What Is the ADDIE Model? Explained for Beginners

What is the ADDIE model? If you’re new to the world of instructional design, this question has probably popped up. And even long-time pros may need a quick refresher. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know.

What is the ADDIE model? If you’re new to the world of instructional design, this question has probably popped up. And even long-time pros may need a quick refresher. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know.

Whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned instructional designer, you’ll know that creating digital learning experiences without a model is challenging. With so many moving parts, a framework allows you to structure training and reach learning objectives. The ADDIE model is one of the most popular ways to do this.

This instructional design methodology has been around since the seventies, creating a streamlined development process to follow. Plus, it factors in plenty of opportunities for revision and iteration.

Keep reading to discover what the ADDIE model is and how to implement it.

What is the ADDIE model?

The ADDIE model is an instructional design framework with five phases: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. The goal is to create a structured, five-step process for creating and improving elearning materials.

A visual overview of the ADDIE Model.
Source: Wikipedia

Here’s a closer look at each stage in the ADDIE process:

Step 1: Analysis

Mission: Identifying the learning needs, defining objectives, and analyzing the audience, content, and context.

This first step is all about assessing the current training situation, including any knowledge gaps.

Some common questions to ask during this phase include:

  • What is the training goal?
  • Why are we developing this training?
  • Who will this training help?
  • How can we improve current training processes (if there are any)?
  • How will this help us achieve business goals?

By the end of this phase, you should have a thorough training needs analysis and a loose training plan as a jumping-off point.

Step 2: Design

Mission: Creating a detailed training plan, specifying content, strategies, assessments, and resources.

Phase two takes all the information you gathered in the first step and creates a clear training plan. This involves making a solid training strategy that covers:

  • Preferred delivery method
  • Training structure
  • Duration of the training
  • Assessment
  • How you will collect learner feedback

Once you’ve done this, you can begin to create a storyboard or prototype to see how your vision comes together.

Step 3: Development

Mission: Making the course content, building activities, recording videos, and designing assessments.

Phase three is where you start to build the training course. Every element should align with your prototype from the design phase. That way, you end up with a cohesive and consistent training experience.

The development stage involves creating and adding graphics, text, videos, and any other interactive elements you want to include. This can be a time-consuming step, so iterative testing is a must. Most instructional designers use a content authoring tool to build the course materials, as you can quite easily create interactive elements.

No matter the creation approach you choose, take regular pauses and ask the following questions:

  • Is it clear?
  • Is the navigation easy to follow?
  • Does the content flow from one topic to the next?
  • Does it feel too long or too short?
  • Is it engaging for my audience?

By the end of this phase, your course content is ready to be tested and tweaked.

Step 4: Implementation

Mission: Deploying the training course to learners via a learning management system (LMS). This stage also involves providing support for trainers.

At the implementation phase of ADDIE model, you’ve fully tested your course, gathered feedback, and addressed issues. Now it’s time to share the training with your learners.

How you share the training will depend on the decisions you made during the Design phase. Do you plan to deliver it fully online? Or maybe you have opted for a blended learning approach?

In most cases, you’ll deploy the course on an LMS. As such, you’ll need to export the course from the content authoring tool (or other source) and upload it to the learning platform. Next, it’s time to configure the settings. This includes enrollments, adding deadlines, setting up notifications, and setting pass marks for assessments.

It’s always best to run a pilot on the LMS to address any potential issues before rolling out your training en masse.

Step 5: Evaluation

Mission: Assessing the effectiveness of the training through both formative evaluation during development and summative evaluation after implementation. The goal is to find areas to improve.

One of the main strengths of the ADDIE model is its approach to evaluation. This final step in the process is all about gathering feedback about the course, revising the content, and optimizing it.

Try asking the following questions during the evaluation phase:

  • Did we achieve our training goals?
  • How well did learners engage with the training?
  • Where is the training performing well?
  • What are the urgent areas of improvement?
  • How has the training impacted the business?

Ultimately, this stage is all about gauging the success of the training. And the best way to evaluate this is by asking the learners.

To do this, send learners an anonymous survey to ask their opinion. You can send this from the LMS or add one to the course using your authoring tool. Alternatively, you may send a separate questionnaire via email.

The final step is to collate all the feedback data and create an evaluation report. This will detail what changes you need to make and how urgent each one is.

What type of projects is the ADDIE model best for?

The ADDIE approach is extremely linear and structured, documenting every aspect of the development process. As a result, this method works well for very complex learning projects that require a high level of control.

It’s also a good choice if you are rolling out large courses across a wide audience, as the systematic approach makes it easy to control quality. For the same reason, it’s a popular framework for compliance training where adhering to strict regulations is essential. This is hardly surprising given that it was originally created to train the U.S. army.

What are the pain points of the ADDIE model?

The linear nature of ADDIE makes it too inflexible for instructional designers looking for a more agile approach. For example, the Analysis and Design phases can be time-consuming, leaving the project to grind to a halt. This could be an issue for L&D professionals who need to make quick, frequent updates to courses or develop training at speed.

As we mentioned earlier, the ADDIE model falls short on user-centricity compared to other frameworks in this guide. As such, this can be a turn-off for instructional designers looking for a more learner-focused approach.

Finally, this approach to training development requires extensive resources. And this just simply isn’t feasible for some organizations, namely small businesses.

Pros and cons of the ADDIE model

We’ve broken down the advantages and disadvantages of using this instructional design framework.

Pros Cons
The structured, systematic approach works well for complex training programs with many moving parts The linear sequence can be too inflexible for elearning projects that require quick development times or regular updates
It includes a thorough evaluation phase, making it an ideal approach for compliance training It doesn’t put the learner at the center of the training experience, which could reduce overall engagement
The framework promotes comprehensive documentation at each stage, facilitating easy knowledge transfer The Analysis and Design phases of this model can be time-consuming, leading to a longer development timeline

A final word on the ADDIE model

There’s a reason why the ADDIE framework has stood the test of time. First and foremost, it provides a structured, streamlined approach to the development process. This is especially useful for complex or large elearning projects.

What’s more, the ADDIE model encourages detailed documentation at each stage, helping instructional designers build consistent learning experiences.

Nicola Wiley

By Nicola Wylie

Nicola Wylie is a learning industry expert who loves sharing in-depth insights into the latest trends, challenges, and technologies.