Unit 1, Activity 3
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Sarah January 6, 2023
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Lesson 3: What are the different instructional design models, and how are they used?

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Workshop Scenario:

Please think of yourself in the following scenario as you complete this workshop.

You’ve recently applied for an instructional design position with 24/7 Teach and are going through the interview process. The organization likes you and is moving forward in the interview process.

  • Before an offer can be made, the company will need you to design a project, a short lesson that can teach people about the instructional design process and its importance, to evaluate your skill level.
  • To complete the project, you will need to go through the entire instructional design process from beginning to end, complete your design, and be able to explain your design process in detail.

Your objective for today is to get to know some of the different instructional design models, how they are used, how are they similar, and in what ways they differ.

Important Questions to Answer While Reading:

In order to be successful in this lesson, you must be able to answer these important questions.

  1. How does an instructional design model facilitate the instructional design process?
  2. What are the similarities between the ADDIE, MPI, GNE, and Bloom’s Taxonomy models?
  3. How should an instructional designer use these models when designing curriculum and other instructional resources?

Lesson 3: What are the different Instructional Design Models, and how are they used?

Instructional Design Models

Important Note: This overview doesn’t intend to evaluate the different instructional design models. Each framework has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of which to use will depend on which model works best for you, your company, and your learners. 

The Role of an Instructional Design Model?

Instructional designers are responsible for creating learning experiences based on the unique needs of a specific audience or topic. While some design and develop curricula for pre-K-12 and higher education organizations, others design instruction, including learning materials for professional products, processes, or skill development for government, nonprofits, and corporate environments.

For all these applications, instructional designers use evidence-based design models to ensure that products and experiences are efficient, effective, appealing, engaging, and inspiring.

What is an Instructional Design Model?

An instructional design model is used to define the activities that will guide the development of eLearning projects. It allows you to communicate the purpose and reason behind a strategy. A framework gives you a birds-ey view of all the major components that have to be included in the course. 

Let us look at some of the most popular instructional design frameworks.


Since ADDIE was one of the first Design Models, there is much debate and discussion about its effectiveness and appropriateness for meeting the current needs of learners. However, the truth is that most designers still use ADDIE as a process for creating eLearning courses. 

ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. Each phase of the model offers an opportunity for iterations and changes before moving to the next one. Here is a brief description of each step of the ADDIE process:

  • Step #1 Analysis — Why is the training needed? The instructional designers (IDs) answer this question after exhaustively collecting information and profiling target learners, and understanding the needs and expectations of the organization. Analysis drives design and the development process.
  • Step #2 Design —In this phase, IDs select the instructional strategy to follow, write objectives, and choose appropriate media and delivery methods.
  • Step #3 Development — IDs utilize agreed expectations from the Design phase to develop the course materials.
  • Step #4 Implementation — The course is released/rolled out, and delivered to the learners, and its impact is monitored.
  • Step # 5 Evaluation — Is the course providing the expected results? IDs collaborate with the client and evaluate the impact of the course based on learner feedback, surveys, and even analytics. 

Once the evaluation is complete, the results are converted into actionable improvements. The whole ADDIE process is repeated.

2. Merrill’s Principles of Instruction (MPI):

Bent on ingraining maximum knowledge from each course, MPI is remembered as the first principles of instruction. Proposed by David Merril in 2002, this framework holistically integrates five principles of learning, namely:

  1. Task-centered principle
  2. Activation principle
  3. Demonstration principle
  4. Application principle
  5. Integration principle

The principles promote learning in the following manner:

  • Learning starts with real-world problems. Students should be able to relate to problems and tasks they can handle. 
  • A course must activate the existing knowledge base of the learner; hence aiding them to connect previous knowledge with the new one. 
  • A course must demonstrate the knowledge (both visually and through storytelling) so that it leverages different regions of the brain, hence retaining it longer.
  • Allow them to apply new information on their own. Let them practice and learn from their mistakes. Let them see how your new material works in concrete situations
  • The course must offer possibilities for integrating the knowledge into the learner’s world through discussion, reflection, and/or presentation of new knowledge.

3. Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction:

Robert Gagne proposed a framework comprising of a series of events based on the behaviorist approach to learning. These events follow a systematic instructional design process, creating a flexible model where events can be adapted to cater to different learning situations.

It is, in fact, one of the most used instructional design models as it provides a sound structure for developing effective eLearning.

The nine steps are:

  1. Gain the attention of the students — with stimuli that catch and engage their brain (novel ideas or thought-provoking questions, etc.)
  2. Inform students of the objectives — Establish the expected outcomes and criteria for measuring achievement.
  3. Stimulate recall of prior learning —Leverage existing knowledge before introducing new knowledge and building on it.
  4. Present the content — Deliver the content in easily consumable chunks.
  5. Provide learner guidance — Guide them with examples, case studies, and other instructional support to supplement the content.
  6. Elicit performance — Engage them with different activities that recall, utilize, and evaluate knowledge.
  7. Provide feedback — Reinforce knowledge with immediate feedback (informative, remedial, corrective, etc.)
  8. Assess performance —Test their knowledge with established (and transparent) criteria.
  9. Enhance retention and transfer to the job — Use content retention strategies (concept maps, rephrasing, summarizing, job aids, etc.)

4. Bloom’s Taxonomy:

Who knew verbs would prove so essential to eLearning design?

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom created a classification system of measurable verbs to describe and organize the different levels of cognitive learning. In 2001, the six dimensions were modified by Anderson and Krathwohl and are known as the “Revised Taxonomy.” 

The taxonomy pushes the learners past the lower steps of learning (of knowledge and remembering) and into the domain of deeper understanding, reflection, and application of knowledge to develop a learner’s individual process of solving problems.  It is a great way to establish learning objectives and assessment questions that engage learners with the content and ingrain new knowledge and concepts.

5. Additional Frameworks include:

  • Rapid Prototyping: This model follows an iterative process to create online courses in a continual design-evaluation cycle.
  • SAM: Like Rapid Prototyping, SAM (Successive Approximation Model) uses a process that enables analysis, design, and development to take place at the same time.
  • KEMP: Consisting of 9 steps, the KEMP model [2] promotes a continuous cycle for the design and development process. It places emphasis on defining the instructional problem.
  • Dick and Carey: Popular in schools and educational environments, the Dick and Carey model [3] starts by identifying instructional goals, and it ends with conducting a summative evaluation.

Commonalities between the models

When looking at the different models some of the key commonalities become clear, much of the similarity comes from ADDIE being the common ancestor of many of them.

Instructional design requires a clear understanding of the learning objectives, a clear understanding of who the learners are and how they learn, and a separation of the design and development phases with input and revision in the design phase which allows for the development phase to happen more quickly and without costly revisions.

Given these factors, there is no denying the need to incorporate instructional design strategies in the development of online courses.

In Conclusion:

Practical Day to Day application of the models.

Few instructional designers rigidly follow one of the instructional design frameworks in a day to day practice, although it can be helpful for the novice before they internalize the different components and develop their own personal work habits.  

The frameworks are not meant to be checklists.  That said, having a clear understanding of the different instructional design models and the different elements within them can help instructional designers design more effective instructional experiences with more efficiency and at a lower cost and can help instructional designers identify the components of quality instructional design.

Check your understanding by completing the closing assessment:

Please respond to the lesson email with answers to the following questions, and one of our instructional design mentors will respond with feedback.

  1. How does an instructional design model facilitate the instructional design process?
  2. What are the similarities between the ADDIE, MPI, GNE, and Bloom’s Taxonomy models?
  3. How should an instructional designer use these models when designing curriculum and other instructional resources?

Advance your understanding:

1. Please answer the following questions in the comment section below and interact with learners from around the world.

  • Based on your potential instructional design style and philosophy, which instructional design model do you gravitate the most to and why?
  • Which instructional design model do you not see yourself using and why?

2. Please read and reply to other learners’ answers in the forum by stating if you agree or disagree with their answers and why. Your replies should offer new substantiated ideas or thoughtful questions.