The ADDIE Model for Instructional Design Explained

You are here:

The ADDIE model is a great tool for designing effective learning programs. Today’s rapid increase in technological capabilities requires continuous upskilling. In this article, we will explain why the ADDIE model for instructional design is a great tool to guide this process. We will introduce the model and list all the different steps you need to go through to deliver a great training or learning intervention. Let’s get started!

Contents
What is the ADDIE model?
The ADDIE model explained
Rapid instructional design
Before you go
FAQ

What is the ADDIE model?

ADDIE is an acronym for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. The ADDIE model is arguably the best-known model for instructional design. Instructional design is the process of designing, developing, and delivering learning content.

The biggest advantage of the ADDIE model is that it provides a structured framework that helps to ensure that you create an effective learning product. A learning product can be online or offline training, a coaching session, lecture, information brochure, or any other product aimed at transferring knowledge from a subject matter expert to one or more individuals.

Making use of the ADDIE model offers other advantages. The model helps to identify the learning need in a structured way. Second, it ensures that all learning activities serve that goal. In other words, it offers an integrated approach to learning. And third, it helps in determining learning effectiveness because the relevant job behaviors and their required knowledge and skills are clearly defined in the ADDIE framework. This helps in measuring learning effectiveness

ADDIE model for instructional design

The ADDIE Model explained

ADDIE is an acronym for Analyze, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. We will now go through each of these phases and highlight their key points. 

Related (free) resource ahead! Continue reading below ↓

People Analytics Resource Library

Download our list of key HR Analytics resources (90+) that will help you improve your expertise and initiatives. Your one-stop-shop for People Analytics!

Analyze

The first phase of the ADDIE model is called ‘Analyze’. In this phase, the problem is identified, the training needs analyzed, the target audience identified, and the high-level learning goals are listed.

  • The first key activity is problem identification. A stakeholder reaches out to you as a trainer or instructional designer with a burning problem. This can be low sales, a non-inclusive culture, or an organization that is missing the skills to become more digital. Based on this, you need to analyze what the business problem is, and if this problem can be solved through training – or whether other organizational development interventions will be more effective. Only if a learning intervention can tangibly solve this problem, you can continue to the next step.
ADDIE Model - Analyze
  • The training needs analysis (TNA) is another key activity in this stage. The training needs analysis is a process in which the gap between the actual and the desired knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) in a job are identified. This is input for all the other steps in the ADDIE design process.
Training needs analysis
  • In line with the findings from the TNA, the top-level learning goals are defined. These learning goals are the basis on which the training is based and will be defined in more detail in the design phase. It will also serve as a measure of training success. A common method of measuring training effectiveness is to do a pre- and post-test. The learning goals can be used as a measure.
  • The target audience is determined. A good tool is to create one or more trainee personas with the general characteristics of the target audience as well as prior knowledge and experience. This helps to tailor the training delivery method to its audience, as well as the examples used during the training to make the content relatable.
  • Stakeholders’ needs are identified. It is key to understand the expectations of the different stakeholders. The instructional designer should actively manage these expectations.
  • Based on all the information gathered in this phase, the resources required for the training can be mapped. This includes the number of training hours, duration, required budget, facilities, and additional information.

With this, most of the information in this phase is collected.  

Design 

In the design phase, all the information from the Analyze phase is translated into a learning design and coordinated with the stakeholders. 

  • Creation of a learning intervention outline. In this phase, a high-level outline is created. This outline will structure the learning intervention and specify learning objectives per workshop, lesson, or other learning interventions. Here the data from the previous phase serves as input.
  • Together with the creation of the outline, the learning intervention is mapped. The intervention can be offline, online, or blended. The exact details will become clearer in the next phase. These are important considerations as they will impact the timelines and may require stakeholder management.
  • Mapping evaluation methods. Here you assess what evaluation will be most appropriate from a learning design standpoint. Based on Kirkpatrick’s model, effectiveness can be measured on different levels. Not every training justifies measurements on all levels. Measuring reactions to the training may suffice for simpler training. As a rule of thumb, a full impact analysis, or Return-on-Investment (ROI) calculation, is only justified in 5% of all training, specifically for training with a high investment that tackles a critical business issue (Philips, 2003).
The Kirkpatrick model
  • Alignment with stakeholder. Finally, stakeholders need to be briefed and updated on the learning goals and learning design choices. This is the phase in which things can easily be changed. You need to have your stakeholders aligned before you start to invest in building the content in the implementation phase.

This design is then the input for the development phase, which is up next.

Development

The development phase is about the development of the different designs into working products. First, you will think of the approach. Next, you will decide to build this in-house or develop it externally. Finally, you will execute and make, buy, or borrow the learning content. 

  • Determining the delivery method. Your delivery method can be in-person, online, or blended. Depending on the delivery method, different parties and technologies will be involved. You may build and provide the training yourself, or work with an external provider. The course can also be hosted on the company’s LMS through the use of a SCORM file, or on the vendor’s platform.
  • Production of the learning product in line with the design. This represents the bulk of the work in the development phase. As noted earlier, this part may be outsourced to a trainer who is a subject matter expert, or a training organization with relevant knowledge. It is the role of the instructional designer to ensure that the learning product will align with the specifications of the design and the findings in the TNA.
  • Next, you should determine the instructional strategies, media, and methods. The learning intervention often uses multiple methods and ways to deliver the content. This is designed in this phase.
  • Quality evaluation of the learning product. The quality evaluation can happen through pilots and product reviews. This can happen by testing the product yourself, having a few L&D colleagues go through it, or by piloting the content with a small-scale group to fine-tune the content, timing, and delivery.
  • Development and evaluation of assessments and evaluation tools. In the design phase, we saw that the learning content should be evaluated. In the development phase, these evaluations are created, and the delivery systems should be in place. Web-based tools are often used here, such as survey monkey or Qualtrics.
  • Deployment of required technology. Next to the evaluation technology, the learning content also needs a place to be hosted. Online video conferencing software can be used such as Teams, Webex, Zoom, or Livestorm, as well as the local learning management system, or LMS. These systems include Cornerstone, TalentLMS, and Moodle.
  • Development of a communication strategy around the learning intervention. Learning requires time and attention – and both are scarce resources. Creating a clear communication strategy will make the learning top-of-mind and help to create more impact.

Once the development is completed, it can be implemented – the training can commence!

Become an HR Reporting Specialist HR Metrics & Reporting
Certificate Program
Learn to turn HR data into visually intuitive dashboards
that impact key decision-making at your organization.
Download Syllabus

Implement

The implementation phase is about the delivery of the training and involves mostly project management. Key elements include communication with participants, logistics, data collection, and running a train-the-trainers program for the global roll-out of offline initiatives.

  • Participation in side-programs. This is not aimed at the training delivery yet – rather at extra (support) programs for the training. This reminds me of our first PC in the late 1980s, which my father, who worked as a civil servant, was able to buy at a lower rate so that he could practice at home what they trained at work. This was a highly effective program. More contemporary alternatives are optional coaching programs offered next to webinar-based training so that interactive and digital elements blend.
  • Training delivery & participation. The training delivery is the key element in this phase. This also includes the delivery of other material outside the training that may help to achieve its goals, such as guides, manuals, or FAQs. These resources can help support learners. E.g., when a technology training is launched, it is useful to also have an FAQ in place as well as additional IT support to cope with an increase in capacity and usage questions.
  • Changes in the physical environment. For some training activities, changes in the physical environment may have to be made. This can be workplace design changes after a communication training or the use of posters, props, or other symbols that reinforce key messages.
  • Implementation of a communication plan. This revolves around the communication around the start and course of the program. Often forgotten, a good implementation of the communication plan helps to build excitement around the training intervention. This buzz also helps to put the spotlight on the desired behaviors. If the organization needs to become more data-driven, the buzz around the program can already trigger people to work in a more data-driven manner.
  • Execution of formal evaluations. Depending on the choices made in the analysis phase, different methods for training evaluation can be used. These can include training evaluation forms and pre-and post-training assessments (potentially with a control group). Commonly used instruments include questionnaires, interviews, observations, knowledge assessments, work assessments, 360-degree feedback, and work output data. Some of these activities fall under the next phase, evaluation. 

Evaluation

Evaluation is the constant that is part of each of the different stages, while it is also a stage in the ADDIE model. This means that as soon as you have delivered your first workshop, you want to implement improvements whenever possible.

  • An integral part of each step. During the design, development, and delivery of the learning program, it is a best practice to continuously evaluate. This can be done by testing the program in a small focus group, or by continuously collecting improvement points. For example, after the first training, there will be some obvious points of improvement and unanswered questions that were not spotted in earlier stages. Addressing and implementing these quickly will increase the impact of the training.
  • Evaluation. This relates to the formal evaluation of the program. This can be through post-assessments which take place directly after the training, observations that can take place two to six months after the learning program, or using productivity data until a year after the training. All these sources inform about what people learned, if and how it is applied, and what the result is. 
  • Continuous learning. The internal instructional design team should also use this as a moment to learn as a team, evaluate which processes went well and which ones should be improved moving forward. 
  • Propose points of improvement. When the delivery of the program has been completed, create a list of improvements. When the program is expected to be continued, the improvements can be implemented. For programs that will be put on the shelf, these evaluations can be added so that when the same program is used in the future, the learnings are not lost.
  • Evaluation of the business case. Based on the formal evaluation, you should be able to evaluate to what degree the training objectives were met. Feed these results back to your stakeholders and inquire about their satisfaction with the training program, as this will provide excellent input for future programs. 
StageKey activities
1. Analyze
Problem identification Training needs analysis Identify top-level learning goal Identify target audience Identify stakeholder needs Map required resources
2. Design
Create a learning intervention outline High-level mapping of learning intervention Mapping of evaluation methods Development of a communication strategy Alignment with stakeholders
3. Development
Determine the delivery method Production of the learning product Determine the instructional strategies, media, and methods Quality evaluation Development and evaluation of assessments & tooling Deployment of learning technology Development of a communication strategy
4. Implementation
Participation in side-programs Training delivery & participation Changes in the physical environment Implementation of communication plan Execution of formal evaluation
5. Evaluation
Integral part of each step Evaluation Continuous learning Propose points of improvements Evaluation of the business case

That wraps up the last stage in the ADDIE process. The biggest drawback of going through this entire process is its speed (or the lack of it). The output of the previous step serves as the input for the next step. This is similar to the traditional ‘waterfall’ method. This approach takes a long time, during which the learning and content needs may change. This can lead to a misfit between the end product and the reason why the process was started in the first place. Rapid instructional design offers a potential solution. 

The ADDIE model as a waterfall process

The ADDIE model as a linear waterfall process (based on Mooijman et al., 2018)

Rapid instructional design

Rapid instructional design is a more agile approach to instructional design. In this approach, rapid development techniques, which originate from software development, are applied to instructional design. This enables a continuous review process until the product is fully finished.

According to Piskurich (2015), rapid instructional design is a continuing process, with new aspects being added and evaluated each week until the program is completed. 

The idea is to create a proof of concept (POC) and have learners and/or stakeholders interact with it on a continuous basis to provide feedback. The goal here is to learn and improve. This feedback is then incorporated into the next POC until the product is finished. This is translated into the following five steps. 

  1. Initial definition of learning goals and requirements
  2. Rapid prototyping of a proof of concept
  3. Evaluation of the prototype with stakeholders, followed by iterative improvements and adjustments of goals and requirements based on the POC
  4. Implementation of the adjusted goals and requirements in an upgraded version of the POC
  5. Step 2 through 4 are repeated until the end result has been achieved

This is a clearly iterative approach build on the principles of build – measure – learn as commonly practiced in the lean methodology.

HR 2025
Competency Assessment

Do you have the competencies needed to remain relevant? Take the 5 minute assessment to find out!

Start Free Assessment

The figure below shows this iterative process, in which prototypes are developed in a rapid pace and continuously aligned with the project planning and project goals. It is not uncommon to have multiple iterations within a specific phase. For example, if the outline does not fit user needs, you will have to iterate the outline one or more times before moving onward to the design prototype.

Rapid instructional design - Agile ADDIE model

Rapid instructional design (based on Mooijman et al., 2018)

An example is one of the HR upskilling projects that are run by the Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR). The training has a blended approach – the setup is predominantly online learning with monthly sessions based on learners’ needs. 

These sessions are used to motivate people to go through the e-learning, while also providing the students with assignments and challenges that they need to solve. These assignment and challenges are always related to organizational issues and will change over time based on the then current needs. This creates a program in which employees upskill while also contributing to solving organizational issues in these offline workshops. This helps them to apply their learnings by creating direct business impact.

Before you go

If you want to learn more about learning and development and want to upskill your team – or yourself – check out our learning & development certificate program. If you are looking to upskill your HR population, check out the Academy to Innovate HR.

FAQ

What is ADDIE?

ADDIE is an acronym for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate.

What is the ADDIE model?

The ADDIE model is arguably the best-known model for instructional design. Instructional design is the process of designing, developing, and delivering learning content.

What is the first step in the ADDIE training process?

The first phase of the ADDIE model is called ‘Analyze’. In this phase, the problem is identified, the training needs analyzed, the target audience identified, and the high-level learning goals are listed.

What is the second step in the ADDIE training process?

The second phase of the ADDIE model is called ‘Design’. In the design phase, all the information from the Analyze phase is translated into a learning design and coordinated with the stakeholders. 

What is the third step in the ADDIE training process?

The second phase of the ADDIE model is called ‘Development’. The development phase is about the development of the different designs into working products. First, you will think of the approach. Next, you will decide to build this in-house or develop it externally. Finally, you will execute and make, buy, or borrow the learning content. 

What is the final step in the ADDIE training process?

Evaluation is the constant that is part of each of the different stages, while it is also the final stage in the ADDIE model. This means that as soon as you have delivered your first workshop, you want to implement improvements whenever possible.

Are you ready for the future of HR?

Learn modern and relevant HR skills, online

Browse courses Enroll now