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What is ADDIE?

ADDIE is a step-by-step framework used by instructional designers, training developers, and learning and development specialists to create educational or training programs. The purpose of ADDIE is to organize content, streamline development and ensure a structured framework for every course. ADDIE is one of the most popular Instructional Systems Design (ISD) models. ISD models, like ADDIE, include formal planning to outline goals, assess, and measure gains.

ADDIE is an acronym that stands for each of its 5 stages: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation. Each stage of the ADDIE process is meant to produce an outcome that will eventually feed into the next.

While the stages are meant to be used in order, course designers are encouraged to gather feedback as they progress. A key element of each stage of the ADDIE process is formative evaluation, which focuses on spotting problems with the goal of enhancing the entire course. This may result in some iteration or pivots, but allows for continuous improvement during development.

The 5 stages of the ADDIE model

1. Analysis

The first stage of ADDIE, analysis, involves assessing the lay of the land. In analysis, you’ll want to immerse yourself in understanding the learners, their needs, the learning gaps, and the larger context. You’ll identify the goals and objectives for the course, fully understand the purpose of the course and define the outcome that should be achieved. It’s also a time to identify the resources available to you: including LMS, course authoring tools, media, and subject matter experts.

To meet the objectives of the program, it is important that all the required data is collected before moving to the next step. To make sure that all bases are covered, use these guiding questions:

  • Who is the audience? What do you know about their background – age, location, nationality, education and work experience, passion, interest, their feedback from previous courses, cultural background, training goals, etc.
  • What are the learning needs and goals? What do learners need to achieve by the end of the course?
  • What do previous or existing learning materials look like?
  • What limitations are there on resources – technical, support, financial, time?
  • What are delivery options? (i.e. LMS) What does an ideal learning environment look like? Are there options available? Can a blended methodology be considered?
  • What are the existing online teaching considerations?
  • Timeline for project completion?
  • What are your curriculum learning outcomes?
  • What is going to be your method of testing or assessment?
2. Designs

Once you are done collecting data, you can proceed to the next stage: Design.

This is the blueprinting phase where instructional designers create the map for the project with all necessary components. Using the learnings and key points from the ‘Analysis’ phase, instructional designers will identify specific objectives, construct course outlines, and finalize the design plan.

In this stage:

  • Define the learning objectives
  • Document the design strategy
  • Select the delivery methods
  • Structure and provide timing and duration for each module
  • Define the parameters for media selection– audio, video, graphics, others?
  • Create the storyboard
  • Create a prototype to test user experience and user interface
  • Develop the visual and graphic design
  • Identify the instrument for assessment
  • Select resources to use to complete the development of the course
  • Define the type of approaches to be used – collaborative, interactive or individually?
  • Spell out the knowledge and skill to be developed in each module or activity

The desired output for this stage is a blueprint of the course, including the design, storyboards and prototype for feedback and iteration.

3. Development

Development is where the rubber hits the road. This is the stage where you create the content and the actual course. Each element is developed in this phase according to the specifications outlined in the design stage, including style guide, colors, fonts, graphics etc.

As with the previous stage, creating a prototype helps in modeling what the experience will look like. This more detailed version allows you to collect feedback and approval before moving forward with a full development cycle.

Guided by the prototype and storyboards, the instructional designer will begin to create every element of the course. This includes writing course content, designing questions, or creating multimedia.

This stage focuses on developing and refining each element. This means that grammar, syntax, design, and everything else - down to the last bit of every detail – will be ready for learner consumption.

It does not mean, however, that this stage isn’t subject to iteration. Remember, the whole ADDIE process is about continuous improvement. As such, the ‘Development’ phase also includes running periodic quality assurance (QA) testing to make sure development meets the design specification and that a quality course is being developed.

4. Implementation

The implementation phase is about preparing and managing the environment for the course so it can be delivered to learners. This phase also includes conducting necessary training for instructors if they are integral part of the delivery or user experience.

In this phase, learners begin to see the content in their learning environment. Evaluation and detailed tracking are done to analyze if learning objectives are being met by both the instructor and learner. This is best done through a platform like an LMS that provides robust reporting.

By the end of this stage, your course is being rolled out and distributed among the learners.

5. Evaluation

There are two parts to evaluating a course: Formative and summative. Formative assessment happens at each stage of course development in the ADDIE model. During the last evaluation phase, a summative assessment should be performed. The purpose of the summative evaluation is to determine if the training reaches desired outcomes and identify any points that need to be enhanced. This is a constant, ongoing improvement cycle that ensures that the learners receive the knowledge and skills they need to reach a desired outcome in a course.

The outcome of this stage should include a formal evaluation report and concrete next steps to improve the course.


ADDIE gives instructional designers the framework they need to consistently create effective training and learning experiences. The process also emphasizes touchpoints that allow for feedback before moving towards full development.

The right course authoring tool and learning management system can help you get the most from the courses you build with ADDIE. Visit to find out more.