Apax Learning Co., Ltd

Empowering Excellence: Your Instructional Design Journey with the Top 10 Must-Read Books

When it comes to mastering instructional design, the right resources can make all the difference. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting, the wisdom contained in these books can elevate your expertise and help you excel in the field of instructional design. In this curated list, we present the top 10 books that will guide you on your journey toward mastering instructional design. 

I. Enduring Classics 

We confidently designate these books as classics because they are frequently suggested by experienced course creators, business executives, and pioneers in the field of eLearning – individuals who possess extensive knowledge in both the theoretical and practical facets of instructional design. If you are a newcomer to instructional design or aspire to delve further into this field, these books are precisely what you should consider exploring

1. Design for How People Learn (Voices That Matter), by Julie Dirksen

Encountered dull learning experiences? Julie Dirksen’s book guides creating engaging online courses that provide real education. It balances knowledge and curiosity, ensuring lasting retention.

Design for How People Learn (Voices That Matter): Dirksen, Julie

2. The Accidental Instructional Designer: Learning Design for the Digital Age, by Cammy Bean

This book stands as an invaluable resource for individuals looking to swiftly transition into the field of Course Design, especially those seeking a career change. It comprehensively navigates almost every facet of the online learning design process, drawing from the author’s firsthand experiences. Within its pages, you will gain access to best practices, real-life case studies, and valuable insights on the common pitfalls to steer clear of when crafting an eLearning program. By the book’s conclusion, you will have amassed the knowledge necessary to shift from being an accidental instructional designer to an intentional and skilled one.

The Accidental Instructional Designer: Learning Design for the Digital Age, by Cammy Bean

3. Michael Allen’s Guide to e-Learning: Building Interactive, Fun, and Effective Learning Programs for Any Company

In the spirit of Chandler Bing’s humor, one might playfully exclaim, “Could it BE any more classic?” Michael Allen’s Guide to Virtual Learning is an essential read for instructional designers. This book gathers invaluable wisdom from one of the eLearning industry’s most influential figures.

Within its pages, you’ll delve into Mr. Allen’s three fundamental principles of online learning, grasp their significance in your projects, and gain insights into the positive outcomes they can generate. Michael Allen also offers historical context, highlights common pitfalls to avoid, and shares valuable tips drawn from his company’s successful journey in the field.

Michael Allen’s Guide to e-Learning: Building Interactive, Fun, and Effective Learning Programs for Any Company

4. Leaving ADDIE for SAM: An Agile Model for Developing the Best Learning Experiences, by Michael Allen and Richard Sites

In contrast to earlier books, this one targets experienced instructional designers. Michael Allen and Richard Sites introduce SAM – the Successive Approximation Model. It’s an alternative to the traditional ADDIE model. While ADDIE works for many, SAM offers a fresh approach to enhance your work’s effectiveness. This book delves deep into SAM, its concepts, and more. By the end, you’ll ask: “Should I switch from ADDIE to SAM?”

Leaving ADDIE for SAM: An Agile Model for Developing the Best Learning Experiences, by Michael Allen and Richard Sites

5. Map It: The hands-on guide to strategic training design, by Cathy Moore

Cathy Moore’s book, “Map It,” offers a groundbreaking solution to the common problem of ineffective online training. Through her innovative approach of action mapping, Moore guides instructional designers and developers in focusing on practical workplace skills. By reading her book, you’ll master the necessary skills to implement action mapping effectively. You’ll also learn to distinguish when traditional training is needed versus alternative solutions, ultimately improving the engagement and effectiveness of your eLearning content.

Map It: The hands-on guide to strategic training design, by Cathy Moore

6. e-Learning by Design, by William Horton

William Horton’s book not only offers guidance on creating eLearning content but also provides a diverse range of learning activities for potential inclusion. For beginners, this resource serves as an excellent starting point. It offers comprehensive explanations from the beginning while maintaining simplicity without unnecessary oversimplification. After completing this book, you’ll have a well-rounded understanding of the eLearning industry, its components, and the possibilities it offers for engaging learners effectively.

e-Learning by Design, by William Horton

7. e-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning, by Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer

This book delves into the foundational questions of why certain methods are employed and the reasoning behind specific create choices in instructional design. Unlike many resources that offer opinions on effective eLearning without concrete evidence, this book backs its statements, claims, and conclusions with scientific research. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, exploring this book is essential to grasp the underlying mechanisms that drive eLearning productivity and understand the “how” and “why” behind its effectiveness.

 e-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning, by Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer

II. Hidden Gems

If you’ve already explored all the classic titles or are eager to discover lesser-known yet exceptionally valuable reads, take a look at these hidden gems.

8. The Art of Explanation: Making your Ideas, Products, and Services Easier to Understand, by Lee LeFever

Lee LeFever’s book addresses a crucial aspect of Instructional Planning: the skill of communicating brilliant ideas effectively. It goes beyond explaining the “why” and “what” and provides guidance on turning complex or formal material into engaging narratives. This book underscores the value of dedicating time and effort to this process, ultimately boosting learner engagement and creating a fulfilling learning experience for both educators and students.

The Art of Explanation: Making your Ideas, Products, and Services Easier to Understand, by Lee LeFever

9. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, by Joseph M. Williams and Joseph Bizup

“Style,” often overlooked in Learning Design literature, is a crucial resource. It emphasizes the importance of language and style in creating engaging content. Rooted in solid research, it provides evidence-based guidance for effective communication. What makes “Style” unique is its commitment to staying current with language trends. By adopting its principles, you can enhance your writing skills and engage your audience effectively, revolutionizing your Training Design approach. Don’t underestimate this invaluable resource.

Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, by Joseph M. Williams and Joseph Bizup

10. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by Simon Sinek

The importance of online training and investing time in courses is explored in this book. It not only offers answers to these pivotal questions but also illustrates how successful companies addressed these “why” inquiries, ultimately attaining innovation, profitability, and influence.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by Simon Sinek

III. Final thought

Well, now you know the best instructional design books.

In the realm of Curriculum Design, these 10 books serve as invaluable companions on your journey to expertise. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, these titles offer a wealth of knowledge and practical insights. They guide you in creating engaging and effective learning experiences.

As you explore these books, remember that your role as an Course Designer is pivotal. You possess the ability to inspire, educate, and transform lives through your work. Embrace the wisdom within these pages, apply it, and continue your journey toward mastery. Your influence on the future of education is immeasurable. Enjoy your reading and designing endeavors!

IV. Useful Resources

What is the different between ID vs. LXD?

What is e-learning?