Ridged Use of an ADDIE Orthodoxy or Eclecticism?

Often the ISD model ADDIE which stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation is critiqued because of its lack of flexibility and said that progressive designers should be more eclectic and pull from multiple theories, models, etc.

Side Bar: Check out Wikipedia’s definition of Eclecticism which states: Eclecticism is a conceptual approach that does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights into a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases.

In a recent debate, this month in ETR&D Stephen Yanchar and Bruce Gabbitas discuss an alternative to theoretical orthodoxy (i.e., rigid use of a single perspective or process). They discuss what they call critical flexibility which can bridge the gap between eclecticism and the rigid use of models like ADDIE.  In their article, Between Eclecticism and Orthodoxy in Instructional Design, their alternative perhaps adds some structure to eclecticism through a conceptual design sense:

  • Part of Better Practice
    While it is common to think of progress in education as a matter of pursuing “best practices,” it seems more plausible to think of educational practice as continually striving toward something “better.”
  • Can & Should Be Explicated
    As important as conceptual design sense may be, we also acknowledge that it will be, in its complex and often tacit state, difficult to make apparent for serious consideration. Nonetheless, we contend that it can be explicated, at least to some degree, and made accessible for further consideration.
  • Can & Should Be Critically Examined
    The management we recommend also calls for the critical examination of one’s conceptual design sense, especially aspects of it that have been explicated through the interruption of everyday design practices.
  • Fluid & Evolving
    If conceptual design sense is more or less inaccessible and static, there can be little hope of moving beyond the eclecticism–orthodoxy antinomy.

They conclude by stating that critical flexibility thus embraces the idea of conceptual guidance, but requires that this guidance be fluid, evolving, and adjustable or transformable as designers gain experience and continually adapt to the contextual demands of their work.

In short, instruction should be designed using compatible theories and go through a process of essentially analyze, design, development, implementation, and evaluation… rather than just one theory.


About DaveHallmon

With experience in web, graphic, and instructional design, Dave maintains a balance between what is efficient and effective in every message. He always focuses on the why and how rather than "just doing it" to get the job done. By day he works at a leading university designing online courses that support 9,000 students in 64 countries. He works directly with faculty to brainstorm, design, and develop their online instruction utilizing the Adobe suite. He also teaches for the university as an adjunct faculty member in the area of web design. By night he is a devoted husband, father, freelancer, and adventurer of the outdoors. His other interests include LifeHacker, Science Fiction and Hayao Miyazaki movies, Settlers of Catan, and coffee with friends. He currently lives in St. Louis and has an M.S. in Instructional Design and aspires to pursue a professional degree in content marketing and strategy. Visit the links below for more information about his interests and design work.
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