The Books I Ate for the Main Course

An ID related question that I don’t particularly enjoy answering is: ‘Can you recommend some good ID books?’

This question overwhelms me. In my mind, there is no simple answer. It usually has me looking for ways to divert or deflect or duck the question. Here’s why. First, I don’t know of a simple, ID-for-beginners type of a book. Given that this knowledge seeker could be an L&D professional or a K-12 teacher or someone who wants to get started on elearning just complicates matters further. Second, even if I did find such a book through a Google search, how could I possibly recommend it without reading it? So then, divert or deflect or duck.

In the last few months, I started facing this question far too many times for guilt-free ducking. So I decided to trace my own ID learning path, to recall the books that build my foundations of ID. I thought, maybe some of you may find this path useful. So here they are: the books I ate for the main course.

collage

The books I ate for the main ‘course’

In this post, I will share the titles of books I have read. These are not some books that I have read. These books built my professional foundation. Let me shout out a piece of caution here. I like theory. In fact I find it irresistible.  Understandably, this love for theory reflects in my selection and choice of good ID books.

I am also tempted to add here that reading books, good books, is a form of self-learning where perhaps you also learn to deal with unknown concepts, which are explained using more unknown concepts. It can get maze-like. Which means you can get lost, confused and overwhelmed. For me, finding my way out of this maze presents the joy of a self-learning exercise that one should not shy away from or be afraid of.

So, here goes, in no particular order.

Instructional Design Theories and Models Volume I: The book, lovingly called the ‘Green Book’ by many who tried to read it, was my first exposure to ID. It was like someone had thrown me in the Marianna trench without any life support tools. I survived with the following learnings:

  • I understood the exact and precise meaning of the term ‘ID theory’. This knowledge helped understand the difference between theories and models. For example, Bloom’s Taxonomy is a model and not an ID theory, while Gagne’s 9 events of learning is only a part of an ID theory proposed by Gagne.
  • I learned that ID is a ‘descriptive’ and not a ‘prescriptive’ science.

This sort of knowledge is just that; ‘knowledge’. It has no immediate practical applications as such.

Rate this book for its theoretical content: 4 stars

Rate this book applicable content: 1.5 stars

Should you buy this book? Not really, plus it is out of print.

Instructional Design Theories and Models Volume II: I must have secretly liked the Marianna trench experience which Volume I provided. Why else would I immediately grab Volume II as soon as it was released? I have not regretted this purchase and I still use it a lot. Far more structured and application oriented, this book edited by Charles Reigeluth is truly a great compendium of insightful ID. For me the list of take-aways is quite long, but here are some of the more shiny ones:

  • A powerhouse of information, theory and practical applications on the affective domain – both for corporate learning and K-12 (with a special focus on troubled teenagers).
  • A precise, readable and application-enabling introduction of all ID theories

green book

Rate this book for its theoretical content: 4.5 stars

Rate this book applicable content: 4 stars

Should you buy this book? Yes, only if you are looking at ID seriously as a part of your professional journey.

The Systematic Design of Instruction by Walter Dick and Lou Carrey: This book covers every inch, nook and corner of the ISD model. It is the most important text for a student of ID studying at a graduate or post-graduate level. However, the ISD model itself, in its present form is outdated and even irrelevant in many industries. So says SAM. I do believe that some verticals like manufacturing or even defense may still benefit from the rigour of this model. This book has been my go to book for many years when ID was not as popular as it is today. I refer to it occasionally even today to get some of my concepts clear when I face a tough project.

Rate this book for its theoretical content: 2.5 stars

Rate this book applicable content: 3 stars

Should you buy this book? Yes if you are serious about ID. Get the latest edition. No if ID is just 5% (or less) of your annual KRAs.

A Survey of Instructional Development Models by Kent L Gustafson and Robert Maribe Branch: This thin little book is a powerhouse of information. I bought it with much reservation given its size. But I am really glad I did. It is a fantastic compilation of ID models and how they are classified as classroom-based, product-based and systems-based. The learnings from this book I cherish are:

  • That ADDIE is indeed a cyclic model and not linear as many ADDIE-bashers would have us believe id models
  • That ADDIE is the underlying framework for more than 15 ID models including ISD
  • That there are models better suited than ISD for dealing with media rich learning programs
  • That life need not begin and end with the rigour-based ISD

Rate this book for its theoretical content: 2 stars

Rate this book applicable content: 4 stars

Should you buy this book? Yes. Look for latest editions.

Instructional Design by Patricia L. Smith and Tillman J. Ragan: But for an uninspiring title, this book has been my all-time favorite. I read this book more than a decade ago. Some of the core concepts covered in this book are now becoming significant talking points. I was lucky to have had this book way back then. This is one book that a K-12 teacher and a corporate L&D professional can find useful. Some of the key learnings of this book are:

  • The mapping and appropriate allocation of terms like education, training, teaching and learning
  • A learner analysis framework that talks of static and dynamic learner characteristics – what an amazing insight
  • A simple and easy to understand look at the affective domain
  • And above all – the emphasis this book has on the ‘Design’ in Instructional Design.

Rate this book for its theoretical content: 4 stars

Rate this book applicable content: 4.5 stars

Should you buy this book? Yes. Look for latest editions.

blooms

A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing by Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl: Of course we all know THE taxonomy. But we also know that relying on free Internet resources for something as critical as Bloom’s taxonomy is not safe. For something as important as the taxonomy of Cognitive learning, you need to go to the most credible source – the authors of this taxonomy.

Rate this book for its theoretical content: 4 stars

Rate this book applicable content: 4.5 stars

Should you buy this book? Yes. Look for latest editions.

trends and issues

Trends and Issues in Instructional Design by Robert A Reiser and John V Dempsey:  I thought a lot before adding this book to this list. This book provides an overview of ID and technology in different spheres like Pharma, Military, Higher Education and K-12. It also covers briefly myriad topics like evaluation of learning, motivating learners and how ID is linked to workplace performance.  A great book for both beginners and advanced users of ID.

Rate this book for its theoretical content: 3 stars

Rate this book applicable content: 4 stars

Should you buy this book? Yes. Look for latest editions.

hpt handbook

Handbook of Human Performance and Technology: If learning content creation is not your main goal of using ID then this book is for you. If you are a manager of the learning function where your main role is the identifying, servicing and evaluation of learning and performance needs, then this book is a must-have on your shelf. From this book, I learned how to look at an organization through a ‘systems’ lens and link ID effort to workplace performance.

Rate this book for its theoretical content: 3 stars

Rate this book applicable content: 4.75 stars

Should you buy this book? Yes.

Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace – Volume I, II and III: These volumes are an expansive (not hpt 123expensive) edition of the Handbook of HPT described above. A must-have for everyone in corporate L&D. Experienced IDs may find these books a bit repetitive. I would still go with having them rather than not.

Rate this book for its theoretical content: 3 stars

Rate this book applicable content: 4 stars

Should you buy this book? Yes. Look for latest editions.

elearningeLearning and the Science of Instruction by Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E Mayer: I could not possibly end this list without putting one of my favorite authors in here. An original thinker, her books and published papers clearly map the role of cognition in learning and to me the science is important. Hence I recommend this book and any others written by her with both thumbs up.

Rate this book for its theoretical content: 4 stars

Rate this book applicable content: 4.5 stars

Should you buy this book? Yes. Look for latest editions.

In my next post, I will bring you the books I ate for dessert. Books, not from the field of ID which have made this domain interesting and irresistible for me. Here’s my parting shot – that lets you out of the maze.The Dictionary of Psychology. And hopefully I will be forgiven deflecting or diverting or ducking.psycho dict

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