ADDIE Timeline (history) Florida State Model Revised Model Dynamic Model ADDIE the Acronym Plug and Play Model Performance Model ADDIE is a Model

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ISD Concept Map
ISD Concept Map

Delivering training to a class of learners

ADDIE and the 5 Rules of Zen

As noted in the main panel to the left, ADDIE is often termed a process model; however, that is only true if you use it blindly. It makes a much better model when you use it the Zen way — as a guide for gaining direct intuitive insight into a problem

Analysis = Shizen (自然)


Shizen means naturalness in that it avoids artificial construction. This means analysis must be sought for and expressed in a plain, simple, and natural manner. To get to its natural roots, describe the business need in terms of the performance desired and where they are now. Everything between their present state and desired performance is the performance gap. This gap must be bridged by identifying the skills and knowledge that enable the learners to perform.

Shizen also applies to the learners. Learning becomes difficult when we have to learn new concepts because we have no relationship to them, thus we construct artificial backgrounds. However, when we relate to a new concept naturally by linking it to an experience that is familiar to us, then we learn much faster and deeper. This is why we need to capture the present performance of the learners so that we can create “Advance Organizers” that will link the learner's present performance or knowledge level to the new concepts. Learners who are given Advance Organizers at the beginning of a learning process have been shown to increase transfer of training.

Design = Shibui/Shibumi (渋味)


deco by Ohad

Shibui is coolness and beauty through a clear design and nothing more. Think of design as minimalist that articulates brevity. If you decorate or carry it beyond what it was meant to be, then it becomes gauche rather than deco. Think lean by identify the minimal steps and activities that will enable the learners to master the performance rather than overdoing it by including every possibility. To help transform the learning from an activity to a process and reduce the complexity of training; determine the support, such as tools and performance aids, they will need to enable their performance in the workplace.

Development = Fukinsei (均整)


enso circle by Vibhav

Fukinsei means asymmetry or irregularity. Controlling balance through the use of irregularity and asymmetry is a central belief in Zen aesthetics. For example, the enso or Zen circle is often incomplete to symbolize the asymmetry. Too often we try so hard to create the perfect learning platform by filling in all the blanks that it fails to draw the learners in — we tend to be drawn in more when we can fill in some of the blanks on our own. Designers also tend to carry it to the extreme by adding too much content — it overwhelms the learners with too much information. Thus we need to strive for some incompleteness, irregularity, and/or asymmetry in order to draw the soon-to-be performers into the learning process.

Fukinsei design also implies a deductive approach. That is, rather than being presented with a complete set of concepts, rules, and strategies, that explicitly instructs the learners, they must explore and experiment with the task to infer and learn the rules, principles, and strategies for effective performance (discovery or experimental learning). This approach has been shown to build “Adaptive Expertise” — becoming more adaptable in order to solve unstructured and ill-defined problems. Also closely related to this is “Error-based Learning” to allow for more control processing.


“Nature itself is full of beauty and harmonious
relationships that are asymmetrical yet balanced.
This is a dynamic beauty that attracts and engages.”
- Garr Reynolds

Implement = Kanso (簡素)

Bento Box

Kanso means simplicity by eliminating the unneeded things (clutter) to find the clear structure. Clear structure does not necessarily mean a linear list, but rather a choice of options. However, when it comes to practicing the skills, ensure it includes whole-task practice that will help to carry performance to the workplace.

A Kanso style choice of options is also critical as providing learner control has been shown to also build “Adaptive Expertise.”

Evaluation = Seijaku (静寂)


Seijaku is tranquility or an energized calm. An effective learning platform should bring a sense of peace to the organization by eliminating the gap between the present performance and the desired performance identified in the analysis phase. The use of iterations will allow you to quickly lower the unintentional noise and disturbance. Continue iterating until the disturbance has been transformed into the desired state of tranquility.

Seijaku should also be carried one step farther — having the learners participate by monitoring and evaluating in order to help them increase their metacognitive skills.


ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implement, Evaluate) is a model of the ISD family (Instructional System Design). It has evolved several times over the years to become iterative, dynamic, and user friendy. ISD includes other models, such as the Dick & Carey (2004) and Kemp (Gustafson, Branch, 1997) models.

While the concept of ISD has been around since the early 1950s, ADDIE first appeared in 1975. It was created by the Center for Educational Technology at Florida State University for the U.S. Army and then quickly adapted by all the U.S. Armed Forces (Branson, Rayner, Cox, Furman, King, Hannum, 1975; Watson, 1981). The five phases were based somewhat on a previous ISD model developed by the U.S. Air Force (1970) called the Five Step Approach. It also has a lot in common with Bela Banathy's model.

As defense machinery was becoming more and more sophisticated, the educational background of entry level soldiers was becoming lower and lower. The potential solution to this problem was in the form of a 'systems approach' to training. The system selected for use by the Army was Instructional Systems Development (ISD), developed in 1975 by Florida State University. ISD is a comprehensive five phase process encompassing the entire training/educational environment. Although ISD is a systematic step-by-step approach, it has the flexibility to be used with both individualized and traditional instruction. - Russell Watson, 1981

The ADDIE or ISD model consisted of 19 steps that were considered essential to the development of educational and training programs (Hannum, 2005). The steps were grouped into five phases (Analysis, Design, Development, Implement, Evaluate) to facilitate communication of the ISD model to others. The steps, listed under their respective phases, are shown below:

The Five Steps of ADDIE

The military, having a large number of instructional designers and a leader in training and learning, had a great influence in the corporate and educational world to adapting ISD or ADDIE like models.

Revised ADDIE Model

Six years later, Dr. Russell Watson (1981), Chief, Staff and Faculty Training Division of the Fort Huachuca, Arizona, presented a paper to International Congress for Individualized Instruction. In it, he discusses the ADDIE model as developed by Florida State University. His presentation contained a slightly revised model:

The Five Steps of ADDIE

Watson's model was based on the one developed by Florida State University in that the five phases are the same, but the steps within each phase have been slightly modified (Branson, Rayner, Cox, Furman, King, Hannum, 1975).

This site uses a version that differs from the above two versions in that the steps have been changed to more accurately reflect the needs of today's organization. You can learn about it here.


A model is a simplified abstract view of a complex reality or concept. Silvern defines a model as a “graphic analog representing a real-life situation either as it is or as it should be” (AECT, 1977). This makes ADDIE a model. While it has been pictured in several ways, the model below shows one popular way (U.S. Army, 2011, p62):

The Dynamic ADDIE Model

ADDIE has often been called a process model; however, this is only true if you blindly follow it (DeSimone, Werner, Harris, 2002). A much better way to use ADDIE is to think of it as a guide for gaining direct intuitive insight into a problem, for an example, see the right sidebar, ADDIE and the 5 Rules of Zen.

ID (Instruction Design) models differ from ISD models in that ISD models have a broad scope and typically divide the instruction design process into five phases (van Merriënboer, 1997). Note that some ISD models, such as the Dick & Carey ISD model, may not use the same terms, but will have the same concepts.

ID models are less broadly focused in nature, thus they normally go into much more detail, especially in the design portion. ID models are normally employed in conjunction with ISD models as explained in the section, “Extending ADDIE”.

The Dynamics of ADDIE

When the ADDIE model first appeared in 1975, it was strictly a linear or waterfall model. For example, in October 1981, Russell Watson presented a paper and wrote,

The five phases of ISD are analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation and control. The first four are sequential in nature, but the evaluation and control phase is a continuous process that is conducted in conjunction with all of the others.

He included this diagram with the paper:

ADDIE - Linear


However, by 1984 the model evolved into a more dynamic nature for the other phases of the model. This was lead by the U.S. Armed Forces. For example, one U.S. Army (1984) training manual reads,

As the model shows, all parts are interrelated. Changes, which occur during one step of the model, affect other steps. In the ISD process, nothing is done in isolation, nor is all done in a linear fashion; activities of various phases may be accomplished concurrently.

The manual contains the following model that shows its evolving dynamic nature:

Dynamic ADDIE model from a 1984 U.S. Army training manual

The U.S. Army is perhaps one of the most disciplined and structured organizations in the world; however, even they could not design training in such a linear manner, thus they evolved it into a more dynamic nature. Since the original ADDIE model was designed in an university, they took take a summative approach in order to evaluate the validity of the learning/training theory that was to be designed into the learning process. However, Instructional Designers who work in most organizations are far more concerned with actually producing an effective learning learning process to meet the need's of the business, thus they take a more formative approach in order to refine goals and evolve strategies during the entire ISD process.

In addition Merriënboer wrote in 1997 (p3):

The phases may be listed in a linear order, but in fact are highly interrelated and typically not performed in a linear but in an iterative and cyclic fashion.

In addition to evolving to a more dynamic structure, the last phase was changed from “Evaluation & Control” to simply “Evaluation” (Hannum, 2005). Thus, the model becomes ADDIE and not ADDIEC.

ADDIE The Acronym

While the ADDIE model has been around since 1975, it was generally known as SAT (System Approach to Training) or ISD (Instructional System Design). The earliest reference that I have been able to locate that uses the acronym of “ADDIE” is a paper by Michael Schlegel (1995), in A Handbook of Instructional and Training Program Design.

Schlegel writes:

This paper will utilize the generic Design Model of Analyze, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation (ADDIE) is utilized, and provide detailed job aids in the form of rating sheets and checklists for each of the four major steps.

Extending ADDIE

The broad scope and heuristic method of ISD has often been criticized by others because it tells learning designers what to do, but not how to do it. Yet it is this broad and sketchy nature of ISD that gives it such great robustness. Merriënboer (1997, p3) notes that other ID and learning models can be used in conjunction with ISD.

Thus, ISD becomes a plug and play model — you add other components to it on an as-needed-basis. For example, the ISD model below has Action Mapping, 4C/ID, and Prototyping plugged into it for designing a robust learning environment for training complex skills:

Extended ADDIE - plug and play

ADDIE Shortcomings

While ADDIE strives to identify adequate on-the-job performance so that the learners can adequately learn to perform a certain job or task (Branson, Rayner, Cox, Furman, Hannum, 1975), it was never meant to determine if training is the correct answer to a problem. Thus the first step when presented with a performance problem is to use a performance analysis tool.

One such tool is the “Performance Analysis Quadrant” (PAQ) for identifying the root causes of such problems. By discovering the answer to two questions, “Does the employee have adequate job knowledge?” and “does the employee have the proper attitude (desire) to perform the job?” and assigning a numerical rating between 1 and 10 for each answer, will place the employee in 1 of 4 performance quadrants: Performance Analysis Quadrant (PAQ):

Performance Analysis Quadrant

Note: The four quadrants are based on Jones' (1993) description of the four factors that affects job performance.

This model shows a performance analysis being used when first presented with a performance problem, the ADDIE or ISD model, an ID model plugged into the ADDIE model to give it further design capabilities, the learning solution, which in turns helps to create the desired performance:

Click the area of the model that you want to learn more about

Other shortcomings have been leveled at ADDIE, but they seem to be mostly baseless. For example:

  1. ADDIE does not lead to the best instructional solutions, nor does it provide solutions in a timely or efficient manner. Reality - This is only true if you do not understand it, use it blindly, and/or fail to plug in other ID models that best fit the problem & solution.

  2. ADDIE doesn't take advantage of digital technologies that allow for less-linear approach, such as rapid prototyping. Reality - As noted above, both van Merriënboer and the U. S. Army point out that it is indeed quite interactive.

  3. The ADDIE method is not really the way instructional designers do their work. Reality - ADDIE came about as the Vietnam war was ending, since then the U.S. Armed Forces have been using it quite successfully.

  4. No original ADDIE model exists. Reality - As this site shows, there is a real ADDIE model.

Next Steps

Return to the History of Instructional System Design

Instructional Design Toolkit

ISD Concept Map


AECT, (1977). Educational technology: Definition and glossary (Vol 1). Washington DD: Association for Educational Communications and Technology. p. 168

Branson, R. K., Rayner, G. T., Cox, J. L., Furman, J. P., King, F. J., Hannum, W. H. (1975). Interservice procedures for instructional systems development. (5 vols.) (TRADOC Pam 350-30 NAVEDTRA 106A). Ft. Monroe, VA: U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, August 1975. (NTIS No. ADA 019 486 through ADA 019 490).

Branson, R. K. (principal investigator), Rayner, G. T., (1975). Interservice procedures for instructional systems development: Executive summary and model. Tallahassee, FL: Center for Educational Technology, Florida State University. (National Technical Information Service, 5285 Port Royal Rd., Springfield, VA 22161. Document Nos. AD-A019 486 to AD-A019490)

DeSimone, R. L., Werner, J. M., Harris, D. M. (2002). Human Resource Development. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc.

Dick, W., and Carey, L. (2014). The Systematic Design of Instruction. Pearson Education, 8th ed.

Gustafson, K., & Branch, R. M. (1997). Instructional design models. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology.

Hannum, W. H. (2005). Instructional systems development: A thirty year retrospective. Educational Technology, 45(4), 5-21.

Jones, B. (1993). The four domains affecting job performance. Internal Document, Delta Air Lines. Atlanta, GA. As found in, Mancuso, V. (1995). Moving from Theory to Practice: Integrating Human Factors into an Organization. Seattle WA: Annual Flight Safety Foundation Conference. Retrieved Aug 17, 2011 from

Schlegel, M. J. (1995). A Handbook of Instructional and Training Program Design. ERIC Document Reproduction Service ED383281.

U.S. Air Force (1970). (Instructional System Development (ISD). AFM 50-2. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

U.S. Army Field Artillery School (1984). A System Approach To Training. ST - 5K061FD92. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

U.S. Army (2011). Army Learning Policy and Systems. TRADOC Reg. 350-70. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

van Merriënboer, J. J. G. (1997). Training Complex Cognitive Skills: A Four-Component Instructional Design Model for Technical Training. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Educational Technology Publications.

Watson, Russell (October 1981). Instructional System Development. In a paper presented to the International Congress for Individualized Instruction. EDRS publication ED 209 239.