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  • Writer's pictureCaitlin Cleghorn

When does ADDIE become ADIE?

Updated: Jul 4, 2022

COVID-19 and the lockdowns which followed have significantly impacted education in a variety of ways. Face-to-face delivery, and designing for said delivery, has become a thing of the past. It is certainly still a goal for many organisations and teachers, but anyone working in the education industry knows that, from now on, learning must take place, in some form, online. Some of the more forward-thinking organisations had already begun moving to a blended delivery model before COVID forced everyone online, and these workplaces have invested in learning and digital design teams.

Learning designers (LDs) have traditionally worked with storyboards, learner guides and teacher guides to compile a learning experience. But, in an online environment, how many of these do we need – if any? An online-only environment requires little to no interaction from a teacher, so teacher guides can be fully omitted or scaled-down. Learner guides no longer need to be separate, downloadable documents. The information typically housed in a learner guide – syllabus, assessment details and instructions, further resources – can and should be displayed entirely in the Learning Management System (LMS) so that it is easily accessible to all students. This leaves storyboards, which are designed by LDs to deliver content in the most innovative and engaging way possible.

Which of these should be exclusively online?

Pros and cons of a storyboard



Content and design can be reviewed before it’s built.

​Time-consuming, particularly for formatting.

All instructions written and checked.

Some content/formatting/activities do not work as designed when implemented in the software being used.

Another level of review before it’s built.

Some content/formatting/activities do not work as designed when implemented in the software being used.

Another level of review before it’s built.

​More chance to make simple mistakes/alter the content.

Images and graphics can be sourced and created ahead of time.

More images and graphics may be required post-storyboard for the build.

Activities are written out and reviewed before being built.

Quicker to make edits straight into a build than in a storyboard first.

So, if storyboards are removed from the learning design equation, what is left? Let’s use ADDIE as an example to explore an alternative option. The ADDIE method is used to design and develop courses for educational environments. It stands for Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate. The beginning and end should not change; you will always need to analyse the course you are creating and the cohort you are designing for before you develop anything; likewise, you will always need to evaluate the success of the course created and the process used to ensure that as a designer, a team, and an organisation, you can improve, learn and stay current.

The three middle steps are becoming increasingly blurred with the onset of exclusively online learning. Design and development can combine so that both occur as one in the build platform (e.g. Articulate Rise or Storyline, Canvas, Moodle, H5P, Evolve). The implementation phase then becomes more of a review/quality assurance stage, and as such needs to be much more comprehensive as several review stages are now combined into one main stage. Combining these review stages can be beneficial timewise, though it also runs the risk of significant re-work required – something which can be reduced or avoided completely with a detailed style guide and comprehensive training for all LDs.

What does this mean for learning designers? As traditional LD work changes, LDs need to evolve with it. Technology is a large part of this – investing time into learning the software you will be using is an investment in your career’s future. Excelling in the use of these skills can be incredibly beneficial to your team as well.

Other skills useful for the evolving education landscape are:

  • Visualising and explaining graphics/infographics.

  • Sourcing appropriate images.

  • Writing activity instructions that are accessible.

  • Writing, adding and checking ALT text on images.

  • File management, archival and naming conventions.

  • Have to give and receive constructive feedback.


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