Some of you might be aware that I write training programs. And to design training, I use the ADDIE model. It was developed by Florida State University decades ago as a way to design training for the military. ADDIE is an acronym that stands for Assessment, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.
There are other instructional design models out there. Michael Allen authored a book titled, “Leaving ADDIE for SAM”, which talks about the ADDIE model of instructional design and proposes a transition to a new model called SAM, which stands for Successive Approximation Model.
Allen’s book contends that ADDIE wasn’t really a great model for instructional design in the first place. With relatively recent trends such as social and informal learning, ADDIE isn’t keeping pace with today’s business demands. His book outlines a new model, SAM, which considers the changing face of learning and business.
Honestly, the jury is still out for me whether I’d “leave ADDIE for SAM” but I did find the book an interesting read. It offered a challenge that merits discussion.
When does a model or theory become obsolete?
I think conventional wisdom tends to suggest that, once a model or theory reaches a certain status, then that’s it. We don’t challenge its application or place in the business world. As fast as today’s world works, I’m not sure if that’s true anymore. Granted, it might take a lot of convincing that an established model or theory isn’t relevant anymore. Or that a particular model needs updating. But I believe we need to get ready for an era of change where classic models and theories are concerned.
This doesn’t mean that learning classic theory shouldn’t happen. Being able to explain the evolution of change when it comes to theories and models is incredibly important. It demonstrates a depth of knowledge about the subject matter.
It also doesn’t mean that the older models and theories were bad or wrong. Older models served a purpose. They taught us things and provided a basis for discussion and discovery.
As we look at the new innovations of our time, I can see moments where we will be forced to challenge conventional models. It will be our responsibility to listen to argument, test the new model and realize the results for ourselves.
In thinking about instructional design, is the ADDIE model passé? I don’t know. Frankly, it works for me. But I need to be open to the idea that someday, I might have to start using a different better model.
P.S. I’m very excited to be facilitating a virtual seminar for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on L&D: Developing Organizational Talent. We’ll be talking about how to design learning initiatives. Details about the learning objectives can be found on the SHRM website. I hope you can join us.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Gainesville, FL19
Brendan Hickey says
I’m a PhD candidate in educational psychology so questions like this are much of my world right now. I will give you a short answer, though.
First, please keep in mind that a theory is not a hunch but rather a set of known facts and inferences and rules derived from those facts that explain a phenomenon. What is often called theory in the lay world is more akin to what science would call hypotheses.
So, when does a theory become obsolete? That happens when it is replaced by something more accurate. A theory can be revised without being discarded, and in fact the scientific method expects that ongoing learning will lead to refinements in a theory. Those refinements improve the theory, rather than invalidate it.
In my specialty of auditory working memory, the dominant model of memory remains the multicomponential theory of memory, posited by Baddeley and Hitch in 1975. Baddeley revised it in 1996, 2002, and 2012. It’s still the multicomponential theory of memory but now it works better. There are other models, like the embedded process model posited by Cowan in 1999, created in response to perceived flaws in the multicomponential theory, but Baddeley accounted for those flaws and considered the work of Cowan when making revisions.
In contrast, something outside of my specialty, everybody used to “know” that stomach ulcers were caused by stress. This theory of ulcers was even featured in an episode of MASH. Now we know that ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection. What we “knew” was wrong, but that change was good process.
Go back a few centuries and everyone “knew” that the sun revolved around the Earth, until we discovered that it’s the other way around. The heliocentric theory of our solar system has been the standard for a long time, again not my specialty, but what credible astronomer would disagree?
I don’t know anything about ADDIE or SAM but if ADDIE doesn’t work then SAM, or something else, should replace ADDIE.
Sharlyn Lauby says
Thanks for sharing!