Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What are you reading for eLearning insight?

By Shelley A. Gable

It seems that many of us in the training industry are avid readers, particularly when it comes to reading for professional development. And while I’m sure I’m not the only one with an ever-growing reading wish list, I’m also continuously on the lookout for recommendations to add to that wish list.

If you’re in search of recommended reading for eLearning insight, consider some of these sources of inspiration

Books about training, consulting, and trendy business topics. 

Take a moment to browse the online bookstores of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) or the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), and you’ll likely find a year’s worth of reading ideas. Bookstores from other relevant professional associations likely have some good reads, too, such as the Society for Human Resource Management or the American Evaluation Association.

Another good source of ideas is to find out which books university programs in the field recommend. Although the idea of buying a bunch of textbooks might not be appealing to some, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that not all of the required reading materials take the form of a traditional textbook. For instance, when I was in the Instructional and Performance Technology master’s program at Boise State University, the books required for my classes included The Performance Consultant’s Fieldbook by Judith Hale (included a CD with several consulting templates), Systems Thinking Basics by Virginia Anderson and Lauren Johnson (an easy-to-read workbook), and Analyzing Performance Problems by Robert Mager and Peter Pipe. These, and several of the books I read for my coursework, were very informative yet did not have that traditional textbook feel.

What are your clients reading? Although these reads might not relate to training specifically, they can offer a unique source of inspiration for your work or simply help you better relate to your clients. Even if you tend to take a skeptical view of the fads promoted by the latest bestsellers in business, being familiar with them may still spark ideas or at least give you a sense of what informed some of your clients’ ideas.

What are the leaders of your organization reading? If you have your sights set on upward mobility, reading some of the books your leaders read may help you better relate to them, too…even give you some casual conversation material. You know that cliché about dressing for success? Perhaps there’s also something to reading for the job you want.

Journals and magazines about workplace learning, performance improvement, and related fields. 

Journals are worthwhile reads because they’re timely, and they tend to be firsthand sources of the evidence for our evidence-based practices. Many journals are peer-reviewed, meaning that a submitted article is reviewed by others in the field who evaluate the submission for its quality, rigor, and relevance to the field. Examples of journals that are especially relevant for those of us in training include Performance Improvement Quarterly, Journal of Workplace Learning, and Human Resource Development Quarterly.

For those who prefer more casual reads, there are plenty of other publications that publish research in a more conversational tone or that simply summarize findings and ideas from other sources. ASTD’s Training + Development magazine and ISPI’s Performance Improvement Journal are both examples worth taking a peek at.

You might also consider magazines from closely related fields. Personally, I’m a bit of a neuroscience nerd, so I enjoy – and often gain inspiration from – Scientific American Mind. Those who are heavily involved in eLearning development might enjoy magazines for programmers or graphic designers. And those of us who write training content may pick up some helpful nuggets from literary and other writing-related magazines.

What are your favorite bloggers reading? 

If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance you followed a link from Twitter or an RSS reader. Which means you’re probably following other eLearning blogs, too. Follow your favorite bloggers on Twitter (I know, many of you probably do this already), since folks often tweet about what they’re reading. Note references to books or articles within the blog posts themselves. Some online articles include a References or Related Readings section at the end – I’ve noticed this consistently with eLearning Guild content and ISPI’s PerformanceXpress.

Looking for other good eLearning blogs to follow? Check out, a site that aggregates top eLearning blogs from around the world (and which we're proud to be included in!).

What are you reading? 

Although I’ve recommended some of my favorite reads here, I realize there are probably many good ones I’ve either neglected to mention or that are simply not on my radar at all. So what do you read? And where do you find inspiration for your reading wish list?

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