The ADDIE Model for E-Learning Instructional Design

4 minutes

There are different schools of thought on how best to design courses, whether mobile, online or otherwise. One very useful model for design – also known as instructional design – is represented by the acronym ADDIE. It is a design process model that is made up of five distinct parts: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation. This post will look at each part in turn and describe how they can be applied in the development of an e-Learning based course.

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A – Analysis

In this phase of the process, the instructional designer will need to analyze all the factors needed to develop a timely, relatable course.

  1. The goals of the organization in offering the training – in other words, what problem(s) that the organization has identified will be solved within the training?
  2. What skills or knowledge do the students already have, to avoid duplication or redundant information? Also, what skills and knowledge they need to have prior to taking the course, in order for it to be effective.
  3. Establishing the links between the learning objectives and real world concepts from the work environment to ensure that the students retain a maximum amount of information.
  4. Are there any barriers to using e-Learning as the method of delivery? For example, if all the designated students don’t have access to mobile technology.

D – Design

In this phase of the design process, the goal is to plan and specify the course objectives, each topic within it that will be reviewed, what media and resources will be used to support the e-Learning effort, the actual content of the course, and finally, how the students and the effectiveness of the course itself will be evaluated. Essentially, this is the meat of the course development, where the content is meted out in a detailed fashion.

D – Development

This is the phase where the actual development of what was planned in the Design phase takes place. Assuming that e-Learning is the platform through which the course will be delivered, the bulk of the development phase centres around the actual production of the course itself.

  1. All the resources and materials are collected including instructional aids, resources, tools and so on.
  2. The content and the various resources, tools and evaluation methods need to be combined into a cohesive presentation.
  3. The content is evaluated at this stage to ensure that it is meeting the organization’s goals that were identified in the Analysis phase. This is sometimes referred to as testing the course.
  4. In addition to resources collected, some parts of the course content or the resources / aids / materials will need to be created so that they specifically reflect the objectives of the course and the needs of the students.

I – Implementation

This is quite literally the phase where the course is launched and made available to the students identified as requiring the information provided.

In an e-Learning environment, this can involve an online component being activated for chatting and questions with the instructor, as well as group sharing activities, testing and other evaluation techniques.

E – Evaluation

Following the implementation of the course, a system of feedback is necessary to ensure that the e-Learning module has met the needs of the organization, the students, and has been presented as effectively and with all the necessary tools and aids.

An online survey, for example, can be used to elicit this feedback online from students and from management levels.

This is particularly important with e-Learning to ensure that the materials are relevant to the students: both in terms of the content and the timeliness of the delivery of said content.


The ADDIE model is ideal for e-Learning instructional design as it provides a relatively simple process that the author can follow but also ensures that an important element is not forgotten. With e-Learning often being developed quickly to respond to changing organizational needs, a simple process that keeps the authoring consistent and clear benefits everyone.

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If you have any ideas what kind of e-Learning topics you’d like to see discussed, feel free to leave a comment; we’re always happy to write new content for you.

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4 comments on “The ADDIE Model for E-Learning Instructional Design

  • Good job! This is a good overview of the ADDIE process. It has been around for a long time and it is pretty much the standard to creating eLearning, but in reality it’s not that different a series of steps as you might find in other fields too.

    For instance, when you want to build a house, you will go through similar phases:
    1. Analysis: what kind of house do the occupants need? A colonial, a ranch house, a mansion or microhome? Choosing to build the wrong type at the start can lead to very unfortunate situations. For instance, the occupants may be elderly and have difficulty using stairs, and so would find living in a two- or three-level colonial home very uncomfortable, greatly preferring a ranch-style home.

    What kind of budget is in place for the house? What kind of materials do the owners prefer for the exterior (brick, vinyl, wood, etc.)? How many bedrooms and bathrooms will be needed?

    Many other questions must be answered at the start of almost any type of project.

    2. Design: this is where the architect will then take the results of the analysis and create a blueprint that will serve the family’s needs.

    3. Development: Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and every other type of discipline needed will be brought to bear and will need to work together and in the right order so that they don’t make each other’s work difficult. For instance, plumbing may have to be installed before wiring is.

    4. Implementation: The finished product is now ready and the owners are ready to move in.

    5. Evaluation: Over the next few days, weeks, and months, the owners will identify any problems in the home due to mistakes in the design or development and report them to be fixed. For instance, after we built the house in which we live, we found a problem with the bathtub not draining properly and at least one electrical outlet that did not work.

    Having written the above, I must point out that ADDIE can also lead to problems when taken too literally. For instance, in the above, if the analysis or the draft design are not completely vetted before development begins, it will be much more costly to add a bedroom or bathroom later. To solve this, the potential homeowners must meet and review each step along the way at least two or three times to review the suggested design, for instance, and suggest changes they would like to improve upon it at that stage, when it costs much less to implement those changes. By the second or third iteration, the homeowner will be happy with the proposed design.

    This is sometimes called the iterative process or the rapid prototyping process.

    ADDIE and rapid prototyping are not mutually exclusive. I tend to follow the five ADDIE phases while incorporating rapid protoyping along the way, most especially in the design phase.

    Many like to deride the ADDIE approach entirely but I think that is largely unfair, as the steps themselves are inherently correctly identified and correctly ordered, but we cannot afford to follow those steps so literally and in such a lock-step approach that we don’t allow ourselves to ensure that each phase contains opportunities for refinement before the next step is implemented.

    By the way, in the design phase I always include a semi-functioning prototype of the design because it’s difficult for anyone to truly envision how the end result will look and feel by just reading descriptions and looking at draft drawings. A short prototype is the best way to help everyone truly understand what the end product will be. In the case of the house we’re building, it may be a tabletop version of the home as it is to be built, or a computer-generated 3D model one can “walk through” on a computer to understand the true feel for the layout.

    If anyone has any questions on what I’ve written, you’re welcome to write me at

    Joe Ganci
    eLearningJoe, LLC

  • Joe, thank you so much for sharing with us your opinion!
    Indeed, this approach can be used in many fields of everyday practices. Everything should be considered to avoid negative consequences in the future.
    This also helps to find hidden dangers before make a step.

  • Joe, thank you so much for sharing your opinion with us!
    Indeed, this approach can be used in many everyday practices. Everything should be considered to avoid negative consequences in the future.
    This also helps to find hidden dangers before taking any steps.

  • You’re very welcome. One of the most popular conference sessions and webinars I’ve given has been The Top 10 Blunders in Creating eLearning and many of the blunders has to do with skipping some of the steps above! :-)

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