“Quick-and-Dirty” Rapid Instructional Design? I guess so.

Kemp Design Model

Sivasailam Thiagarajan is one of my new heroes. I can only imagine the look on his colleagues’ faces when he first introduced his theory of Just-In-Time (JIT) rapid instructional design.  I can almost see the shocked faces of traditionalists when they read Thiagarajan’s (1993) argument that die-hard ADDIE instructional designers have been “indoctrinated” to adhere to an outdated model whose linear inflexible trajectory no longer meets the demands of progress and technological advances.  (Ouch.)

Thiagarajan, now recognized as among the forefathers of Rapid Instruction Design (RID), even had the nerve to introduce his “10 just-in-time strategies” in that article. His strategies identifed ten ways the instructional design process could be made  both cheaper and faster (Thiagarajan, 1993).  Wow.

Fast forward 24 years and you will find Thiagarajan’s fundamental JIT theories universally accepted as the RID model.  Controversies still exist concerning how designers can ensure their instructional designs are scalable, non-mutually exclusive, and structurally sound without strutured ADDIE logic and methodologies. But – JIT and RID are structured in sound learning theories. The Kemp Design Model provides an example.

Kemp Design Model Elements

When writing for Educational Technology, Ed Forest (2016) described the Kemp Design Model (KDM), or “Morrison, Ross and Kemp Model,” as an innovative non-linear approach to instructional design (ID). Grounded by the Constructivists cognitive psychology learning theories, KDM is deisgnned to increase the probability that learners will append new information to existing knowledge because – it’s personalized, considers what they already know, and is just what they need!

Forest wrote that while KDM can incorporate a multitude of generally common ID learning theories and design disciplines, the model is unique in its approach of incorporating supportive services into the design process. KDM’s flexibility also enables instructional designers to design for either of Bloom’s Taxonomy (cognitive, affective or psychomotor) domains.  Specifically, according to Forest, KDM includes the below instructional design elements:

  • Element 1 focuses on identifying learning outcomes by defining what knowledge learners should possess or skills they should attain to solve a performance “problem.” (Note: Thiagarajan argues that training is not always the solution. In some instances, people need counseling. Ha!)
  • Element 2 identifies the learner’s learning style so that the right solution is used to ensure intrinsic germane cognitive load.
  • Element 3 aligns the learner’s characteristics and learning style to content topics, tasks and procedures.
  • Element 4 determines the depth of cognitive understanding, affective willingness or psychomotor proficiencies the learner needs to ascertain he or she has the knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence, and commitment to use their new knowledge to solve a performance problem after training.
  • Element 5 analyzes and translates learning objectives into specific and defined training goals.
  • Element 6 develops course facilitation activities and trainer job aides.
  • Element 7 examines the resources learners and trainers will need to deliver the course as designed.
  • Element 8 uniquely proposes a plan be designed for supportive services and on-the-job skills transfer aides afer training.
  • Element 9 assesses which formative and summative tools are appropriate for measuring the short-term, mid-term and long-term learning outcomes (Forest, 2016).

Jennie’s Perspective

What I like most about the model is that KDM’s four core elements concern:

  • addressing the learner’s overall goals;
  • meeting learners’ individualized and relevant training needs;
  • establishing priorities during the design process; and
  • breaking down barriers to successful knowledge or skills transfer after the training event.

What I also like is that the KDM framework involves a continuous cycle of planning, design, development, and assessment. As such, the design process does not stop until all the needs of the learner have been examined and incorporated into the instructional design.

Finally, I like KDM because, as Thiagarajan argues, the KDM instructional design model makes sense. Since 1993, Thiagarajan has repeatedly proven effective and efficient ID packaging sometimes requires a trade-off between the traditional, standardized, and linear ADDIE design step-by-step process followed before the learner learns anything and the delivery of the knowledge or skills, which the learner needs right now (Thiagarajan, 1993).

I also feel that some clients might appreciate an instructional design approach that does not waste their time and money trying to produce an “idiot-proof instructional design package”. Who wants to pay for training that will probably be outdated and obsolete before delivery?




Without compromised quality, integrity or effectiveness?


Considering Thiagarajan has worked with more than 50 different organizations in high-tech, financial services, and management consulting areas; has published 40 books, designed 90 games and simulations; has written more than 200 articles; and currently writes an online newsletter, Thiagi GameLetter – I guess his radical “quick-and-dirty” JIT rapid instructional design theory has come of age.

I’m in.


Forest, E. (n.d.). Kemp Design Model – Educational Technology. Retrieved from http://educationaltechnology.net/kemp-design-model/

Thiagarajan, Sivasailam. (1993). Just-in-time instructional design. In Piskurich, G. (Ed.) The ASTD Handbook of Instructional Technology. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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