Instructional design project management: ADDIE is not enough

I read this paper (the outline below) years ago while studying for my degree in instructional design. I had no experience in ID then, so all to this was a theory to me. I did have project management experience.

I read this paper (the outline below) years ago while studying for my degree in instructional design. It was about instructional design project management. I had no experience in ID then, so all to this was a theory to me. I did have project management experience.

My approach to instructional design project management

Having worked a few years as a learning designer managing development of courses and developing instructional materials, I have a much better understanding of these issues. I worked out my own approach to developing courses. It is a dynamic model, changing depending on the topic, discipline, people I work with and their circumstances. It always incorporates elements of project management.

This is one of the first attempts to merge the Instructional design and Project Management.
Addie project management template

I do not strictly follow Addie, rather than that, I combine elements of a few models: Addie, Kemp, ABC curriculum development, Dick & Carney, 4Mat and others.

Have a look at this post explaining how I moved course planning online – you can even request a free template!

gn cover template top right 1 1024x576 1


van Rooij, S. W. (2010). Project management in instructional design: ADDIE is not enough. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 41(5), 852-864. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.00982.x

The paper investigates a relationship between instructional design (ID) models and project management skills and attempts to explore a gap between these two areas of competencies (its roots, reasons and possible solutions).

A starting point of the paper is a statement that there is a high demand for the instructional designers and the abundant supply of programmes aiming to meet this demand and educate designers. While most of the recruiters, along with the instructional design knowledge, also require project management skills, the author points out that most of the educational institutions do not include the project management in their ID programmes curriculum. They don’t do this despite the fact that professional bodies include project management among the advanced competencies for the instructional designers. The author argues that the literature on ID offers mixed opinions on project management and that there is a need for research about specific project management skills needed by instructional designers. An overview of the literature presented by the author seems to confirm that.

The definition of project management (by the PMI) describes it is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques during all activities, to meet project requirements. ID development models include some project management processes, but they are usually simplified. Project management also requires competencies such as general management, interpersonal (communication and leadership) skills. I would debate with the author and question if all instructional designers need comprehensive project management techniques? I think there is a distinction between the ID developer who might not necessarily need and leadership and general management skills, and ID developer team lead who would require a higher leadership and communication competencies. I would agree however with the statement that there is a tendency to use project management more strategically in big multi-layered projects. The author then introduces the generic project lifecycle for instructional design (ADDIE – chosen from more than 100 models available) (Arami & Fatemi, 2006), and he proceeds with an overview of other models i.e. Greer’s 10 steps instructional design project management (IDPM); Gentry’s Instructional Project development and management model; Yang, Moor and Burton model drawing from software engineering PM. They all are being assessed as being too linear (Addie, IDPM) or separating management and project management activities (Gentry). The author seems to be supportive of Layng interpretation of the Dick and Carey’s ID model looking at the project management as a tool used to help instructional designers (I would rather define it as a set of competencies and skills, not a tool). The author gives examples of best practice in ID using case studies and examples. He summarises all the ID project management theories in a table highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. It becomes apparent that each of these models emphasises different skills and competencies aligned with the ID.

It is interesting that Kemp’s model (one of the models incorporating much more than an ID and programme management) is missing from this comparison.
The author then presents the practitioners’ perspectives and follows with an interesting research indicating that the time spent on ID processes is less than half of the overall time allocated for the project. This research clearly supports author’s argument of the relevance of project management to the ID context.

The author then investigates reasons why educational institutions are reluctant in including project management in ID programmes and proposes that the organisational culture of these establishments prevents them from engaging in cross-disciplinary teaching. I don’t agree with this and would say that if the reasons are at the institutional level, they are likely to be related to the practical, logistical aspects of cross-teaching. Finally, the author identifies three future research areas ( a) relationship between of lack of project management competencies and employability of ID graduates; b) how instructional designers acquire project management skills; c) feedback from experienced alumni about applying their formal degree learning in real life) hoping that findings help ID educators to reevaluate how they address employer’s needs.


Asghari, H., & Fatemi, O. (2016). An Axiomatic Approach to Instructional System Design Based on Dick and Carey Model. Proceedings Of The European Conference On E-Learning, 33-40.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Infographics help e-learning designers transform complex concepts into captivating and immersive learning experiences. From statistical insights to engaging timelines, these visuals enrich e-learning experiences, making complex concepts interesting, more accessible and understandable. Get ideas on transforming your training with these versatile tools.
Scroll to Top