We’ve covered some of the basic concepts in Instructional Design and Terminology in our previous Back To Basics segments. This week we wanted to discuss one of the most common instructional design models, ADDIE.

ADDIE is an acronym for a model of instructional design and development. It is composed of five phases:

  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation

Each phase in the model has a result that feeds into the following step. Let’s look at ADDIE in more detail to find out whether it could work for you, your project and your client.


In the analysis phase, one of the most important things is to define the purpose of the course you are about to work on. Clearly stating your learning goals at the beginning will help you define the roadmap for your course.  Many courses have run off the rails because the desired changes in learner behavior were not clearly defined at the start of a project. Once you have defined the purpose, focus on your audience. Who are they? What are their jobs? What are their current skills? What skills do they need to have? Are there any kinds of restraints on delivery options? How does the timeline affect the audience and course?

Joanne Tzanis provides some excellent links to tools to help guide you through this step.


This phase in the ADDIE process is where you really start to lay pen on paper… or finger on mouse. Taking the information you acquired in the Analysis step, you can now start to lay out the strategy. How are you going to get your learners where they need to be? Typically, in the Design phase you will:

  • Write learning objectives
  • Outline the course, including modules, topics, and lessons (or some other organizational method)
  • Apply instructional strategies according to intended behavioral outcomes by domain (cognitive, affective, and psychomotor)
  • Document the instructional, visual, and technical design strategies to be used
  • Design the user interface and experience
  • Develop a prototype
  • Apply graphic design

Strive for simplicity in your overall design approach. Depending on the complexity of the subject matter, you should be able to give a succinct explanation to your learner or to anybody, how is it they will obtain the necessary information. The output of the Design phase is a design document that describes the purpose, objectives, structure, and instructional strategies of the course. In most situations, you will send this document for approval by your clients/stakeholders before proceeding to the Development phase.


The Development phase of ADDIE is the point where instructional design and developers begin to create and put together the content outlined in the Design phase. The actual material for the course is developed using a storyboard (in the case of eLearning) or in documents and other media (for instructor-led training). During Development, material is reviewed, revised, or created from scratch if it doesn’t exist. If procedures for trainers and learners have not yet been developed, they are established in this phase.


This phase is the actual delivery of the course. The Implementation phase is a valuable opportunity to improve a course by gathering data from learner and instructor feedback.


Although Evaluation is listed as the last phase of ADDIE, most developers use evaluation throughout their project. In the Design phase, the evaluation of objectives determines the type of project or instruction. The project is routinely evaluated by the developers and testers to ensure it is meeting the requirements and achieving the learning objectives. This kind of evaluation is known as Formative Evaluation. Evaluation that occurs during and after Implementation is known as Summative Evaluation, and the results of this type of evaluation feed into future improvements of the course.

As a linear model, ADDIE might not be applicable to every course or learning opportunity. Some development projects might be more effectively done using an Agile approach, or perhaps one with iterative, recursive phases. But for those looking for a systematic approach to instructional design it is a great start.

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