The 17 Best Books on Instructional Design: Classics and Hidden Gems

Books may have lost the leading role in education, but they remain an invaluable source of unique and fundamental knowledge. We have collected the best instructional design books and some other books that don’t guide through the practice of instructional design directly but can be and are used to create eLearning experiences much more effectively. Let’s begin.

The Classics

We don’t hesitate to call these books classics because they are most often mentioned by experienced course developers, company leaders, and eLearning pioneers – people who know both sides of instructional design: theory and practice. If you’ve just started in ID or want to deepen your knowledge, these books are exactly what you need.

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

Perhaps all of us have had some useless learning experiences. A boring book, an endless article, or too much entertainment with too little information. Julie Dirksen wrote a book that helps to create courses that both hook learners and educate them. Reading it, you’ll be able to find the golden mean between giving knowledge and provoking interest. And you’ll learn how to make people remember new information long after they’ve completed a course.

Design for How People Learn

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

This is one of the greatest books for people who have decided to change their profession and become instructional designers quickly. It will guide you through nearly every aspect of the online learning design process and share some insights from the author’s personal experience. You’ll learn best practices, read case studies, and find out the most common mistakes to avoid when designing an eLearning program. And, yes, by the end of the book, you’ll know everything you need to know to transition from an accidental instructional designer to an intentional one.

The Accidental Instructional Designer

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

As Chandler Bing would say: “Could it BE more classical?” Michael Allen’s Guide to e-Learning is a must-read for every instructional designer. This book is a collection of invaluable insights from one of the most important people in the eLearning industry. Here, you will learn about Mr. Allen’s three pillars of online learning, the importance of applying them to your projects, and the results you’ll get if you do. Michael will take you through history, show you common pitfalls, give some tips, and take you to the path that led him and his company to success.

Michael Allen’s Guide to e-Learning Keep reading