Today it is time to explore the legendary battle between the two main instructional design methodologies: ADDIE vs. SAM. For those not engaged in the fight, ADDIE and SAM are two of the main methods instructional designers use to create, develop, and evaluate their courses. We’ll take a deep dive into what each one of these methodologies means for instructional designers as well as which one takes the crown to settle this once and for all.


ADDIE is arguably the most popular of the two ideologies. Many of the other methods that have come up still borrow the 5 steps that make up ADDIE. They are:

  1. Analysis
  2. Design
  3. Development
  4. Implementation
  5. Evaluation

In order to practice ADDIE, you have to go through each step in the process before you start the cycle over again. This can usually take a long time, which means ADDIE is best for longer projects. However, many instructional designers dislike this rigid structure.Sometimes if a project starts running past a deadline, instructional designers might spend less time on testing their work, which is one of the most essential aspects of creating


SAM, or the Successive Approximation Model has only three steps:

  1. Analyze
  2. Design
  3. Develop

SAM has a smaller cycle length that can be used through each each step of the process. It’s also considered an AGILE approach, which means you can go through two or even three steps at the same time. Because of it’s short cycle, this is best for smaller, less complicated projects. Many instructional designers prefer this method because there are more opportunities to evaluate your work, discuss projects with your client and to implement changes. Still, for the larger-scale works that require high-production videos or special programming ADDIE might be the best option.

…So Which is Best?

Unfortunately I’m not here to settle the battle between the models. It’s all up to you now! Most likely it will be up to the organization you work for and the kind of content they want developed. If the organization focuses on creating instructional content over a longer period of time, ADDIE might be the best for them. Conversely, if an organization wants content delivered fast, they may like something more flexible like SAM instead.

That said, which do you prefer personally? Have you seen any other approaches to the instructional design process that you like better? Let me know in those comments down below!

Thanks for reading and see you next time!



Curious about more popular terms used in the Instructional Design Industry? Check out the Top 10 Terms Every Instructional Designer Should Know!

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