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Understanding the ADDIE Model [+ FREE Template]

A military training framework might not be the first thing that comes to mind when designing employee learning solutions. Yet, the ADDIE model has proven its versatility and effectiveness far beyond its initial scope, becoming a cornerstone of instructional design worldwide.
What is the ADDIE model?

ADDIE is a leading learning development model used for instructional design, which is the complete process of designing, developing, and serving learning content. The model is often used to design training and learning & development programs in organizations.

ADDIE stands for:

  • Analyze
  • Design
  • Develop
  • Implement
  • Evaluate

These are the five stages of the learning development process. ADDIE training model provides a streamlined, structured framework that helps you create an effective learning product, whether that’s delivered through an online or offline training program, a coaching session, a presentation, or an information booklet.

ADDIE helps identify the learning need in a structured way and ensures all learning activities serve that goal, which offers an integrated approach to learning. It also guides measuring learning effectiveness because job behaviors, knowledge, and skills are clearly defined within the framework.

In the ADDIE model, each stage must be carried out in order and carefully considered before moving on. Reflection and feedback at each stage ensure continuous improvement.

The 5 phases of the ADDIE model

Let’s take a closer look at the 5 phases of the ADDIE model of instructional design: Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate.


In the Analyze phase of the ADDIE process, the first task is to identify the problem you’re trying to solve. For example, maybe it’s poor sales, a non-inclusive culture, or a lack of skills to move to a more digitized organization. From here, you can identify the core business problem and decide whether it can be solved through effective training, or if other organizational development interventions will be more effective. Instructional designers also need to determine and manage stakeholders’ needs.
Some helpful questions to ask are:
  • What is the purpose of the training?
  • Why should we do it?
  • What is the desired change?
  • Will the training be effective in creating this change?
In the Analyze phase, the training needs analysis (TNA) process helps identify the gap between the actual and desired skills, knowledge, and abilities. With these findings, you can define learning goals and base the training on these.
During this phase, it’s crucial to determine a target audience. You can create one or more trainee “personas” who display the general characteristics, knowledge, and experience of your target audience. Recognizing their needs and expectations will enable you to actively manage these, tailor your training to your audience and make it more relatable.
Based on all the information gathered in the Analyze phase, you can also map out the resources required for the training. This includes the number of training hours, duration, required budget, facilities, and additional information.
Once you’ve collated all of this information, you can create a full training plan, which will include the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the training.


In the Design phase of the ADDIE model, you translate all the information collated in the Analyze phase into a learning design.
An outline is created that structures the learning intervention and specifies learning objectives for each workshop or lesson. This will include a strategy, delivery methods (e.g., online, offline, blended), lessons, duration, assessment, and feedback.
In this phase, you also select an appropriate evaluation method will be 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 training 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 next step is to create a storyboard and/or prototype so that you can easily communicate the value of the training, particularly to stakeholders. It’s important to brief stakeholders and update them on the learning goals and learning design choices made in this phase. Make sure to align with them before you move to the next phase.


In the Develop phase, you will use your storyboards and/or prototypes as a guide to creating your courses. You’ve already decided on the core learning objectives. Now it’s time to start bringing the training to life.
Consider how the training will be delivered: In-person, online, or a mix of the two (a blended approach)? What will be the instructional strategies, media, and methods? Learning interventions often use multiple methods and ways to deliver the content.
Once you’ve decided, you can then think about whether you want to build this in-house or with an external provider. It’s equally important to decide where it will be hosted and what software and tools you will need (e.g., video conferencing software like Zoom, vendor’s platform, or an LMS).
Building the learning product in line with the design represents the bulk of the work in the development phase. You may outsource this part 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.

Once you’ve created your course, test for errors like grammar and spelling and ease of navigation. This is not a simple case of clicking through the course but more about content accuracy and utility of navigation. Is your learner able to progress through the course in the way you designed? Is it engaging? What is the duration like?

Conduct pilots and product reviews where different people (including you) test the learning product and training materials. You may want to use web-based tools like Survey Monkey or Qualtrics for users to evaluate the training.
The final step is to develop a communication strategy to reinforce the importance of learning to your audience. How can you encourage them to devote time and attention to learning? How can you help them prioritize this at work while managing their main job responsibilities? Creating a clear communication strategy will make the learning top-of-mind and help to create more impact.
Once you’ve completed the development stage, it’s time for implementation – the training can commence!


The implementation stage focuses on the delivery of the training and project management. This includes communicating with learners, logistics, data collection, and training trainers for global roll-outs of the learning program.
The training delivery is the key element in this phase. Are there any extra guides or manuals the learners need? How about FAQs that may come up along the way? What is the protocol if users experience technical difficulties during the training? It’s a sensible idea to have additional IT support on hand and let learners know who to contact.
Is there a need for side programs that provide extra support to learners in addition to the main program? These can include weekly one-to-one or group coaching or webinars to deepen the learning and answer any questions the learners might have.
Do any need to make any physical changes in the work environment for certain training activities? For example, extra posters, props, or symbols that reinforce key messages learned.
Now it’s time to share your course or training with your learners. In most cases, courses are uploaded to an LMS, with pre-set delivery options including who is enrolled, pass rates, and collection of feedback, as well as delivery, tracking, and reporting. But this will depend on what you decided in the design phase.
Think about how you can create a buzz around the new learning program and shine a spotlight on desired behaviors. Make sure to give learners ample notice about the start and completion dates of the program.
While evaluation is the next and last stage of the ADDIE model, you can already start gathering your data in the implementation phase of the instructional design process.
Depending on the choices made in the analysis phase, you can use different methods for training evaluation. These can include training evaluation forms and pre-and post-training assessments, potentially with a control group. Commonly used instruments are 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 is an integral part of every stage of the ADDIE learning model, but it also gets its own phase. As soon as you deliver your first course or workshop, you want immediate (and continuous) feedback so that you can implement improvements.
It’s important to evaluate at the design, development, and delivery stages and continuously evaluate all elements of the program. After your training is first delivered, there will likely be feedback and questions that were not spotted earlier. Addressing these quickly will immediately improve the training.
At the evaluation phase, you can formally evaluate the learning program using post-assessments, observations, or productivity data. All of these sources will highlight what people learned, how they’ve applied it, and the results achieved.
The instructional design team should evaluate what went well, what can be improved, and learn as a team. Make a list of improvements that the training program needs and implement these before the next training. If the program is going to be shelved, you can still record these improvements so that when the same (or a similar) program is used in the future, these learnings are not lost.
Using your formal evaluation, decide to what degree your initial training met the objectives and goals from the analysis phase. 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.
Below is a summary of the 5 stages of the ADDIE model for instructional design:
1. Analyze
  • Problem identification
  • Training needs analysis
  • Identify top-level learning goal
  • Determine 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. Develop
  • 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. Implement
Participation in side programs
Training delivery & participation
Changes in the physical environment
Implementation of communication plan
Execution of formal evaluation

5. Evaluate
  • Integral part of each step
  • Evaluation
  • Continuous learning
  • Propose points of improvements
  • Evaluation of the business case

How to use ADDIE model

To effectively utilize the ADDIE model in instructional design, here is a summary of the best practices to follow:
  1. Thoroughly analyze before designing: Begin with an in-depth analysis to understand the learners’ needs, the specific problems to be addressed, and the learning environment. This foundation ensures that the training is targeted and relevant.
  2. Set clear, measurable objectives: Establish clear and measurable learning objectives that align with the identified needs. This clarity guides the development process and helps in evaluating the training’s effectiveness.
  3. Utilize an ADDIE model template for task and progress tracking: Implementing an ADDIE model template can significantly enhance project management by clearly dividing tasks among team members and tracking progress through each phase. This approach promotes clear communication, timely completion, and early identification of issues, creating a cohesive and efficient project workflow. You can download your free ADDIE model template below.
  4. Incorporate flexible and creative instructional design solutions: While maintaining structure, infuse creativity and flexibility into your instructional design to cater to diverse learning styles and complex learning needs. This approach can enhance engagement and accommodate various instructional challenges.
  5. Utilize the iterative nature of the ADDIE model: Seek feedback at each stage and make informed adjustments. This iterative process allows for continuous refinement and improvement of the training program.
  6. Leverage technology appropriately: Make informed decisions about technology use, selecting tools that enhance learning without overwhelming or excluding participants. Stay updated on educational technology trends to find innovative solutions that align with your training goals.
  7. Develop a robust implementation plan: Ensure a smooth rollout by preparing a detailed implementation plan that covers all logistical aspects, including technology setup, facilitator training, and learner support mechanisms.
  8. Conduct comprehensive evaluations: Beyond measuring learning outcomes, evaluate the training’s impact on job performance and organizational goals. Use these insights to inform future training initiatives and contribute to a culture of continuous learning and development.
👉🏻 Free ADDIE model templates
Use a template to streamline task allocation and monitor progress across the ADDIE phases. Taking this structured approach allows you to systematically address all aspects of the instructional design process, meet due dates, and identify and resolve any potential issues.

A template can also facilitate communication and collaboration within the team, providing a shared reference point for the project’s status and next steps.

ADDIE vs rapid instructional design

The biggest drawback of going through the ADDIE model process is its speed, or rather, 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.
Rapid instructional design is a more agile approach to instructional design. It’s based on rapid development techniques, which originate from software development, and are applied to instructional design. It’s a continuing process, with new aspects being added and evaluated until the program is completed.

The aim is to create a proof of concept (POC) and have learners and/or stakeholders interact with it on a continuous basis and provide feedback. This feedback is then incorporated into the next POC until the product is finished. Rapid instructional design comprises five steps:

  1. Definition – Initial definition of learning goals and requirements
  2. Prototyping – Rapid prototyping of a proof of concept
  3. Evaluation – Evaluation of the prototype with stakeholders, followed by iterative improvements and adjustments of goals and requirements based on the POC
  4. Implementation – Implementation of the adjusted goals and requirements in an upgraded version of the POC
  5. Repeat – Steps 2-4 are repeated until the learning goals are achieved

This is an iterative approach built on the principles of build–measure–learn, as commonly practiced in the lean methodology.

The figure below shows this iterative process. Prototypes are developed at 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 (maybe several times) before moving to the design prototype.

An example of this is one of the HR upskilling projects run by AIHR. The training has a blended approach – mostly online learning combined with monthly sessions based on learners’ needs. These sessions aim to motivate learners to complete the e-learning while also providing them with assignments and challenges to solve. These are always related to organizational issues and change over time based on current needs. This creates a program in which employees upskill while also contributing to solving organizational issues in these offline workshops, which helps them to apply what they’ve learned and, ultimately, create business impact.
When applied correctly, the ADDIE model can be used in learning and development initiatives across industries and disciplines to improve individual and group learning and meet learning objectives. Its iterative approach allows for vital feedback at each stage of development which ensures the final product meets your original instructional goals while helping you identify key areas for improvement in the future.
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