CEO of Easygenerator

I have read the book from Michael Allen ( and Richard Sites) with a lot of interest and it is a book that I can recommend to read, it does explain the why and the how of the approach and it contains a lot of practical stuff like examples and check list that will help you get started.

I believe that an agile approach will bring a lot of benefits to e-Learning development. I wrote a couple of post on this subject in the past few years so I am delighted that a heavy weight in our learning domain supports this trend, hopefully making it more mainstream. I’m interested in agile development because we develop the easygenerator software in an agile way. It gives huge advantages over the classic ‘waterfall’ models. I believe if you translate this to e-Learning development, it will change not only the way we create e-Learning courses, but also the courses itself. Michael and Richard present us an agile alternative for ADDIE: SAM (Successive Approximation Model).

The book starts with why we need a new approach. It lists the short comings of a lot of e-Learning courses in a clear way. It is followed by an analysis of ADDIE, looking at its original form and some new manifestations. It makes interesting reading because it is not a theoretical story but they have written it from the perspective of the learners needs. Their conclusion is: ADDIE falls short, we need something else (and I agree).

In the third chapter they have a look at what ‘good’ eLearning should be, I quote: “Concise, effective learning events, whether delivered through e-Learning or not, are meaningful, memorable, and motivational. And they achieve measurable results, too.” And they explain CCAF (Context, challenge, activity, feedback). With this they set the stage for the process and introduce SAM.

There is a simple version (SAM1), for small projects”


And a more extended version (SAM2) for larger projects”


I will not discuss all details (you should read the book) but what they do is take the iterative nature (short development sprints) of agile development and combine it with a prototyping approach. I like this; it will bring a lot of the advantages of agile software development to your e-Learning development. The book contains a huge amount of examples, checklists and even a complete project plan. It will help you to create learning goals and it gives examples of specific approaches (like the Savvy start and prototyping). The Savvy start is the second concept they introduce in this book. A concept that will help you to become more agile in your design process. It is clear that both authors have a few decades of combined experience in eLearning development. This enables them not only to develop an approach but explain it with very practical examples. And as you can expect from me I’m very happy with the chapter on instructional objectives, this is the way it should be done! The second part of this book is so rich, that even if you don’t want to switch to a more agile approach it is a must read. It is a goldmine of useful tips for every instructional designer.

Michael and Richard created a great foundation for a new agile approach. At the same time I think that they missed a lot of best practices and techniques that an agile approach can offer you. Daily stand ups, user stories, a back log, agile estimations, setting priorities, an agile team, demo’s to involve your clients. There is a lot more that can be used. I will write some future posts on this, trying to make the translation from best practices and techniques in agile software development to Agile e-Learning development. I will try to add another practical layer to the SAM foundation.

Ordering information Leaving ADDIE for SAM:

Books published by ASTD Press can be purchased by visiting ASTD’s website at or by calling 800.628.2783 or 703.683.8100:

  • Library of Congress Control Number (print edition only): 2009940017
  • PDF e-book edition ISBN: 978-1-60728-675-2
  • Print edition ISBN: 978-1-56286-711-9

And finally some links to earlier post I wrote on agile eLearning development:

  •  A post with links to other ‘agile’ eLearning posts
  • A post that I wrote for the ASTD’s big question blog on agile development
  • And my first post on agile development after I joined easygenerator

This post is part of a series I’m writing on agile eLearning development:

More post will follow over the next few weeks.

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