Recommend a Michael Allen book

May 15, 2013

Hi all

I'm going to buy a Michael Allen book to add to my resource library and would love your recommendations as I only want to get one (for now).  I'm deciding between:

  • Michael Allen's Guide to eLearning;
  • Designing Successful eLearning; OR
  • Creating Successful eLearning

If you have any or all of those and could recommend which one would be a good start, I'd really appreciate it (I've heard good things about all of them, so a reader recommendation is what I need!)


3 Replies
Daniel Brigham

Hi, Anne: Just finished his Designing Successful E-Learning. Very useful and gives a good overview of different camps of learning theory: behaviorist, cognitivist, etc. Great references for future reading and some real good info on pre-instruction and post-instruction activities, basically, what you can do to get learners to get ready to change and how you can help them transfer what they learned to their jobs. Also enjoyed Dirksen's Design for How People Learn.

Next in line for me is Understanding by Design. Hope that helps. --Daniel

Ward Scott

I have all three books you listed, plus one. (I am definitely a Michael Allen devotee.) I think the true answer lies in what you want to get out of the book you purchase and, with that in mind, here are my two cents....

Of the three you mentioned, I prefer Designing Successful E-Learning - as long as you can get past the poor copy editing. I had my team read this book and we all participated in a weekly, chapter-by-chapter book review. I think this book is does a great job of explaining why some traditional methods produce poor results, and then explaining his approach. And yet, my team still struggled with creating truly engaging and effective web-based training.

That is why I have gravitated to Leaving ADDIE for SAM. This book goes far beyond the theory and includes the step-by-step process of creating the course. The critical piece in this book is the addition of the Savvy Start, a series of meetings that a team meets to review background information, generate initial design ideas, and create prototypes.

While I find the SAM book to be the most valuable, please keep in mind that we typically work in teams with developers, designers, SMEs, etc. Consequently, I would still recommend the Designing book if you are working as a lone developer or part of a very small team.

I would be curious to know which book you end up with, and what you get out of it.


Anne Pead

Thanks Ward and Daniel!  Much appreciated!

I have Leaving Addie for Sam but wanted one of the other books too, mostly to cover the things you mentioned, Daniel - learning theories and those pre- and post-learning activities.  I looked through the reviews of all three of those books and found they were fairly similar, so was curious if any one in particular stood out!  It seems Designing Successful E-Learning stands out.  Thanks again for the advice, always good to get recommendations!

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