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Learning 11 MIN READ

The 17 Best eLearning Books for Instructional Designers

As an instructional designer, you want to have all the tools and resources in your inventory to build engaging e-learning content.

And, it only makes sense you want to get the best out there.

Staying up to date with current e-learning trends, refining your instructional methods, and ultimately providing unique learning experiences to learners is the recipe for success.

Ebooks provide the most convenient way to get access to readily available information online and offer easy-to-consume content.

So, to help you build on your existing knowledge, in this article we are offering a list of 17 ebooks with actionable tips and advice you can use right away.

These can give you valuable insights into the entire spectrum of designing and creating online courses.

Check out the following resources to learn all there is to know about e-learning.

Elearning / Instructional Design

Successful instructional design is an art itself. As an instructional designer, there are a lot of things you need to consider to design and develop content that adds to the existing knowledge and skills of learners. Apart from conducting a needs analysis – to identify the needs of learners, you also need to use and develop design models effectively and then evaluate their impact on learners.

1The Accidental Instructional Designer – by Cammy Bean

In this ebook, Cammy Bean offers many personal insights and tips that you can take and apply into your practice in every aspect of the e-learning design process. From understanding the very basics of instructional design to adding interactivity, and working with subject matter experts – SMEs, it has everything a beginner and an advanced instructional designer needs.

What you will learn:

2Design for How People Learn (2nd Edition) (Voices That Matter) – by Julie Dirksen

Julie Dirksen’s ‘Design for How People Learn’ analyzes the key principles of learning, memory, and attention that help learners improve knowledge retention. The ebook uses various visual metaphors, methods, and examples to help you design purposeful and engaging learning experiences as well as how and when to use tests.

What you will learn:

3Facilitator’s and Trainer’s Toolkit – by Artie Mahal

Artie Mahal’s toolkit is a resource that any instructional designer and the online instructor can use to improve their practice. The ebook has 12 chapters that go in-depth into many topics relating to the facilitation framework, process, and leadership, virtual facilitation, cross-cultural facilitation, and self-development among others. It also includes a tools library and other trainer resources.

What you will learn:

4Design for Information – by Isabel Meirelles

In this ebook, Isabel Meirelles examines the concept of data visualization. To do this, she explains how you can make sense of visual information and gives out some key principles and methodologies of design, cognition, perception. Presenting current and historical research Isabel also presents solutions that will help you overcome design problems.

What you will learn:

5Video-based Learning: A Complete Guide On How To Use Video To Improve Your Online Course

Video is an essential component of every successful online course. To help instructional designers and content creators we have created an ebook on video-based learning. This is a complete step-by-step guide that can help you explore the different strategies of using video to facilitate online learning, build on learners’ memory retention and achieve knowledge comprehension.

What you will learn:

6E-Learning by Design – by William Horton

‘E-learning by Design’ by William Horton provides a comprehensive guide to instructional design looking at every stage of the process. This resource will help you develop, create and implement an e-learning program from scratch, giving out some simple instructions. Following core design principles, it explains how you can create purposeful learning activities and assessments.

What you will learn:

7E-Learning Fundamentals – by Diane Elkins and Desiree Pinder

In this practical guide, the authors Diane and Desiree – both e-learning experts – provide some essential information on the e-learning landscape. To explain fundamental concepts, they give answers to many key questions, like why we need e-learning, what an LMS – learning management system is, and how to write storyboards among many others. To do this, they go over the entire e-learning process from start to finish.

What you will learn:

8 Essentials for Blended Learning: A Standards-Based Guide – by Jared Stein & Charles R. Graham

If you want to learn more about blended learning, this is your go-to resource. The ebook follows a practical approach to help you create effective learning experiences through the blend of virtual classroom activities and face-to-face teaching. Jared Stein and Charles Graham consider thought, deliberation and firm pedagogical grounding as key effective instructional design elements and they talk about these further in the ebook.

What you will learn:

9E-learning and the Science of Instruction – by Ruth Colvin Clark & Richard E. Mayer

This eLearning ebook has everything a modern designer, developer, and consumer needs. With a comprehensive review of multimedia learning, it presents some resourceful data on design and development to help you come up with an effective e-learning solution. The key design principles described in this resource ensure that the course you build will meet the human psychological needs of the learner.

What you will learn:

10The eLearning Designer’s Handbook – by Tim Slade

Tim Slade knows that there is a lot of work into designing an online course. To help you out, he came up with the ebook ‘The eLearning Designers’ Handbook’, where he shows how you can simplify the elearning development process. If you are a beginner, you get to learn how to plan and design e-learning projects effectively using practical tips and advice coming from the author’s experience.

What you will learn:

Gamification & Interactivity

Gamification goes a long way to making an online course interactive and offering engaging learning experiences. As such, there is a lot of focus and interest in employing gamified or game-like elements inside online learning units – both in activities and assessments. To do this effectively though, there are some processes that need to be followed.

1The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education

The Gamification of Learning and Instruction’ ebook, explains how game-based mechanics can work to build meaningful learning experiences. It explores the process of gamification in evolving technologies and supports the idea that gamification should be all about creating impactful learning that meets the needs of learners. To do so, it looks at games and learning from every possible angle.

What you will learn:

2From Passive to Interactive: Learn How Interactive Videos Can Transform Learning

Interactivity is the key element that makes learning an enjoyable process. The more interactive the elearning content is, the more learners will engage with it. With this free ebook, you get to learn all you need to know about interactive videos. To transform passive videos into interactive learning experiences, you will first need to explore a variety of features including augmentation, synchronous interactions, pop-up questions, and many more, as listed in this resource.

What you will learn:

3Even Ninja Monkeys Like to Play – by Andrzej Marczewski

Andrzej Marczewski’s ‘Even Ninja Monkeys Like to Play’ offers a guide into the use of gamification and game-like elements to create engaging learning experiences. Giving out practical tips and guidance, this ebook explores different gamification theories and introduces many game thinking strategies, that can help to build effective gamified solutions.

What you will learn:

Mobile Learning

As learners prefer to learn at their own time and pace, it is expected that there will be a huge demand for mobile learning. Mobile learning allows users to access elearning content on the go, bringing microlearning to the forefront. This not only makes information easier to digest but also makes sense of the data presented, unlocking immense opportunities for online learning.

1Mastering Mobile Learning – by Chad Udell and Gary Woodill

Mobile learning is getting more popular day by day. As mobile learning environments become the norm, there is going to be more literature supporting it like ‘Master Mobile Learning’. This ebook offers a modern approach to the subject and offers best practices for obtaining and providing educational, training, and professional development content on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

What you will learn:

Building Educational Communities

Any corporate organization that wants to achieve growth cares about its employees and customers. With the right training program and learning strategy in place, L&D teams or training managers can use e-learning to educate customers about products. In the same way, they can offer virtual training to employees to help them develop and succeed in their current roles – from employee onboarding to employee training, and professional development.

1Online Professional Development Through Virtual Learning Communities

The ‘Online Professional Development through Virtual Learning Communities’ ebook shows how you can combine well-designed online instruction with peer-to-peer collaboration to create high-quality professional learning. The author Sonja Hollins-Alexander refers to her own experiences in building a successful online professional development program and shares some important insights.

What you will learn:

2Map It: The hands-on guide to strategic training design – by Cathy Moore

Cathy Moore’s ‘Map It: The Hands-on Guide to Strategic Training Design’ can help you come up with a training strategy that works for every business. Through this ebook, you get to learn how to build effective training programs for clients and design realistic and challenging activities for learners using action mapping, needs analysis, and key training design concepts.

What you will learn:

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

Michael Allen’s ‘Guide to e-Learning’ explains what makes elearning great, looking specifically at motivation and interactivity. It suggests strategies, guidelines, and techniques that will help you create a successful elearning program. Read it to learn how to use the latest technology available but also avoid common pitfalls by observing case studies that have a lot to teach.

What you will learn:

Going Forward: Making Use of e-Learning Resources

The e-learning industry is constantly changing. The need to keep up with changing demands, and adapt your instructional methods as you go along is essential.

Whether you are creating content for individual course creators or companies to train their customers and personnel, it is always important to stay on top of things, never settle, and grow as a professional.

Exploring the possibilities and always being on the lookout for any developments within your industry is the way forward. So, which ebook would you read first and why? Let us know!

Additional resources:

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Content Creator at

Kyriaki is a Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team writing about marketing and e-learning, helping course creators on their journey to create, market, and sell their online courses. Equipped with a degree in Career Guidance, she has a strong background in education management and career success. In her free time, she gets crafty and musical.