The ADDIE Instructional Design Model
A Structured Training Methodology
The ADDIE instructional design model provides a step-by-step process that helps training
specialists plan and create training programs. The ADDIE design model revolves around the
following five components:
These five stages of the ADDIE model encompass the entire training development process, from
the time someone first asks, "What do people need to learn?" all the way to the point where
someone actually measures, "Did people learn what they needed?"
The ADDIE Process
The ADDIE instructional design model forms a roadmap for the entire training project.
The ADDIE Analysis Phase
The First Steps to Quality Training
Let's take a look at the first phase in the ADDIE instructional design model—the analysis phase.
Great training programs don't come together by accident. They require planning and analysis.
You'll produce the best training if you first analyze three important areas:
• The business goals you want to achieve
• The material that must be taught
• The learners' current capabilities
In this section, we'll examine how the ADDIE analysis phase works.
The Value of a Needs Analysis
We're regularly contacted by clients that have important and urgent training projects.
Sometimes, a client will ask Intulogy to skip the analysis phase and jump straight to training
development. They'll say, "Let's get people writing training materials now!" However, that can be
a risky and very costly approach.
Carpenters utilize the old adage, "measure twice; cut once." Even though carpenters are talking
about wood, and we're talking about training, we share a common goal—do it right the first time.
So, we could change the carpenter's old adage to fit the ADDIE methodology. "Analyze fully;
The ADDIE analysis phase serves a major role in the quality assurance process. It defines the
project's needs and ways to measure its success. If you skip the ADDIE analysis phase, you can
easily introduce mistaken assumptions into the project.
• Wrong focus—the course content may not address the company's business needs
• Too easy or too hard—the course could bore or frustrate the learners
• Incomplete, redundant, or inaccurate content—the course might not teach the correct
If you rush to development, you may not catch those errors until you launch the course. At that
point, it can be very costly to fix or redesign the course. In essence, the training needs analysis
is time well-spent.
Who Guides the Needs Analysis?
During the needs analysis phase, the training specialist may speak with many people to learn
about the project and its overall goals. Here are just a few examples of individuals who can
• Project sponsors (executives or senior leadership)—who can discuss the business goals
• Subject matter experts—who can describe undocumented knowledge
• Representative members of the target audience—who can demonstrate their current
skills and behaviors
It is often critical to work with anyone who will be impacted by or have influence on the final
Questions that Drive the Analysis
When you start your project with a training needs analysis, you collect critical information about
business needs, learners' capabilities, and course content. Here are some of the questions that a
training specialist may ask during the ADDIE analysis phase:
• What are the business needs driving this training project?
• What are the goals and objectives for this training project?
• How will you define success for both the learner and the project?
• How will you measure that success?
• Who is the intended training audience?
• What do the members of the learning audience already know?
• What do they need to learn?
• What resources are already available?
The training specialist uses the answers to these, and any possible combination of other
questions, to write the course's performance objectives.
Steps in the Needs Analysis
In this section, you can learn about the five steps that Intulogy's training specialists perform
during the ADDIE analysis phase:
• Discover any existing materials
• Define measurable business goals
• Conduct an instructional analysis
• Analyze learners and contexts
• Write learning objectives
Some of these steps can happen concurrently, but generally our training specialists begin with
the discovery process.
ADDIE Instructional Design Phase
The Role of Instructional Design
Once a training specialist has written the course's learning objectives and confirmed them with
the client, it's time to begin the instructional design phase. During the design phase, the training
specialist plans what the course should look like when it's complete.
At the end of the instructional design phase, the training specialist produces an instructional
design document for the course. In many ways, this document is similar to an architect's
blueprints or a software engineer's design document. The instructional design document
describes the course's content, but it doesn't contain the course content—just like a blueprint
isn't a house and a software design document isn't the actual software.
In this section, we'll explore the ADDIE instructional design phase and the steps that a training
specialist takes to build the instructional design document.
Create an Instructional Strategy
At the start of the instructional design phase, the training specialist should have a pretty good
idea of what the learners will already know when they start the course (through a learner
analysis). The training specialist should also know what learners will need to learn during the
course (as stated in the learning objectives).
How do you create a course that helps people move from what they already know and gain
mastery of the new material? That's the question that the instructional design process answers.
During the instructional design phase, the training specialist reviews the course's learning
objectives and considers the following questions:
• How should content be organized?
• How should ideas be presented to learners?
• What delivery format should be used?
• What types of activities and exercises will best help learners?
• How should the course measure learners' accomplishments?
The answers to these questions help the training specialist produce the instructional design
document. This document describes the course structure and its instructional strategies.
During the instructional design phase, the training specialist does not create course content. The
actual course content and training materials will be created during the training development
Steps in the Instructional Design Phase
There are basically three steps in the instructional design phase:
• Plan the instructional strategy
• Select the course format
• Write the instructional design document
We will examine each step in more detail in this section, beginning with the instructional
ADDIE Development Phase
Successful Training Development
On the surface, training development seems simple—training specialists create the course
materials, yet what separates a great course that fulfils its objectives from a weak course that
misses its mark and puts people to sleep?
Here's what our training specialists have learned through experience. A successful development
phase draws upon the information collected in the needs analysis phase and the decisions made
in the instructional design phase.
If the team has done solid work during the first two phases of the ADDIE methodology, then the
training development phase should proceed smoothly and quickly. The training specialists and
client have agreed on the course's purpose, structure, and content. Now it's easy to focus on
writing the materials.
In contrast, if there are unresolved issues from the first two ADDIE phases, then problems
usually start to appear in the training development phase. You might see missed deadlines, weak
and off-target materials, and even substantial cost overruns.
Steps in Training Development
In this section, we'll look at the ADDIE model's training development phase. We'll focus our
discussion on the high-level steps that are common to most training projects. If you're looking
for specific advice on how to format a leader's guide or how to create an e-learning template,
this section probably won't help you. Instead, we look at the strategic processes that Intulogy's
training specialists use to create training materials for our clients:
• Create a prototype
• Develop the course materials
• Conduct a tabletop review
• Run a pilot session
Since there are many types of training projects, the development phase often adapts to fit the
project and the client's needs. One project might devote a lot of time to prototyping, while
another session may devote more time to tabletop review and pilot testing. In many situations,
it's a matter of matching the right quality assurance steps to the project. Our training
development in the workplace page explores these choices in greater detail.
However, our step-by-step review of the ADDIE methodology continues with a discussion of
ADDIE Implementation Phase
Launching the Course
The ADDIE model provides a systematic methodology to plan, develop, and test the course
before it launches. If you follow the ADDIE model, you'll have a high degree of confidence about
the course when it's ready to launch:
• The course meets important business goals
• The course covers content that learners need to know
• The course reflects the learners existing capabilities
Additionally, you'll have reviewed the course's content for accuracy and completeness. You'll also
have conducted a pilot test to ensure that learners will actually master the skills they need to
achieve the course's learning objectives.
It's possible for someone to write and launch a course without following the ADDIE instructional
design methodology, but there's a much higher degree of risk. The course could have the wrong
focus, confuse or frustrate the learners, or even lack critical content. So, if the course has been
developed without planning or testing, then all you can do is hope that the course will go well.
Course Delivery Issues
There are plenty of issues to address during the ADDIE implementation phase. It's important to
make sure that the course gets delivered smoothly and effectively to the learners. Of course,
these delivery issues will substantially depend on the course's delivery format. Generally, the
implementation phase contains a lot of project management and logistics issues.
Let's take a brief look at the training delivery issues for a company that wants to offer instructor-
led courses to 2,000 employees who work at sites across the United States. During the one-day
course, learners will gather in classes (ranging between eight and fifteen learners). Each learner
will need to receive a course workbook and have access to an internet-ready computer. Some of
the client's sites have classrooms with computers, but many sites will need to go to offsite
locations for training.
Here are just a few of the implementation issues that the delivery team will need to decide.
• Establish the timetable for the course rollout
• Schedule the courses, enroll learners, and reserve on-site and off-site classrooms
• Notify learners and their supervisors about the course
• Select trainers and prepare them with a custom train-the-trainer
• Arrange for the printer to deliver course workbooks to the class site
• Ensure all sites will have internet-ready computers and arrange for laptops to be
shipped when necessary
• Manage travel and expenses for the trainers and/or learners
The rollout of a national training program often becomes a complex, choreographed activity.
Usually, the planning for the delivery phase starts well before the course is ready for
implementation. We'll take a look at how the ADDIE implementation phase intersects with the
corporate world in our In the Workplace section.
Once the course has been delivered, it's time for the final phase of the ADDIE model—the
ADDIE Evaluation Phase
Evaluating the Course
The ADDIE model stresses the concept that good training programs require planning, review,
and revision. Each of the five ADDIE phases provide review checkpoints that allow the training
specialist and the client to evaluate the work that has been produced so far.
The ADDIE evaluation phase can produce pretty graphs and metrics, but that's not its main
purpose. The evaluation phase measures the course's efficacy and locates opportunities to
improve learners' on-the-job performance.
When a course launches, it's not the end of the process. The ADDIE evaluation phase provides a
final review checkpoint for the project. During the evaluation phase, the training specialist
measures how well the project achieved its goals. Here are just some of the questions that might
be explored during the evaluation phase.
• Do learners like the course?
• Do learners achieve the learning objectives at the end of the course?
• Do the learners change their behaviors in the workplace?
• Does the course help the company achieve its business goals?
For some questions, it's fairly easy to collect information. You can find out learners' opinions of
the course through a short survey immediately after the course. A pre-test and post-test can
measure how well learners achieved the learning objectives.
However, it takes more time and effort to measure changes in workplace behaviors and
improvement towards business goals. In both cases, you can't measure these results
immediately. You want to measure the long-term improvements rather than the immediate
results. The evaluation phase can extend for months.
Effective training helps learners make lasting changes to their workplace behaviors. The changes
shouldn't just last for a few days or a few weeks, but they should remain with the learner
months after the training course. A training specialist might follow-up with a sample group of
learners several months after the course to see what the learners currently do. While the training
specialist might identify people who need refresher training, the study's purpose is to measure
the course's long-term effectiveness. If many of the learners quickly fall back into their old
habits, then that's a course-level issue that needs the training specialist's attention.
Similarly, the course should produce measurable business results. During the needs analysis
phase, the training specialist asked the company's leadership to identify business metrics that
they want to improve through the training. Some courses may have an immediate effect on a
metric that's measured daily or weekly, but many courses affect metrics that take longer to
measure and detect a change. Sometimes the company has to wait an entire quarter or longer
before it can measure the course's impact on its business results.