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What is the ADDIE Model of Instructional Design?

by | Jan 6, 2020

As an instructional designer, you’ll often hear term ADDIE thrown around in job descriptions, articles and videos about 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 K-12 teaching lessons on cellular biology to developing corporate training programs for 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 an ‘eLearning course’ as the final output of the ADDIE model. 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, from Analysis to Evaluation. However, ADDIE 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 currently to understand the gaps you need to fill.

A quality analysis helps identify learning goals and objectives. It also helps gather information about what your audience already knows and what they still need to learn. During this stage is when you’ll conduct an in-depth training needs assessment to help you identify the gaps.

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

A few suggested questions to ask are:

  • Who is the audience and what are they like?
  • What is the problem we are trying to solve?
  • Why are we doing 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 the next phases 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, we view all the information from the Analysis phase and make informed decisions about creating the learning program. Be aware – this phase is often time-intensive and requires attention to detail.

The Design phase helps us decide specific learning objectives, structure of the content, mental processes needed by participants, 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 big ideas. They can also 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 where you actually begin creating or developing, your eLearning course.

In the previous Design phase, 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 your learners.

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 for your learners to 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.

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 LMS for users to begin completing.


5. Evaluation

The final phase in the ADDIE Model is evaluation.

After the eLearning course is designed, developed, and implemented, you want to make sure it’s doing its job. Is the course effective? Are your learners confused?

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 can be used as a continuous cycle. For example – you gather feedback in the final Evaluation phase. Then plop it right back into the beginning Analysis phase, which starts an entirely 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.


Advantages and Disadvantages of ADDIE

Advantages and Disadvantages of ADDIE

Advantages of ADDIE:
  • commonly used and widely accepted model
  • proven to be effective for human learning
  • foundation for other learning models
  • easy to measure time and cost
Disadvantages of ADDIE:
  • rigid linear process that must be followed in order
  • time-consuming and costly
  • inflexible to adapt to unforeseen project changes
  • does not allow for iterative design

ADDIE Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the ADDIE training model? 

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

What does the acronym ADDIE stand for?

The term, ADDIE, is an acronym for a five-step process: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.

How does the ADDIE model work?

An instructional designer follows the five-step ADDIE process to create a training program, eLearning course, or learning materials. The model starts with a broad analysis. Then moves through to designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating the learning program.

Why is the ADDIE model important?

ADDIE is one of the most commonly used learning models. It is important because it provides a proven method for designing clear and effective training programs.

If you are looking for instructional design jobs, mastery of ADDIE is a common attribute on job descriptions.

Who invented the ADDIE model?

The ADDIE model was originally invented by Florida State University in 1975. Its purpose was to form an instructional systems development program for military training. Eventually, the model transformed and became commonly used for all types of training.

Is the ADDIE model outdated?

Many modern learning professionals claim that the ADDIE model is outdated due to its rigidity and linear process. Outdated or not, ADDIE is still one of the most popular learning models in corporate and higher education.

While the model was originally developed to be hierarchical, today it is often used with a continuous ‘iterative’ approach. That means that the five phases are first followed in order. Once complete, the model can re-start from the analysis phase to continue improving the end product.

Related Certifications and Courses 

Instructional Design MasterTrack at Coursera


About the Author:

Andrew DeBell is a learning experience strategist and content developer on the customer education team at Atlassian. Connect with him on LinkedIn for more.