SAM for Clients

Implications of learning theories for instructional design graphic by Paily M U - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Perhaps your company is pressed for time to produce high-quality training. Tight accreditation deadlines or new government requirements may not allow you a full year to follow the very formal ADDIE framework for course development, which has been the industry standard since it was invented by the U.S. military around 1975. Never fear. There is a viable alternative: SAM.

SAM stands for Successive Approximation Model. It was created by Dr. Michael Allen to compress instructional development. The client can expect to receive a useable part of the learning approximately every two to four weeks.

1. Evaluation and Analysis: During the preparation phase of SAM, we will write the goals of the project. We will analyze the learners' strengths, weaknesses, and any prior learning they may have about the subject.

2. Design: Next, the iterative design phase requires a brainstorming meeting of all stakeholders, called a SAVY Start. Even dissenters should be invited to scrum. Sketches, storyboards, and rough prototypes are produced as collaborations. The initial design is formulated, including acceptance criteria.

3. Development: Finally, the iterative development phase is the work of a smaller team, usually just the Subject Matter Expert (SME), the Instructional Designer, and the Instructional Developer (programmer). Together, they set the budget and timeline. Milestones and deliverables are scheduled. The team refines the initial design and prototype. They delegate work that requires specialists, like stunt actors or graphic artists. Testers give feedback on each module of the prototype as they are produced.

Each subsequent iteration involves further developing, implementing, and evaluating. Modifications and updates are less costly when only a small section of work needs to be changed.

Releases come every two to four months. The training releases are named Alpha, Beta, and Gold. These terms are probably familiar to you from software releases.

Toyota uses a version of this Agile development process, calling it Kanban. Consider SAM when your company requires a short turn-around time for its e-learning.