Look no further. If you are seeking to learn more about instructional design and eLearning, here is a selection of books for you to browse. If you are already competent, there are a few books here that will expand your skills and mindset. There is a range of books here, from the smaller less expensive books to pricey graduate level texts.
Design for How People Learn, 2nd edition by Julie Dirksen
This smartly-written book presents the principles of learning, memory and attention that underlie experiences for helping people learn. Julie Dirksen helps readers see that it’s possible to make learning meaningful while still being engaging and fun. Making effective use of metaphors, graphics and stories, she covers everything from the basics of how to get started, to cognitive foundations of learning, to design strategies. The book is a good example of how to translate theory into practical application. See a full review of Design for How People Learn and listen to an interview with the author about the importance of getting feedback on our work. A new edition is now available, with three additional chapters.
The Accidental Instructional Designer by Cammy Bean
If you became an instructional designer through happenstance, fate or necessity, you’ll love Cammy Bean’s practical and real-world look at the field. She takes the reader on a journey through the practice of instructional design, presenting a sensible approach to learning models, finding a hook, interactivity, writing and more. This is a good book for both accidental and intentional learning designers. You might like this interview with Cammy Bean about instructional design best practices.
More Than Blended Learning by Clive Shepherd
In this book (I have the Kindle version), Clive Shepherd empowers designers to take a modern approach to designing learning experiences. He shows how to go beyond the traditional boundaries of blended learning by providing what adult learners actually need on the job to close a skill or knowledge gap. Thus, there is a strong emphasis on support and resources over courses, though formal learning is not excluded. The book details the author’s end-to-end process (called PIAF), which consists of Preparation, Input, Application and Follow-up. There are lots of examples and helpful tips throughout.
The Essentials of Instructional Design (3rd edition) by Abbie Brown and Timothy D. Green
The Essentials of Instructional Design covers the foundations of instructional design including the principles, processes and practices without subscribing to a particular model. It is used as a graduate school textbook and the second edition has assignments at the end of each chapter, which are helpful if you’re learning this on your own. Here’s an interview with the authors about the future of instructional technology.
In Revolutionize, author Clark Quinn answers the question of how Learning and Development teams can be relevant in the information age. He will convince you that many training teams are misaligned with employee and organizational needs. He then provides a path to reaching higher ground by concentrating on performance, creating a learning culture, making organizational change and supporting work. I’ve included it in this list of instructional design books because it’s important to have these contemporary strategies in mind when proposing solutions.
If you want to learn the traditional ADDIE model for design and development, this book will take you through the steps. The focus is more on instructional design for classroom facilitation than for eLearning. It is organized into four clearly-written sections: The Basics of ISD, Working Through the ADDIE Model, The Basics of Design and Lesson Plans and Tips for Success. If you want to set your sites beyond the ADDIE model, see the next book.
Leaving ADDIE for SAM by Michael Allen
Michael Allen proposes a design paradigm that differs from ADDIE in that it is more collaborative and creative. SAM is an acronym for Successive Approximation Method, which entails designing in small iterative steps of ideas and prototypes to continually get feedback until one reaches the best solution. You will find this book valuable if you’re looking for another model and if you think prototyping will help your design process. The book takes you through the full project planning process and includes tables and charts.
Rapid Instructional Design: Learning ID Fast and Right (3rd edition) by George M. Piskurich
Perhaps the most shocking topic in this book is whether you even need to use an instructional design process. If you do, then this book provides a practical approach to the subject with lots of detail through all the steps. If you are new to instructional design and looking for a hefty volume to keep by your side, consider this new updated version. The author covers traditional instructional design basics for a variety of delivery approaches, not just eLearning. In addition, some things covered here that you may not find in other ID books include: data collection, cost/benefit analysis, rapid design shortcuts, beta tests, repurposing and short cuts. There are lots of helpful charts and templates too. The author addresses instructor-led training, online learning and includes some case studies. There is a final chapter on designing for new applications, such as mobile, flipped classroom, MOOCs and communities of practice.
The Systematic Design of Instruction by Walter Dick, Lou Carey and James O. Carey
If you’re interested in a graduate school classic, you’ll like this book. The well-known Dick and Carey model was a breakthrough approach at one time. These days, some think it’s overly complicated and prefer the more rapid approach to instructional design. It will, however, introduce you to a model for analyzing, designing and developing learning materials that is somewhat different than ADDIE. There is a newer 8th edition that includes designing for newer technologies. It is available in a loose leaf format and the format gets mixed reviews.
E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning by Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer
This book provides research-based design principles for multimedia learning. It answers questions that practitioners often ask themselves, such as how and when to mix pictures and text; when to use audio in animation; and similar issues. Although there is overlap with more basic books, eLearning and the Science of Instruction also covers more advanced topics. A new edition will be published in 2016. You may want to wait for that one.
e-Learning by Design by William Horton
Like other books on eLearning design and development, e-Learning by Design takes you through the process of designing and creating eLearning. Unlike other books, Mr. Horton also writes about a variety of activities to include in your eLearning. He covers different types of learning activities that fit into three categories: Absorb, Do and Connect. You’ll also find chapters on tests, structure, social learning, games and simulation and much more. Note: Reviewers who read this on a tablet device are disappointed by the poor formatting.
Essentials of Online Course Design: A Standards-based Guide (2nd edition) by Marjorie Vai and Kristen Sosulski
In Essentials of Online Course Design, the authors state it is written for a wide audience, from teachers to higher education to the professional workplace training staff. With its distance education perspective, it may be most appropriate for educational technologists. The book presents the features and components of online learning and lightly covers writing style and visual design basics. It then presents ways to engage the learner and covers assessment activities. Some appendices are included.
What are your favorite ID books? Comment below.
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