Book Review: “The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual”

The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual: Your toolkit for putting elearning into practiceLate last year (2013) I started reading the latest offering from Rob Hubbard, “The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual”. A collection of chapters from leading and respected authors and educators this book offers the reader a “broad base of knowledge and the tools you need to navigate the eLearning terrain.”

The book is structured with well-defined chapters written by respected educators who lead their field, covering aspects of eLearning for synchronous and asynchronous delivery, internal- and externally-provided learning opportunities, and the differing platform and approaches to online / eLearning, including:

  • Jane Hart – informal and social learning
  • Charles Jennings – learning management
  • Ben Betts – games-based learning
  • Clive Shepherd – what is eLearning?
  • Julie Wedgwood – blended learning
  • Colin Steed – facilitating live online learning
  • Jane Bozarth – in-house, off-the-shelf, or outsourced eLearning?
  • Clark Quinn – mobile learning¬†

Although the chapters are not related in topic or area of specialty you do get a feeling that the book is structured in a way that is taking you from the simple(r) level of ‘what is eLearning?’ (Clive Shepherd, chapter 1) through varying levels of more complex or in-depth approaches to online learning such as mobile learning (Clark Quinn, chapter 9), game-based learning (Ben Betts, chapter 10), and learning management (Charles Jennings, chapter 11). Each chapter seems to build on the previous while being completely independent and unique to itself.

“Learners like learning at their own pace because this is generally less stressful. When you control the pace, you can take your time over the stuff you find difficult and zoom past anything that is old news to you or of little interest.” Clive Shepherd

“The best learning design for a given situation is one that is efficient, effective and culturally correct for an organization. Using a combination of learning strategies and delivery media is often the best way to achieve this balance.” Julie Wedgwood

This is a good book that I like; I like the different chapters being written by experts in their field, and this gives the whole book, not just the individual chapters, a sense of authority and credence needed to be able to showcase these eLearning themes.¬†Unlike other books that claim to be a ‘really useful guide’ or ‘concise manual’ or other such jargon, this is indeed really useful if you’re just starting out in eLearning and/or the various themes the book covers. For those of us with more history or knowledge the book is still entertaining (yes, entertaining) with its contents, background, and authoritative advice.

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