If you’ve never created an online course before, you may not be familiar with the term “instructional designer,” but that’s exactly what you’re about to become!

Instructional design is the act of creating of educational resources. It’s the functional application of design aspects like color theory, typography, and user experience to the goal of teaching.

Instructional designers may сrеаtе eLearning соurѕеѕ, wrіtе instructor’s mаnuаlѕ fоr сlаѕѕrооm іnѕtruсtіоn, design lеаrnіng gаmеѕ, convert classroom curricula into an online format, оr create training соurѕеѕ for thе wоrkрlасе. There are plenty of ways to specialize as an instructional designer, but it all starts by mastering the basics.

The following resources (including my own book) will not only help you get started in the field of instructional design, but will also help you create high-impact courses and training solutions for your target audience.


ISD From the Ground Up: A No-Nonsense Approach to Instructional Design (Chuck Hodell)

This book is ideal for novices. It provides insights about the instructional design (ISD) process, from foundational concepts to more advanced topics related to later phases of instructional design. It includes lots of templates and samples that instructional designers can apply to their own projects.

Design for How People Learn (Julie Dirksen)

This book is grounded in the science of memory, learning, and retention. It’s a helpful resource for instructional designers who want to produce highly engaging and motivational content.

Graphics for Learning: Proven Guidelines for Planning, Designing, and Evaluating Visuals in Training Materials (Ruth C. Clark, Chopeta Lyons)

This book will help you create more visually compelling learning content. Like other books by Ruth C. Clark, it’s based on research about cognitive learning behaviors.

eLearning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning (Ruth C. Clark and Richard E. Mayer)

This research-based handbook for eLearning design translates highly technical theoretical concepts into practical instructional design solutions.

Instructional Design for eLearning: Essential Guide to Creating Successful eLearning Courses (Marina Arshavskiy)

DISCLOSURE: Yes, this is my book. It’s for instructional designers of any experience level who want to create more engaging materials that help your audience both gain and retain new knowledge and skills.

Online Resources

Lеаrnіng Solutions Magazine – This is the ISD industry’s oldest source of practical information. The magazine is published by eLearning Guild, a community for eLearning professionals. Here you’ll find various strategies, tools, and best practices for the management, design, development, and implementation of your eLearning programs.

eLearning Industry – A large and frequently-updated collection of eLearning and instructional design articles and other valuable free resources.

ATD – If you are looking to join one professional association, look no further! The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is the world’s largest association dedicated to those who develop talent in organizations. ATD offers numerous publications, professional resources, as well as professional courses and certifications for both novice and experienced instructional designers.

Thе еLеаrnіng Coach – Connie Malamed, the eLearning Coach herself, shares practical advice, tutorials, and actionable strategies that will help new instructional designers confidently create useful content. Additionally, Connie offers lots of freebies and templates that can be easily adapted and used in your own courses.

Lastly, Lynda offers interactive video tutorials that will help you create engaging and effective learning experiences. Their lectures cover the fundamental ISD models, as well as more complex topics such as writing effective learning objectives, creating instructional videos, and storyboarding.