The Online Learning Idea Book, by Patti Shank, editor, Book, 2007, Pfeiffer & Company, $50.
You may remember a great book series called Games Trainers Play, edited by Edward Scannell, comprising many exercises dreamed up by trainers to break the ice, illustrate concepts, and get participants more involved. If you were developing a training class, this series was a wonderful source of examples to use or adapt to fit your topic.
With The Online Learning Idea Book, Patti Shank has provided a similar book for e-learning classrooms. Subtitled 95 Proven Ways to Enhance Technology-Based and Blended Learning, the book actually offers 97, all submitted by online instructors and designers.
It's only fair to note that I am mentioned in the Acknowledgments of this book. Patti Shank and I discussed the overall concept of the book in the spring of 2005, when she was formulating a proposal for a publisher. My involvement stopped there; I was surprised and delighted to discover that the idea became reality.
As Shank writes in the Introduction, the purpose of The Online Learning Idea Book is to showcase ideas in use that can make technology-based learning more fun and engaging. These ideas, like the ones in Scannell's books, can be implemented for a course as-is or be adapted to fit different circumstances. Shank takes the ideas one step further, however, suggesting that readers discuss the examples with other instructional designers, programmers, and media developers to come up with additional creative ideas that may be even more appropriate for a particular project.
In fact, five of the seven suggested uses for the book are for instructional design courses, multimedia authoring courses, teaching methods courses, faculty workshops and user groups--all of them settings in which discussion and evaluation of the book's ideas would be prominent.
The book is divided into two sections. The first, "Learners, Activities, and Assessments," is devoted primarily to learning environments in which a group of people is learning together, either at the same time (synchronously) or connecting to the classroom at an individually chosen time (asynchronously).
The second, titled "Instructional Design," is a mix of ideas for planning instruction, adding further creativity, and utilizing graphics and media. Each idea is described as a what, why, or how suggestion for use and includes contact information for the contributor.
Section 1 contains six chapters and two-thirds of the...