Young Instructional Desinger

Instructional Design Resources for Beginners

Often when I meet someone new to instructional design, they ask me what resources I would recommend. If you don’t have experience or an advanced degree in instructional design, knowing where to find quality resources can be difficult. When I first got into the eLearning industry I struggled to find resources that were appropriate. Some were too advanced, while others seemed to be based more on theory than fact. Having gotten into the industry somewhat by accident, which seems to a fairly common theme among instructional designers, I can definitely sympathize with anyone beginning their career.

Here are a few instructional design resources that were very helpful when I first started as well as some picked up along the way:


These weren’t the first books I read when I started, but they were the most helpful. What I particularly liked about these books is that the methods and examples they provided are supported by research and “evidence-based findings that provide practical guidelines for effective online instructional design.”

I read these two books as a series. I started with E-Learning and the Science of Instruction. It provides seven guiding principles behind what works and what doesn’t in online learning. It also has a chapter on games and simulations which is a growing trend in eLearning. All of the topics covered elaborate on earlier work of M. David Merrill and others, but in more practical terms. The second book, Developing Technical Training, shows you how to apply what you’ve learned to create online training.


There are lots of websites you can use to help you hone your craft, such as and various YouTube videos, but regarding information on everything related to instructional design and learning in general, you won’t find more information than on Don Clark’s Big Dog & Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition. His website is one site of the most valuable instructional design resources around. It is constantly being updated and has a vast amount of information on every aspect of instructional design from Bloom’s Taxonomy to backwards planning. He also has sections on leadership and coffee, which you may find useful or interesting too. To get started, you may only need to reference this website and read Ruth Clark’s books.


Chief Learning Officer is a magazine dedicated to those in leadership roles in the eLearning industry. I subscribe to its newsletter, which is emailed several times a week and contains most of the articles from the magazine. This publication is for anyone looking up and who wants to stay abreast of what their boss is reading.

Learning Solutions Magazine is an eLearning Guild publication that provides “practical information on the strategies, tools, technologies, services, and best practices for the management, design, development, and implementation of enterprise-wide eLearning programs.” I subscribe to its newsletter. It has relevant articles on all of the latest trends affecting eLearning.


There are hundreds of blogs related to eLearning, so I find that bloggers in general have a hard time staying fresh and relevant. One could argue that the market is saturated with eLearning bloggers so you have to wade through what is important to you and what isn’t.  To give you an idea just how many blogs devoted to eLearning are out there, there is a website that ranks the top 315 blogs.

There a number of very good blogs that I follow, but early on I always found myself coming back to these two. Cathy Moore offers insight on everything from rapid development to designing scenarios. Check out her post on Action Mapping.

I also frequently read posts from E-Learning Heroes. This is really three blogs in one and is focused on using Articulate, but I find that it has a lot of useful information on instructional design and the industry in general. If you’re also developing your courses in Storyline, then this is a great resource. If you use Adobe Captivate of Trivantis Lectora, there are very good resources for both that you can find with a simple Google search.


Apps weren’t as popular when I first began my career, so I didn’t have access to these at the time, but I thought it may be useful for you to add these to your arsenal.

ID Guru provides a glossary of “over 450 terms” for instructional designers.” If you’re starting out in the industry, this app can help you understand the lingo more quickly. It’s available for Android and Apple devices at $2.99.

DesignJot is an iPad app that helps you analyze the needs of your client. It’s designed to help you analyze and design your project, yet I’ve only used it to analyze. I guess that makes it flexible too. The greatest benefit I have found is that it provides a structured approach to collaborating with clients. It provides a basis for analysis and design that you can build upon. It costs $4.99.

Forums and Groups

Other resources that I find invaluable are LinkedIn groups. This not only allows you to connect with other eLearning professionals, it also gives you a way to gather and spread knowledge. There are quite a few groups dedicated to eLearning and training and development.

E-Learning is a flourishing industry with new trends often influencing its direction, so you will have to keep reading to stay abreast of things. There is so much information out there that it will take time to discern what is good from what is not so good. Hopefully I have done some of that for you, and this post helps.  These are not commercial endorsements. I’m sure that others have their favorites or “go to” resources. If you do, I please share them in the comments.


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