The “Great Unveiling”: A Peek Behind the Curtain of Ask ADDIE (Issue 26)

Author(s): Dr. Denise Lowe, Dr. Shelly Wyatt, & Dr. Kelvin Thompson

Editor: Dr. Denise Lowe

Like many online content developers, the editors and contributing authors of TOPkit Digest have remained behind the curtain, their names and credentials hidden from sight. Recognizing the benefits of transparency regarding individual Digest contributors, the editors of the Digest have decided to add the names and credentials of individual authors to their developed content. Likewise, the names of contributors to the Ask ADDIE column will also now appear on each entry, thus giving credit where credit is due rather than maintaining the anonymity of “ADDIE.”

Inspired by popular advice columns of the past (Ask Abby and Ann Landers) and present (Ask Amy and Miss Manners), Ask ADDIE emerged from the desire to provide a space where instructional designers and online faculty developers could share challenges and difficulties in an anonymous format where an experienced instructional designer would provide guidance and helpful resources. Similar to these pop culture advice columnists, “ADDIE’s” identity was purposely obscured behind a silhouetted persona allowing readers to form their own mental picture and facilitating a sharing of authoring duties behind the scenes. In practice, the authors of the Ask ADDIE column have been derived primarily from the intellectual resources of the University of Central Florida (UCF), while the questions have come from instructional designers, administrators, and faculty from various institutions, both in and out of the state of Florida.

While all of the columns written for Ask ADDIE are worthwhile reading since they address real challenges provided by our readers, some of them have been particularly timely and delivered in concert with issues higher education has faced over the years.

Ask ADDIE provides a space for faculty developers to share challenges in an anonymous format.

Take, for example, the most recent issue published, Essential Work or Essential Workers: Who Can Tell? (Issue 25), that effectively dealt with the “regular and substantive interaction” requirement by the Department of Education (DOE) for online courses. Updated definitions for these requirements caused quite a stir among faculty and instructional designers who now needed to return to the integration of this interaction within basic course design. This article, written by Dr. Florence Williams, an instructional designer at UCF, provided detailed definitions and course design ideas using active learning viewpoints and learning management system (LMS) capabilities in a collective approach.

Or, what about Hyflex, Blendflex, Asynchronous, Synchronous: Decoding Modalities (Issue 22), which attempted to make sense of all the new online approaches “forced” upon us by the Covid-19 pandemic? In the confusion over modalities, Dr. Amanda Major helped us to understand each modality, its benefits and uses, and how the “one size fits all” approach was no longer relevant to online learning. Like Dr. Williams, Dr. Major also works as an instructional designer at UCF.

In Foundations to Skyscrapers: Stages of Quality Design (Issue 17), Dr. Denise Lowe provided a graphical approach to the ADDIE model of course design (analysis, design, development, implementation, evaluation) in renewed attempts to bring quality to the forefront of the design process. By breaking down the design model, readers were able to visualize the types of design tasks associated with each design level. This response was also helpful in program reviews to prepare faculty for online teaching. Dr. Lowe is a Senior Instructional Designer at UCF, and the graphic was designed by Mireya Ramirez from the Graphics team of the Center for Distributed Learning (CDL) at UCF.

Looking back at the very beginnings of Ask ADDIE, I Heard it Through the Grapevine…They’re Forgetting! (Issue 1), Dr. Kelvin Thompson, CDL Executive Director, delved into the always relevant topic of providing faculty development programs and tools that are actually useful for faculty to remember the concepts of online course design and teaching. The tips provided helped to break down the highly conceptualized design concepts that are used infrequently in a way that maintained collegial respect and support between the faculty member and the instructional designer.

Ongoing articles such as these provide relevant information, tips, and suggestions for all of us working in course design or online teaching. The benefits of such collective learning cannot be overstated since many of us deal with similar challenges within our own institutions. There is much wisdom among us – we all improve when it is shared!

Lessons learned from the early days of Ask ADDIE include the importance of faculty engagement in the development and delivery of online courses, including intentional course design, customization, and instructor presence. The human element retains its primacy at the center of robust, engaging online course design and delivery in the context of adaptive courseware, real-time student performance data, and the role of “efficiencies” (scale, return on investment, replication). The hurricane-force winds of change created by COVID-19 have created new challenges that are represented by the latter Ask ADDIE entries, including new course modalities and questions regarding what is really essential for successful online course design and delivery.

Going forward, questions may include implications of using Zoom for online faculty development and how instructional designers and faculty developers can create productive relationships with teaching faculty from a distance. Despite the current challenges and opportunities that have emerged because of COVID-19, the timeless nature of instructional designers and faculty development remains unchanged: Instructional tools and practices are driven by the needs and goals of learners. 

What other ideas do you have that could improve the Ask ADDIE approach to inviting questions or article ideas? Please share your thoughts with our TOPkit community on LinkedIn!

Ask ADDIE Editors:

Dr. Denise Lowe, Senior Instructional Designer, Division of Digital Learning, UCF, July 2018 – current

Dr. Shelly Wyatt, Associate Instructional Designer, Division of Digital Learning, UCF, July 2017 – June 2018

Dr. Kelvin Thompson, Executive Director, Center for Distributed Learning, Division of Digital Learning, UCF, January – June 2017

Ask ADDIE Authors:

Williams, F. (2022, February). Ask ADDIE: Essential Work or Essential Workers: Who Can Tell? (Issue 25). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Stahl, N. (2021, November). Ask ADDIE: What’s the Objective Here? (Issue 24). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Nettles, B. (2021, July). Ask ADDIE: Getting started with digital badges (Issue 23). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Major, A. (2021, May). Ask ADDIE: Hyflex, Blendflex, Asynchronous, Synchronous: Decoding Modalities (Issue 22). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Sumner, J. (2020, November). Ask ADDIE: Getting Engaged: Marrying Together Faculty and Online Student Engagement (Issue 21). Retrieved from TOPkit website: engaged-marrying-together-faculty-and-online-student-success-issue-21 

Major, A. (2020, August). Ask ADDIE: Full Throttled Out: Running on Fumes for Fall Faculty Developments Efforts (Issue 20). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Jowallah, R. (2020, May). Ask ADDIE: The road to instructional designer credibility (Issue 19). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Miller, R., Bauer, S., & Trail Constant, T. (2020, January). Ask ADDIE: Mergers & Acquisitions: Models of Curriculum Design Review (Issue 18). Retrieved from TOPkit website:…-review-issue-18/

Lowe, D. (2019, October). Ask ADDIE: Foundations to skyscrapers: Stages of quality design (Issue 17). Retrieved from TOPkit website: 

Lowe, D. (2019, July). Ask ADDIE: Not a Magician Spock, Just an Old Country Instructional Designer (Issue 16). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Tinsley-Kim, K. & Wyatt, S. (2019, May). Ask ADDIE: Becoming a more proactive faculty whisperer (Issue 15). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Roberts-Jones, C. (2019, January). Ask ADDIE: Happily ever after: Positive working relationships between instructional designers and faculty (Issue 14). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Major, A. & Bauer, S. (2018, November). Ask ADDIE: Same music, different rhythm: Missing the beat in project management (Issue 13). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Ngampornchai, A., & Wyatt, S. (2018, June). Ask ADDIE: More than meets the eye: Helping faculty   understand the ID role (Issue 12). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Tinsley-Kim, K., & Wyatt, S. (2018, May). Ask ADDIE: Running on empty: Injecting instructional power into narrated PowerPoints(Issue 11). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Wyatt, S. (2018, March). Ask ADDIE: Don’t wait to go deeper: Cultivating higher thinking in beginning classes(Issue 10). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Wyatt, S. (2018, February). Ask ADDIE: Right foot, right steps: Collaborating on a “new” new faculty orientation(Issue 9). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Wyatt, S. (2018, January). Ask ADDIE: Mining for gold in your own backyard: Faculty sharing and working across departments(Issue 8).Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Wyatt, S. (2017, September). Ask ADDIE: Looking to “up” my ADA game (Issue 7). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Wyatt, S. (2017, July). Ask ADDIE: Revving up online courses without getting off track (Issue 6). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Thompson, K. (2017, June). Ask ADDIE: Second-hand courses but not second-rate instructors (Issue 5). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Thompson, K. (2017, May). Ask ADDIE: The “quickest route” is always (Issue 4). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Thompson, K. (2017, April). Ask ADDIE: Experience (with great engagement) really can be the best teacher (Issue 3). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Thompson, K. (2017, March). Ask ADDIE: You’ll get the keys when you pass your driver’s test! (Issue 2). Retrieved from TOPkit website:

Thompson, K. (2017, January). Ask ADDIE: I heard it through the grapevine…they’re forgetting! (Issue 1). Retrieved from TOPkit website: