The ADDIE Model Debate – What Side Are You On?

The ADDIE model is one of the most popular structures used by training developers today. The acronym, “ADDIE,” represents the five phases of the instructional design process: Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. This model helps developers think through a course’s design (Instructional Design, n.d.). It has long been used as a framework for creating effective educational courses and materials for learners. However, is the ADDIE model really meeting our needs? Does it inhibit our thinking when it comes to developing courses? Is there a better way to design performance interventions? These questions have sparked an ongoing debate among practitioners and scholars on the viability of the ADDIE model. Below is a recap of both perspectives. Where do you side in the matter?

The ADDIE Model: Blue Print for Success

Supporters of the ADDIE model believe that it is possibly the best-known instructional design paradigm. In fact, the ADDIE model serves as the basis for almost every other model directly following its creation. It provides a dynamic, flexible guideline for building effective training and performance support tools (Instructional Design Central, 2012). This five phase model, shown in Table 1, delivers a sequence of events to help trainers identify problems and solutions for each lesson plan they develop.

Table 1. Overview of the ADDIE model components (Instructional Design, n.d.)

 Analyze Design Develop Implement Evaluate
Pre-planning; thinking about the course Design a course on paper Develop course materials and assemble the course Begin teaching and provide feedback Look at the course outcomes with a critical eye

Supporters argue that using this type of model can save time and money by catching problems while they are still early and easy to fix (Lodor, 2011). The process is responsible for acknowledging risk and managing its impact. Also, the implementation of an effective model highly depends on clarity and completeness of the process. When comparing the ADDIE model to this notion, the overall goal is easy to understand, organized, and clearly defined. Even though the idea has been around for centuries, developers have been accustomed to and skilled at this method, a method that continues to work for many organizations.

The ADDIE Model: Relevance and Feasibility is Weak

For the longest time, the ADDIE model has been expressed in many different ways. Some graphical representations of the structure are cyclical, linear, or three-dimensional. Even with so many iterations, perceptions of how to use the ADDIE model are primarily progressive (Rosenberg, 2014). Skeptics of the ADDIE model claim that the structure is not practical for developing courses because it is too sequential. This belief that one must follow the model in lock step order causes people to avoid thinking about the next phase of the process. They focus on completing the phase they are in instead of considering all phases during development. The model represents a continuous procedure and perhaps limits our ability to understand when it is actually complete. A process is “relatively intangible – hard to see, impossible to touch” (Wagner, 2009). When you are on the last phase of the ADDIE model (e.g., evaluation), it just opens the path toward analyzing the next situation. In other words, people may find it difficult to conclude the process.

Also, the model is thought to be slow and prevent creative thinking. This is a framework that was adopted a long time ago and it is hard to change something that has been deeply embedded in literature and practice. “ADDIE is how we do it; it’s how we’ve always done it; and it’s how we’re going to do it in the future” (Lodor, 2011; Rosenberg, 2014). Thoughts of actually changing the model or incorporating a different approach to be more agile to our learning needs become limited. This model is so easy to follow that it can be used as a crutch and inhibit innovation instead of encouraging it. Not only does the production of ADDIE compliant courses take time and cost tons of money for organizations, but it does not really guarantee high quality learning experiences. The focus is more on the process than ensuring effective learning. So, is it time we make a few changes?


Lodor, E. (2011). Is ADDIE dead? Retrieved from

Instructional Design. (n.d.). Improving, teaching and learning: Using the ADDIE model. Retrieved from

Instructional Design Central. (2012). Instructional design models. Retrieved from

Rosenberg, M. (2014). Marc my words: Why I hate ADDIE. Retrieved from

Wagner, E. (2009). What is it about the ADDIE that makes people so cranky? Retrieved from

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About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

One Comment
  1. avatar Genevieve A. Aponte

    this is very inspiring. can you help me make one for research competencies and skills development training using the ADDIE Model?

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