What is the ADDIE Model of Instructional Design?

As an instructional designer, you’ll often hear term ADDIE thrown around in job descriptions, articles and videos about adult learning. This article is a quick starter guide to help you learn the ins and outs of the ADDIE model.


What is ADDIE?

The ADDIE model is a process used by training developers and instructional designers to plan and create effective learning experiences.

And good news – it’s straightforward and easy to use!

The ADDIE model is generic enough that it can be used to create any type of learning experience for any audience – from creating a K-12 teaching lesson on cellular biology to developing a corporate training program on an ERP software upgrade.

At Water Bear Learning, we mostly design training video programs and eLearning courses. For the remainder of this article, we’ll use the example of ‘eLearning course’ as the final output of the ADDIE model. Just know that you can adjust the final learning output for your own particular needs.


ADDIE is an Acronym

That’s right! ADDIE is an acronym, meaning each letter stands for a different phase for creating an effective eLearning course. ADDIE stands for:

  1. Analysis
  2. Design
  3. Development
  4. Implementation
  5. Evaluation

The model is meant to be completed in sequential order, however is designed to be a flexible, continuous process of improvements and iterations.

In the context of eLearning, let’s take a closer look at each phase.

1. Analysis

Before you start developing your eLearning course, the ADDIE model states you should first analyze the current situation. Basically, get a clear picture of where everything is now to understand the gaps you need to fill.

A quality analysis helps identify learning goals and objectives, and also helps gather information about what your audience already knows and what they still need to learn.

How do you perform a good analysis? Ask good questions – who, what, why, where, when, and how?

A few suggested questions you may want to ask are:

  • Who is the audience and what are they like?
  • What is the problem we are trying to solve?
  • Why are we even doing a training at all?
  • What is the desired outcome of this learning experience?
  • What does the audience already know?
  • What tools are best to deliver this type of information?
  • When does this need to be delivered?

The finished analysis should become the heart and soul of your eLearning course. You’ll use this analysis as you move through each phase in the ADDIE process.

OUTPUT: At the end of the Analysis phase, you should have a plan for your eLearning course and know your training needs.


2. Design

In the Design phase, view all the information from the Analysis phase and use it to make informed decisions about the learning program you want to create. Be aware – this phase is often rather time intensive and requires an extremely acute attention to detail.

The Design phase helps us decide specific learning objectives, structure of the content, mental processes needed by participants, specific knowledge or skills participants need to retain, best tools to use, videos or graphics to create, the length of time for each lesson. Just to name a few of the essentials.

In a nutshell, this is where all your expertise as an instructional designer comes into play.

The ADDIE model suggests building a storyboard, or blueprint, of our entire eLearning course. Storyboards are meant to help the designer and stakeholders visualize the big ideas and speed up the development process.

Note that while storyboarding can be helpful, many projects don’t allow sufficient time for such detail.

OUTPUT: At the end of the Design phase, you should have your course outline, overall design, and storyboard completed.


3. Development

You’ve got your analysis. You’ve got your design. Now it’s time to start building.

The Development phase is is where you actually begin creating, or developing, your eLearning course.

In the previous Design phase, most of the content ideas should have already been decided. Your job in the Development phase is to bring those content ideas to life. This means laying out the content visually, creating graphics, recording videos, carefully selecting fonts and colors, building the course in the eLearning authoring tool. Anything that has to do with creating the actual end-product for people to learn from.

One major part of the Development phase is testing. You don’t want to build an entire course, upload it to an LMS, and send it out to thousands of employees if one of the slides won’t let users move forward. Or the quiz results aren’t being recorded.

Make sure you have an established testing and review process with your stakeholders. You’ll want to have a few different eyes on it to catch any errors that sneak through the cracks.

OUTPUT: At the end of the Development phase, you should have your entire eLearning course completed.


4. Implementation

Your eLearning course has been created, tested, and approved. Now it’s time to have your learners take the course.

Most often in the world of eLearning, this means exporting your file and uploading the course to an LMS (Learning Management System). During the export process, make sure you work with your client to know the exact settings they prefer for tracking within their LMS.

Once the course is distributed and users begin taking the course, pay close attention to see if any issues arise.

OUTPUT: At the end of the Implementation phase, your eLearning course is available in the system for users to begin completing.


5. Evaluation

The final phase in the ADDIE Model.

After the eLearning course is designed, developed, and implemented, you want to make sure it’s doing its job. Is this course effective? Are there any confusing modules?

The Evaluation phase is all about gathering important information to see if the course needs to be revised and improved.

You can gather this information by viewing back-end data on the LMS and asking users to complete surveys after they’ve finished the course.

One unique feature of the ADDIE model is that it’s built to be a continuous cycle. That is, you gather feedback in this final phase, and plop it right back into the beginning Analysis phase, which starts an entire new iteration of your end-product. Pretty neat.

OUTPUT: At the end of the Evaluation phase, you should have detailed information about what you need to revise or improve for this course or future courses.


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