in the mid-70s.

Today’s trainers must keep pace with the warp-speed of the businesses they support. The notion of ‘long-term’ has shrunk, right along with budgets and staffs. Strategies change on a dime. New markets require new skills... STAT. Cycle times for critical processes are continuously scrutinized and squeezed... including training.

Technology was in its infancy when ADDIE was created. In 1975, hobbyists began building the first marketable home PCs from kits (with an operating system introduced by some new company called Microsoft.) In the same year, Motorola obtained a patent for the first mobile phone, the BetaMax was introduced and the height of special effects could be seen in Jaws!

But ADDIE was then… this is now

Welcome to 2013, a world in which there are more cell phones than toilets; a world in which communication, education and entertainment are all converging into constantly morphing new ways for people to access information and learn; a world in which content might be king, but the screen is queen.  

Learning happens less frequently in classrooms and more frequently via elearning, webinars, chats/texting/IMing and mobile tools.

This technology — and the way it enables immediate, relevant conversation — has changed the face of learning. Today’s learners aren’t submissive empty vessels, willing to be filled from the fountain of their expert trainers’ knowledge. They want to be part of the dialogue, tap what they know and have done and give as much as they get. 

Today, the pace of business, pervasiveness of technology and expectations of learners collide to create a workplace that’s more dynamic, high-stakes, and complex — one that is very different from the days when ADDIE was introduced. Perhaps it’s time for this model to undergo a “faceLIFT.” 


Updated strategies that could LIFT learning results might include:

ADDIE FaceLIFT model

Here’s a deep-dive explanation on what LIFT means:

Let it out early. Rapid prototyping allows content and methods to be aired early and reviewed by super-users, subject-matter experts, or target audience members. Gathering the feedback of others before the solution is completely ‘baked’ allows for higher quality with shorter lead times. 

Include more minds. Savvy training departments everywhere are getting on the user-generated content bandwagon, seeing it as a strategy for lowering the costs and increasing the relevance of their programs... while at the same time enhancing employee engagement.

Follow the learner. In the past, we’ve focused primarily on instructional content and methods... with a nod toward the learner. Turn that upside down. Learning professionals who routinely focus on learners — watching what they do and how they do it, understanding the tools they gravitate toward (and away from) will be able to predict the next emerging need and the next-generation technologies to leverage. And they’ll be able to jump into action to proactively deliver the next big thing.

Track results. Evaluation and measurement are frequently after-thoughts, brief 5-point scale instruments slipped in at the last minute. And even when it’s done, few organizations really track and mine the data. This is an unfortunate waste because embedded in those spreadsheets are the keys to developing more effective interventions in the future. 

Updating the ADDIE learning model with strategies like these can "LIFT" learning to higher levels, allowing training and development professionals to offer turn-on-a-time solutions that drive behavior change, performance and serious business results.

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