ADDIE is alive and well in eLearning, and living in a dark drawer near you… 

This morning I saw a post on Twitter that suggested ADDIE is not a model but a framework…

I am sure this post will gain many varied response, I have no idea if there is an answer but…

So here is my view for what it’s worth…

  • Analyse – analyse learner characteristics, task to be learned, etc.
  • Design – develop learning objectives, choose an instructional approach
  • Develop – create instructional or training materials
  • Implement – deliver or distribute the instructional materials
  • Evaluate – make sure the materials achieved the desired goals

It’s been around for donkeys years, since 1975 actually, developed by the Florida State University

So what is a model? How does it differ from a framework?  Is there a difference?

I saw a comment some time ago from Brent Schlenker (2006), my fellow moderator on Twitter’s #lrnchat, Brent said ” ADDIE is risky and invites failure”, maybe Brent will comment and update his view.

Today the post (note from 2004) was from an academic view. Keep this in mind over the rest of this blog.

ADDIE is a both a model and a framework, it is a simple 5 letter acronym that gives an outline of a direction to go through a pathway of creating a course. It was designed and is still used and promoted for those who do not have a pocket full of models and theories to draw on when creating learning. It is almost the first basic failsafe for those who ask me “where do I begin”.

Look at many other models and you will find ADDIE embedded within them, and they have tried to expand on the simplest model that HAS stood the test of time.

To implement the model you must then draw on a whole of set of theories. Remember it is only a checklist, a quick reminder of the direction to take and the order required.

Analyse: (sorely the most ignored part of any learning development, so many are creating learning because someone else demanded it..”we need a course on…” fixing something that may not be broke…  I commented on #lrnchat a few weeks ago that this was DDIE Do or Die) The theories behind Analyse are numerous, Wright and Geroy and the Flow theory come to mind amongst many others out there on the shelf.

Design: Here the instructional design theories are too numerous to mention, but Gagne, Dick and Carey, Bloom, Reigeluth and Lasher come to mind.. ( Sorry small plug for my 2004 paper the 4A’s, published in Emerald Literati, now called the A Team and there are 6A’s)  Am I worthy to be listed with such names?  Not forgetting the theory behind Cognitive Load Theory, Kolb’s and Phil Race’s experiential cycles and Sweller’s work on memory load all come to mind here and for the trainer who has no experience in instructional design, some of these can be daunting and confusing and often misunderstood.

Develop: Whose role is it to develop the learning? Age old question ask twenty different people involved in development of learning and you will get 20 different answers. Whoever does the grunt work using the media tools, whatever they are, should know by this stage exactly what is required.  If you get to this stage of the model and you don’t already know what it is going to look like, what it is going to say and have the information explicitly in front of you, STOP and go back a stage to DESIGN.  If you are not explicit to the developer and hope he will just get the picture right and the animation will be OK ’cause he knows what he is doing’, then you are fooling yourself, and the developer will get the blame when it does not work.  Fair? Maybe….

Implement:  So you think implementation is putting your course on the Learning Management System and assigning the poor user to it?  Think again….  Great paper on this by Kayte O’Neill and others in 2004

I wonder how much has changed in todays world, I suspect not really very much.  But they talk of some interesting issues that are still very relevant to implementing learning, both from the learner’s perspective and the tutors. Adapting to change, isolation issues, critical success factors, quality assurance…

There is a great book by James Cornford and Neil Pollock called Putting the University Online, they draw on theories from the sociology of technology and on a large and diverse body of empirical research and show the limits to, and implications of, the pursuit of a virtual future. Written in 2003, much has changed you would think, think again…..

Plus of course the question What have you done to market the course, to create the ‘want’? These are the factors of implementation.

and finally,

Evaluate: No not the learner the material…  Did it do what you set out for it to do?

Here the question is should we be considering – Should we adapt Kirkpatricks model to accommodate eLearning environments? Maybe we should rethink how we do evaluate. Bin ROI, it does not exist. (please don’t get me started on that one today)  Great paper on changing Kirkpatrick for eLearning at

What if it does not hit the mark? How do you set about changing it? What is the update route?

Another small plug at this point, want to know more ?

So my original point  is that ADDIE is alive and well, it works! Not saying there are no better models, not saying I should go and have a drink now as I said it (#lrnchat rules), not saying you should all use it, but if you are starting out and have that question ‘where do I begin?’ open the drawer get ADDIE out of the dark and don’t be scared to use it.  Just remember there is a lot more than the 5 letters in the acronym.