No One Size Fits All: How Do You Choose An ID Model?

“Although there are multiple methods for piecing a puzzle together, some strategies are more efficient than others” (Moore, 2016, p. 425)

Throughout our Innovation, Design, and Learning Environments class, we have been exposed to a range of instructional design models and approaches in designing a learning environment. With so many models to choose from, it can feel overwhelming in determining which one would best fit the learning scenario in question. More well-known traditional models such as ADDIE, and Dick and Carey, have been criticized for their inflexibility and linear nature (Bates, 2014; Moore, 2016). Bates (2014) questioned the ADDIE Model for teaching in today’s digital environment which is fraught with VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous). Thomas (2010) argued the need for alternative models that move away from more traditional models that are inflexible and do not support active learning.

With an emphasis on designing learning environments, constructivists favor the use of learning over instruction (Thomas, 2010, p. 240). Constructivism focuses on inquiry learning and problem-based learning (Thomas, 2010). I gravitate toward a more constructivist learning environment design; however, in my current practice as a novice designer I am challenged by how to create such an environment. It’s a worthy challenge which stretches me, but I still find myself looking for some middle ground. A place where I can anchor my practice at this time, yet which enables me to provide some structure in the design process. The TAPPA Process (Moore, 2016) is one of those models which could provide that middle ground – at least for micro-instruction, for which it was intended. TAPPA (Target, Accomplishment, Past, Prototype, Artifact) claims to combine the best parts of ADDIE, Dick and Carey, Rapid Prototyping, and Backwards Design Models for a more agile and responsive process to design (Moore, 2016).

What seems appealing about TAPPA is this flexibility and its ability to leverage the strengths of the established instructional design models mentioned into a blended process. However, even this design has limitations and although it incorporates learner feedback, this doesn’t happen until the fourth stage (prototyping) because “learners are often unable to articulate exactly how they wish to receive instruction” (Moore, 2016, p. 431). That learners would need to express how they wish to receive instruction invites some reflection. Is the meaningful learning happening as a result of instruction or is it the use of what is being learned? In any case, the TAPPA Process provides an interesting and useful option to consider and given both strengths and limitations, it also reminds us that a one size fits all model does not exist.

I liken the process of choosing an instructional design model to that of deciding upon a learning theory – it is dependent upon the context. No single learning theory can best serve all learning contexts as it depends on the situation and the learner’s needs in that context. For more on this discussion, see my blog post on Learning Theories: Value Added for Instructional Design.

Recognizing that selecting an instructional design model is not easy, I am curious to know what factors influence you in choosing an model for your practice?


Bates, T. (2014, September 9). Is the ADDIE model appropriate for teaching in a digital age? [Blog post].

Moore, R. L. (2016). Developing distance education content using the TAPPA process. TechTrends60(5), 425–432.

Thomas, P. Y. (2010). Towards developing a web-based blended learning environment at the University of Botswana. (Doctoral dissertation, University of South Africa, Pretoria). Retrieved from