Do we still care about instructional design? This graph from Google Trends compares searches for “elearning” with searches for “instructional design.”
At first, “elearning” followed “instructional design” in a sad slope downward. But in the last couple of years, “elearning” has perked up again, while its friend “instructional design” continues its descent into obscurity.
Maybe fewer people are searching for “instructional design” because it’s no longer a new concept (“usability” suffered a similar decline). Or, possibly, fewer people are searching for “instructional design” because fewer people care about it.
Did “rapid” kill ADDIE?
Here’s what can happen to the ADDIE approach when we care more about speed than anything else.
1. Analysis: “The client wants a course, therefore the client needs a course.”
2. Design: “Let’s use the template we used for the widget course, but with a blue background.”
3. Development: “Clean up the client’s PowerPoint slides and add a Jeopardy quiz.”
4. Implementation: “Put it on the LMS.”
5. Evaluation: “Did everyone look at every screen?”
I’m not saying rapid tools are evil. You can use them to create powerful elearning. It’s rapid design that’s the culprit, because it’s not really instructional design. It’s just content presentation. We end up putting lipstick on a pig.
But ADDIE takes too long!
When we treat ADDIE as a step-by-step process, it’s inefficient. By the time we’ve created our 39-page cross-referenced design document, we could have delivered a prototype of the course and gotten feedback from the client and learners, as Sumeet Moghe points out in his description of an agile approach to elearning design.
It would also help if we let go of our obsession with looks. Unfortunately, a text-only branching scenario that profoundly changes your employees’ approach to complex sales won’t get an award—it won’t even be submitted. The award submission will be a glitzy “course”/slideshow with redundant narration, flying pie charts, and a game-show quiz that has little effect on people’s performance.
But what about the lemurs?
I’m not saying that the Google Trends chart proves that instructional design is getting short shrift in elearning. I posted the chart because it happens to be a visual expression of my concern. There could be just as much correlation between the two searches as there is between “elearning design” and “lemurs” (which, happily, shows no worrying trends):