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May 2, 2018

NBlog May 2 - taking a poke at ADDIE

ADDIE is an acronym from the Instructional Systems Design field, standing for:
  • Analysis - examine the situation, determine the learning objectives;
  • Design - design an approach to satisfy the learning objectives;
  • Development - prepare the course materials etc.;
  • Implementation - deliver the course or whatever (some form of training or awareness or learning opportunity);
  • Evaluation - figure out how well it's going in terms of meeting the objectives.
ADDIE was published back in the 1970's.  At first glance, it looks like a useful framework ... but look again. Isn't that just the core of the classic waterfall structured project management method? If so, consider this: what's missing? 

As commonly represented, it's an open-ended linear process, whereas in fact it should be iterative. In particular, the Evaluation activity generates metrics, information that can and should be used to guide the next round of awareness and training. It feeds into future Analysis and Design activities, for instance learning approaches that worked well may be worth repeating or boosting relative to those that flopped. Approaches that didn't go so well should be reviewed to determine whether they are worth revising for another go, parking, or consigning to the tip.

What about the traditional testing and authorization phase? What happened to that? When awareness and training materials are believed ready to use, shouldn't they be competently and thoroughly checked against the specifications*, revised, polished and finalized if appropriate, and only then authorized for release? 

*Hmmm, thinking about it, documented specifications are merely implied by  the Analysis step. Seems to me that's a crucial part of the process that shouldn't be glossed over. It's also another iterative activity, in that subsequent steps may involve revisiting and revising the specifications, reassessing various assumptions for instance and exploiting creativity such as novel approaches.

Oh and 'revisiting specifications' hints at change management, in fact process management as a whole is lacking from ADDIE. If management is pouring (well OK, dribbling or drip-feeding) corporate resources into awareness and training, it is perfectly reasonable for them to anticipate an efficient and effective process. Management concerns all parts of the process e.g.:
  • Strategies - high level objectives or goals that knit training and awareness in with various other corporate activities and objectives (e.g. ensuring that information security is part of induction or orientation sessions for new starters and people being promoted into new positions with new responsibilities; and linking security knowledge and competences with ;
  • Plans - things such as project plans with scope, priorities, timescales, milestones and decision points, deadlines, dependencies/critical paths, resources etc.;
  • Resources - estimating, budgeting, allocating and accounting for the resources needed, provided and consumed, including people, tools, methods and materials; also motivating and guiding the people involved i.e. man-management for the people designing, developing and delivering the training and awareness, supporting, encouraging and getting the most value from them;
  • Authorizing or approving things, considering options, making key decisions, juggling resources and priorities, dealing with resistance and show-stoppers, smoothing the way to achieve the best possible outcome under the circumstances;
  • Risks, incidents and changes - essentially preparing for and handling unanticipated events, things that "just come up" in the course of the activities, including opportunities (beneficial risks);
  • Quality e.g. process improvement, corporate learning and maturity, squeezing every last drop of value from the process (not least the time and effort invested by trainees) and systematically improving things with every iteration, drawing on both internal and external sources of inspiration and innovating (e.g. exploiting new approaches to training,  and cutting-edge research on the psychology of learning).
Tomorrow I'll be back with further thoughts on the parallels between ADDIE and [project] management methods.

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