ADDIE in Corporate World Training

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In the corporate world, Training can be viewed with a lot of doubt, particularly when those who are less experienced with training and more with the subject matter are delivering it. As a manager of mine had once said, "Subject Matter Expert's are not Trainers". Why would that be so? SME's are often more knowledgeable than a trainer is, and therefore can provide greater insight into an issue than a trainer can. So what makes a trainer so special, and in some cases higher paid, than the SME? One tool a Trainer has over an SME is the ADDIE system.

The ADDIE System
The ADDIE system of curriculum development is what separates a SME from a trainer. That is, the Analysis, Development, Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of the content (ADDIE) can be applied to any subject, any situation, and build deliverables that are directly targeted to the skills that are required. By using this process the trainer can build a framework for the instructor (not always the trainer) to follow while offering their training course. So let's look at this development concept more closely.

This is by far the most time consuming process in training development. Analysis is not just an analysis of what needs to be taught, but whether or not training as a whole is the answer. Just because there is a deficiency in one area doesn't mean that better or more training will fill the void.

Training only helps people that do not know what they don't know (unconsciously incompetent). Training allows people to know what they don't know (consciously incompetent), and help them identify the tools that will add the skills to what they know (consciously competent).

Other potential problems that Training cannot resolve are management issues, unrealistic expectations, undefined requirements, poorly developed tools, etc. These are issues that need to be addressed in other areas, and training can't influence. Poor management (i.e., "The Boss" from Dilbert) can completely undercut real performance and development from the consciously competent level to the unconsciously competent level (where we all strive to be). Unrealistic expectations and undefined requirements leave the employees in a sort of limbo, which impacts performance heavily. Also, if the tools are inferior, there is only so much the employee's abilities can do to overcome it.

Training is specifically geared to understanding and comprehension. If the problem you have is related to this area only, then a training course can be the answer to your needs. But what needs to be trained?

Analyzing the job is definitely necessary. Every Duty, task, sub task, and skill needs to be identified. By identifying the work process in this manner, training can be developed from the ground up. But be warned, this is a time-consuming process best suited to those personalities that can take that much analysis. As such it can tack on hours of preparation to the actual training process. The good news is that any properly run Human Resources department should have done this for you. If not, get ready to break down the task as best you can. And once it's done, be sure to archive it so you never have to do it all again (just update it as it changes).

Once you have waded through the Analysis portion, it's now time to start developing the course. Development means creating an outline, getting the learning objectives stated, and identifying the assessment points that assess the learner's acquired knowledge.

The outline is basically the final analysis document, but organized in the learning pattern everything will be presented. Generally, the course topics will build upon each other, as well as allow the learner to build upon what they already know. This is known as the Constructivist theory of learning, and is the most common method of teaching being used today.

The learning objectives outline what is expected to be learned after the section is complete. This is directly related to the assessment points, as each point needs to be satisfied in order to complete the learning objective.

Training is, ultimately, a form of entertainment. It doesn't matter how well someone knows their stuff, if they can't keep the attention of the learner then it was all for naught. The design portion is a way to outline the course, much like blocking out a scene on the stage. Design includes how the content is deployed, and therefore which learning style is focused on. It can be a hands on trial (for tactile learners), written content (for auditory learners), or visual presentations that catch the eye in an appealing way (for visual learners). A good trainer will utilize at least two if not all of these design segments in order to appeal to all the potential learners out there.

Here I spend time creating participant guides, instructor guides, gathering multimedia presentations that apply to the course, etc. There is a lot that can be done in the Design phase, and luckily it's generally the most fun.

Finally, after all that work, the instructor can finally implement the course. If the course was designed correctly, anyone with the appropriate skills and knowledge can take the materials and teach the class, as long as they have some basic delivery skills. As I had said before, training (or teaching for that matter) is all about the performance. Read your learner audience. Are they responding? Do you get blank stares? Do you perhaps need to crack a joke to see if they are breathing? There are a lot of techniques that each trainer likes to use, depending on the subject or audience. Find what works for you, but be willing to be flexible in your delivery.

It's also important to let the learner know when you don't know an answer. Don't blow it off, make up an answer, or through the question back at the learner for asking something you don't know. What you do is tell them you will find out. I can't tell you how many times a learner has been given bad information by a so-called "trainer", and have it adversely impact their job. And once the bad information or skill is learned, it takes a lot more work to correct the learner and get them on the right path.

Evaluation should, honestly, be conducted throughout the course creation process. At every stage the content can be evaluated for quality and effectiveness. But, ultimately, the best evaluations are conducted after the training is over. Here is where you get to find out how well the course was taught, and whether or not the training accomplished what it was set out to do: fix the deficiency.

That, in a nutshell, is the ADDIE program. There can be a lot of detail added into each section, but overall this is how it works. Course development can take months of planning, analysis, development, etc. All so that a skill is learned, which increases the success of the learner, and therefore increases the success of the employer of the learner.

Does this mean SME's can't do it? Of course not! SME's can learn to use the ADDIE process, but once they do they become Trainers. At least to me, they do. And if a "trainer" doesn't use this process, they are just a glorified SME, and perhaps not even a SME at that.