Review: Tim Slade’s “The eLearning Designer’s Handbook”

***Model eLearning has no affiliation with Tim Slade. We purchased the book on our own, and we’ve provided an honest review based on our opinions.***

It’s often said that instructional designers (ID) fall into the field of eLearning. Some, like Michelle, have a whole career of experience before making their way into it. Others find their skill-sets and interests draw them into the field. Elearning designer Tim Slade had a similar experience, and that led him to write, design, and self-publish The eLearning Designer’s Handbook: A Practical Guide to the eLearning Development Process for New eLearning Designers.

If you’re looking for a book about instructional design theories, there’s plenty to choose. But few books focus on the intersection of instructional design and project management (which is why faculty and students at Brigham Young University created the OER book Project Management for Instructional Designers). Expert IDs gather their process over time, so those new to eLearning sometimes struggle with their first few projects.

You’ll find reading The eLearning Designer’s Handbook similar to the experience of reading Tim’s blog or watching him present. He begins the book sharing how his background in retail and loss prevention brought him into the world of eLearning. As a former retail and library employee who often did training, I completely relate to this pathway into instructional design. Tim uses his story to show how all of the experience you bring to eLearning applies to the job.

The eLearning Designer’s Handbook is pure project management; it’s meant for the new eLearning designer’s first few projects. In fact, it fits perfectly into my laptop bag.

Which is the point—it’s meant to be used on the go. The book includes blank pages meant for taking notes throughout a project. It’s less of a step-by-step instruction and more an interactive template or guide.

Throughout, the book defines terms, suggests timelines, and shares insight into the project management process. Overall, the workbook’s clean design and clear writing make it useful and easy to follow.

Since we work with academic courses rather than training and development, some parts of the book don’t apply to our workflow and processes. But that’s okay—models give beginners a place to start as they become experts, and you can’t expect to master something without trial and error.

In addition, Tim created a 40-lesson eCourse, Getting Started with The eLearning Development Process, meant to complement his book (a 20 percent discount code is included in the first pages). I have not purchased the course, but it seems like an interesting tie-in. Someone who wishes to learn more about the process might find it worth checking it out.

Overall, The eLearning Designer’s Handbook fills the gap many find when starting in instructional design. It’s a good gift idea for someone new to managing eLearning projects.

Available via Amazon: The eLearning Designer’s Handbook, $32.95

We’re trying something new with this post. Would you like to see more reviews on Model eLearning? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Author: Jessica Bishop, Instructional Designer

Jessica is a designer and writer focused on learnability, storytelling, sensemaking, wayfinding, and removing barriers to learning. A Michigan native, she likes crafting, reading, walking, and spending way too much time in the distant corners of the internet. You can also find her at

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