The ADDIE Model Explained: Evolution, Steps, and Applications

The ADDIE Model Explained: Evolution, Steps, and Applications
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

Even the most learned may falter when developing a curriculum or online course without a roadmap to follow. Here, having a time-tested model like ADDIE comes in handy.

ADDIE (short for analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation) is a learning development model used by course developers and training designers. It is used for an iterative approach, making it suitable for complex curriculum or course programs, such as an online bachelor’s in hotel and restaurant management, a traditional college degree in geography or a human resources degree.

The ADDIE model serves as the basis for over 100 instructional design models today (Allen, 2006). Developed in the 1970s, this training model provides a systematic, iterative process for determining training needs, designing instructional programs and materials, implementing these programs, and evaluating their effectiveness (Gagne et al., 2005).

This article discusses the background and evolution of the ADDIE process as well as its basic concepts. It will also explain each phase of the ADDIE model and discuss this instructional design model’s possible implementations.

The ADDIE Model Table of Contents

  1. What is the ADDIE Model?
  2. Evolution of the ADDIE Model
  3. Phases of the ADDIE Model
  4. Advantages of the ADDIE model
  5. Applications of the ADDIE Model

Efficient learning is based on the concept of sound instructional design (What is Instructional Design, n.d.). Also called instructional systems design, instructional design (ID) traces its roots to the United States military’s post-World War II research into finding effective, manageable methods of creating training programs. As a result of this research, there have been more than 100 different variations of instructional design models developed since the 1970s.

Instructional design has played an integral role in the education and corporate sectors since its inception. Technology has greatly influenced various instructional design factors, including learners’ and instructors’ beliefs about knowledge, instruction, and learning (Warren et al, 2014). According to one industry trends report on instructional design, for instance, emerging technologies and concepts, such as gamification, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence continue to have an impact on the learning process.

Source: TechNavio, Business Wire

Despite advancements in technology used for education and learning, however, almost all instructional design models reflect the generic ADDIE process, developed in 1975, with its phases of analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. The following sections discuss each of these phases in detail.

What is the ADDIE Model?

The ADDIE model is an instructional design framework commonly used to develop courses and streamline the production of training material. The concept was created in 1975 by the Center for Educational Technology at Florida State University for the U.S. Army. Shortly after its inception, the ADDIE training model was adapted by the U.S. Armed Forces (Branson et al., 1975).

According to the ADDIE process, there are five phases or stages in the creation of tools that support training: analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. The original goal of the process was to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of education and training by fitting instructions to jobs and providing instruction in areas most critical to job performance (Allen, 2006).

Allen further explains that intelligently using the ADDIE model’s systems-based approach produces the most effective results in choosing solutions to instructional problems.

Evolution of the ADDIE Model

The ADDIE training model has undergone a number of changes over the years. The following sections discuss these changes more specifically.

Original ADDIE Model

The original ADDIE model encompasses a five-phase process that allowed for the analysis of instructional needs and the design, development, and implementation of instructional methods (Kurt, 2017). Evaluation methods throughout the process ensure continuous improvement, and the model was intended to be used in a linear fashion, with one phase being completed before the next began.

Allen (2006) explains that, as it was originally defined, the ADDIE process represented state-of-the-art specifications for the design and development of military training processes. When this instructional design model was developed, it was intended to be used within the context of learning highly specific job tasks by homogeneous teams of learners. Moreover, behavioral learning theories at the time stated that instruction would be efficient even without a focus on the theories behind the activities or tasks being performed.

According to Molenda et al. (1996), the original version of the ADDIE model worked well for the military and in business and industry settings as well.

Revised ADDIE Models

According to Smith & Ragan (2004), a number of factors stretched the capabilities of the original ADDIE process. These factors, which include increasingly complex job requirements, constant changes in the instructional environment, and emerging instructional technologies and instructional development tools, have resulted in the need for the ADDIE model to be revised to be adaptable to today’s instructional environments.

Several instructional design practitioners have made revisions to the original ADDIE model, making it more interactive and dynamic (Kurt, 2017). Allen (2006) points out, for instance, that, in many new iterations of the ADDIE process, evaluation assumes a central function that takes place at every phase. Moreover, many of the new versions of the ADDIE model emphasize the continuity of the process and that each phase focuses on continuous quality improvements of the overall system.

Dick et al. (2005) further explain that revised ADDIE models are designed to be simple and flexible. With these new processes, instructional design experts with varying levels of expertise can understand and use the ADDIE model in the development of effective instructional systems for a wide variety of learning objectives and environments.

Phases of the ADDIE Model

The ADDIE process is a systematic instructional design model that includes five steps or phases, each of which is discussed below.


Muruganantham (2015) claims that the analysis phase is the foundation of all other phases of instructional design, including the ADDIE process. At this initial stage, potential instructional problems and objectives are identified. Learners’ existing knowledge and skills are also evaluated to determine the type and extent of instruction needed.

Muruganantham (2015) further points out that the analysis phase can include specific research techniques such as needs analysis, goal analysis, and task analysis. A needs analysis technique, for instance, will help instructional designers determine the resources required and the potential constraints of their plans of action.

Questions included in needs analyses for this phase of the ADDIE model can include:

  • Who are the learners and what are their characteristics?
  • What skills must learners achieve by the end of the project?
  • What are the potential learning constraints?
  • What are the delivery options possible?

Mayfield (2011) further suggests that results from prior learning modules or courses should be used as input for the analysis phase. By the end of the analysis phase, learning goal targets should be determined, along with available resources for module deployment.


In the design phase of the ADDIE model, instructional designers map out the process of how learners will achieve the desired learning objectives. According to Kurt (2017), the design phase should be executed with a systematic approach, following a specific set of rules.

Data collected or obtained during the analysis phase serves as input for the design phase, helping instructional designers choose instruction strategies and materials that will be most effective for the learners involved (Arkun & Akkoyunlu, 2008). Timeframes for learning activities and feedback mechanisms are also determined at this stage of the ADDIE model.

Additionally, during this phase, potential instruction strategies are tested (Allen, 2006). Existing instructional materials are also reviewed. This helps instructional designers determine if the materials are applicable to the plans under development.


At the development phase, instructional designers get to work, creating the assets and materials described in the previous design phase. The created content includes the overall learning framework, exercises, lectures, simulations, and other training materials (Mayfield, 2011). Moreover, system testers perform various procedures that identify errors in the instructional strategies planned and improve processes as needed (ADDIE Model, n.d.).

After course materials are developed, designers also perform pilot tests where course materials and instructional methods are rehearsed (Davis, 2013). Feedback from these pilot tests can help identify weaknesses and enhance the entire program before implementation.

Given technology’s effect on learning trends today, the development phase of the process can include the integration of elearning for delivering instruction and training. According to Docebo’s 2019 E-Learning Trends report, for instance, 87% of learning and development teams are planning to use elearning as a training delivery method in 2020.

Training Delivery Technology L&D Teams Plan to Use in 2020

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Source: Docebo

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The implementation phase of the ADDIE model deals with the actual delivery of the program or course to the learners. According to Morrison et al. (2007), there are three steps to the implementation phase of the ADDIE training process:

  • training educators to increase their understanding of the course content and materials
  • arranging the learners to ensure they have access to the materials and tools they need to complete the program’s activities and ensure the expansion of their knowledge
  • setting up an environment that is conducive to learning

While learners consume the materials developed in the previous phases, instructors must ensure that learners understand the material and achieve the learning objectives. More importantly, instructors must observe and document students’ performance as well as their attitudes and behaviors towards the learning process (Yeh & Tseng, 2019). These observations serve as valuable inputs for the process’ evaluation phase.


The evaluation phase measures the effectiveness and efficiency of the instructional program. In revised ADDIE models, evaluation is the centerpiece of the process (Allen, 2006). The evaluation process starts with the analysis phase and continues throughout the lifecycle of the learning program.

According to Allen (2006), the evaluation phase consists of:

  • formative evaluation, where products and processes are evaluated at each stage of the ADDIE process to ensure quality and continued progress
  • summative evaluation, which focuses on the outcome of the learning program as a whole and includes an assessment of the program’s overall effectiveness

Allen (2006) further argues that the entire ADDIE process takes place within the framework of continuous quality improvement. As instructional designers move through the different phases of the ADDIE training model, the processes used and outcomes of each phase are evaluated against instructional requirements and principles of learning.

Advantages of the ADDIE Model

According to Mayfield (2011), the ADDIE process has become an extremely popular framework for the creation of training programs. Mayfield further claims that this instructional design model is used by many instructors, trainers, and universities.

The following are a few of the reported benefits of using the ADDIE model as a framework for designing courses:

  • Through the ADDIE model, best-practice principles for designing instructional programs can be identified. Due to the systematic nature of the process, the ADDIE model can facilitate the design and development of a large number of high-quality training courses (Dick et al., 2009).
  • The ADDIE training model helps instructional designers provide more effectively designed programs, as well as learning objectives and materials that are more clearly defined and structured. The process also allows for a more organized workload both for instructors and learners (Allen & Sites, 2012).
  • According to Branch (2010), one of the most significant advantages of the ADDIE process is that its evaluation phase can be carried out through processes that result in measurable and specific outcomes.

Implementations of the ADDIE Model

As one of the most widely used instructional design models today, the ADDIE process has been applied to numerous learning situations and environments.

For instance, a team of librarians from Oakland University used the ADDIE training model as a framework for designing an online information literacy course and strengthening student engagement (Nichols Hess & Greer, 2016). In the context of creating this course, it was discovered that the ADDIE model provided a structure that librarians can use for developing instructional methods that are more collaborative and interactive. The instructional design model also helped librarians consider student engagement and assessment more intentionally, without compromising literacy-specific standards.

A team of professionals at a small branch campus of a research university also followed the ADDIE process to redesign a general chemistry course into a blended learning course (Shibley et al., 2011). Following the phases of the ADDIE model, student learner characteristics and learning objectives were identified, along with the students’ specific pain points on the subject matter. A collaborative learning environment and class guides were created in the design and development phases to facilitate more effective online learning. By the end of the learning program, the average student grade in the course had improved.

The Future of the ADDIE Model

The ADDIE model has received its fair share of criticisms. Allen (2006), for instance, pointed out that the original ADDIE process was excessively complex and lacked systemic connections to the needs of the host organization. The many versions of ADDIE that have evolved over the years are the result of the detection of these flaws.

Despite the criticisms of the ADDIE training process, however, Wengroff (2019) believes that the model will continue to stand the test of time, due to the flexibility of its different phases and the reliability of the principles involved in its process.



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