Answer to The Big Question: Sometimes

Learning Circuits Blog seeks comments on one big issue each month, “The Big Question.” Dave Lee and Tony Karrer have added a twist which has boosted participation. We who answer are requested to write and link posts from our personal blogs. This answers the perennial question for those of us who blog personally: post here or there? We grappled with this when I set up Learning Circuits Blog, and I wish we’d come up with this great compromise.

This month’s question is:

Are ISD / ADDIE / HPT relevant in a world of rapid elearning, faster time-to-performance, and informal learning?

First off, if you don’t speak in acronyms, here’s what we’re talking about, courtesy of Harold Jarche:

HPT stands for ‘Human Performance Technology’

ISD stands for ‘Instructional Systems Design’

ADDIE is a process, ‘Analysis, Design, Development, Design, Evaluation’,

I’m not here to reinvent the wheel, so I invite you to check what other people think by visiting the links at the bottom of this page. I’ll supplement their astute observations.

  1. This is the wrong question. We humans often try to oversimplify reality by preferring yes/no answers, forgetting that most issues have shades of gray. I call this bi-polar thinking. It’s more informative to ask open-ended questions, for they elicit people’s feelings. “How relevant do you feel…?”
  2. The outcomes of ISD / ADDIE/ HPT models depend on the designer who uses them. Great designers use the models as a great chef uses a recipe. It’s a starting point, often required by novices but imbedded in the muscle memory of an experienced designer, for whom deviations make the results wonderful. Some designers use HPT and its brethren as inviolable dogma, preferring the recipe to common sense.
  3. Faster learning and informal learning are intermediate steps on the way to the goal of achieving better performance. If incentive payments, workflow redesign, or knowledge management would have more impact than a learning solution, our question becomes meaningless.
  4. For thirty years, I’ve considered myself a designer, yet recently I’ve come to appreciate that design is not always the best approach. Nature wasn’t designed; it evolves. What works lives on. No one designs a community of practice. The community must evolve.