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Why is it Agile vs ADDIE? How you can reconcile the two models

The foundations for the success (or failure) of a learning design project are set long before the process of design and development.

Agile and ADDIE are two of the most widely used learning design methodologies. 

What's a learning design methodology?

A learning design methodology is the overall approach that guides the entire process, encompassing the planning, designing, writing and developing, deploying and evaluating, of the learning program. 

While you can adopt several types of methodologies to create your learning modules, two of the most frequently used are Agile & ADDIE. Read on to explore how this framework can guide your learning development. 

What is ADDIE?

The ADDIE model consists of five steps - analyse, design, develop, implement, evaluate. These are followed consecutively by the learning designer(s), and each step is completed in full before moving on. As such, each previous step informs the subsequent ones.

1. Analyse

The first step under the ADDIE methodology is data gathering and analysis. During this stage, the learner designer focuses on gathering and analysing information about the learning objectives, goals, program requirements, and the learners themselves.

2. Design

The information gathered in the Analysis phase then informs the Design phase. A learning designer will identify the source content needed to address learner needs and is chunked into bite-sized lessons. They will also make other practical decisions about structure, delivery methods, course duration, and assessments and often design a testing prototype. 

3. Develop

Just as the name suggests, the Develop phase covers the creation of the module content itself. Whether it is creating written content, video content or graphics, this phase focuses on fleshing out the design decisions made above and ends with the completed module. However, it is also important to note that this stage does allow for some testing to ensure the learning experience will work as expected. 

4. Implement

The content developed in the previous stage is deployed to learners. 

5. Evaluate

Once the program is implemented and learners complete the module, the learning designer will enter the Evaluate phase. This will focus on whether the learning has achieved its goals and the overall satisfaction with the module. The outcomes of this can then be fed into a new cycle of development to ensure ongoing improvement. 

What is Agile?

eLearning teams increasingly adopting an Agile approach to meet the demands of businesses and the growing expectations for e-learning, fast. Borrowed from software development, the agile method is focused on speed, collaboration and flexibility.

It's a non-linear method that combines elements of ADDIE and implements them in sprints. By breaking learning down into smaller chunks, it allows organisations to roll out content more quickly, as each section is almost like multiple ADDIE processes reiterated over and over again. This process also ensures that learning is reviewed more quickly, offering increased opportunities for reviewing and feedback.

The benefits of the agile methodology are that it allows learning teams to be, well, agile. The approach is iterative and allows room for testing, experimenting and learning, and benefits from input from all stakeholders, SMEs, designers and even learners.

Is it always one or the other?

While many learning designers have a preferred methodology, increasingly there is an acceptance that combining agile and ADDIE elements can lead to better results. This can even change on a project basis, depending on the individual requirements.

Some things to consider if you are thinking about which methodology might be right for you:

  • How much flexibility do you need in this project? If your project requires more flexibility, combining ADDIE and Agile might be a good fit. Using the two together allows for small teams to work on different parts of the project and report in regularly. This means that stakeholders can see and comment on a part of the project earlier on, allowing for iteration and improvement in future sprints.
  • Do you predict a change in scope or requirements throughout the project? If this is the case, Agile development is probably a better fit. It allows for more iteration and, therefore, a better product while making it much easier to respond to the project's changes.
  • How important is collaboration to your project? Utilising Agile design increases focus on collaboration and communication between stakeholders at all phases of the process.
  • How complicated is your project? If your project is more complex, sticking to ADDIE, particularly in the Analyse and Design phase might be a better solution for you. 
  • How quickly do you need to create your eLearning? Smaller projects, and those with ambitious timelines, will benefit from using an Agile approach. This is not to say that the process of ADDIE isn't followed; it's more than the lines between the phases are blurred.

Our Approach 

Here at Guroo Producer, we're huge believers in the Agile methodology. That's why we created PRODUCER as an agile authoring tool. But what does that mean?

It has been built to 

  • Allow for multiple authors
  • Include an Agile board to track progress
  • Utilise live preview, review and commenting functions to allow for an iterative and collaborative approach 

Want to see it for yourself? Start a trial now. 

Jenn Rogers
9 February 2021 4 Min Read

How does this look in action?
Check out our current program in cooperation with Blackmores.


Visit our Success Story to see how this process transformed business at Blackmores step by step.


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