Clive Shepherd.

This book review is also available on the Training Journal website.

Digital learning content – a designer’s guide

By Clive Shepherd

Published by: Onlignment

ISBN 978-1-4710-2920-2

Clive Shepherd’s new book argues that there is now so much learning content available in a variety of forms – especially via the internet – that those who want the learning materials they create to be both noticed and used must develop some key competencies in learning design. Intriguingly, although the book can be read in a ‘conventional’ linear way, its 19 chapters can also be read independently because they make no assumptions about their readers’ prior knowledge.

The first nine chapters introduce key concepts, principles and processes in learning design. The next eight chapters provide practical guides to particular forms of learning content. The book concludes by exploring some of the standards that can be used to measure a learning designer’s success.

Having outlined the four strategies of learning content – exposition, instruction, guided discovery and exploration – in chapter one, Shepherd goes on to discuss, among other things, the three tiers of the content pyramid (formal, rapid and user-generated responses); a formal process for design and development (analysis; concept; outline design; prototype; project plan; script; development; testing; implementation; evaluation and maintenance) and the universal principles of learning design.

When it comes to offering some learning content guides, Shepherd explores the designer’s basic toolkit but also examines creating learning podcasts, slideshows, screencasts, learning scenarios, videos, tutorials and quizzes. There’s even a chapter on creating reference information and one which seeks to answer the question, ‘what does exemplary digital learning content look like?’

As expected, this book does what it sets out to do. Authored by a well-practised master in the craft of learning design, the book has no problem in succeeding at this fundamental and important level. Clive Shepherd is a skilled writer as well as a learning designer and ably presents the concepts, principles and processes of the learning designer’s trade in a logical and memorable way.

In today’s brave new world of learning design where subject matter experts vie with professional teachers and trainers to take on the challenging role of ‘learning designer’, this book should have a great deal to offer as a readable, accessible, simple reference tool.

By Bob Little