The ADDIE Framework and Fence Posts

Updated: Jul 12

I recently finished my first course, Instructional Design Fundamentals, for my graduate program at the American College of Education for Instructional Design and Technology. In order to synthesize some of the knowledge I gained from this course, I created the graphic below. Like all metaphors, it will undoubtedly fall short in one place or another, but I believe it illustrates the greater points and purposes of the ADDIE instructional design framework.

Image showing the ADDIE instructional design model as a fence post where Analysis is the groundwork and concrete for vertical fenceposts; Design, Develop, and Implement are the horizontal wooden beams to show their ongoing nature; and Evaluate is shown in three vertical fence posts that run through all other stages of the process, are anchored to the Analysis stage, and have three different shapes to show that different forms of evaluation should be used throughout the process.

What is ADDIE?

ADDIE is an instructional design model that came about organically and was eventually developed into a linear model by the United States military in 1975. This linear process began with the Analysis stage and worked its way through Designing, Developing, Implementing to the culminating stage of Evaluation (Kurt, 2018). However, as time has progressed, ADDIE has become viewed more as a flexible, non-sequential, iterative framework that helps an instructional designer plan out a course or training program (McGriff, 2000).

If you'd like to learn more about the ADDIE Framework, I'd suggest visiting this webpage at the University of Washington Bothell for brief instructional videos and information.

I Thought This Was a Post About Fences

I apologize if you took a-fence at my earlier aside, but I won't apologize for that or any other pun you find on this website.

Going back to the graphic, it depicts all five stages of the ADDIE framework, but not in the traditional linear sense.

Analysis is shown at the bottom. Much like building a fence, the first steps are the ones that will later not be visible. Analysis is the groundwork stage that can determine if a project will be a lasting success or something that looks nice but quickly falls apart. When building a fence, the deeper and wider you dig at the beginning of the process, the better you are set up for the long-term, desired outcomes. In his video course on conducting a Needs Analysis, Jeff Toister refers to the Five Whys method. The general idea is that in order to get to the root of a problem, we often need to ask the question 'Why?' five times (Toister, 2014).

The three vertical fence posts in the graphic all represent the Evaluation component of the ADDIE framework, and each of them look different. Evaluation should be ongoing and take on formative and summative formats. Instructional designers should evaluate any available pre-existing materials and design documents before inadvertently reinventing the wheel (Chevalier, 2011) and engage in formative and summative evaluations throughout the Design, Develop, and Implement stages (McGriff, 2000). This graphic shows the connection between Evaluation and other components of ADDIE and also shows that the evaluations should be anchored in and tied to Analysis.

The Designing, Developing, and Implementing components of ADDIE are all horizontal to show they are ongoing. While much of the designing and developing will occur in the early stages in writing out learning objectives, creating storyboards/blueprints, and the creation of lessons and instructional materials (McGriff, 2000), any professional educator can attest that these objectives, plans, and activities may need to be fine-tuned based on formative assessments in the learning process. Implementation, on the other hand, often has a set beginning and end date. Some corporate trainings may last just an hour while academic courses can last a semester, a year, or even two years (like an IB Theory of Knowledge course). While this would appear to prevent this stage from being an ongoing process, many of these trainings and courses will be provided again. When the process of Rapid Prototyping is applied to the ADDIE framework, it allows for continuous improvements through a process of regular revisions and reiterations (Pulichino, 2019).

So there you have it, the fence post graphic represents the ongoing, dynamic, iterative nature of the ADDIE instructional design framework. Feel free to make a comment, ask a question, or blow a hole in my metaphor in the comments below.


Chevalier, R.D. (2011). When did ADDIE become addie? Performance Improvement, 50(6), 10-14. Kurt, S. (2018, December 16). ADDIE Model: Instructional Design. Educational Technology. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from Levesque, S. (2019, February 25). ADDIE Model - Information Technology. University of Washington Bothell. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from McGriff, S. (2000, September). Instructional System Design (ISD): Using the ADDIE Model. Purdue University. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from Pulichino, J. (2019, April 23). Instructional design essentials: Models of ID online class. LinkedIn Learning. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from Toister, J. (2014, August 22). Instructional Design: Needs Analysis Online Class. LinkedIn Learning. Retrieved March 27, 2022, from

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