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

Innovation from a Human-Centered Perspective



Thoughtful Contemplation – Photo by M. Sharpe

One of the questions recently posed in our LRNT 524 class was how we define innovation. In working through a definition of my own, I explored other resources which revealed a wide range of definitions. One of those resources is an article by Nick Skillicorn (2016) who asked 15 innovation leaders how they defined ‘innovation’. The question elicited a wide range of responses involving relevancy (Stephen Shapiro), to value propositions (Kevin McFarthing), to customer needs (Robert Brands). Such a variety of definitions speaks to the differing mindsets that influence how innovation is defined and perhaps how it is therefore approached.

As a novice learning designer, I am still grappling with what innovation looks like. So far, I define innovation as the realization of an idea – new, repurposed or a change to something – which serves the needs and preferences of a learning community for which it is intended. In considering the needs of others, thoughtful intention and purpose toward innovation aligns with a human-centeredness. In their research, which examines the evolution of design thinking in graduate students, Goldman et al. (2012) identified human-centered as one of four mindshifts critical to becoming a design thinker.  A human-centered approach “move[s] towards solutions that resonate with the needs and lives of others, marking a sharp contrast to egocentric views of the world that are characteristic of a failure to adopt human-centeredness” (Goldman et al., 2012, p. 30). Trying to be conscious of what others need rather than what we, as designers, may think is needed or wanted can prove challenging.

In my learning journey, I am able to appreciate the need to shift my mindset to think outside of the box. I am beginning to experience mindshifts that hopefully lead in the direction of thoughtful, innovative and human-centered design. Anchoring my definition of innovation to the purpose of serving others is one way I hope which orients my practice. However, I am curious to learn how this looks for others in our learning community. How do you define innovation in your practice of design thinking?


Goldman, S., Carroll, M.P., Kabayadondo, Z., Cavagnaro, L.B., Royalty, A. W., Roth, B., Kwek, S. W., & Kimet, J. (2012). Assessing d.learning: Capturing the journey of becoming a design thinker. In H. Plattner, C. Meinel & L. Leifer (eds). Design thinking research: Understanding innovation. (pp. 13-33). Berlin: Springer.

Skillicorn, N. (2016, March 18). What is innovation? 15 experts share their innovation definition. Retrieved from