The Swedish Nerd’s take on the Dick and Carey design model– a podcast


Click on the image or here to access the podcast. (Transcript is below if you want to read it instead!)

Image courtesy of elearning Industry Dick & Carey model

I like this image– It represents the designer taking many resources, grinding them up in the computer and serving that delicious knowledge sausage up to the learners.

I realise I forgot to mention in my podcast, how well this model would work for my needs and my take is– it works better than ADDIE for a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, Ambiguous) work environment. It is more compact, yet it includes the important step of designing business-impactful performance objectives and evaluating these.

Below is a transcript of the podcast, which is read by the lovely Hazel at Speed 9, from

Hi, I’m Kristin the Swedish Nerd! Welcome to my podcast today talking about the Dick and Carey instructional design model. Exciting stuff, hey? I’m using a voice simulator to create this audio so some of my personality is lost. Sorry about that, I am paranoid about privacy.
So, getting back to the Dick and Carey model. I find these models difficult to grasp without a scenario, don’t you? So for today’s review of the model, I’d like you to consider the following challenge as a learning designer. Your learners are call center agents working for a company selling subscriptions to a product. Their incoming calls are often from consumers who aren’t yet customers. These prospective customers have questions about the contractual terms and conditions as well as insurance for the subscribed product. This is NOT, I repeat, NOT exciting stuff, yet these agents need to feel confident that they know the answers before they begin accepting incoming calls.
How do you train this concept? Let’s use the Dick and Carey model to think about it, shall we?
Step 1 is defining the instructional goal or desired state at the end of the instruction. Then you have to analyze to what degree the learners can already achieve the goal today. In our example, the desired state is that the learners can confidently answer incoming consumer questions, OR know where they can quickly find the answer for the question while they have the customer on the call. Most of the learners come into the job knowing absolutely nothing, so we are starting from zero!
Step 2 is analyzing what skills are required for achieving the goal. This could include knowledge of how to execute tasks and procedures, how to conceptualize information, or other skills. In our example, the learners need to come to the job with good verbal and written communication skills in the local language, as well as good interpersonal skills. Sometimes it takes a bit of patient back-and-forth to understand what the customer really wants to know. Also they need to know some background about the commercial offer, even if they don’t know all the specifics, as well as how to use our Customer Relationship Management System, or CRM, to log the call correctly and look up answers they might not know right away.
Step 3 is understanding what behaviors and learner characteristics do the learners bring to the course, and what would attract them to the course? I could see this step being really important in non-traditional adult learning scenarios. In our example, it’s a helpful step to remind us about the prerequisite training which needs to happen before this one. Everyone needs to have a baseline in written and verbal communication skills to take this course. However they don’t need to know how to use the CRM system at first, they just need to practice answering questions. We probably could take their learnings from this one and we can use great realistic scenarios for CRM system training. This would be a second-stage training incorporating the same concepts but including the aspect of how to “look up” the answer in the system when you aren’t sure.
Step 4 is translating the goals to specific performance objectives. These objectives should be structured as so: Conditions, desired Behavior, and Criteria. We should plan to evaluate the performance objectives in a realistic situation. What does this mean for our scenario? Maybe something like this: Given an incoming consumer call, correctly answer questions regarding the contractual terms and conditions and product insurance, using printed learning materials made available. Answers must be given within 1 minute , and the expectation is 95% correct answers.
Step 5 is diagnosing whether the learners already have  the knowledge or skills they need to take the course. You can decide how you want to assess this– perhaps you give a pre-test, you interview them, or you observe them in a realistic scenario. In our scenario, we will assume we know the learners already completed the required communication prerequisites, so we know they are ready for the next bit of information.
Step 6 is when you get to the good stuff– how in the heck will you train this material, which in our scenario, is dry-as-dust? As this is really a memorization exercise, we need to provide iterative ways to help people remember, then to understand where to look up the information when in doubt. In our example, I find it very important that the learners actually sit and read the boring contractual conditions and insurance information, because this is what the customers will receive. How fun can we make it though? Let’s first challenge them to get active with their learning. As they read, they should come up with three questions they think consumers would ask. Then they try these questions out on each other– say we have them go through three rounds with different partners to test out their questions. Then the really fun part. We play a game show in teams, say Jeopardy? These learners can get really competitive. Then we practice some scenarios. One learner is the customer and the other is an agent. The customer calls in with questions and the agent is allowed to use the learning materials to answer if they get stuck. PHEW! What a plan! I wonder if the learners will have fun and learn something?
Step 7 in the Dick and Carey model (remember that’s what we’re supposed to be doing here, right?) is collecting or developing all the materials and content to support your training session. In our scenario we need to print out the boring documents, author the Jeopardy game in some form (I have a PowerPoint document) and create some scenario cards to use for the partner exercises.
Step 8 is including a formative evaluation. Try your design out on a pilot group of learners and make adjustments.
Step 9 is to execute your summative evaluation. I see this as two things actually, although the literature I’ve read doesn’t seem to mention this. First, the learners need to have a feeling for themselves that they learned something. In our scenario, the partner exercises seem to do that. The second consideration is that management also needs to have confidence that their investment in the learning is meeting business objectives. I would hope if we can say that everyone managed to complete the final scenarios according to the performance objectives, that would suffice.
After Step 9 of course I’m going to want to make some improvements! And as I mentioned, use these learnings as a basis for creating good scenarios as we train CRM system skills.
Well, that’s all we have time for today in this podcast on the Dick and Carey instructional design method. Actually we went over time, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. Take it easy from the Swedish Nerd, or as we say, “ta det lungt!”