Thursday, January 17, 2013
The first book I ever read on E-learning.
Now that is an easy one. Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer’s E-learning book, which has a focus on multimedia. This book helped me start in the field of e-learning instructional design for online distance learning. This is one of the most important books you can ever read, if you want to become an instructional designer. I am re-reading the book already in its third edition, although it didn’t change much from the second edition. I found, the first time I read it, the book distribution very useful. The chapters are named after a principle they argue works in e-learning, each principle backed by empirical research data. When I put the book down the first time I read it, it stroked me that I was left with a somewhat empty stomach. My web programming and graphic design experience was telling me that the book was lacking exactly that: technology and innovation. Even though the new edition has many updates, it still has those dry and barebones pictures and plots from the second edition. This book does not have a single color image in it. This makes the book really hard to read, and for later consultation, it does not help that the pictures are in black-gray and white. But every picture in the book has a significant point to make and, as their multimedia principle says, each image has a relevant text attached to it. The first chapter gives a very useful account of why e-learning is so important these days. It also goes through what makes a successful e-learning course and what makes it fail. The second chapter is a condensed (given the amount of books out there on the subject) account of pedagogy, which sets the tone for what the book is going to be about. The third chapter was inserted (I believe) as a guide on how to critically select studies on e-learning, based on guidelines that they propose. By the fourth chapter, you are already in e-learning territory. There is a chapter on gaming, but more on how it works in online courses than on how to make games. This subject can be the content for one whole textbook. All in all, this book is worth reading and must be studied continuously so you can absorb the principles contained in it. I find myself consulting some pages when I run into a design problem, and this is the first book I pull out of the shelf when I want to consult a reference. There are many books on instructional design for online courses, but this one is at the forefront of basic references mainly because the principles outlined in the book still work and research keeps confirming these principles over and over.