The foundation of instructional design

Although there are quite a few models and processes for instructional design, fundamentally, they all derive from the ADDIE model.

ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. It is a systematic approach to instructional design that involves conducting a needs analysis, designing instructional materials, developing the content, implementing the instruction, and evaluating its effectiveness.

Despite debates about its effectiveness and suitability in meeting the current needs of learners, ADDIE is still trusted by the majority of instructional design experts for building processes and content for courses.

Steps in the ADDIE model

The aim of this step is to gain all the information needed to design and develop the course. It is the phase where instructors do research to understand the structure of the course, their audience, and the potential assessments needed. There are some keys questions to focus on to get started: 

  • What is this course about and what are the learning objectives? 

  • Why is this course needed? 

  • Who needs the course (target audience, audience’s prior knowledge)?  

  • How will the course be delivered? 

Rather than building a course that the students want, we build a course that they need. 

A learning outline that aligns objectives and strategies with goals. Starting from the goals defined in the first step, instructors begin to work their way backward to outline the topics that will be covered and the types of assessment that will be used to accomplish the generally desired goals. This will make sure that they test what they teach. 

Necessary sub-topics will also be addressed after the main topics are decided. Some questions to consider at this phase: 

  • What combination of engaging/learning methodologies will we select? How will the course be delivered? 

  • What are the constraints or learning barriers that the students might face? 

  • How much time do we need to spend on each topic to achieve the instructional goals? 

There are several ways to outline the teaching-learning elements. However, storyboarding is the most popular way and is recommended. A storyboard is a roadmap or a side-by-side draft of the actual course. The storyboard keeps instructors and students organized and carries them toward the goals of the course. The more detailed the outlines, the easier it will be in the next development phase. 

Development is the building phase where all the designs are put into action. In this step, be prepared to frequently and iteratively test and review. 

Preparing for a first iteration with the expectation that it could be informational on multiple levels, and it also helps to inform the incomplete parts as well as what design decisions need to be made for the second iteration and beyond.  

Peer review is also recommended for testing the accuracy of the content and flow of the course. Make sure to check all the materials and visual elements for accessibility. The materials should be easily accessible and readable (not a copy of a copy or low-quality pictures taken from the books, etc.) 

The implementation phase is when the contents developed from the previous step are loaded into the learning management system (LMS) such as ICON, Blackboard, etc.  

Consider seeking feedback from stakeholders after loading the contents to the LMS as a course could flow well initially but change after being uploaded. Make sure to: 

  • Check for discrepancies within the LMS for any missing information and ensure that the contents look good from the student view 

  • Make sure that there are no broken or invalid links to prevent confusion over the course 

  • Make sure all the necessary materials are published and ready to be published 

  • Check for dates, especially check for the date changes when the content is copied 

  • Check for the video accessibility 

  • Check the accuracy of the syllabus and the logical flow within the LMS  

  • Preparing the learning spaces (discussion boards, necessary software, IDAS, etc.)  

This phase will be used to ensure that all the materials are always accessible both from the students’ and professors’ sides. The contents should also be frequently checked to align with students’ expectations and objective goals. 

During the evaluation, instructors might need to focus on whether the objective goals have been met. The instructors also might make some potential updates on the content if needed. Most importantly, students’ feedbacks during the course could also inform whether they can follow the course, how comfortable they feel with the workloads and teaching pace, and whether available resources are providing sufficient and appropriate support to students’ learning both inside and outside the class. 

Besides students’ feedback, formative and summative assessments could also be used to analyze, monitor, and evaluate students’ learning process.  

  • Formative evaluations (“Informs”) inform instructors how well students are doing in the class, which topic they are struggling with and requiring more attention. The instructors can also identify the strengths and weaknesses of each student using quizzes or assignments. 

  • Summative (“Summary”)evaluation measures learner satisfaction, acquisition of knowledge, and ability to transfer knowledge into realistic problem-solving efforts