Monthly Archives: August 2014

Projects vs. Operations

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In the world of instructional design, it is important for the designer to recognize when a potential job is a project or an operation. What’s the difference? “Projects are defined as temporary endeavors with a beginning and and end. Once you have completed all of the steps in designing, developing, and delivering the training program for the launch, your project work would be considered over, and operations would have begun” (Cox, pp. 6). In thinking about the ADDIE model of instruction, it provides a clear beginning and an end. It starts off with an analysis, works its way through design, development and implementation; and finally ends with an evaluation of the whole project. Operations hold a more permanent place in whatever environment they function within. “Operations are defined as permanent endeavors that produce  repetitive outputs. Resources are assigned to operations are expected to perform basically the same set of tasks according to the policies, procedures and guidelines that you put in place for your business” (Cox, pp. 6). In the case of ADDIE, the development and use of operations might come from a project.

So, let’s take a few minutes and look at what projects and operations might be in the classroom. Let’s take a look unit within a curriculum:

Unit: Illuminated Manuscripts

Major Summative Assignment: The students will be creating an original illuminated letter for a class-wide illuminated alphabet book which will be distributed to the local elementary schools in the district. (Each class will be making a book, so there will be more than one created.)

Project Aspects: The whole process involved in making the illuminated alphabet book falls inline with the ADDIE model, and here’s how:

    • Analysis: The teacher will analyze the curriculum, the students capabilities and skill sets, the desired outcome, etc.
    • Design: The teacher will design a model that meets the needs determined by the analysis and addresses the goal of the unit.
    • Development: The teacher will develop a differentiated lesson that uses the designated model to achieve the goal and desired outcome of the unit.
    • Implementation: The teacher will implement the lesson in the class. The students will create their illuminated letter for the illuminated alphabet book.
    • Evaluation: The students and the teachers will evaluate their work, and the overall project, making sure assess the success of the overall unit.

Operation Aspects: The teacher will utilize the classroom management and instruction practices they have developed and refined over the year. The students should be acquainted with these, and have a clear understanding of what the expectations are in the class. For example, if a student misuses a material, the process is a repetitive one. The teacher would provide the same consequence for each student who misuses a material. Another example would be the presentation of the lesson. In the art classroom, there is always some form of demonstration before the students use the materials. Therefore, this process is also repetitive, and in intended to be similar in procedural outcomes.

If you look at any business, school, or home life, I bet you can find projects and operations. We are involved in them non-stop! However, it is important to understand the difference and know that they both serve a purpose and affect one another.

Before you head out, check out these links, they shed some additional light on the differences between operations and projects.


Cox, D. (2009). Project management skills for instructional designers: a practical guide / Dorcas M. T. Cox.. Bloomington, Ind.: iUniverse Inc

Wait! Before you go…

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Our young pup, ADDIE, has grown up and is ready to go out into the big world on her own. However, before we send her off to embark on her new journey, there are few things we would like to share about the last stages of the ISD model, ADDIE.

We’ve briefly touched upon the topic of evaluation, however, that had more to do with evaluation during the whole design process. But, before we get to that, we must cover implementation. The last blog discussed the importance of pilot-testing, which essentially gives the designer a chance to complete some dry-runs before administering the real thing. In short, the implementation phase is when the actual course is put into play, and the learners learn. They complete the various activities, sessions, and assignments along the way, and hopefully meet the objectives outlined at the beginning of the course. As Hodell points out, there are some sticky situations you can encounter in the implementation phase if you are the designer and the facilitator. “Designers who do not teach are not necessarily following a faulty line of reasoning. In fact, it is probably a good idea for designers not to teach. Designers who are also facilitators have a tendency to believe they can improvise a fix for missing or faulty design elements on the spot. This is usually not the case. The ability to make alterations on the fly is normally the domain of the designer. Facilitators are not always experienced or capable of making a faulty lesson plan work as designers might want them to be” (Hodell, 2011). This can be a difficult concept to wrap your mind around especially if you are a teacher, like me. I find that most teachers pride themselves on being able to adapt a lesson on the fly and make changes. However, when it comes to training, and a more formal approach, like ADDIE, adapting a lesson might not be the best thing to do. Like Hodell says, sometimes the facilitator is not trained or skilled enough with the tools to modify the lesson, which in turn could create more issues for the learner than there already are.

Once the implementation phase has concluded, that last step is to evaluate the whole shebang and determine if it was effective in meeting the objectives and goals. A guy named Donald Kirkpatrick divided the evaluation phase into four parts: reaction, learning, behavior and results (Hodell, 2011). The learning phase requires the designer to assess learning level in relation to the established objectives by using evaluation tasks. More simply put, items like formative and summative assessments can help provide the designer with important information regarding the objectives. The other phase that is really important is the reaction phase. This acts like a survey. Kirkpatrick includes topical questions about the whole training, like:

    • “Was your time well spent in this training?
    • Would you recommend this course to a co-worker?
    • What did you like the best?
    • What did you like the least?
    • Were the objectives made clear to you?
    • Do you feel you were able to meet the objectives?
    • Did you like the way the course was presented?
    • Was the room comfortable?
    • Is there anything you would like to tell us about the experience” (Hodell, pp. 67)?

These questions are great building blocks for your own survey, however, they do not provide enough guidance when it comes to the specifics of your training. As you develop your own evaluation, you must consider the smaller aspects. For example, if you embedded websites that the participants must explore, or texts they must read, consider asking them how effective they felt they were. Ask them if they felt the assignments and tasks were authentic, and helped them to better understand the concepts. Another thing you must consider is what type of evaluation will you administer. They are typically done through a survey format, but format will your questions be in? A Likert scale, open-ended, etc.? Nowadays, the go-to place to develop surveys is , which is great because you can make your own or use a template. It cruches the numbers and organizes the data for you, which can make your job easier in the long run. They also provide a ‘Survey 101’ crash-course on developing your survey:

ADDIE and I would like to wish you the best of luck with your instructional design endeavors! Keep in touch and design like you have never designed before, just remember ADDIE’s name and you’re good to go!


Hodell, C. (2011). ISD From the Ground Up (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.