Wednesday, May 7, 2014

ADDIE: Development

Once you have a clear roadmap of what tasks need to be accomplished in order to achieve the goal, you can move on to the development phase of ADDIE.  Chances are you have already given some thought to how you want to present your instruction, but now is the time to really focus on the presentation and the tools you will want to use.  In order to get started, you may want to consider which approach to learning is most conducive to your topic.  Within instructional design, there are typically three psychological approaches to teaching and learning: Behaviorist, Cognitivist, and Constructivist. These theories sound extremely academic and complex, but at the root of it all these instructional theories are relative simplistic and applicable to all training.

You've probably heard of the Pavlov and his work with dogs and bells.  Not to simplify his extraordinary
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work, but his work on psychological conditioning is supposed to be just that - simple.  Behaviorists theorize that there is no way to understand the mind and how one learns.  As a result, conditioning is a prevalent factor in training methods.  You may find it a bit depressing to be likened to the brain of a dog, but the truth is that conditioning is something that happens naturally through associations.  For example, the smell of a particular scent reminds you of a person or the sound of an object makes you recall a specific event.  By associations, we are able to remember things that may seem unimportant to another.

Based on this idea, instructional designers who incorporate behaviorists theories typically use mnemonic devices to stimulate call and response of the brain.  The act of performing a behavior in training is also important.  Typically, training in technology is routed in behaviorist theory.  Often assuming that the learner has no prior knowledge of the subject, a trainer gives instruction while action is taking place.  Theoretically, the simultaneous events of action and instruction should ignite an association with the learner, leading to recall after the instruction has taken place.

Any computer-based instruction where a trainer leads the learner through a course of actions is a direct example of the behaviorist theory in action.

Training has gone through some pretty radical changes in terms of theories used and ethics applied, and the jump from behaviorist to cognitivist theories was a major one.  Cognitivism prescribes to the notion that a learner's environment has everything to do with how he/she is able to learn and retain that knowledge at a later date.  Training developed under the cognitivist approach usually gives a lot of thought to the learner(s) and the best tools to be utilized for teaching.  For example, the use of audiovisual tools, print, images, and even the timing of instruction are given careful consideration before the implementation.  The theory behind the cognitivist approach is rooted in the engagement of the learner and gives credence to the three main learning styles - tactile, auditory, and visual.  It is theorized the more engaged a learner is, the more likely they will be to retain the information.

You will know you are in a cognitivist classroom if the trainer uses many tools to peak your interest.  The use of a video to accommodate visual learners, the use of role play for tactile learners, and the use of music or lecture for auditory learners.

Typically, training that is meant to teach a new policy or thought process may base the instruction in cognitivist theory. 

In the last decade, there has been a shift in education that reflects the use of technology.  Social media and quick access to information has revolutionized how people view learning.  Constructivist theory is based on the fact that each learner comes to the classroom with his/her own viewpoints and experiences which, in turn, shades the way he/she processes the information.  Instead of a subject matter expert, an instructor will take on the role of facilitator.  The learners, as a result, are encouraged to create their own learning environment through discussion and hands-on activities.

Constructivism may also use a variety of tools to engage different types of learners, but the tools will be used differently.  For example, if a video is shown, the instructor is using it to incite discussion among the learners.  Open ended questions are more prominent and group activities where learners can share experiences are used to promote self-instruction.

Much like the cognitivist classroom, constructivism works well with introducing new policies and thought processes to the learners.

As a trainer, you may find that you use one theory more than another.  But more often than not, you may find it helpful to blend the theories together to obtain new outcomes.  Although behaviorism may lend itself to technology instruction, there is no reason why the other two theories cannot be applied.  Knowing your learners and the content will help you decide which classroom is best suited to achieve the objectives.  

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