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Home » EDU623 » Designing Learning Environments: 4-Part Blog Series (Part I)

Designing Learning Environments: 4-Part Blog Series (Part I)

Part I: ADDIE & Other Models of Instructional Design

This 4-part blog seriehead-70184_640s will document my learning about principles of effective and student-centered instructional design as well as the models currently used in the field. Larson (2014) discusses how the field of instructional design and technology has evolved to emphasize two major components: the use of physical media to relay instruction and support teaching and learning and the use of systematic approaches to “…analyze learning needs, and to design, develop, implement, and evaluate instructional materials to meet those needs” (p. 7). Since instructional design (ID) is systemic, it accounts for all of the systems that impact and are impacted by learners (Larson, 2014, p. 8). Using a systematic approach enables one to become a better instructional designer. Ultimately, there are three ID models that make the most sense in the classroom environment, although others may be used depending on the instruction.

The Industry Standard: ADDIE

ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation (Larson, 2014, p. 8). ADDIE begins with the end in mind, focusing on what the learner wilimagesl know or be able to do as a result of learning (Larson, 2014, p. 10). Therefore, the designer plans for formative and summative assessments, which will lead to that end. According to Hanson (2015), the ADDIE model is flexible, common, and adaptable (n.p.). However, although some argue it is iterative, some say it is actually linear. It really depends on how it is implemented. It can also be time consuming and costly to complete all phases effectively in a fast-paced environment.

The Trendy New Kid: SAM

The SAM, or Successive Approximation Model, follows the same steps as ADDIE with different names: Prepare, Design, Develop, and Roll Out (Hanson, 2015, n.p.). However, the steps are done iteratively before moving on to the next phase of the system. This model is repetitive in nature, which means that changes can happen right away. Unlike ADDIE, time and money are saved with SAM because of its repetitive nature and the designer’s ability to anticipate changes and be flexible (Hanson, 2015, n.p.). However, its redundancy may lead to errors as designers become desensitized to the review process and it may waste resources (Hanson, 2015, n.p.). The best component of SAM is the collaboration at the heart of it. The system is not done in isolation, but rather with a team. This ensures that instructional design is effective for all stakeholders.SAM-1

Iterative e-learning development with SAM [Online image]. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.alleninteractions.com/sam-process.

The Trusted Traditional: Gradual Release Model

The Gradual Release Model, or GRM, has some similarities to ADDIE and SAM, but is mostly unique in its design and implementation. The system works as follows: “I do” (focused lesson), “We do” (guided instruction), “You do it together” (collaborative learning), “You do it alone” (independent work) (Hansogrrn, 2015, n.p.). Students will most likely move back and forth between these stages as they learn. While ADDIE and SAM are teacher-centered, with the system being almost hidden from students, the GRM shifts the onus from the teacher to the learners. It accounts for the teaching of mastery, helps students apply their skills, and boosts student confidence in their skills and abilities (Hanson, 2015, n.p.). However, since assessments are chosen ahead of time, they may be inaccurate once learning begins and changes. Also, this model is better with small groups because it takes a lot for the teacher to manage the stages (Hanson, 2015, n.p.).

An Instructional Designer’s Preference

What a designer gets out of these systems depends on how they use them. In my context, the GRM works the best. My school utilizes Kagan Cooperative Learning structures, which this model would address. Also, a focus on the student rather than the teacher will make learning more engaging and give them opportunities to apply their skills. I do a lot of modeling when I teach, which this model also considers. Our new grading system is all about mastering skills and we do not grade participation or effort. This model help educators address student skills in a more objective manner. Finally, the GRM would be the least time consuming, as I already use a similar method in designing instruction. I have learned that it can be damaging to a student if you expect them to do too big of a task on their own right away, but that this model can build up their confidence to tackle tasks on their own. Fisher and Frey (2003) assert, “Too often instructional minutes are wasted when students are given independent writing prompts for which they are unprepared” (p. 404). They go on to say that this model gives educators a way to scaffold instruction so that students are more successful independent learners (Fisher & Frey, 2003, p. 404). If a student needs more of a challenge, they would be able to move through the steps more quickly. However, if this model was not used, and then the teacher had to go back and re-teach, it would waste valuable time. This model has helped me to differentiate and scaffold lessons for all levels of learners.

Overall, there are many models of ID, and designers should use the one that most suits their purpose and helps learners achieve the objectives.

Which model of ID do you prefer in your classroom?


Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2003). Writing instruction for struggling adolescent readers: A gradual release model. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 46(5). 396-405. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=27bd4c22-cfbc-4e9a-8157-88f3f32c2f78%40sessionmgr4005&vid=4&hid=4111.

Hanson, S. (2015). Instructional design essentials: Models of ID with Shea Hanson. Retrieved from http://www.lynda.com/Education-Higher-Education-tutorials/Instructional-Design-Essentials-Models-ID/161318-2.html.

Larson, M. B. (2014). Streamlined ID : A practical guide to instructional design. New York: Routledge.

Helpful Resources

This document identifies roles and responsibilities for each stage of the GRM:


Insightful blog about leaving ADDIE for SAM:




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