If you’ve been around e-learning a little while, you’ve probably heard of ADDIE—the most commonly used instructional design model training designers use when crafting learning experiences. The acronym stands for: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.

The five phases of the ADDIE model are designed to help guide you (and your team) through the course design process. Essentially, it’s a roadmap for building training that ensures learners meet specific objectives. New designers have a tendency to want to jump directly into development (I totally get it; that’s the fun part!), but it’s important to understand the bigger picture before making that leap. Let’s take a closer look at what each phase of ADDIE entails.


According to the ADDIE model, the first thing you should do when you’re handed a new training project is a detailed analysis. What do you need to analyze? Three of the most critical analyses carried out by instructional designers are:

  • Training Needs Analysis: This should be the first type of analysis you complete because it identifies whether the training is needed at all. This analysis identifies what performance improvements are expected and how they’ll be measured, which is critical in identifying whether training has been successful. Read more: How to Do an E-Learning Needs Analysis.
  • Audience Analysis: Once you confirm that training is needed, it’s time to analyze your learners. Knowing key demographics and background information about your learners will help you identify the information they need to know and the best way to present it to them. Read more: How to Do an E-Learning Audience Analysis.
  • Task Analysis: Now that you know what your course is about and who will be taking it, it’s time to take a close look at the specific processes and tasks you’ll be training learners on by breaking them down into step-by-step chunks. Read more: How to Do a Task Analysis Like a Pro.

Once you’ve completed these analyses, you will have a much better idea of the who, what, where, and why of your e-learning. As a next step, it’s a good idea to compile these findings into your first deliverable: a project plan. Read more: How to Plan E-Learning Courses Like a Pro.


With the analyses out of the way, you’re ready to start development, right? Wrong! Don’t skip the first “D”! Starting to develop your course without completing the design phase is like building a house without a blueprint. It makes much more sense to start with a clear plan of how everything in the course will be laid out and how the text, multimedia, and navigation will fit together. The deliverable you create depends on your time, budget, resources, and what you’ve outlined in your project plan. Typically, one of two deliverables comes out of the design phase:

  • Storyboard: This document lays out the elements of the course that will appear on each slide. This may include text, imagery, and narration script. Deciding what to include in a storyboard depends on the project. For example, if your project includes audio narration, you’ll need to include a script with your storyboard. If you’re building a storyboard that you’ll hand off to a developer, you’ll need to add detailed notes for them. Read more: Storyboards for E-Learning: What to Include?
  • Prototype: This typically includes sample slides to test and identify whether specific features or concepts work. The prototype lets a stakeholder get a feel for how the course will look and function before developing the entire course and all of its features. Read more: E-Learning: Storyboard vs. Prototype.

Once you’ve got your blueprint for your course, you’re ready to jump into the fun part: development!


This is the phase where you (finally!) get to build out your e-learning content in an authoring app. The development part of the ADDIE process typically contains two sub-tasks:

  • Content Creation: In this phase, you choose and add the final graphics, multimedia, colors, and fonts to make your course look polished and professional. You’ll also use your authoring app to build out activities, quizzes, interactions, and functional navigation to create an engaging course. Read more: The Basics of E-Learning Course Creation Apps.
  • Testing: Once you’ve created your content, you need to test it. Things that need to be tested and reviewed include spelling, grammar, learning objectives, navigation, and flow. Testing is typically done during the development process instead of after, so the developer can make changes as testers identify problem areas. Read more: Top 4 Tips for E-Learning Quality Assurance (QA) Testing.


Once your course is fully developed and thoroughly tested, you’re ready to share it with your learners. Not sure how to do that? Check out this article to find out more about your options: How to Share E-Learning Courses with Learners.


When you progress to the evaluation phase, you need to go back to the very first phase of the ADDIE process, in which you (hopefully!) completed a training needs analysis. During that phase, you identified specific performance improvements that your training would address, as well as how to measure those improvements.

The evaluation phase is where the rubber meets the road: Did your training result in the real, measurable performance improvements you identified in your needs analysis? While the learners’ opinions and feedback about the e-learning matter, it’s critical to ensure your training achieved the goals you set at the start. Want to learn more? Check out these articles:


And there you have it! Those are the five phases of the ADDIE model. Having a solid foundation of each phase will ensure you end up with a high-quality course that meets the needs of your learners.

Interested in learning about other instructional design models? Here are a few related articles:

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Alexander Salas
David Ward
Alexander Salas
Terry Coe

I think that SAM is a very direct way to get the Stakeholders, SME's and developers on the same page. Everyone is basically notified that while the project is in development, their timely feedback is important to creating the best module, with the least amount of setbacks, almost like creating constantly evolving design period for the entire project. Working on the entire project (SAM) in a program like Articulate, instead of a module at a time (ADDIE), is way more efficient, because changes can be made almost instantaneously. It seems to give the Stakeholders and SMEs more of a sense of ownership in the project, too, urging them to be more responsive and vocal on the things that matter without having the financial burden of the setback. (By the way, I agree about the bad wrap Pow... Expand

Angie Carter