The ADDIE Model: Understanding the 5 Steps

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Paula Naba ·

Jan 06, 2022

Once you’ve established what you’ll be covering in your course, the next step is to focus on how you’re going to deliver the instructional material.

Facilitating a seamless, productive and enjoyable online learning experience for your customers, employees or partners is an often overlooked but essential component in achieving your business and learning goals. 

Instructional design (ID) aims at developing a set of clear, easy-to-understand instructions for dealing with complex processes and systems. If you regularly read our articles, you’ll know by now that placing the learner at the center of this process is paramount to driving exceptional results.

In a slightly broader sense, it’s been established that customer experience (CX) is a major determining factor in business growth, with companies that invest in CX experiencing significantly increased revenue, employee satisfaction, and customer retention.

Studies have shown that businesses with a good CX have a 17% higher chance of consistent growth than those who don't and for companies with outstanding CX, this means a 68% chance of improving their online reputation. 

What does this mean for eLearning

Simply put, focusing on how you deliver your content is perhaps the most important factor to consider when crafting your learning experience. This includes considering learners’ interests, experience, knowledge and motivations.

Combining the principles of ID with insights from educational and developmental psychology, learning design (LD) introduces new ways of thinking around eLearning with context and learner positionality at the forefront.

Using the ADDIE model as a development tool can help you create enjoyable, well-thought-out online learning experiences that produce excellent results for your business and improve learning outcomes.

What's the ADDIE Model?

Having found wide acceptance in development across a range of fields and industries, the ADDIE training model has its roots in the mid-1970s. First designed by the Center for Educational Technology at Florida State University for the U.S. Armed Forces, the ADDIE model was built on the U.S. Air Force’s Five-Step Approach. Today, it’s evolved to include multiple points of reflection and iteration, making it a flexible, interactive and adaptable model.

Essentially, the ADDIE model is an ID methodology that you can employ to simplify and streamline the production of your course material. An acronym for analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation, the ADDIE model emphasizes continual feedback while the materials are being produced, which ultimately results in a faster, more effective outcome that has been assessed and refined along the way. One of the benefits of the ADDIE model is that you don’t have to follow it linearly and is, therefore, highly adaptable and can be applied to a range of contexts, such as eLearning.

What Are the 5 Steps of the ADDIE Model? 

You can break the ADDIE Model down into five steps: 

  • Analysis: Setting goals and determining the scope 
  • Design: Subject matter, assessment tools and metrics, planning, selecting 
  • Development: Production and testing
  • Implementation: Course in action, collecting data and feedback, refining
  • Evaluation: Review for improvement, formative and summative testing


This phase emphasizes identifying the variables involved in the project, collecting valuable data, and setting informed goals. The focus is on understanding more about your learners, finding out about their context, establishing their experience, behavior patterns and setting goals for an optimal learning experience based on this knowledge. 

You’ll need to determine the skills, behaviors and specific expertise that need to be taught in your course and what’s required to deliver this to the learner in an engaging way that they can understand and enjoy. 

During the analysis phase of the ADDIE training model, you'll be determining the level of content that’ll be facilitated and the available and required resources. You’ll establish the scope of the course and plan the general evaluation strategies that you'll use moving forward, such as a system for ID and learner feedback throughout the phases. You’ll also want to start orienting yourself around  Northpass’s benefits and interface at this stage so you know what kind of features your LMS offers and how you can use this to your advantage in the development and implementation phases.


During the design phase of the ADDIE training model, you’ll be focusing on planning your lesson outline, how they’ll be sequenced, presented and assessed, what their objectives are and which methodologies you’ll be using. You’ll also be establishing what media you’ll be including, which you’ll identify through storyboarding and prototyping. It’s important to tackle this phase strategically, paying meticulous attention to detail so that your course’s targets can be met and measured accurately. 

Some suggest that starting with the learning outcomes and working backward to determine what course materials to include is the best way to tackle development, but there are no hard and fast rules to putting your plans into action. You’ll also want to determine the overall aesthetic of your course and create page templates. This phase will include establishing formal relationships with personnel such as a video editor, scriptwriter and graphic designer who’ll take your vision and turn it into a reality during the development phase. 


This is the phase in the ADDIE model where you’ll build your course. It's the point at which all of your planning comes to fruition. Here, you'll create the course using all the data and feedback you’ve collected in the analysis and design phases. Utilizing an LMS, like Northpass, as your LMS during this phase will ensure that you’re guided through organizing the course content in a way that engages the learner throughout the experience. 

It’s important to remember that you want to create an interactive learning experience that a learner will want to return to and will be able to complete. Collecting feedback throughout the development phase is crucial to assess whether you’re developing a standard eLearning course or an exciting learning experience for your audience. You’ll also be testing your learning outcomes during this phase, focusing on determining if the materials you're producing meet your learners' requirements. Formative evaluation occurs here, which is further explained in the evaluation phase below.


The implementation phase is when you’ll be launching your course, which means you’ll be focusing on an enrollment drive and learner orientation. This might involve developing orientation materials that walk first-time users through the process with a “how-it-works” objective. This is the first time you will be able to thoroughly test the work you've done in the implementation phase, so it's important to make the most of this opportunity to redesign and enhance where necessary. 

As we’ve seen in the stages proceeding this, you'll continue obtaining as much high-quality feedback as possible from both IDs and learners and you’ll be refining and updating the course according to the data you receive in a timely and efficient manner. Even though this is an online course, it’s essential to remember that interaction between learner and instructor must be accounted for. This is one of the places where the ADDIE model has been criticized for not emphasizing this interaction enough, so it’s important to factor how you’ll address learners' questions and interests during course delivery. 


While you have been analyzing and evaluating throughout each one of the previous phases, which is one of the most valuable ADDIE model benefits, the evaluation phase presents an opportunity to examine and test the entire project. While each phase allows for evaluation, you’ll have definitely performed a formative evaluation during the development phase, where IDs and learners are testing the course materials and outcomes as they’re being crafted. 

The second stage of the evaluation phase takes place right at the end of the process, where you’ll collect data from learners and IDs to determine whether or not learning outcomes were, in fact, met and if the desired engagement rate and interest in the course material were achieved. You’ll also establish what needs to be done moving forward as you work to ensure learner satisfaction and excellent results.

Why Use the ADDIE Training Model to Build Your Courses?

There are many benefits of the ADDIE model and reasons why it’s so commonly used, with almost all modern ID models based on its comprehensive five-step structure and ADDIE model examples across all business spheres and industries.

  1. It’s a tried-and-tested model that’s produced exceptional outcomes and tangible results for businesses and learners.
  2. It’s a flexible model that doesn’t have to be carried out linearly and can quickly adapt to a range of fields and uses. 
  3. The emphasis on evaluation at each stage of the process results in saved time and money, avoiding a final program that hasn’t been tested and needs a complete redesign at a late stage.
  4. The importance that the ADDIE training model places on collecting data and feedback from IDs and learners places the key stakeholders at the center of the course and ensures that you’re always creating material and developing strategies with their requirements in mind.
  5. Due to the ADDIE model’s flexibility and emphasis on detail, strategy and building logical systems, it allows for the development of multiple high-quality courses at one time, essentially meaning that it’s ideally suited to developing courses on a large scale.

Final Thoughts on the ADDIE Model 

Investing in CX has shown to have measurable results for businesses aiming for consistent year-over-year growth. This means that considering the context in which your learners find themselves when taking your course, their experience and their most essential needs are of paramount importance when determining how to structure the materials, select your methodologies and deliver your content. 

Using the ADDIE training model when creating your course is an excellent way to make sure you are constantly evaluating and improving your course as you build it, ensuring that your learners’ experience is engaging, seamless, flexible, tailored to their requirements and geared toward improved learning outcomes.

One of the most important considerations when developing and implementing your course with the ADDIE model is which learning management system (LMS) you'll use to train your stakeholders. Northpass offers the most flexible LMS on the market, giving L&D teams and other department leaders the ability to effectively and efficiently train their employees, customers, and partners. 

Create seamless learning experiences

Interested in seeing how Northpass can help you create outstanding eLearning experiences with improved learning outcomes for your learners?

Schedule a Call 

About the Author
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Paula Naba

Paula Naba heads CX at Northpass. Aside from being a customer advocate, Paula is an outdoor enthusiast. She loves spending time outside with her family and labrador.

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