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ADDIE model

ADDIE model

Table of Contents

As the saying goes, knowledge is power, especially in business.

Your employees, customers, and partners all need information and knowledge.

That’s where L&D teams come in. Think of them as the guardians of the power. They’re in charge of designing, managing, sharing, and monitoring your organization’s precious knowledge. They’re also responsible for ensuring all employees have access to it at the point of need.

L&D teams do this by designing an engaging learning environment and meaningful learning experiences. They must also ensure that all training has clear learning objectives aligned with business goals. 

Effective training is not easy to achieve but, luckily, there are instructional design models that can help you out. 

Today, we’ll be looking at one such model called ADDIE which stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. 

How does it all work and how does it help you achieve your instructional goals?

We’ll answer these questions and:

  • Give a comprehensive definition of ADDIE
  • Walk you through the five stages of the ADDIE process 
  • Tell you all about the benefits of the ADDIE model 


What is the ADDIE model?

The ADDIE model is an approach to instructional design created in the 1970s. It was created for the US Army by the Center for Educational Technology at Florida State University. 

It eventually spread not just across all the branches of the US armed forces, but also outside the military. 

ADDIE is an acronym that stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. This also describes the five stages of creating a learning experience as an instructional designer. 

It’s an approach focused on careful analysis and iteration to make effective training courses that achieve the desired learning outcomes. 

Today, many organizations, both in the educational fields and in the private sector, use ADDIE. 

While the steps in ADDIE are typically linear, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Each step of the process includes analyzing and reflecting on what you’ve done so far. This means instructional designers can go back to the previous step and fix what isn’t working.  

While some circles consider ADDIE somewhat obsolete (mainly due to its perceived rigidity), it’s still widely used in different institutions and industries to provide training content and manage organizational change


Five stages of the ADDIE model

As we mentioned earlier, there are five stages in the ADDIE model. They usually, but not always or necessarily, follow each other. 

You can adopt the ADDIE approach to instructional design any time you need to implement a training program or any other kind of educational content. 

Because ADDIE is so flexible, organizations can use it for anything from on-the-job training to customer education.

Now let’s take a closer look at each of the five stages.


Stage #1: Analysis

Every journey begins with a first step, and so does instructional design. 

In the analysis phase, you set your goals and plan how to achieve them. It’s an important part of the development process of any online course or learning experience. 

Focusing on the learners and learner needs is the main consideration in this stage of the ADDIE process. 

As part of the analysis phase, you will also need to answer some questions about the learners’ needs and learning goals. 

You want the training program to match each learner’s level of skill and knowledge. This means avoiding material they already know or that’s too advanced for them.

Here, you’ll distinguish between what your learners know and what they need to know or, in other words—the learning goals. 

To make sure you’re doing this properly, you have to consider the learners’ background, what learners need to be able to do at the end of the program, and what skills and knowledge they’ll require to complete the training program. 

During the analysis phase, you should also research which learning methods are most popular for your subject matter. 

Plus, the analysis phase is when you decide what kind of learning environment you’ll create. For instance, will you use face-to-face instruction or a blended learning model? 

Instructional designers must also consider any limitations in their learning and development programs. These can be factors such as the available budget (we’ve all been there) and other technological and human resources. 


Stage #2: Design

When you’ve finished analyzing every bit of your online learning program, it’s time to move on to the design phase. 

This phase of the ADDIE model should be systematic and instructional designers need to pay a lot of attention to details. 

At this stage of the instructional design process, designers determine all the goals and tools they will use to gauge progress, tests, subject matter analysis, planning, and resources.

For instance, here is when instructional designers decide on media selection—text, graphics, and videos. Also, this is when lesson planning takes place as well as deciding on the assessment methodology; i.e., how will you know that your learners have acquired the skills that the training program tries to teach?

As part of the design stage, course designers will create content outlines and develop scripts. Additionally, they’ll consider delivery options—such as fully online, face-to-face, or blended. 

Another part of the design process is determining how much time to devote to each learning activity.

Deciding how to gather learner feedback also takes place during the design phase of the ADDIE model. 

After you’ve made all these decisions, you’ll be able to create storyboards that help you see the big picture of your future training program. 

In short, during the design phase of the ADDIE process, instructional designers answer the basic questions about the learning experience. The analysis phase, on the other hand, focuses more on the learners’ needs.


Stage #3: Development

After the first two stages comes the development phase. Here, instructional designers finally put all those theoretical considerations into practice. 

Brainstorming and analysis mark the previous two stages of the ADDIE process. Now, however, it’s time to start creating the learning materials. 

If you’re using a Learning Management System (LMS), this is where you’ll fire up your authoring tool to start creating the course material. 

Typically, the development includes three subphases: drafting, production, and evaluation. 

Essentially, during this phase, you’ll create and test the learning outcomes. When training developers get the green light from the decision-makers in the company, they start creating the course material. These are the modules, videos, graphics, assessments, hands-on tasks, and everything that makes up the training course. 

Instructional designers also pick the look and feel of the course material here: fonts, colors, design elements, branding, etc. 

It’s a good idea to split the entire course into modules to save development time. This way, the quality assurance team can test one part of the course at a time while the training developers work on the others.

The key to the ADDIE model is iteration. So, it’s completely normal to have to partially go back to the design or analysis phase at this stage. If something isn’t working as intended, it’s best to fix it before the implementation phase.


Stage #4: Implementation

Now for the moment of truth. This is arguably the most critical phase of the ADDIE process. 

It’s also the most nerve-wracking phase since the designers present everything they worked so hard on to learners. 

A lot of the real work of instructional design happens at this stage. This is because, during the implementation phase, both the instructors and the learners can give feedback. 

Instructional designers need to constantly analyze, redesign, and enhance the training course to ensure it’s effective. This way they can make the proper revisions in time. With the contribution of learner and instructor feedback, instructional designers can make instantaneous changes. 

Taking feedback into account is essential for meeting learners’ training needs during this stage. 

A few questions you may need to answer include: 

  • What is the emotional feedback instructors and learners are giving? 
  • Can learners and instructors grasp the topic? 
  • Can the students work independently, or is constant guidance necessary? 

Paying close attention to these can help designers identify and address any instructional problems in time. 

We’ll note here that the ADDIE process is interactive and iterative. In reality, the analysis and design phase never truly ends. Instructional designers must constantly tweak training courses based on feedback and analysis of how the training program is performing.

It’s not just the learner’s feedback you should be paying attention to. You also need to check if the delivery method is performing well. Is the LMS you chose suitable for your training course? Did learners have trouble accessing it? All of this impacts the learner experience and could lead to low completion rates or learning results.

At the end of the day, the top priority at this phase is to assess if the training achieves the desired learning objectives. If not, it’s back to the drawing board. 

So, what happens after you roll out your training program? It’s time to move on to the final phase of the ADDIE method.


Stage #5: Evaluation

You have finished the training program, and the learners have (or perhaps haven’t) achieved the desired learning outcomes.

How can you be sure?

Enter the evaluation phase of the ADDIE process. 

Often, companies and instructional designers don’t devote enough time to evaluation due to time and budget constraints. 

But you shouldn’t ignore this very important part of ADDIE. 

To understand this final step, we’ll need to bring in two new terms—formative evaluation and summative evaluation. 

Formative evaluation happens while the instructors and students are conducting the training program whereas the summative evaluation happens at the end. As such, this ties formative evaluation mostly to the implementation phase. 

The main goal of evaluation is to determine if you have met the training program goals and to figure out how to increase the efficiency and success rate. 

As part of this stage, you need to determine what metrics you’ll use to evaluate the training, such as job performance and engagement levels. Also, you’ll have to decide how to collect the data and analyze feedback. 

These days, you can automate a lot of this and do it through an LMS. The good ones will collect valuable training data and track important metrics. You can pull detailed reports and use them to evaluate learners and the training course itself.

There are several possible outcomes for the evaluation phase. Maybe you got it right the first time and you can roll the course out with little to no changes. Or, perhaps you’ll need to address and tweak certain shortcomings. We’re betting on the latter.

You may even need to begin the ADDIE process again. An instructional designer’s work is never done

Up next, we’ll look at the benefits of ADDIE.


Four benefits of the ADDIE model

In the previous section, we gave you an overview of what you can expect if you choose to design a learning experience with the ADDIE process. 

But, why would you choose ADDIE? After all, there are a lot of other frameworks that you can use with instructional or learning experience design.

Here are four main benefits of this instructional systems design method to help you decide if it’s right for your organization.


Benefit #1: Wide acceptance

Have you ever heard the saying: “standing on the shoulders of giants”? When choosing how you’ll design your learning experience, it’s not a bad idea to pick a framework that’s stood the test of time for so long. 

The ADDIE training model is one of the most commonly used worldwide. 

This means that if you choose to use it, its guidelines are tried and tested. This is in contrast to using newer theories of learning experience design where the science and the methodology may not yet be fully settled. 

Various institutions and industries have used ADDIE since 1975. As such, there’s a wealth of information and practical experience with this model that you can draw on for your own needs.

So, using ADDIE means your instructional designers, or whoever owns learning and development in your company, will have a lot of literature and case studies at their disposal. If you need to troubleshoot any of the phases of the ADDIE model, there’s information on that.  


Benefit #2: Effectiveness

One of the reasons why ADDIE is so widespread and accepted is that people have associated it with good design for a very long time. 

This is because it’s a way of designing educational content that focuses on the details and meticulous testing at each phase of the process. 

It’s not that good instructional design requires ADDIE—there are many ways to produce good quality content. It’s that through using ADDIE, instructional designers have a well-developed arsenal of tools and techniques to assess their work. 

Assessment and formative evaluation are in every phase of the ADDIE process. This way, instructional designers identify parts of the training content that are problematic sooner, saving time and money down the line.

This translates into better quality and more effective training content. 

ADDIE is effective precisely because it’s such a formal system of learning content development. When instructional designers follow it, they get many chances to spot what isn’t working well and fix it.

Whether it’s compliance training or sales enablement, ADDIE lets instructional designers create and evaluate content effectively.


Benefit #3: Measurability

As a design methodology, empiricism and measurability underpin ADDIE. If you aren’t familiar with the term “empiricism”, don’t worry, most people aren’t. In simple terms, it’s a philosophical theory that believes all knowledge comes from sensory experience.

The focus on collecting actionable information and feedback allows you to measure the outcomes—in terms of learner engagement, course completion rates, and whether or not the program and learners have met the learning objectives.

This is great for organizations that prioritize tracking metrics and making data-driven decisions. It’s also an effective way to measure training ROI.

The way that ADDIE works requires L&D teams to decide what type of feedback surveys to use and how to collect the data. An LMS is your best friend here. You can design, deliver, and analyze learner feedback surveys directly on the platform. 

You can also pull comprehensive reports to gain further insights. For instance, how many learners stopped the training halfway through? Did a large number of employees fail the final assessment? What star rating did learners give the training? This data is a goldmine. 

Collecting all this feedback is one of the strengths of the ADDIE process. It makes sure that training content focuses on the learners’ needs.

When learners’ needs are front and center, engagement is higher. 

In brief, by using the ADDIE instructional design method it’s possible to measure and track many of the metrics that will eventually reveal how effective any training program is. 

From a resource standpoint, you waste less time and money because you’ve reduced the chances of letting a bad training program slide.


Benefit #4: Flexibility

There is some controversy on just how flexible ADDIE is. Critics of the method say this design framework is inflexible, too linear, and rigid. 

And while it is true that ADDIE presents a linear model of how to develop training programs, there’s still some flexibility. 

Firstly, instructional designers take metrics and assessments into consideration, always returning to a previous step to make necessary changes. This is because of the formative evaluation mechanism that is integral to each ADDIE phase. 

Secondly, you can pretty much use the ADDIE model in any learning experience you can imagine. 

It’s equally applicable to on-the-job training as it is to developing a university course. 

This is one of the main reasons why so many institutions, from the government to the private sector, have embraced it for so long. 

If you choose to use ADDIE, you’ll make that decision once, and then you can create all learning and development in your organization in line with it.

It’s a benefit for those companies that need to produce a lot of training content. Adopting one design framework that is flexible enough means that companies will carry out all design and evaluation with the same set of standards and metrics—making it easy to compare their effectiveness. 

Finally, it’s time to recap everything we know about ADDIE.



ADDIE is an instructional design methodology that focuses on analysis, iteration, and evaluation.

It’s a widely accepted way to create learning experiences, used by higher education institutions, governments, and companies. 

By focusing on formative and summative analyses during the design process, ADDIE results in engaging and effective learning experiences. It makes it easy for instructional designs to identify and fix weak areas in the training program and measure outcomes. 

Do you want to learn more about different types of instructional design and how learning and development can help your organization? Take a look at our glossary.