ADDIE — The Instructional Design Model You Need to Know About

There are many different methodologies that instructional designers can use when building online courses. The most well-known and battle-tested of these is the ADDIE model.

The ADDIE model provides a robust framework for developing training by dividing a project into discrete phases. Each is completed and signed off before the next one begins, which helps to reduce errors and reworks.

This article will look at each phase of the ADDIE model in turn and describe how they can be applied to the development of an eLearning course.

ADDIE Explained

The 5 Steps of The Addie Process

Step 1. Analysis

  • Goals: What are the goals of the organization or individual offering the training? These can be teased out by considering the issue that has been identified and how the training will provide a solution to that issue. This is about what overarching result you want to achieve after your employees complete your online course.
  • Learning objectives: What do you want your learners to be able to do after they have completed the course? Establish the links between the training objectives and real-world concepts from the work environment to ensure maximum retention of information.
  • Current knowledge: What skills or knowledge do the trainees already have? This should be analyzed to avoid duplicating content or offering redundant information.
  • Prerequisites: What skills and knowledge do the trainees need to have prior to taking the course, in order for it to be effective?
  • Barriers/issues: Are there any barriers to using eLearning as the method of delivery? For example, if the designated students don’t have access to a particular technology, they won’t be able to take the training.
  • Dependencies: Is there anything that could stop your course from being completed on time and within budget? Dependencies could include access to subject matter experts, or the availability of IT infrastructure managed by people outside of your direct team.

Course analysis

Step 2. Design

  • Course outline: Each module, section, and topic that is required to meet the course and training objectives.
  • Assets and media: The media and resources that will be used to support the eLearning effort, such as images, narration, training activities, and quizzes
  • Content: The content of the course mapped to the course outline.
  • Evaluation: How the students and the effectiveness of the course itself will be evaluated. This may take the form of an online survey or direct feedback via email or telephone.

Course outline

We decided our example course would consist of two modules, each broken down into a number of sections.


A storyboard can be created in a number of ways; for example, it can be a Word file, a PowerPoint slide deck, or Figma. You can even draw your storyboard by hand if you prefer, as in the example below.

If you are using a fast authoring tool like iSpring Suite Max, you might decide to use a more iterative design approach — trying out different templates and setting layouts for creating a storyboard.

No matter what kind of storyboard you use, the main thing is that you have a general picture of your course in front of you.

For our course, we are aiming for a simple and accessible design that will be quick to develop and provide a clean look, so our storyboard just shows what we need, on-screen titles, text, and image assets.


  • One idea per slide. It will be easier for a learner to concentrate if there is one key thought that needs to be understood on each slide. To better convey the idea of the slide, you can use different content formats: audio narration, video, supportive graphics, and more.
  • Only crucial text on the slides. Crowded slides can confuse and overwhelm course takers. Cut out unnecessary words and reduce content to the essentials. Also, avoid making the lines too long to make it easier for learners to read. Each line should be no more than 40 characters long.
  • Perfect view on mobile devices. Make sure the text, as well as other content items, look good on the small screens of tablets and smartphones.

If your course is more complex, or you intend to include voiceover or TTS narration, then you’ll need to write a detailed narration script. In our case, we don’t need a separate script as we are using minimal amounts of on-screen text supported by strong visuals.

Branding and style

Brand books usually include:

  • Fonts and font sizes
  • Color and branding guidelines
  • Image placements and dimensions
  • Image formats and resolutions
  • Use of tone and language

Style guides can be formatted as Word documents, created as PowerPoint slides, or presented in some other format.

Graphics and media

In this phase, you may choose to use a mix of the content library in your authoring tool, an online resource such as iStock, or follow your company guidelines for sourcing design assets.

For our demo course, all we really need to do is find a couple of suitable images that illustrate ‘working from home.’

Step 3. Development

There are many eLearning authoring tools on the market that vary in type of output content, the approach to course creation, and level of complexity on offer. Some of them may need several months to master, but there are also apps that can be leveraged easily — even if you’re a beginner.

We created the example course with iSpring Suite, which is an easy-to-use authoring tool that allows you to build courses in PowerPoint and then automatically transform them into an online format. Creating courses with iSpring Suite is the same as creating a PowerPoint presentation: you add slides, type in your text, and add images or video.

We already have all the needed content, so we just have to add it to iSpring Suite and assemble the elements in the correct order.

Remember that we also used self-checks at the end of each of our two modules to create engagement and facilitate retention of the material. For this purpose, we’ve chosen simple multiple-choice questions. The learner needs to select between two options, and different feedback is provided for each response, as in this example:


Part of this process should be a thorough testing of the eLearning course to ensure that it functions as expected. This testing can be performed by authoring team members but ideally it should involve end users who will actually take the course.

Step 4. Implementation

The easiest and most convenient way to deliver a course is via a learning management system (LMS). An LMS will allow your employees to access a course online at any time, from any device, and let your team automate many of the steps required for training delivery, such as scheduling, invitations, registration, and storing results.

If you don’t have a corporate LMS, you can try iSpring Learn, which makes setting up all of those processes a breeze.

LMS implementation

Step 5. Evaluation

You can use online surveys to elicit feedback on a course and training experience from both learners and from management stakeholders.

Here are some questions you might want to ask your course takers:

  • Did the training material meet your expectations?
  • How would you rate the quality of the training on a scale from 1 to 5?
  • Did you learn something useful?
  • Would you recommend the course to your colleagues?
  • What could have been improved?

As learners progress through the course, continue to monitor the metrics and refer to the course objectives identified in the first step. Here are some questions for a self-check:

  • Did the training cover the content thoroughly?
  • Were the course goals met? For example, has employee scheduling for online meetings or conversations improved?
  • Were the learners pleased with the course?
  • Was the course implemented in a way that allowed trainees to access it efortlessly?
  • Were the style and branding of the course in line with stakeholder expectations?
  • Did all registered learners complete the course?

Trainee engagement

For example, if a slide with two tabbed interactions, like the Kanban and Pomodoro slide in our example course, only has a 50% completion rate for viewing both tabs, then it may be a good idea to add on-screen instruction about how to use the content, or consider presenting it in a different way; perhaps it was too much information on a single slide to hold learners’ attention.

Training completion rates


Good question. The best methodology is the one that suits you and your organization. ADDIE is a very effective framework and has been road tested over many years. However there are some types of training projects that might benefit from a different approach.

For example, microlearning programs built for delivery on mobile devices and via short-form content may benefit from a more iterative approach, such as Agile development. Other methodologies you could consider include the 70–20–10 model.

Do the ADDIE phases have to be completed in order?

Ideally, the answer to this is yes, as that is how ADDIE was designed. It ensures closure and the sign-off of a phase, meaning that everything is ready to move on to the next phase without any incomplete issues.

In practice, this is not always possible. For example, you may have completed your course design but have a particular section that requires material from an SME who is not currently available. In this case, should you put the entire project on hold until they deliver their content, or move on to Development and circle back to that design section when the resource is available?

There is no right or wrong answer to this, but in the real world, project phases do not always close out neatly before the next one begins, so you’ll need to use your judgment here.

Is my authoring tool suited to using the ADDIE model?

eLearning development methodologies should be tool agnostic, so theoretically, any authoring tool you choose should be fine. In practice, the ADDIE model is ideally suited to tools that support slide-based courses, such as iSpring Suite, as these tools encourage you to formulate within the ADDIE format and apply the principles in the correct order to separate the phases.

Final Thoughts

With online training often being developed quickly to respond to organizational change, a streamlined model that keeps the authoring process consistent and transparent offers many benefits.

To get started creating your first course using ADDIE you’ll need a good authoring tool. Don’t hesitate to download the iSpring Suite free trial and start creating your course today!

iSpring Suite

Originally published at on August 23, 2021.

Digital Marketing Specialist at iSpring Solutions

Digital Marketing Specialist at iSpring Solutions