The e-learning process

The e-learning process

So this is the third and final blog in our e-learning basics mini-series. The first looked at what e-learning is, the second looked at who makes it and this one focuses on the process.

What’s your standard process?

We have a standard process. We also have no standard process. Let me explain…

ADDIE is widely recognised as the standard process for e-learning projects. It’s an acronym which it stands for:

  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation

A standard e-learning project is a very rare creature. However, for the purposes of this blog, let’s say that every project follows a standard process and goes through those five stages.


This stage is sometimes called a training or learning needs analysis (TNA/LNA). It’s a pretty good description of what happens at this stage. Basically you’re looking at the current situation and deciding what needs to change.

During this stage, you might ask questions such as:

  • What problem/s needs to be solved?
  • How does this fit into the wider organisational objectives?
  • Who are you targeting this towards and why?
  • How and when will they complete the training?
  • What support might they need?
  • What needs to change as a result of the training?
  • How will you measure success?


This stage has two parts to it really. Personally, I think bundling both parts into one stage seems a bit misleading and confusing. However both are design activities so…

Part 1: The Design Outline

This is where you start to design an experience to meet the needs you identified during the analysis stage. For example, if you identified that your learners have very little time for any learning or training, maybe you need to design something which is short.

The output of this part is a document which we call a Design Outline. Other names used to describe this type of document include:

  • Design Solution
  • Design Document
  • Project Initiation Document
  • Outline Design and Functional Specification

The purpose of these documents is to clarify understanding of the information obtained during the analysis stage then, based on that information, present ideas and the proposed content structure.

Part 2: The Script

This is where the design work becomes more detailed. Using the ideas and content structure from the Design Outline, the script details the exact words, images and anything else which will appear in the actual e-learning module.

The script is sometimes called a Detailed Design.


When you’re happy with the design, the next stage is Development. All of the words, images and other media from the script are built into whichever development tool or bespoke framework you’ve chosen.

The build module is tested, reviewed and amended to make sure it works as expected and has been built according to the specifications set out in the design stage.


For an e-learning module, this stage involves uploading the module to a learning management system (LMS).


As the name suggests, this stage involves evaluating the success of your e-learning module. The way you do that depends on what you set out to achieve at the beginning. You design your evaluation activities around that.

So that’s an introduction to the ADDIE model. I’m always a little sceptical about models. Here are some of my thoughts on this one.

ADDIE can give the impression that… In reality…
Each stage is separate and self-contained There’s more overlap and fluidity
The process is linear It’s collaborative with reviews and iterations
E-learning projects are standard They are sometimes
It’s the only way to create e-learning It’s a common way but not the only way

Having said that, ADDIE is widely understood throughout the e-learning industry. This makes it a good starting point for planning a project and a useful framework to communicate with people about how it’s progressing. It’s a guide rather than a rigid process which must be followed.

By | 2017-11-17T14:56:11+00:00 November 17th, 2017|Blog, Learning and development, Learning technologies|0 Comments

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