What Is ADDIE?

ADDIE is an instructional systems design framework that many instructional designers and training developers use to develop courses.

The five phases of ADDIE—Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation—together represent a dynamic, flexible guideline for building effective training experiences and performance support tools.

The tools to build, host, and deliver learning experiences may change, but ADDIE remains tried and true. 

The model was originally created back in the 1970s for the armed forces, but 40 years later it’s still widely used in instructional design across all types of training and education.

The Five Phases of ADDIE

In the ADDIE model, each step has an outcome that feeds into the subsequent step. 

  • Analysis
    During the Analysis phase, course designers must examine the audience, the learning goals, and the potential constraints involved among other elements. It should give designers a full picture of the entire scope of the training development project.
  • Design
    This phase is the bread and butter for instructional designers. It’s where they will choose the layout, structure, and content of the course according to the learning parameters set out in the analysis phase.
  • Development
    Like the development phase of any product, this stage includes quality assurance, prototype testing and re-designing for elements that need more work. 
  • Implementation
    Now that the course is ready, it’s important to make sure all other aspects of the learning environment are ready, too. This stage can often include activities such as “train the trainer” for instructor-led learning, or in the case of e-learning, ensuring all the required learners have access and the requisite tools to complete the online course.
  • Evaluation
    Although it was originally listed as a separate, final phase of the model, today it’s widely practiced as a continuous stage alongside the other four phases (see model below). It refers not only to the evaluation of learners but more to evaluation of the effectiveness of the course design as a result of the learner’s subsequent performance.

Some other specific activities that can be included in each phase are:

Stages or Phases of ADDIE                                             
AnalysisPerforms a needs analysis, by surveying the existing learning environment and identifying the learner’s existing knowledge and skills; clarifies instructional problems and objectives.
DesignAddresses learning objectives, assessment instruments, exercises, content, subject matter analysis, lesson/module planning, media selection, and delivery methods.
DevelopmentCreates and assembles content assets according to the Design phase, developing storyboards and technologies.
ImplementationDevelops procedures for training facilitators and learners.
EvaluationConsists of two aspects: formative and summative. Formative evaluation is present in each stage of the ADDIE process, while summative evaluation is conducted on the completed instructional products.

Source: Wikipedia

Notice that the Evaluation stage is listed last of the five phases, but sits squarely in the middle of this diagram, as it is central to the success of the completed learning project.

“Evaluation is a constant guard at the gate of failure,” notes bestselling author Chuck Hodell in ATD.com. “Evaluation doesn’t deserve to be listed last in the ADDIE model because it takes place in every element and surrounds the instructional design process.”

ADDIE for Non-Instructional Designers

The good news is that not everyone involved in building courses needs to be well-versed in the nuances of ADDIE. 

New technology platforms, such as a Learning Design System, are emerging to help non-instructional designers build courses that stay true to sound instructional design principles. 

ADDIE learning design

How ADDIE Helps Learners

Learners may mostly be blissfully unaware that the highly engaging course they just completed was built using an academic model.

That’s the beauty of ADDIE: it’s functional and quietly working in the background. It’s timeless and flexible enough to accommodate behaviorism, constructivism, social learning and cognitivism and other instructional theories in addition to the complex, shifting needs of today’s organizations.

Indeed, ADDIE and other instructional design models can be directly attributed to employees attaining much-needed skills or a higher level of knowledge—and performing more successfully at their jobs.

The Future of ADDIE in the Workplace

ADDIE draws criticism for the linear nature of the model, as it keeps the time and cost of development high. So many other instructional design models have evolved based on different principles of the foundational ADDIE model:

  • Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping
  • Dick and Carey Model
  • Kemp Design Model
  • Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction
  • SAM (Successive Approximation Model)
  • Agile or rapid prototyping

The reason ADDIE is such an enduring instructional design model is that its different phases can still be applied to many of the newer models of instructional design. The principles developed under the model continue to stand the test of time, even today.

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What Is ADDIE?