Though instructional systems design models come in many forms, the so-called ADDIE model holds a central place among them, often serving as the basis for other frameworks.

This approach breaks the instructional design process into five steps: 1) Analysis; 2) Design; 3) Development; 4) Implementation; and 5) Evaluation. The first letters of each of these stages make up the acronym from which ADDIE gets its name.

Though designed for organizations (originally the military), ADDIE can also offer structure to individual learning plans — as well as serve autodidacts with a systematic process for reaching their learning goals.


In this first phase, you need to start by setting some learning goals. Of course, this is fundamental to any self-learning program.

But you shouldn’t stop there. In the analysis phase, you also want to take a close look at where you are in relation to these goals. Where are you strong? Where are you weak? What constraints do you face? Where are you going to focus your time?

During this stage, you’ll also want to look at the total time available, as well as set a final deadline for reaching your learning goal.


Once you have a clear idea of where you are, and where you want to go, you’ll need to come up with a general outline of how you plan to get form point A to point Z.

Take out a spreadsheet and map out the weeks between now and the deadline for your learning goal.

Enter some milestones as well. You’ll want these fairly concrete, with some kind of assessment taking place so you can measure your progress.

Even if, when planning out projects in other parts of your life, you usually use some other productivity system or task software, you’ll want to create this design document in a separate spreadsheet or a notebook. Having the plan in tabular format helps you take a broad perspective of the learning program and evaluate it later on.


Now that you have a plan outlined, go out and collect all the materials you need and get them in some kind of centralized place. It could be an iPad, a laptop, or even a simple paper binder.

Collecting the material you need at this stage may seem overly time consuming — especially when you’re eager to get started — but going through with this now will save you time later on.

That said, don’t go overboard and books and media just for the sake of having them. You’ll want to make sure everything you get is aligned to the plan you’ve put together in the design phase.


Now’s the time to learn. Study the materials based on the plan you set up earlier.

If you use some kind of specialized task software or to-do methodology, now’s the time to integrate your learning plan into the system and start checking things off.


In ADDIE, “evaluation” stands for the evaluation of the learning process, not of the learner. This kind of learner assessment should be considered a part of the implementation phase.

When ADDIE was originally conceived, this evaluation phase took place at the end of the instructional process, after all the others steps — which were completed in a linear fashion, one after the other.

More recently, though, evaluation is seen as an ongoing process — something that can inform the entire instructional process as it’s being carried out.

Autodidacts should adopt this approach. In fact, it’s natural to look back at all the prior stages each time you complete a new one.

While there are some structured ways you can do this, if you’re just starting out, it’s best to just take a reflective attitude and see what comes most naturally to you.

Getting Started

The ADDIE process is fairly logical and straightforward. But it can also be somewhat daunting for those who are just getting started with it.

If you’re interested in getting a template to help you, I’m putting together a spreadsheet that you can use to help. If interested, please email me at