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ID Bookshelf: Part 2

#becomeanidol #careerchange #elearning #idbooks #idolcommunity #idolcourses #instructionaldesign Nov 15, 2021

A few months ago I wrote a blog post about my top 3 book recommendations for anyone new to the Instructional Design field. I absolutely loved those books and I learnt so much from them. But to be honest, there had been some other books that I found less of a value despite the hefty price tag. I wanted to read more, but after that disappointment, and with so many books to choose from, I needed recommendations from real people.

So I reached out in my IDOL community and asked members to recommend the one book that influenced their Instructional Designer thinking the most. With just one book to choose from their libraries, I thought this way I could get really the best of the best reads. 

While I am yet to read some of them, I wanted to share them with anyone who’s as interested in ID books as I am. In this blog, I share 5 recommendations from other IDOLs and one from Dr Robin Sargent, founder and CEO of IDOL courses Academy, along with their reviews.

Enjoy the list.

The Essentials of Instructional Design by Abbie H. Brown and Timothy D. Green


This book by Tim Green and Abbie Brown is straightforward and easy to follow. It is good to have on hand for anyone who is just getting started or needs a quick refresher on a specific aspect of instructional design. 

It grounds the ID process with a brief, accessible overview of learning theory, but importantly, its main focus is on application.

Every step of the ID process is explained in detail, and throughout the book there are diagrams and examples of what to do and what not to do. I have found those diagrams, examples, and nonexamples extremely helpful!

Recommended by: Brenda Perna

Brenda is an educator-turned Instructional Designer. In K-12 education, she focused on English Language Development, STEM, media, and art integration. She brings that same comprehensive and imaginative approach to instructional design and eLearning. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


Multimedia Learning by Richard E. Mayer



In this edition of Multimedia Learning, Mayer frames the Cognitive theory of Multimedia Learning within three theories: Science of Learning; Science of Instruction and Science of Assessment. In addition, he introduces three new principles, those of Embodiment, Immersion and Generative activity. The Multimedia principle (People learn better from words and graphics than from words alone) has become the overarching principle of the Cognitive theory of Multimedia Learning. He offers boundary conditions for using these principles which answer where and how questions practitioners may have.

This book is a must for your ID bookshelf as the principles are important to keep in mind as you create your learning solutions for your clients.

Recommended by Dawn Crawford (MEd)

Dawn is a freelance Instructional Designer based in South Africa with a background in education and the medical field of radiography and radiotherapy. She is passionate about simplifying complex concepts and creating meaningful learning experiences.

Check out her portfolio or connect with her on LinkedIn.


Instructional Story Design by Rance Green


Storytelling, a buzzword, I know. You are a learning designer, not a screenwriter! Using storytelling for learning design can feel overwhelming and time-consuming. I like Rance Greene's book because it's easy to read, practical, and full of helpful resources while it presents a strong framework and deep insights into the power of storytelling.  

I gained a lot of inspiration and a step-by-step guide for my design and development process. For me, this book is a great help for learning designers looking to apply a human-centered approach and create learning experiences people can relate to and learn from.

It's definitely a resource you can always go back to find inspiration and guidance, and I recommend you to have it on your ID Bookshelf.

Recommended by Teresa Moreno

Teresa Moreno is an eLearning Developer with a passion for Storytelling and Visual Design. Her motto: Stop information dump! Deliver stories. Inspire action. Drive change. 

Visit her website or connect with her on LinkedIn


Real World Instructional Design by Katherine Cennamo and Debby Kalk



This book is a college textbook and will not be for everyone. What I like about RWID is that it takes you step by step through an Agile approach to iterative Instructional Design. It arranges tasks by phases in designing, demonstrating, developing and delivering. RWID gives you assignments in each chapter. 

Recommended by Wendy Ross

Wendy designs customer facing training for a cybersecurity company and enjoys using stories and analogies to liven up the content. She loves the challenge of bringing new technologies to old problems and trying to find fresh ways to approach counting with the learner. Connect with her on Linkedin.


The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman



There's a saying "A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it's not that good." Design of Everyday Things (Donald A. Norman) is a look at what makes a good user interface. Though the book's focus is on physical things, the lessons mostly apply to virtual things such as software and learning solutions.

Recommended by Jay Lash

Jay was an accidental trainer for many years before he pivoted to a second career as an instructional designer and learning developer. He has a passion for training and the purpose of serving others. 

Connect with him on LinkedIn.


+ Dr Robin Sargent’s top recommendation:
First Principles of Instruction by M. David Merrill


Dr. David Merrill's book changed how I approached instructional design and how I teach it to my students. If your courses are all “tell and no show” with excessive guidance, then you absolutely need to learn the first principles of instructional design. 

This book is not only a list of principles it is also a demonstration and how you can apply them to your instructional materials.

As Merill says in the book, "information is not instruction." This captures the heart of Merrill's principles and it is a reminder to keep the problem in the center of your design instead of information as you build the activation, demonstration, application, and integration pieces around it.

Recommended by Dr Robin Sargent

Dr Robin of course is the founder and CEO of IDOL courses Academy


Do you have a favourite ID book that wasn’t listed? Add it to the IDOL reading list. To help us grow the list, first you have to add your favourite book and then you can see all the previous submissions. Even better, make a copy of the result page and see the list grow.


This blog post was compiled by Ivett Csordas

Ivett is a teacher turned Instructional Designer/Learning Content Manager. She has over 8 years of experience in secondary schools and 5 years in EFL classrooms. As a life-long learner, she is passionate about sharing knowledge and creating meaningful learning experiences. Connect with her on LinkedIn or check out her portfolio.