Friday, February 15, 2008

Essential Reading for Instructional Design?

As an instructional designer/eLearning professional, what books are the essential tools in your reference library?

I'm not looking for the obtuse theory books. I prefer the get-down-and-dirty variety.

These are my current faves. Easy-readers (a term of praise, in this case). Practical books with lots of real examples. They might refer to theory, but they don't get bogged down in it:
Last May, I started a bit of a list in this post: Beginning Instructional Designer's Toolkit.

Dr. John Curry was kind enough to post a really detailed reading list in his post How to Get an Instructional Design Education Without Paying Tuition (gotta love that title!)

After my appeal for something a little more pared down that I might actually be able to read, Dr. John came up with these essentials:
Other ID books of note that have been recently recommended to me:

What would you add? Or can we stop? I'm already feeling a bit overwhelmed. Perhaps we need to start a lending library.

Photo credit: Little by MegElizabeth


John H. Curry said...
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John H. Curry said...


First Principles is a paper, not a book. You can find the latest version of it here.

Also, you can find the 4C/ID model (from von Merrienboer's book) here.

I hope you find these helpful.

Anonymous said...

I'm about halfway through Michael Allen's new book, Designing Successful E-Learning. I think that's another one to add to the list.

This will be a really nice resource to have--thanks for collecting this list.

Dan said...

Blimey Cammy, I just put in one big request to the boss for an Amazon order. Between you and John I'm going to need to ask for a visit to Ikea for a new bookshelf too!

Dan said...

Oh, and as I mentioned in a recent entry on my blog, Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug is useful on the usability stakes - perhaps more so when you step from courseware and in to the wider field of elearning/performance support.

Cathy Moore said...

Let me second "Don't Make Me Think." Also, "Efficiency in Learning" covers some of the same territory as "Elearning and the Science of Instruction" but is more recent.

Richard Sheehy said...


I love Michael Allen's work and also here are a couple of books by Roger Schank.

Lessons in Learning, e-Learning, and Training: Perspectives and Guidance for the Enlightened Trainer


Designing World-Class E-Learning : How IBM, GE, Harvard Business School, And Columbia University Are Succeeding At E-Learning

These have been very valuable to me in the way I think about how and where elearning can be most effective.

Richard Sheehy

Cammy Bean said...

Thanks for all of the great additions! I'll create an updated master list at some point...Seems like many of us have been thirsting for an essential reading list.

SkyDaddy said...

In addition to van Merrianboer and Norman, don't miss Writing Training Materials That Work: How to train anyone to do anything by Foshay and Silber. I worked with Rob Foshay at PLATO in the 90's; this text distills the approach we used to creating instructional materials that delivered on the promises.

Another excellent book for those interested in epistomology is What Engineers Know and How They Know It: Analytical Studies from Aeronautical History by Walter Vincenti

IT Training said...

Good Edition for your bookshelf.

jmarrapodi said...

We have a lending library with most of these books at MASS ISPI. Yet another reason to join us!

Dave Ferguson said...

Cammy, you'll be astonished to hear that Ten Steps to Complex Learning has van Merriënboer's stuff, along with Paul Kirschner's.

It's not really their fault that the 10 steps took me 21 posts on my blog (starting here). I actually found it very useful as a foundation--though it felt at times like pouring concrete through a garden hose.

The book builds on the 4C/ID model described in the 2002 article that John Curry linked to.

In addition, though I'm going outside the instructional design fence, I think it's vital for a designer to understand the larger context.

There's Allison Rossett's First Things Fast, a new edition this year, to help identify the problem.

Close by, there's Rossett and Schafer's Job Aids and Performance Support (so you don't waste people's time trying to "instruct" them in stuff that shouldn't be memorized.)

Synergetics India said...
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Amit Garg said...

This is a great list Cammy. I strongly recommend Ruth Clark & Michael Allen. David Merrils paper on First Instructions is wonderful too. I've not seen John's link to tuition free ID course so far - thanks for pointing to that.

Also here's a list of some great
blogs that IDs could follow to keep up with. It includes this blog too :-)


Jil said...

Ooooo....Im stoked to find this list. Are there any you would add since this was first posted in 08? awesome sauce. thanks.

Heather said...

All IDs should read Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Health. Fantastic book.

Heather said...

Everyone responsible for communicating messages for change should read Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Health.

HB said...

Hello Cammy

Thanks for putting up the list on the site. On my desk here, I already have some of the books that you mentioned that I keep near me, regularly referred to in my job. My colleagues laugh at my books but I treat them dearly because they have served me well over the years in my work as an instructional designer. Thanks for the post!

Natalie Parker said...

I'm new to ID but come from K-12 background -- Horton's e-Learning by Design would be good for someone without out teaching experience -- but I'd look for something else if you're already an experienced instructor.

OP said...

This is a great list Cammy.

I love Michael Allen's work and also here are a couple of books by Roger Schank.
Thanks for sharing.

Alisa said...

In my Instructional Design for Technical Communicators class, we had to read Marina Arshavskiy's Instructional Design for ELearning book. The content of the book is excellent. I will use this book as a reference when I graduate and get an ID job.