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ADDIE vs. ASSURE Instructional Design Models: Which Is Better For You?

ADDIE and ASSURE are popular models that guide instructional designers and training developers down the right path with creating reliable training courses. 

Composed of different phases, these models are guidelines for building effective training and performance support tools. These models stand for the following steps:

ADDIE — Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate

ASSURE — Analyze learners, State standards and objectives, Select methods and media, Utilize media and technology, Require learner participation, Evaluate and revise

Creating a training program can be an overwhelming task that provokes several questions: 

  • What are our program goals? 
  • Who are our learners? 
  • What content should we incorporate? 
  • What technology should we use?

With over 20 years working in the learning and development (L&D) space, Roundtable can help you answer the questions above and steer your training in the right direction under the appropriate instructional design model, whether it be ADDIE or ASSURE. 

This article will explore the ADDIE and ASSURE instructional design models, uncover their unique advantages and disadvantages, and explain the best applications for each. 

What Is The ADDIE Model?

The ADDIE model is a well-known instructional design model that instructional designers and training developers use to create effective, relatable training courses.

ADDIE is comprised of five phases that offer a dynamic and flexible guideline for building effective training and performance support tools.

1. Analysis

In this phase, training professionals analyze the current state and answer a series of questions that enable them to properly design the program. Organizations should identify the following elements in this phase:

  • Learning needs, objectives, and performance gaps
  • Desired learning and performance outcomes
  • Learner characteristics (e.g. existing knowledge/skills, education level)
  • Any constraints that may affect learning (e.g. the environment)
  • Delivery options (ILT, VILT, eLearning)

2. Design

In the design phase, a plan is developed to best achieve the learning objectives identified in the analysis phase for the following elements:

  • The optimal courseware design
  • SMART goals
  • A detailed strategy report or assessment

In response to set goals, the design phase determines what tools and resources are necessary to reach these goals.

3. Develop

The developmental phase is where the details of the plan are executed. The plan involves the development and/or integration of technologies, debugging procedures, and project reviews and revisions.

4. Implement

In this phase, the learning solution is piloted and tested. By developing and running a pilot program, organizations can ensure the program is functional and aligns with set goals. Organizations should ask participants for feedback and make sure learning outcomes are achieved. 

Read More: How To Select The Right Modality For Your Training: 5 Must-Ask Questions

5. Evaluate

Evaluation occurs in each phase of the process, but this stage focuses it. This stage reviews resources and goals, while also ensuring that objectives will meet the specified business needs.

Strengths Of The ADDIE Model

  • Flexibility — Different steps in the process can be performed and planned at their discretion. This model can flexibly meet project requirements if developers make use of each phase’s outcomes and keep the big picture in mind. 
  • Easily modifiable — Each phase can be frequently changed to better suit users’ needs. Each stage may appear separate, but they’re actually highly interrelated. Developers can use one phase to inform another and choose which tasks to carry out under each phase. 
  • Can be used with other models — ADDIE can be used with other models, including the rapid application development (RAD) model and the successive approximation model (SAM). 

Weaknesses Of The ADDIE Model

  • Linear — Some consider the ADDIE Model to be a waterfall development model, which means it requires each subsequent phase to begin only after its preceding phase is complete. The linear approach works well for static content, but may be restrictive when dealing with user-generated content or learning outcomes that don’t have a predetermined end state. 
  • Too detailed — Processes and planning under this model often become so set that creativity becomes a bother. ADDIE’s details may bog down its ability to adapt. 
  • Time-consuming — The ADDIE Model calls for a comprehensive upfront analysis during its first two phases, which can take up a lot of time. Also, the constant evaluation and post-testing can be daunting. 

Read More: 3 Ways To Design Effective Training With The 70/20/10 Model

What Is The ASSURE Model?

The ASSURE model is an instructional design model that designers use to develop more effective training programs with integrated technology. ASSURE differs from the ADDIE model because it’s typically regarded as a model that caters to learners through technology and media.

ASSURE is comprised of six phases, each of which have their own characteristics and goals.

1. Analyze learners

The first step in the ASSURE model is to analyze learners by identifying their expectations, goals, preferences, and needs. In doing so, instructional designers can develop a program that caters to learners’ expectations and keeps their desired learning outcomes in mind.

2. State standards and objectives

The second step is to determine standards and objectives for the program. Objectives should be concrete, testable, and demonstrable. Learners should clearly understand what they will get out of the program and be able to do once it’s completed.

3. Select methods and media

After stating learning objectives, the third stage decides which media and technology will be used based on content. When deciding on methods and media, organizations should keep in mind how to adopt current learning materials into the desired format, who their learners are, and where they will learn from.

5. Utilize media and technology

This stage focuses on how the media and technology will be implemented. Organizations should decide how they’re going to most effectively assign, deliver, and provide access to their learning technologies.

5. Require learner participation

This fifth step determines how learners will be engaged throughout the learning process. In this step, designers should make plans for how they’re going to actively engage learners in the material. Learners could take part through discussions and knowledge checks, or better yet, the program itself could incorporate interactive elements that learners must perform.

6. Evaluate and revise

The final step in ASSURE evaluates the impact of your training program by examining learning strategies, as well as the technology, media, and materials used throughout the program. This evaluation stage determines whether learning objectives are met, if the choice of technology and materials are successful, and pinpoints where the program can be improved.

Strengths Of The ASSURE Model

  • Listens to learners — ASSURE is a learner-centric instructional design model, meaning learners are constantly being analyzed and considered. This helps to keep programs aligned with learners’ needs and ensures the content and objectives are conducive to learning. 
  • Utilizes technology — The ASSURE model is unique because it promotes planning and delivering learning materials through incorporated technology and media. With the proven benefits of integrated technology in learning, learners may be more likely to retain more information for longer periods of time. 
  • Provides guidance for writing objectives — A major strength of the ASSURE model is that it creates learning objectives based on the ABCD model. This model formulates well-stated learning objectives by considering the audience, behavior, conditions, and degree of mastery. 

Weaknesses Of The ASSURE Model

  • Too focused on an academic setting — Compared to ADDIE, ASSURE is more known for its strong focus on academic settings. Some argue that the ASSURE model should be modified to better keep up with its use in a workplace setting. 
  • Narrow scope — Unlike a more big-picture model, the ASSURE model is regarded as having quite a narrow focus on a single lesson, topic, or module. 
  • Time-consuming — Although this model is considered easy to follow, it can be time-consuming to create lessons. Constantly confronting learners, deciding on objectives, and determining what technologies to integrate can take up a lot of time. 

Best Applications Of ADDIE And ASSURE

Both the ADDIE and ASSURE instructional design models have their benefits and drawbacks, making them better suited for certain programs over others. 

The ADDIE Model is regarded as the most popular model for instructional design across the training industry. This model is the key player in instructional design because of its high flexibility and easily modifiable approach.

Given the ASSURE Model’s use of technology and media, this model may be better suited for creating remote learning programs that utilize modalities like AR and VR. ASSURE encourages high interactivity, connection, and support for learners regardless of their location. Additionally, ASSURE keeps a constant focus on learners and the development of precise learning objectives.

Read More: AR vs. VR Training: How to Choose the Best Technology

Regardless of which model you use to inform the content and design of your program, training programs are always about the same thing — the learner. Instructional designers should make decisions that ensure they create successful learning opportunities that are inclusive for all learners. 

Command Your Training Program With ADDIE And ASSURE

ADDIE and ASSURE are valuable tools for informing the instructional design process and developing successful learning experiences. 

Ready to discover more resources on all things L&D? Check out our resources page, or get started designing your training program today!

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