Implementing a Tried-and-True Method into your eLearning Program
Designing your new eLearning course can be challenging without the proper guidance and tools. Many instructors find themselves in front of the camera with a good idea but without a clue how to properly educate their audience.
Through trial and error, many ISDs (Instructional System Designs) have been tested and implemented. Some are highly effective, while others are continuing to fall flat. In the 1970s, an effective system that is still used today by training instructors is the ADDIE model.
What is the ADDIE Model?
The ADDIE model is an acronym for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. With the world being in 2021, your skepticism to try a 50-year-old model is warranted. Fortunately, ADDIE was designed to work through time and across platforms. eLearning is another platform that has seen tremendous success using the ADDIE model.
So, now that you are slightly intrigued about this eLearning model that has stood the test of time, let’s break it down letter by letter.
Analysis: This is simply the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the process. Breaking it down into these six categories and expanding on each is the first step in creating your eLearning course. Each question is multi-faceted and may have more than one answer.
· Who: The who refers to the audience and the information necessary to cater to them effectively. When addressing the audience, you are focusing on their demographics. Where do they work? How old are they? What is their gender? Where do they live? What is their median income? Why are they there? What is their education level? Understanding these elements will allow you to teach your eLearning course in a more effective manner.
· What: This category can be separated into several other categories, but we’ll just dive into a few.
o What is the problem you wish to solve? Is it a skills deficiency? Safety training? New product line?
o What is the learning environment? For the sake of eLearning, we are going to assume the environment is online. Taking that into consideration, you must address blended learning as well as the possibility of audience distractions. Decide how to solve that.
o What is the audience hoping to gain from attending your course? Sometimes understanding what they are there for can change the entire direction of the course. Adapting to their needs will make the course much more effective.
· When: When is the eLearning course being taught? Is it live or asynchronous? Are you expecting blended learning to occur? Answering these questions will allow the instructor to have a firmer grasp of what they need to provide in their lessons and modifications that need to happen, if necessary. For instance, a live lecture at 5:30 PM will likely result in participants missing dinner. How will you approach that? What will you do as the program creator to mitigate the potential issues that may occur?
· Where: For the sake of eLearning learning production, this question is relatively easy to answer. Although the setting is primarily online, considering where you will present the lessons and where your audience might be viewing them can help you better accommodate the needs of those you’re training.
· Why: Why is your audience present? Is it for staff training? Are they there for diversity training? To learn a new skill? Why are you there? Are you helping mark off a check box? Ensuring the audience is well prepared for something? Fully understanding the why can bring clarity to all those involved. Your training is only as good as the instructor’s knowledge of the attendants and the content. Make sure you know why everyone is there.
· How: This question is fully answered in the design and development stage. After bringing everything together, you must consider how it is all going to unfold. Are you planning to word vomit and hope it sticks? Are you going to use graphics, manipulatives, and interactive quizzes to ensure your audience fully understands? How are you going to teach your eLearning course so that you ensure audience retention?
Design: This phase is relatively straightforward but can involve a significant amount of work. In the design phase, you are looking to produce all the elements required for your eLearning production.
Here you will create objectives, assessments, exercises, content, subject matter analysis, lesson plans, media needs, graphics, and much more. You are essentially brainstorming everything you would need to make your eLearning class effective and informative.
You will sit down and answer these questions:
· What are the learning objectives?
· How should I outline the content?
· How should a teach specific segments?
· How should I manage transition time?
· How should I map activity times?
· What assessment methods will I use?
· Anything and everything you can think to ask, answer it during this stage.
Development: Now that you know your audience and have created an eLearning course design, next is the development stage. Here you compile all the plans created in the design stage and strategically rip them apart.
No, you won’t literally rip up the important documents that took you weeks to create. What you will do is look at everything you made and decide whether or not it is actually conducive to the proper distribution of information. Will it enhance your eLearning class or take away from it?
Development is the revision stage of the ADDIE model. Come together with a team and decide if the materials you have compiled will work for your needs or if you need to add or take away. Once you have revised the Design stage, you will create.
Creating the elements decided on in the Design stage will give you something to implement. Here you get all the teams together to do their part. The tech team will make sure you have the technology required. The graphic design team will make sure your presentation is top-notch. The instructor will go over the lesson plans and create the materials necessary for implementation. This is where you, as the eLearning instructor, ensure that you are fully prepared for the class before it starts.
Implementation: This is it! The moment all your preparation has led you to. It is time to implement the lessons and strategies you created in front of a real-life audience. Your audience may be online since it is an eLearning experience, but the impact is still the same.
When delivering the materials and information to the audience, make sure to pay attention to every detail. Pay attention to yourself. Pay attention to the students. Pay attention to the auditors. Pay attention to everything.
Yourself: You want to focus on yourself to make sure you are following the plan. It is easy to accidentally make a five-minute segment turn into twenty and make a thirty-minute segment fifteen. This can cause issues with understanding and retention as you originally planned a more extended period of time for a particular subject, knowing that it would be more difficult. Now you are unsure if the information will stick. Pay attention to your speed and presentation.
Students: You can learn an awful lot about how your lesson is going by watching the face and mannerisms of your students. With this being an eLearning course, this is primarily applicable to live courses as opposed to asynchronous. When you identify confusion in a few students’ faces, it might do you some good to slow down and double-check for understanding. Reteaching a segment is better than most of your audience walking away confused.
Auditors: This one isn’t quite as important as the others as the auditor may or may not know the content. Their job is to make sure you are being an effective instructor. That is why paying attention to yourself and the students is vital. The auditor is doing that for you and may or may not intercede and help ensure understanding.
Evaluation: You did it. Your eLearning course is over, and you have some time to reflect on its success Now you will evaluate what you did right, what you did wrong, and how to improve.
With the ADDIE model being a continuous circle, making sure you pay attention to the course results can enhance the other stages for future courses. There are ways to grade your course that will help you make the necessary changes.
Assessments are one of the easiest ways to ensure that your course achieved its goal. If most attendants did well, then you likely led a successful eLearning course. If they did poorly, one or more elements of the course were probably lacking.
Feedback is also especially important. Getting input from your attendants and auditor will ensure that you can provide the services necessary for success in a future eLearning course.
Now that you are fully aware of the ADDIE model and how it works, look at the class you are teaching. eLearning is no different from traditional in-person staff training or other lessons. Focusing on the students and their needs will make sure the entire learning process is fluid and effective.
Following the ADDIE model in 2021 is just as effective as it was in its conception 50 years ago. Use this to ensure your future eLearning courses are highly effective.