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Instructional designers are responsible for all elements of building new course content. With so many components involved in the design of a successful course, designers needed a way to effectively build and measure how to do so consistently. ADDIE is a 5 step framework used in instructional design. Over the years, it has morphed from a linear approach to a more circular approach, as instructional designers have begun creating iterations of their courses. And it functions well whether your course is going to be offered online or in a physical classroom.

Free ADDIE Training Model Template: Download Now

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What are the 5 steps of the ADDIE training model?

ADDIE is an acronym which stands for the 5 steps in the framework, including:

  1. AnalysisDoing your research to plan for the course
  2. DesignCritical decisions will be made about the course and how it will be delivered
  3. Development – Where the actual course creation occurs
  4. Implementation When you will begin loading content into a learning management system (LMS)
  5. EvaluationBased on your findings during the evaluation phase, you’ll go back to refine your training through analysis, design, and implementation all over again

  1. Analysis

In this step, you are doing your research to plan for the course. In a traditional business or education setting, this is the step where you are reviewing existing materials, searching for knowledge gaps, and determining what factors worked well or not so well. As an individual course creator, the analysis step can be conducted through focus groups or by joining social media communities to determine the needs of your target audience. To pull some insights from your group, consider asking questions like:

  • What is the course about?
  • When is the course launching?
  • Why is this course needed?
  • How will objectives be achieved?

The analysis step is often overlooked. Taking the time to do a thorough analysis can save time and money later in the process as it guarantees your course is going to be more aligned and value-providing to your students’ learning goals. Rather than build a course you think your audience wants, use the analysis to build the course you know they need.

  1. Design

Design is the second step in the ADDIE training mode and it goes hand in hand with development (the next step). In the design step, critical decisions will be made about the course and how it will be delivered. Some questions to ask yourself or your learning group include:

  • What learning barriers do students face?
  • Will the course be video only or will there be interactive components?
  • How can the course be made accessible for different learning needs?
  • Will the course be a blended mix, with some content delivered live and other elements pre-recorded?
  • Will there be cohorts?
  • What learning sequence will be used?

Different delivery strategies will impact the overall course design and potentially your budget. The more complex course features you add (such as interactive quizzes or custom certificates), the more expensive your course development will become. 

Read more: How to Plan an Online Course (+Templates)

After determining how the course will be delivered, the next part of design is to determine the order that course content will be delivered. This is a great time to put together a small focus group and gather feedback about the design. One example of course order delivery would be that content topics build on each other from more introductory and high-level topics to more advanced or niche topics. Alternatively, courses could start with the most complex topics first and break down the subject in following segments.

Once you are confident that you have the elements you need, it’s time to create a storyboard. In simplest terms, the storyboard is the roadmap for your course and can be used to keep everyone working on the course organized and working towards the same goal. If you have never used a storyboard, here’s a great introductory article about how to create an eLearning storyboard (including templates!) 

  1. Development

The development stage is where the actual course creation occurs. There is no “right” way to do this. One thing to keep in mind, if you gather all your assets up front, the development portion of creating your course will go more quickly. 

In the development step, be prepared to test and review frequently. Check for accuracy of content, the look, feel, flow of the course, and then you will be ready to implement. Again, you might want to get a pulse check from your learning group to make sure that what you’ve developed is aligned with their expectations. Feel free to spend time here testing different layouts and visual elements to make sure that the course content is easy to digest. However, don’t get too wound up in the nitty details. Because in all honesty, who hasn’t lost a few hours searching for the perfect image?

  1. Implementation

The implementation stage is when you will begin loading content into a learning management system (LMS) such as Thinkific. During implementation, you will also be checking to ensure all content functions work properly.

Some things to specifically consider include:

  • Students can find the course
  • Students can enrol
  • Course content is easy to access after enrollment
  • Integrations work properly
  • Any livestream or notification reminders go out without fault
  • Instructors can view registration and engagement analytics
  • Certificates or reports post-course are downloadable and custom to each student
  • There is a clear, identified way for students to ask questions to the instructor (and the instructor can respond)
  1. Evaluation

While listed as the fifth and final step of the ADDIE training model, the evaluation will run iteratively as long as your course is live. This is important to ensure features are always working, the course content aligns with students’ expectations and learning goals, and instructors are able to efficiently engage with students. 

During the evaluation, focus on whether the course has met the goals for the course, implementing feedback from the learners, and potentially making content changes or updates. Based on your findings during the evaluation phase, you’ll go back to refine your training through analysis, design, and implementation all over again! This process should be repeated at least every two months, or whenever you notice changes need to be made to course content (if industry best practices or school curriculum requirements shift, for example). 

Free Download: ChatGPT Prompt Templates for Instructional Design: Download Now

Examples of ADDIE model in training plans

It’s one thing to talk about ADDIE and another to see what ADDIE looks like in action. Here are two examples of how to build an ADDIE training model to be used by companies and entrepreneurs.

ADDIE Training Plan for a corporate training audience

  1. Analysis

  • Course goal
  • Inventory existing content
  • Work with business partners to determine outcomes
  1. Design

  • How will course be delivered? In-person, online, or hybrid?
  • Who will be delivering the content?
  • What is timeline for creation?
  • What tools are being used to create?
  • Storyboard and collect assets
  1. Develop

  • Gather assets
  • Record video
  • Record audio
  • Create in authoring tool
  • Create worksheets, etc.
  • Follow storyboard
  • Test
  1. Implement

  • Online or hybrid load to LMS
  •  In-person schedule sessions
  • Assign Learners
  • Track completion
  • Monitor
  1. Evaluate

  • Survey learners
  • Evaluate if goals are met
  • Evaluate behavior change
  • Determine changes needed and revise course

Addie Training plan example for entrepreneur audience

  1. Analysis

  • Conduct focus groups/poll existing groups
  • Research similar courses online
  • Determine course goals/needs
  1. Design

  • Determine content delivery method
  • Will there be interactive elements or straight video?
  • What type of activities will be included?
  • Begin storyboarding/collect assets
  1. Develop

  • Gather assets
  • Record video
  • Record audio
  • Create worksheets, etc.
  • Follow storyboard
  • Beta Test
  1. Implement

  • Upload content to LMS
  • Open course for enrollment
  • Track completion
  • Monitor
  1. Evaluate

  • Survey learners
  • Evaluate if goals were met
  • Evaluate sales
  • Evaluate repeat business
  • Determine changes needed and revise course
  • Evaluate behavior change
  • Determine changes needed and revise course
Free Customizable Instructional Design Templates: Download Now

Is SAM an alternative for ADDIE?

SAM stands for “successive approximations model,” and is like a “close cousin” instructional design approach to ADDIE. While similar to ADDIE, SAM is based on an agile development cycle with ongoing feedback and iterations of a content rather than the extended cycle found in ADDIE. You could opt to use SAM instead of ADDIE if you are comfortable with multiple steps happening at the same time and committing to rapid collaboration efforts with your client. There is not a simple answer as to which one is better. It completely depends on the process you prefer and the type of instructional design program that you are working within. 

How to implement the ADDIE training model

  1. Make use of existing processes

If you review your existing course design processes, you may find that you are using a less structured version of ADDIE already. It is important to recognize this, as you may be able to make use of some existing procedures that you are already familiar with. 

  1. Avoid skipping steps

A challenge with the ADDIE model is that many organizations focus too strongly on just the design, development, and implementation phases and often skip the analysis and evaluation phases. This happens because business requirements ask for courses to be created quickly to start generating additional revenue streams for the company. In doing so, they ignore time-consuming steps that actually improve the quality of the course in the long-run. And it happens all too often.

  1. Involve stakeholders early

To avoid the pitfall mentioned above, talk to your stakeholders and schedule regular conversations regarding training needs. When these conversations occur, the stakeholders may discover that training isn’t always the answer. When training is the answer, you can work together to create meaningful plans that are based on the values of the students you want registering for your courses.

Having these conversations can be challenging, and I suggest easing into them, asking clarifying questions about the goal of the training, and providing solutions for how to achieve the goal. Regular check-in meetings also help ease the conversation and provide a set time for checking-in on the priority and status of this initiative.

  1. Do your research

When possible, do some research beforehand. This could be as simple as looking at similar courses already in your LMS, gathering usage data, or talking to managers in operations to find out what their needs are. Even spending a short period of time conducting a needs analysis will pay dividends in the end.

Read more: How to Design Your Online Course (Visually & Structually)

  1. Get feedback often

In addition to the usual end-of-course feedback, sometimes referred to as “smile sheet” feedback, consider implementing a system for gathering targeted feedback about the effectiveness of the course and behavior changes. Make it a best practice to do this at the 30, 60, and 90 day marks. This could be in the form of a survey sent to those who have completed the course or targeted to managers to ask questions about employee retention, customer feedback, or effectiveness in the role.

  1. Use the feedback to iterate frequently

Use feedback data to continually improve and enhance the course. It may help to set a regular cadence to integrating feedback into your course design. Depending on how fast your course content changes, you might want to consider doing this monthly, quarterly, or annually. For example, accounting principles hardly ever change. But new software development techniques are always popping up overnight, so new content will help you stay ahead of the curve.


In summary, ADDIE is a process that can be implemented to allow for better course design. The process begins by conducting a needs analysis, followed by designing the course, using tools such as a storyboard or Kanban board, then creating the content, implementing the content by uploading to the LMS, and last, but not least, evaluating the effectiveness of the course and making improvements, thus starting ADDIE again.

Free ADDIE Training Model Template: Download Now

Ready to start your online course? Try Thinkific free today! 

This blog was originally published in December 2022 and was updated in August 2023 with more clear breakdowns, and additional resources.