HomeE-LearningSAM Model: An Agile Approach To Instructional Design

SAM Model: An Agile Approach To Instructional Design

Overview Of The SAM Model

The Successive Approximation Model (SAM) isn’t your typical Instructional Design model. Most models use a linear approach, walking you through the design process with interconnected steps. SAM follows a different path, making it an agile model that fits the fast-paced modern world. Michael Allen of Allen Interactions created SAM, and it’s all about iterative development and collaboration. This means that during the design process, you constantly make quick adjustments on the spot rather than waiting until the end to see the results. Whatever you create is almost always ideal as long as you pay attention to detail and listen to feedback. Let’s dive into SAM and take a look at its 5 phases that promise an effective Instructional Design journey.

The 5 Phases Of SAM

1. Preparation Phase

SAM begins with the preparation phase, which is the most important one, as it sets the groundwork for your courses. First, figure out the objectives of the learning program. Is it for skill building or awareness of a specific topic? What must learners know or do by the end of the courses? Then, you must also know your audience. Are they students or workers? What are their specific learning needs? Lastly, you need to find the people who are going to help you. For example, the decision-makers, Subject Matter Experts, or tech pros. So, this phase is all about laying the foundation for a smooth Instructional Design process and seamless collaboration.

2. Iterative Design Phase

This phase is the heart of the model, calling you to combine creativity and strategy in order to come up with the best ideas. For a start, you need to break down the learning content into parts. For instance, if your program is about inclusivity in the workplace, you want to create small courses that address different parts of the topic to make it easily understandable by the learners. No one likes to feel overwhelmed by lengthy courses and information overload, and SAM tackles this effectively. Then, it’s time for the design and distribution of lesson prototypes. During this phase, you’ll also receive feedback from learners and stakeholders who have received the prototype. The insights will be your guide to improving and upgrading the modules, constantly aiming for excellence. So, it’s clear that SAM is a collective experience in which you have control.

3. Iterative Development Phase

Now you can finally start bringing your prototypes to life, turning them into engaging and effective modules that will help you reach your goals. You don’t just refine everything; you add elements, fix errors, expand modules, and make sure they head toward perfection. Here, once again, collaboration is key. You must share ideas and exchange opinions with experts, stakeholders, and even learners or other Instructional Designers because every person can bring unique attributes to the table and lead the program to success faster. However, this doesn’t mean that your job is finished after polishing the courses. You need to review everything regularly and examine every element to ensure that your courses remain impactful and effective.

4. Implementation Phase

The implementation phase is where you let your creations roam freely on eLearning platforms, websites, or resource libraries. This means that you have perfected everything and are ready to make an impact with your work. It doesn’t end with you delivering your content, though. You must monitor user engagement to make certain that learners actively participate and move through courses rather than passively absorbing information. So, take a closer look at what element keeps them most interested and what holds them back. Leverage data and metrics as much as possible and base all your decisions concerning improvements on these.

5. Evaluation Phase

The last phase lets you wait until everyone has completed their program to evaluate and reflect on what worked well and what didn’t. The first thing you must notice is if learners have achieved their learning goals and objectives from the first phase. Have they learned everything they needed to? Are they able to practice it in real life? Then, listen to feedback about the whole experience. Did you consider learners’ and stakeholders’ comments while going through the previous phases? If yes, then were your improvements successful? Pay close attention to the evaluation process because it can help you set the tone for your future designs, too.

How To Adapt SAM For Different Learning Environments

Corporate Training

SAM understands each company’s goals and each employee’s unique needs, ensuring that the learning program you create is an ideal fit. Since the model allows you to work closely with managers, staffers, and other stakeholders, you’re sure to have a better understanding of the company’s requirements. Plus, SAM is agile, meaning that organizations save money, time, and other resources.

Educational Settings

In traditional classrooms, SAM can set the tone for more engaging and lively lessons. It creates easily digestible modules that students love to participate in, as they don’t feel overwhelmed. Additionally, you can involve students in the design process so they have a say in how the learning program goes, knowing that their needs and preferences are met.


In the eLearning sector, SAM is responsible for dynamic content that constantly evolves. Adding different types of content, like multimedia, games, and simulations, turns courses into interesting experiences. The model’s flexibility allows it to adapt to different preferences, too. For example, visual learners can choose modules with videos, animations, and images, while those who prefer practice can go for lessons with simulations.


The popularity of SAM lies in its agile approach and, thus, its cost-effectiveness. Businesses and educational facilities often opt for eLearning content developers who know how to create programs in a shorter span of time that are both effective and engaging. Let’s not forget that what makes the model unique is its constant feedback loops that give Instructional Designers plenty of opportunities to fine-tune their creations and deliver a program that hits the mark.




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