This seemed like the appropriate time of year to offer my recommendations of books from a variety of disciplines that you might find intriguing for yourself or as gifts. After all, one of the best ways to grow and improve is to stretch and learn from other fields. Enjoy!
Angela Connor uses her experience and wit to chart the unknown frontier of online community management. She discusses how to grow and engage an online community as well as how to handle criticism and deal with troublesome members. If you’re delving into building learning communities with social media, this important guide can light the way.
If you’re familiar with Anne Lamott’s novels, you’ll love her book on writing. Her humorous and insightful reflections on life are intertwined with wonderful observations on the art of writing. Not only are her revelations fascinating, but you get the sense that somehow she will help you hone your craft. Designers spend a lot of time writing and not enough learning how to write more creatively.
For technical books, O’Reilly Publishers is top of the line. This book is an excellent introduction to online user interface design, providing the background, thought processes and uses for just about every type of user interface element you can imagine. Apply this knowledge to your eLearning courses to provide a richer user experience.
This wildly popular book is almost a classic and is in its second edition. It’s written on the premise that the first rule of usability should always be, “Don’t make me think.” Steve Krug then goes on to teach readers how to make web sites that are obvious in their purpose and usability. Then he’ll convince you that usability testing is crucial for improving the user’s experience.
Author and professor, Howard Gardner, is well-known for his work on multiple intelligences. In this latest book, Gardner outlines the types of cognitive abilities that will be required in the 21st century. As creators of future learning spaces, it’s helpful to have a fellow educator identify the abilities that need cultivating in a world of increasing change, global participation and information anxiety.
Peter Turchi weaves together a fascinating book that captures both the beauty of maps and the wonders of writing. Maps of the Imagination is filled with surprises; the author offers a wonderful passage from fiction one moment and a beautiful ancient map the next. He seamlessly hopscotches back and forth between art forms to provide an extravagantly rich reading experience. There’s lots of inspiration here.
I often recommend this book to people seeking a beginner’s book on Graphic Design. Art educator, Robin Williams, covers all the basic design concepts in a non-threatening way. She’s your home tutor, providing little self-check quizzes at the end of the chapters. Sound familiar? The last part of the book explores Type, which is an important and woefully omitted topic in online course design circles.
Garr Reynolds applies the Zen aesthetic to the world of communication, showing the value of simplicity, restraint and quality. He encourages readers to understand the power of elegant but understated visual design and the complexity of keeping things simple. Whether you use these concepts to make more effective presentations, create finer visuals or to improve your online courses, you’ll probably find them intriguing.
For those of you interested in Design, this book captures a broad swath of the field by explaining the essential principles underlying the design experience. Universal Principles presents all this with examples in a highly accessible format. Although readers may be surprised to see concepts relating to business, perception, usability and engineering, the authors make it all fit beautifully.
Visual Language for Designers presents ways to achieve quick and compelling visual communications. Based on six principles that synthesize visual design and cognitive science, readers learn to recognize and make use of the hidden language in graphics. There are over 250 examples from designers around the world, providing a rich browsing experience as well. (Come on, I had to include my own book on this list!)