Blog Post

ACE true agile instructional design

Published: Friday, May 10, 2019
Updated: Saturday, May 11, 2019

The fast pace of technology has impacted the speed of our lives at work and at home. For the professional trainer and instructional designer it means the demands of the enterprise are now centered on delivering quality content to train the workforce and keep them moving at the break neck pace of the organization. Tada!!!! Here comes ACE Analyze, Create, and Evaluate, to save the day (Insert "Danger Zone" from Top Gun Soundtrack here!!).

I am not going to get all academic on you or discuss the virtues of all the different models out there, you probably know them as well as I do. When it gets down to brass tax, projects, models, and systems collapse because of the lack of agility to meet the current business needs. So what are we to do? My point of view is certainly debatable, but experience has shown me and my team that we basically do only three things, we Analyze, Create, and Evaluate the instructional solution. You can make this as complex or simple as you like, but you can take just about any model or approach and condense it down to these three buckets.

Analyze - All models have some sort of analysis and SME information gathering phase. The quicker you can distill the business objectives and learning objectives the more rapidly you can begin to formulate a learning solution. This phase will certainly benefit from your style and expertise but you should use an array of tools available to you as needed. You can use interviews, surveys, discussions, focus groups, and a tool I like to use, observation of the specific issue that the solution is trying to address. In other words, get out into the field!

Create - Creating the solution envelops the design phase as well as the more traditional develop and implement phase as found in ADDIE. Since most of the time the design and develop phases are so closely joined together, you can use rapid prototypes to quickly test solutions in an iterative fashion. You will be very surprised that you can cut off weeks if not months and get to a faster implementation of a solution using this approach. So creation is a just that, building the solution and letting it free into the wild blue yonder! Cheezy I know! That's how I roll.


Evaluation - Constant improvement, no learning solution rolls out of the assembly line perfect, and it never will be. The evaluation phase does allow things to be improved and adapted. You can use surveys as analytical tools, as learners for feedback in a focus group, inspect your content, replace, and update as needed. Finally use formative and summative approaches for evaluating course effectiveness.

The world has changed and unless you are in the military, that is subject to rigid protocols for designing instructional material; your work probably demands rapid production and improvements after the deliverable has been deployed. We should not be afraid to create our own solutions and models to address our ever changing and sometimes unique environmen

Let me know what you think.

About the Author

I have over 23 years of experience working in information technology and instructional systems. Currently, I work as the leader for the Alamo Colleges human resources TMS team, administering the Cornerstone OnDemand TMS and designing online learning solutions for our internal customers by maintaining and deploying employee learning systems, running advanced reports using big-data analytical tools, directing a team of instructional designers, and advising executive leadership on related strategic initiatives.

Competencies: Instructional Systems Design, Instructional Design, Content Management Systems, IT Management, Project Management, Change Management, Leadership, Compliance, Trainer, Facilitator.

Certifications and Recognitions: Prosci Practitioner, Alamo Colleges Leadership Academy for Success, Chief Learning Officer Learning Elite Gold Award 2018.

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