25. The ADDIE Model

25.4. What Are The Limitations of ADDIE?

The ADDIE approach can be used with any size of teaching project, but works best with large and complex projects. Applied to courses with small student numbers and a deliberately simple or traditional classroom design, it becomes expensive and possibly redundant, although there is nothing to stop an individual teacher following this strategy when designing and delivering a course.

A second criticism is that the ADDIE model is what might be called ‘front-end loaded’ in that it focuses heavily on content design and development, but does not pay as much attention to the interaction between instructors and students during course delivery. Thus it has been criticized by constructivists for not paying enough attention to learner-instructor interaction, and for privileging more behaviourist approaches to teaching.

Another criticism is that while the five stages are reasonably well described in most descriptions of the model, the model does not provide guidance on how to make decisions within that framework. For instance, it does not provide guidelines or procedures for deciding how to choose between different media, or what assessment strategies to use. Instructors have to go beyond the ADDIE framework to make these decisions.

The over-enthusiastic application of the ADDIE model can result in overly complex design stages, with many different categories of workers (faculty, instructional designers, editors, web designers) and consequently a strong division of labour, resulting in courses taking up to two years from initial approval to actual delivery. The more complex the design and management infrastructure, the more opportunities there are for cost over-runs and very expensive programming. It is a very good example of the industrial approach to course design.

My main criticism though is that the model is too inflexible for the digital age. How does a teacher respond to rapidly developing new content, new technologies, or apps being launched on a daily basis, to a constantly changing student base? Although the ADDIE model has served us well in the past and provides a good foundation for designing teaching and learning, it can be too pre-determined, linear, and inflexible to handle more volatile learning contexts.