Understanding ADDIE and RAD

Instructional designers and software developers come from different backgrounds and bring different approaches to projects. The most important development models for each, respectively, are ADDIE and rapid application development (RAD). By understanding these approaches, you’ll be a more effective leader in managing mixed eLearning teams.

All About ADDIE

The instructional design field has developed a number of models to help designers create effective learning experiences. Of these, the ADDIE Process is probably the most commonly known and used. ADDIE is an acronym for the five steps in the process, which include:

  • Analyze—the instructional designer conducts an analysis of learning goals, learner characteristics, and contexts.
  • Design—the designer selects learning and performance objectives, adopts an instructional strategy, and chooses the right approaches for implementing it.
  • Develop—the instructional designer creates the course content and materials, building learning activities and assessment tools as part of this step.
  • Implement—the designer selects the best way to deliver the instructional materials. In the case of eLearning, this is generally achieved through some combination of Web and/or mobile technologies.
  • Evaluate—once a course or training is ready to be launched, the instructional designer tests and evaluates it, making sure learners are achieving the intended goals and that all materials are being used effectively.

Although the ADDIE model is widely used and admired, it does have its detractors. In business environments, it has been criticized as being too slow and inefficient. Online courses and other eLearning products often need to be developed quickly, and ADDIE’s step-by-step approach doesn’t always mesh well with rapid prototyping and other fast development methodologies from the software world.

More about Rapid Application Development

Software development, in contrast, comes from engineering and many of its methodologies have been created primarily to increase the speed and efficiency of the development process while containing costs.

For example, rapid application development (RAD) involves minimal planning. Instead, developers quickly gather requirements and then rapidly create a prototype. The prototype is evaluated and tested, and the feedback is used to inform another round of prototype development. The process of prototyping, testing, and feedback continue until a final product is complete. A number of variations of RAD have been developed to better define and refine the process, including agile software development and the Scrum approach.

RAD has been shown to be an effective way to develop software in many cases, but it also has its detractors. In some instances, the succession of prototypes never leads to a successful product. RAD also requires strong, cohesive teams to succeed.

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