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How to develop e-learning content using the ADDIE model

There are many different models and methods for creating online courses in e-learning. For many years, educators and instructional designers have used the ADDIE method as a framework for designing and developing educational and training programs. As an instructional design model, it has found widespread acceptance and use and is without a doubt the most popular of all models, as it is easy and intuitive to use and the clearly defined phases facilitate the implementation of effective (e-learning) course materials. The ADDIE model was originally developed for the US Army by the Florida State University's Center of Educational Technology in 1975 and later found use in all branches of the US armed forces. The ADDIE model is based on the so-called Five Step Approach, whereby all elements build on each other hierarchically and the entire process has to be run through linearly.

ADDIE model

The five steps of the ADDIE model

"ADDIE" is an acronym and stands for five steps that range from determining the starting point to evaluating:

  • Analyze
  • Design
  • Develop
  • Implement
  • Evaluate

Keep in mind, it is always important that course designers keep their own educational vision and strategy in mind and adapt the learning content accordingly.

In this article, we will have a look into the first phase of the model - the analysis phase - and explain what is particularly important. Before you start developing any content or learning strategy, you should analyze the current situation in terms of target audience, knowledge gaps, etc. Start with a series of questions to help you understand the current situation and the goal of the course itself. This will influence a large number of decisions in the following design process.

addie model phases

Addie model phase 1: The analysis

The analysis phase is an important starting point when you are at the beginning of designing a course. In this first phase, course developers should really get to know the context of the future course. They should focus on the target group and find out what students need to learn throughout the process. In addition to the target group, there are other areas that must be analyzed before starting the content creation:  the working environment and the technical requirements. These play just as an important role as the learners’ motivation, the learning goals and possible limiting factors. Only if the entire context is clear, there is enough input for the start of the next phase: the design. Therefore, it is helpful to take a closer look at the following areas for analysis and how you should interpret them:

 

1. The target group:

  • Who is my target group?

In order to develop successful courses for learners, it is essential to know your target group. Personal and educational information such as age, nationality, previous experiences, and interests play a significant role.

The following questions can help you:

  • How many students take part in the course?
  • How old are they and what previous knowledge do they already have?
  • What is the typical background of the students who will take the course?
  • What are the educational goals, interests, cultural backgrounds, etc. of the learners?

2. The motivation to learn:

  • What are the learners' motives?
  • Why do they take the course and what do they want to achieve?

Is the course chosen by students because they are interested in the topic or is it a compulsory course that primarily involves obtaining a certificate?

If the students are predominantly intrinsically motivated, you should give the learner a great deal of freedom in choosing the learning path so that they stay motivated and have fun. If, on the other hand, the motivation is more determined by external constraints, the learning environment should offer strong motivating elements: The communication of the learning objectives, a clear structure of the subject matter and feedback on the learning progress become more important.

3. The training needs:

  • What are the training needs for this course?
  • How does this benefit the learner and why is the course relevant for him / her?

Ask yourself what the students should achieve at the end of the course. What is needed in terms of knowledge, skills, attitudes, behavior, etc. once they finish the course? What is the current situation? Identify the gaps between what students ideally can do at the end of the course and what they are currently capable of doing. If you are able to do so, this will be important input for the next phase and to define the actual learning outcomes.

4. The learning environment:

  • Which factors can influence the learning process?
  • Which digital tools can you offer?

Again, consider the different options available in relation to the learning environment. What digital tools are required and what kind of options do you have e.g. like chats, forum, feedback etc.? Take into account that the target group might have different levels of digital skills, so it is important to make the access to the learning environment as easy as possible for every learner. Are there live collaboration tools like for example MS Teams required? Will you need a forum function for peer-to-peer feedback and collaboration? Also, from teachers perspective it is good to know what tools they will need in their online classroom.

5. Technical and organizational requirements:

  • What are the technical requirements for the course?
  • How can it be ensured that all students have access to the teaching materials?

If students have troubled access to learning materials it can make them give up easier, so technically providing easy access is important for the overall success of the course. Can you ensure the students have enough bandwith and a strong internet connection? Will they learn mobile as well – maybe on their smartphone and on-the-go?

In addition to the technical requirements, the (digital) skills and resources required for the project, such as time, expertise, and budget, must also be analyzed. The information you have on those factors will basically decide how extended, professional, and creative your design can be (for example: with no skills available, the creation of video for instance would be a difficult thing).

6. Limiting factors:

  • Are there any organizational restrictions?
  • Are the necessary sources freely accessible?

Are there any potential obstacles that need to be resolved beforehand? What limiting factors exist regarding resources e.g., time, support, human and technical resources, technical skills and financial factors?

Be aware of any challenges your students and teachers may face when making and taking the online course. Are your teachers experienced enough when it comes to dealing with online tools or do they need to be trained? Some of your staff might be able to handle the tools quite easy, others might be less prepared and could feel overwhelmed. The more you prepare your staff and teachers for the digital environment the better their learning and teaching experience will be during and after implementation.

Would you like to know more about course design and the ADDIE model? Our whitepaper "Course Design in Canvas LMS" gives you practical tips for successfully designing online courses in Canvas.