Agile Instructional Design

Agile Instructional Design

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Term2.png AGILE Instructional Design

It is a relatively new design trend created by Conrad Gottfredson. It’s an approach that features an iterative process, fast prototyping, and a devoted partnership with the client in order to provide a successful learning solution. In a nutshell, AGILE Learning Design focuses on 3 main areas: speed, flexibility and collaboration. The term has its origin in the software development industry. The letters that make up the AGILE acronym stand for: Align, Get set, Iterate and implement, Leverage, and Evaluate. [1]


A quick overview

One of the biggest demands in the training sphere is the amplified organizations need for fast development of learning content. In today’s greatly competitive global market, the parity between time and proficiency has become a priority for any business. This growing need is intensely impacting the area of Instructional Systems Design (ISD), the method of evaluating training or learning needs, and developing instructional materials. Both these needs and recent advances in e-Learning technologies, led to the development of AGILE Instructional Design, an approach adopted by instructional designers and content creators, which concentrate on speed, flexibility and collaboration.

Align – Through this step instructional designers are not only analyzing the content and the performance discrepancies (if any) but also aligning it with the market, the strategy, the organization, and the accommodation of the learner.

Get Set – At this stage, instructional designers initiate a prompt task analysis and critical skills analysis to help detect the deliverables. Moreover, segments like design and development occur simultaneously.

Iterate & Implement – Instructional designers recap and improve the deliverables to suit the learner’s necessity. At this stage, the aim is to realize the transfer of training so that the learner will perform independently, even after the training assistance diminishes.

Leverage – Here is the moment when the opportunities are determined together with the leverage of performance support, such as mobile support, social learning, social media, and research.

Evaluate – At this final stage, the value and impact of the learning solution are assessed, both concerning the organization and the learner. The method used for assessing the learning and transfer of training can be formative or summative data gathering.[2]

Agile vs ADDIE

AGILE Instructional Design is one of the two most important approaches to ISD. The other one is ADDIE, which is believed to be the traditional linear method of content development. ADDIE has a five stage structure: analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate. It also requires authorizations at each individual phase. The overall objective is to ensure accuracy and applicability of content. AGILE Instructional Design has been developed to address apparent restrictions of the ADDIE model, especially addressing the speed factor.

In fact AGILE is made up of an iterative sequence of processes that are also met in ADDIE. Simply put it, after a high level planning the process consists in the iteration of the following sequence: analyse, design, develop and test and finally, after the product is considered finalized the release of the product. AGILE turns the potential learners/beneficiaries in active participants throughout the designing process by sharing with them the mock-ups, prototypes and early suggestions. The main benefit of it is the fact that the final outcome of the designing process is more likely to match the wanted outcome from the very first attempt, the solutions being adjusted along the way. The wanted outcome coincides with the needs of the beneficiary.[3]

Agile refers to a “flexible response to a changing picture of what the situation on the ground is really like.”The development occurs gradually, in steps, concomitant with the collection of the analysis from on the ground.The progress pace is in accordance with the feedback received from the potential beneficiaries who are constantly “test driving” the training design.[4][5]

Even though AGILE Instructional Design presents a fresh outlook to learning design, no single approach is sufficient. ADDIE also has been used successfully for many years and still has credit, but it is limited due to its linear approach. AGILE is more iterative, having the possibility to systematically verify and adjust inconveniences (if any) to better meet the client needs.

Why use Agile Instructional Design?

  • The iterative character of agile development ensures that all elements are delivered incrementally, facilitating certain benefits to be realized early as the product persists to develop.
  • Agile supports the notion of early and regular releases, proving to the client the opportunity of entering the market as soon as possible.
  • Testing is possible at any moment or stage, enabling a regular evaluation of the working product as it develops. This permits the product owner to make modifications if needed and offers early notice over any quality issues.
  • Agile promotes an active involvement of the user during the product development and a collaborative attitude. This delivers a good insight for the key stakeholders, over the project and its development, which ensures that the beneficiary’s needs are satisfied.
  • The Agile structures facilitate the identification of any issues early and implement change. If any errors occur, they can be tackled at any stage and as early as possible.
  • As opposed to the traditional behavior of resisting changes, Agile instructional design principles are different. In Agile development, change is not only accepted but also expected. The timetable is established and requirements occur as the product is developed. Moreover, the budget is fixes, as compared with the scope and features of the product which are variable.
  • Offers a very active business engagement and customer satisfaction.
  • The focus is entirely concentrated on building the right product, that will meet totally the needs of the beneficiary and will ensure maximum satisfaction. [6]

See also: ADDIE

Link icon.png Web Resources
Find below additional information and resources.
Link Content
Agile: An Introduction (video,8:34 minutes) Learn about the Agile product development lifecycle and project management best practices in this story about Mary, an owner of a toy store who improves her business by leveraging Scrum Teams and Agile methods.
Agile Training(collection of 12 videos) This is a collection of videos, that offer training for many topics related to Agile Instructional design.
Article: Agile Elearning Design Manual The Agile Elearning Design Manual - Think Small (Iterations, Action Maps, Storyboards, and Mini-Modules)
Article: Agile Learning Design Agile Learning Design: An Ethos for Creating Learning & Performance Processes


  1. [Effective Performance with A.G.I.L.E. Instructional Design|]
  2. [Agile Learning Design|](10 March 2014)
  3. [|](10 March 2014)
  4. [|](10 March 2014)
  5. [| ](10 March 2014)
  6. [Good Reasons To Do Agile|]