Online Course Creation: The ADDIE Model In A Nutshell

The ADDIE model is an instructional design framework designed to organize and streamline the production of course content. It was developed in collaboration between Florida State University and the U.S., it enables teachers to design a training course using an iterative and reflective process, based on five phases: analysis, design, develop, implement, and evaluate.

Understanding the ADDIE model

The ADDIE model was developed by Florida State University in 1975 as part of a military training project for the U.S. Army. Researchers initially defined the model as “the formulation of an instructional systems development (ISD) program for military interservice training that will adequately train individuals to do a particular job, and which can also be applied to any interservice curriculum development activity.

The framework was based on an earlier model of instructional design called the Five Step Approach, which was developed by the U.S. Air Force in 1970.

Today, the ADDIE model retains the five-step approach of its predecessor, allowing teachers to plan a course or curriculum using an iterative, reflective, and streamlined process. Importantly, the process also enables trainees to acquire knowledge and then retain it. 

The five phases of the ADDIE model

Originally, the ADDIE model required teachers to complete one phase before moving on to the next. 

Modern variations, however, favor a much more interactive and dynamic approach. Each phase is part of a continuous cycle, and teachers can move between the stages at their leisure.

Following is a look at each phase:

Phase 1 – Analysis 

In the analysis stage, several questions need answering:

  • What are the current knowledge gaps? Gaps may pertain to skill deficits, communication issues, or diversity awareness.
  • Who is the target audience? What is their age, level of education, or cultural background? Some learners will be fluent in digital learning, while others may prefer hands-on or face-to-face learning.
  • What is the learning environment? Will training be offered in multiple locations? Does it require internet connectivity? Are there other limiting factors such as technology, time, or financial investment?

The analysis phase constitutes a full audit of the target audience, organizational goals, training methodologies, and available delivery mechanisms. If training is delivered within a business, outcomes must also align with organizational goals.

Phase 2 – Design

Using the insights gleaned above, it is now time to create a course prototype or storyboard.

Specifically, the teacher must:

  • Identify learning objectives.
  • Formulate a general course content outline with timeframes assigned to each activity.
  • Develop scripts.
  • Select the method of teaching. This includes videos, in-person, storytelling, gamification, web-based, or a combination thereof. 
  • Identify how a student will progress through the course. Will progression occur linearly or is it based on acquiring certain skills? Can students move at their own pace or use credit from prior study?
  • Choose the most appropriate assessment method.

Phase 3 – Develop

Phase 3 deals with building the course out from the original prototype or storyboard. Polish and professionalism can be added by complementing course content with graphics, colors, and fonts. Where possible, the presentation of the course should match the expectations of the target audience.

Once the course is created, it’s important to perform a test run. This will identify any basic grammar, spelling, or syntax errors. The learner experience should also be tested and evaluated. In other words, can the learner progress through the course in a way the teacher intended? Does the content flow and is it engaging? Long courses with disjointed content usually experience low engagement.

Phase 4 – Implement

The course is then shared with students, with most courses today uploaded to learning management software (LMS). 

During the implementation phase, the teacher should monitor the course for any teething problems. Some may choose to release the course to a small cohort of students before public release to identify issues early.

Phase 5 – Evaluate

In the final phase, the teacher collects feedback on every aspect of the course to revise or improve content if necessary. If nothing else, the training program should always align with the parameters identified in the analysis phase.

Student surveys can provide important feedback on whether the course:

  • Met its stated goals or objectives.
  • Utilized the right media type or delivery approach.
  • Could be supplemented by prior or subsequent training.
  • Followed a logical progression and was engaging.

ADDIE model example

Consider the example of a company that wants to develop a course on personal protective equipment (PPE) for industrial workers.


To start, the company identifies its target audience as new employees who have never worked on construction sites, demolition sites, or forestry sites.

Through prior research, it is noted that the majority of this audience is millennials who prefer to learn online.

However, the company chooses to run the course in person since it is a more effective means of teaching important safety-related concepts.

Training will be offered in a location that is most relevant and convenient to the client and course outcomes must align with organizational goals.


The company then designs the course around the three core topics:

  1. Introduction to common PPE.
  2. Hazard control methods.
  3. Responsibilities of workers, supervisors, and employers. 

Entry-level information pertaining to safety tips is then provided for the most common types of PPE. These include:

  • Hearing protection – ear plugs, ear muffs.
  • Foot protection – steel-capped shoes. 
  • Various items of high-visibility clothing.
  • Eye and face protection – safety glasses, face shields.
  • Hand protection – gloves.
  • Head protection – hard hats.

Students will be able to interact with training material via their smartphones and there will also be a written exam after the 2-hour course.

Content will be delivered in the form of a power-point presentation with hands-on demonstrations where appropriate.


The training company then builds the course by adding images, videos, audio clips, and professional graphics.

It also adds its logo to all training materials to advertise its services and prevent copyright infringement.

The course is then tested with a small team of representative employees with similar PPE or industry experience.

Course effectiveness is then evaluated according to the following participant outcomes developed in the previous step. 

Here, the student should be able to:

  • Select the appropriate PPE for a variety of workplace hazards.
  • Recognize the importance of routine inspection and maintenance of PPE items.
  • Understand the inherent limitations of PPE items as hazard control tools.
  • Understand and adhere to any relevant regulations around PPE use, and
  • Be able to properly select, fit, and wear PPE for maximum safety protection.


The course is then implemented at a timber mill in its first real-world application and the company monitors for any teething problems.

It is noted that the noise of the timber mill operations occasionally drowns out the instructor and makes learning difficult.

The company also discovers that there are not enough sizes of demonstration PPE to cater to all workers at the timber mill.

It makes a note to order a wider gamut of sizes for future clients.


In the final phase, the company collects learner feedback to determine whether the training program was a success.

Aside from the excessive noise at the timber mill, some students thought there could have been greater use of relevant case studies to emphasize safety and the role of PPE in the workplace.

Other students noted that the exam after the course was not allocated enough time as they had trouble answering all questions.

The company then incorporates this constructive feedback to refine the course.

Key takeaways:

  • The ADDIE model is an instructional design framework designed to organize and streamline the production of course content. It was developed in collaboration between Florida State University and the U.S. Army.
  • The ADDIE model enables teachers to design a training course using an iterative and reflective process. This ensures the course meets organizational goals while also being engaging and useful for the learner.
  • The ADDIE model is based on five phases: analysis, design, develop, implement, and evaluate. Teachers are encouraged to cycle through each phase to continually improve and refine course content.

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