The ADDIE Series: III

Our third post in the series on the ADDIE instructional design model revisits the design phase, and then brings us to the second “D” – development.

Design Revisited:

Design in the way people usually think of it – visuals, colors, layouts – can help or hinder learning, and therefore is just as important when creating materials. Think of graphics like the way you think of instructional activities and handouts – do they fit the objective? do they fit the delivery method? do they fit the environment (a multinational investment company might not appreciate a comic book style appearance)?

Perhaps the most critical element of the design plan is the instructional objectives. These state specifically what the learner will know or be able to do after the training. Objectives are NOT goals. Goals are general statements of what the learner will get out of the training, whereas objectives relate to specific, measurable performances (Writing Learning Objectives, n.d.). Objectives need to state 4 things:

  • Audience – who is receiving the training
  • Behavior – what will they be able to do
  • Condition – with what given materials and experiences will the person do the behavior
  • Degree – how may times and/or to what standard will the person do the behavior (Hodell, 2011)
This objective satisfies the requirements of the ABCD method. Image courtesy of Greg Williams.



This phase is when the design blueprint comes to life – materials are developed and evaluated. Hodell (2011) calls development the buffer between design and implementation. It is when designers test and evaluate materials they have created for their course. The materials must fit within budgets, delivery methods, style guidelines, and, most importantly, they must work. If a presentation or activity or handout does not result in learners meeting the stated objective, changes must be made. Fortunately, we can use a pilot test to find and work out the bugs before delivering the training to real live people. This video gives an example of the importance of evaluating materials and checking with the client before creating the final drafts.

During development. subject matter experts, or SMEs (pronounced like Captain Hook’s sidekick – isn’t that wonderful?!), are brought on to advise designers about content – what to include, what to emphasize, and what to glance over or get rid of.

So, what does this all mean for me?

This all means that design is a team effort. Even if you have some experience, knowledge, even expertise on a certain topic, you need other eyes to help evaluate the design and materials. The project I am working on is for a training on the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, grades K-5 – a topic I have some knowledge of and experience with. Yet I know I will need the expertise of SMEs and a run-through or pilot test to ensure that things go smoothly, and that my learners actually learn what is outlined in the objectives. There are any number of potential SMEs in my school, which is a blessing and a curse. Personalities play a huge role in the success of a team, and I will need people who will share their knowledge and opinions objectively and respectfully (Passion, 2012).

Gardner, J. (2011, September 25). The ADDIE development phase [Video file]. Retrieved from

Hodell, C. (2011). ISD from the ground up: A no-nonsense approach to instructional design. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.

Passion. V. (2012). They’re experts, but can they be trainers? T+D, 66(2), 54-58.

Writing Learning Objectives. (n.d.) Retrieved from


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