Exploring ADDIE

When I first began my career as an instructional designer, the very first thing I learned about was the ADDIE model. This Instructional Systems Design (ISD) model has been around for decades and has many alterations and versions. In this post, I want to quickly cover what the model is, and how it can help instructional designers streamline their process to easily be able to catch problems early on in the development phase.


This is what I call the questioning phase, because this is where you should be gathering all of the information needed to formulate a learning plan. Who is the target audience? What are the time constraints? How will the learning be facilitated? These are a few example of questions, but there can be many more. This phase is extremely important, and I like to spend a lot of time here. All too often, people want to get this phase done and over with as quickly as possible. Then they start right off on the project and neglect to thoroughly find out what is required by the client. And only after they have put a lot of effort into a module, do they find out that this is not what the client had in mind at all, and must go back and start anew. It is imperative that you see the value of the analysis phase, and take the time to make sure all the questions have been answered before you begin.


The design phase focuses on taking what we have learned from our analysis, and coming up with a plan. We formally come up with the learning objectives, a mockup storyboard, and visual for the design. This is a key phase to collaborating with subject matter experts (SME’s) to ensure that the product is on track and is what they are looking for.


In this phase, you take what was formulated in the previous design phase, and execute the agreed upon plan. Here the designers and developer’s work is earnest, and if you did phase one and two well; it should go smoothly.  


Now that the product is completed we move into the implementation phase. Here we make sure that all materials are in place such as: handouts, CD roms, and other materials. Also, we make sure that any web content is uploaded and works properly.


This phase is made up of both summative and formative assessment of the material. Unlike the other phases, the evaluation phase should be conducted after each phase. This is where most people neglect to adopt the full ADDIE model, and only evaluate at the end of the project for lessons learned. I cannot stress the importance of evaluating after every phase. This is where you can catch errors and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Overall, ADDIE is one of the most popular ISD’s out there. In the comment section, tell us your thoughts on the ADDIE model.

Steve leads the Learning & Professional Development team, with over a decade of Instructional Design and professional development experience in higher education at Northern Arizona University.

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