A fundamental component of the Instructional design (ID) process is the utilization of design models. Models are essential for guiding the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of a training session or course. All instructional design models follow some variation of a three-step process:
- Analyzing a situation to determine the instructional need
- Developing and implementing an instructional solution
- Evaluating the outcomes of implementing the solution
The ADDIE model is fundamental to instructional design, as it was one of the first systematic design processes to cover these steps in a comprehensive and replicable manner. Any instructional designers or corporate trainers who understand the ADDIE model have an advantage in adopting and adapting other models to meet their learners’ instructional needs.
Let’s take a closer look at ADDIE and why it’s such a widely used design model.
What Is the ADDIE Model?
Florida State University developed ADDIE’s five-step process in the 1970s for the U.S. Army. ADDIE was then implemented across the U.S. Armed Forces before eventually becoming popularized for use in education and corporate training. Though not initially called ADDIE, the Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate phases eventually popularized the acronym.
ADDIE’s original “waterfall” design was linear, with each phase intended to be part of a sequence that informed and shaped the subsequent phase. This instructional design methodology helps to deliver more effective training and instruction, with each phase directly setting up the next. However, while the waterfall approach worked well for designing specific job tasks, the ADDIE framework was a little too static to apply for all situations.
Over the years, practitioners and learning designers have developed a more modern take on ADDIE to make the model more dynamic and iterative. In this updated circular flow, evaluation is not a final “step,” but is now at the heart of the process. Every phase invites an opportunity to evaluate the current approach, iterate on the process and then inform the following phases.
Now, let’s get into the key points of each phase of ADDIE.
The Analysis Phase
You’ll start the process by gathering information and analyzing the situation to determine what problem you’re solving and what the instructional goal is. You should move to the next phase only if you determine that instruction is needed to solve the problem and/or meet the goal.
During the analysis phase, you’ll need to ask pointed questions about the situation, the materials, and the learners, such as:
- What are the learning goals and objectives?
- What is the audience? What are their needs?
- Are there any learning constraints?
- What is the learning environment?
- What kind of tools and resources are available?
- What is the timeline?
By the end of the analysis phase, you should be able to identify the learners’ needs, describe the instructional goal, and be aware of constraints and available resources. From there, you can move forward with the design.
The Design Phase
In this phase, you apply the conclusions from your initial analysis toward designing an outline of the course/training. Here’s where you’ll determine the learning objectives, content, assessment methods, and course/training delivery methods. This phase requires a few considerations as you’ll need to:
- Interview subject matter experts for detailed information and insights on content
- Determine the appropriate media and technology tools that learners will use
- Establish how collaborative and interactive the content should be
- Identify the knowledge and skills learners should develop after each task
Once you’ve settled on the design, consult with the stakeholders for feedback. When you’ve incorporated the feedback and received a final sign-off from the stakeholders, you’ll move on to develop your instructional design.
The Develop Phase
Here’s where you’ll organize your instructional strategies and work with other experts to create instructional materials. As the instructional designer, you’ll collaborate with a design team that may include graphic designers, instructional technologists, eLearning developers, and online course developers. In some instances, you make take on all of these roles. Whether you’re part of a team or working independently, it’s important to review:
- Is the creation and development of the materials on track to meet deadlines?
- Are the materials from the SME sufficient and up-to-date? Do any content or resource materials need to be redesigned or developed?
- Are there any incompatibilities that arise? Are some tools unusable?
You can make use of storyboards to visualize the training and develop prototypes. Throughout the development phase, you’ll need to go through a testing and review process to ensure that everything works — both practically and in alignment with the overall design. This process can be time-consuming, as you must reassess and iterate the instructional solution if you identify any disconnects or inefficiencies.
Patience and care are essential, as you’ll want to be confident in all aspects of your lesson/training before moving on to implementation.
The Implement Phase
You’re now ready to deliver the material to the intended audience of learners, which you can approach as a three-stage process:
- Start by training the instructors/facilitators on the learning outcomes, the recommended delivery method, and the appropriate use of tools and technology. You’ll also determine how to record learner progress and gather feedback.
- Ensure the course facilitator has all the materials and tools learners need to complete the required learning activities.
- Have a means of documenting learner performance as they take the course. Also, have a backup plan handy for lessons and activities if the trainer/instructor encounters technical difficulties.
After the course/training, it’s time to evaluate it.
The Evaluate Phase
In the modern approach to ADDIE, evaluation isn’t a single phase. Instead, it happens continuously throughout the process. During this formative evaluation, you’ll review each phase to make necessary adjustments and better inform the following step, and inform improvements for the overall process. You’ll need to conduct a formative evaluation throughout the course, assisting the instructor in examining and recording what is and isn’t working and making appropriate adjustments.
For the summative evaluation at the end of the course, you’ll need to measure the effectiveness of the materials and evaluate learner outcomes. While there’s no universal set of summative questions to answer, consider addressing the following:
- Were the problems solved and learning goals achieved?
- How receptive were the learners to the activities and materials?
- Are changes required for the scope and sequence of course content?
- Are there any areas that could be improved or made more efficient?
There are several different means of performing a summative evaluation. It can be helpful to consider another training evaluation model (such as the Kirkpatrick model) when developing a framework for your evaluation. The evaluation phase also informs subsequent courses or training, as the insights gained about potential improvements can be employed so that the start of your next analysis phase is faster and more effective.
Pros & Cons of ADDIE
Part of the reason for ADDIE’s enduring popularity is the benefits of employing it:
- ADDIE’s methodology is so fundamentally sound that it has continued to serve as a foundational model for designing successful training courses and classes for nearly five decades.
- ADDIE’s process is relatively easy to implement and offers a framework for estimating the needed time and cost to design a course.
- The modern ADDIE process utilizes a central evaluation phase that can more easily produce measurable and specific outcomes.
However, no model is perfect, and there are some important criticisms to consider when employing ADDIE:
- Even with constant evaluation, ADDIE is more linear and not as iterative as other models — such as the Successive Approximation Model (SAM) – making it less efficient than some alternatives.
- The ADDIE process assumes that designers will know all of the content before design and development when the design process can determine content in some situations. In these cases, using ADDIE can be like putting the cart before the horse.
- ADDIE’s structure can emphasize meeting specific instructional criteria rather than enabling learners’ behavioral changes, which may be the more desirable outcome.
Due to these criticisms, there has been a shift over the years from relying on ADDIE’s more linear processes to utilizing more agile ID models such as SAM and rapid prototyping. Because of its simple framework, today’s organizations still find parts of the ADDIE model useful and may choose to pull out phases and then adapt them for their purposes.
Ultimately, the ADDIE model is still widely used by instructional designers and trainers in many learning environments. It’s as versatile for in-person learning as remote and hybrid learning. Knowledge of proven ID principles will help you create effective training and educational materials regardless of your chosen evaluation model.
If you want to learn more about how you can master these essential instructional design skills and techniques, consider our online Master of Science in Learning Design and Technology program at the University of San Diego.
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Like any good craftsman, your choice of design tools should depend on the project at hand and your desired outcomes.
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Gaurav Amatya, Let’s Talk ADDIE: It Still Matters, eLearning Industry, https://elearningindustry.com/lets-talk-addie-it-still-matters, retrieved August 29, 2022
Devlin Peck, The ADDIE Model of Instructional Design, https://www.devlinpeck.com/content/addie-instructional-design, retrieved August 29, 2022
Dr. Serhat Kurt, ADDIE Model: Instructional Design, Educational Technology https://educationaltechnology.net/the-addie-model-instructional-design/, retrieved August 29, 2022