Over the last few years, we have seen software companies successfully adopt a freemium model that allows people to try software for free before they buy. Sometimes the free portion is in the form of a 30-day trial. In another form, you can use a limited version of a software service for free, indefinitely. This has changed the way people purchase software, and it has changed the way people get things done by allowing people to use software for free that they otherwise would not use at all.
Even books have gotten into the act. Most books offer a free chapter, so you can sample a book before you buy. Other books offer online resources like PDF versions of tables, charts, and other data found in the book. The good news for eLearning designers is that William Horton’s book, E-Learning by Design does both.
Over the past three weeks, I have been catching up on some reading and have rediscovered this book by reading the new edition. Due to changing trends, Horton had to make room for new eLearning topics. Instead of simply removing chapters entirely, he provides them online. They are valuable chapters that you can download now.
In fact, I have started a few new eLearning projects of my own and found it quite helpful to read Chapter 13 on strategic decisions. Reading this chapter helped me plan two eLearning courses. For me, this chapter alone helped me create a better eLearning course by guiding me through some design decisions before I started. For this reason alone, I recommend you get these free chapters.
Also included as online chapters are chapters on:
- How to organization lessons (Chapter 12)
- Design the visual display (Chapter 14)
- Creating eLearning navigation (Chapter 15)
These are all valuable topics to understand as you design your eLearning courses, though Chapter 15 might be the least valuable if you use Mindflash to design eLearning as Mindflash has built in the navigation for you, so you don’t have to worry about that too much.
My intent is not to review the book, E-Learning by Design, though it is an excellent resource. But I do believe that free resources like this are an excellent way speed up the learning curve when you have a project to get done. If you design eLearning courses, you should download these free chapters and buy the book. You will use this book regularly. Trust me.
What other resources have you found valuable in your work of developing eLearning courses? Share those in the comments below.
Bill Cushard, author, blogger, and learning experience (LX) designer, is a human performance technologist (HPT) with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations in start-up and hyper-growth organizations like E*TRADE, the Knowland Group, and Accenture. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+.