This article highlights 53 free eLearning and instructional design books from the industry's top talents. The insight and advice offered by experienced eLearning professionals give you the opportunity to create winning deliverables for both private and professional learning audiences.

The Ultimate List of Free eLearning Books

The hallmark of a successful eLearning professional is a constant thirst for knowledge, and always wanting to learn more about how and why learners acquire information. However, this constant pursuit of knowledge can often come with a hefty price tag, thanks to rising book costs. The good news is that there is a variety of online books that can help you design and develop successful online learning experiences.

If you have read any of the following books I will highly appreciate if you share your opinion with the eLearning community. In addition, if you know a free eLearning book that is not included in the list please I will highly appreciate if you write a comment with a link to that book.

  1. How Gamification Reshapes Learning published in February 2014
    In this free eBook 23 gamification experts offer tips and advice on the applications of games in eLearning, as well as a discussion of how gamification has impacted the eLearning Industry. This eBook will help you to create a gamification strategy that boosts learner engagement and motivation in your eLearning deliverables.
  2. The Free eLearning Professionals’ Book: How to become an eLearning Professional published in November 2013
    Written for those who want a straightforward and practical guide to becoming an eLearning professional. This free eLearning eBook offers insight and advice from 23 eLearning experts, including tips and insider secrets that can help you to build a thriving and successful eLearning career.
  3. 84 Tips on New Instructional Design for New Instructional Technology published in June 2014
    In this free eBook 21 learning professionals who have successfully melded new instructional design with new instructional technologies give their best tips. The 84 tips cover topics including: putting learning goals and needs before technology, planning for and managing new instructional technology, developing with and blending instructional technologies, using MOOCs, and making learning mobile, just to mention a few.
  4. 72 Tips for Using Media to Engage and Teach published in May 2014
    This free eBook features 72 helpful tips from 17 eLearning professionals that will help you to design graphics and animations, choose the right fonts and colors, and utilize media tools effectively to create engaging learning experiences for your learners.
  5. eLearning 101: Concepts, Trends, Applications published in January 2014
    This free eBook is a great introductory guide for those who are new to the world of eLearning, as well as a reference tool for more experienced eLearning professionals. It features tips, trends, and apps that can help instructional designers and online educators, as well as relevant concepts that every eLearning pro should know.
  6. 129 Tips on Using Technology in Virtual and Physical Classrooms published in April 2013
    This free eBook is designed for online educators and instructional designers who want to take full advantage of eLearning technologies. Delves into how to benefits and drawbacks of virtual classrooms, games in online learning environments, mobile and social learning, and how to effective utilize virtual classroom features.
  7. Michael Allen's 2012 e-LEARNING Annual published 2012
    This Annual offers a revealing discussion and debate, consisting of 27 papers from 30 authors, on the appropriate selection and implementation of technology for learning solutions. “By placing so many viewpoints together, Allen has made it possible to do the classic ‘compare and contrast’ that helps develop insights and identify possibilities and strategies that fit our particular circumstances,” explains Bill Brandon, editor of Learning Solutions Magazine for The eLearning Guild, in his book review. “The authors support all of the content with decision aids, tables, and figures that you will find useful not only for your own understanding, but also for explaining new concepts and ideas to others, including decision-makers”.
  8. Game Changers -  Education and Information Technologies published in 2012
    This free eBook is in fact a collection of case studies and concepts which delves into how technology can be used to enhance the learning experience in higher education settings. It offers new and innovate approaches to online learning. You can choose to either download the entire book or individual chapters/case studies for quick reference.
  9. 52 Tips on Best Practices for eLearning Development and Implementation published in August 2012.
    This free eBook provides 52 ideas to help you create and deliver high-quality eLearning. After reading it, you will get a valuable insight in the following areas: guidelines and protocol, how to make tools work for you, how to engage your team, and how to reach (and teach) your audience.
  10. 62 Tips on Graphic Design, UI/UX Design, and Visualization for eLearning published in July 2012
    This eBook offers 62 tips on how to effectively use graphic design, interface design, and user experience design in order to provide meaningful learning experiences for the learners. It also includes visualization tips for how to incorporate graphics and images into your eLearning deliverables.
  11. 65 Tips on Managing Projects and SMEs for eLearning published in June 2012
    This free eBoook draws on the experience of top professionals who are leading sessions in The eLearning Guild’s July 2012 Online Forum, “Managing Projects and SMEs for eLearning: Proven and Practical Solutions.” It includes guidance concerning: dealing with stakeholders and planning your project, choosing and managing your team, effective communication, challenges and constraints, and quality control.
  12. 53 Tips on Using the Cloud for eLearning published in May 2012
    11 eLearning experts offer their tips and insight on how to take full advantage of the Cloud when designing and developing online learning deliverables. Topics include: planning, cost, content and the user experience, and support.
  13. 58 Tips for Breakthrough eLearning Instructional Design published in April 2012
    It includes insight and tips from 14 different instructional design experts, covering 4 categories: research, development, design, and project management. It is designed for eLearning professionals who want to design more effective and innovate courses by expanding their knowledge of instructional design.
  14. CU Online Handbook 2011 published in 2011
    The CU Online Handbook was conceived as an opportunity to let faculty of CU Online, University of Colorado Denver, share some of the great things that they are doing in their online courses across their university. Whether you have been teaching online for years or are just beginning, in this edition of The CU Online Handbook, you can pick up some new ideas to help improve the quality of the online courses you design, develop, and teach.
  15. Web 2.0 Tools in Education: A Quick Guide published in 2011
    This book includes 20 2.0 Tools that you can use in Education.
  16. Learning Perspectives 2011 published in November 2011
    This is a free eLearning eBook that features 25 articles written by emerging talents in the industry, all of whom are under the age of 30. It also includes a number of helpful eLearning checklists, and insights into organizational learning and K-12 learning techniques.
  17. Learning Strategies published in August 2011
    This free eBook is focused on how organizations are clarifying, refining, expanding and updating their strategies to deal with: changing workplaces, changing workforces, changing business realities, changing learning technologies, changing learning governance, changing assumptions, changing career paths, changing competency & talent models, and changing agility
  18. Successful e-LEARNING Interface published in July 2011
    Making Learning Technology Polite, Effective & Fun by Michael Allen (Only Chapter 2: Introducing the CEO of LID). This free eBook will help you use your time and resources effectively to build the best e-learning experiences possible within your constraints. As with the other books in this series, this book is geared toward pragmatic application. It's direct and to the point: here's how to connect with your learners, how to empower learning to make the most of e-learning's capabilities, and how to orchestrate learning events for maximum impact: CEO—connect, empower and orchestrate.
  19. 75 Tips to Reduce eLearning Costs published in June 2011
    Looking for a free eBook that can help you reduce the cost of your eLearning development? This book offers a variety of innovative and creative ways to cut down on spending and make the most of your available resources, so that you can produce high quality deliverables that are effective and cost efficient.
  20. Emerging Technologies in Distance Education published in 2010
    Features the research and writings of scholars and experienced distanced education professionals, who share how emerging technologies can be applied in online learning environments. The free eBook includes the foundations of emerging technologies in distance education, social media usage in online learning, web analytics in eLearning design, video conferencing and online communication tools, and much more.
  21. Learning Perspectives 2010 published in 2010
    Learning Perspectives 2010 is an open source book – in both digital and print format – written by colleagues of The MASIE Center and The Learning CONSORTIUM. A diverse cross-section of learning leaders, including the members 30 Under 30 program for Learning 2010, wrote their perspectives about changes in the learning field.
  22. Learning 2.0 for Associations 2nd edition published in Fall 2010
    This report considers how approaches to learning have evolved and what impact the newer generation of Internet and communication technologies are having. In it you will find examples of ways in which associations are using these new technologies and what possibilities they may represent for your organization’s professional development and other learning initiatives.
  23. e-Learning Survival Guide published in 2009
    This free eBook covers a wide range of eLearning topics, including mobile, K-12, hybrid learning design. It also features tips and information on technical writing, research, Web 2.0, eLearning challenges, and assessing eLearner profiles.
  24. Facilitating Online published in 2009
    The guide contains the course model, week-by-week learning activities, general guidance to the course leader on how to implement and customize the course and specific guidelines on each learning activity.
  25. Learning Leaders Field book published in June 2009
    The Learning Leader Fieldbook is designed to bring you insight into the worlds and daily realities of a prestigious group of learning leaders. This free eBook has captured their thoughts and some guiding principles and actions that they believe have aided their success.
  26. 98 Tips for Selecting and Working with e-Learning Service Providers published in June 2009
    In this free eBook you will find 54 Tips for selecting e-Learning service providers, 44 Tips for working successfully with e-Learning service providers, and how to improve outsourced e-Learning quality with consistent standards by Evelyn Jackson (re-print from Learning Solutions eMagazine).
  27. 65 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your e-Learning Budget in May 2009
    This free eBook includes information about making the most of your eLearning development budget. It features tips that will help you to utilize social media, open source tools, and subject matter experts in order to stretch your budget. It also offers advice on where to find free online resources and how to start developing your eLearning program.
  28. In Search of Learning Agility published in June 2008
    This publication deviates from the typical eLearning Guild eBook. The authors, Clark and Gottfredson, sketch three distinct stages of learning agility: 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0, and illustrate a clear path forward for the meaningful use of learning technologies in organizations. This is a “must read” for managers and executives who are interested in aligning learning and training efforts and investments with larger business objectives.
  29. 144 Tips on Synchronous e-Learning Strategy and Research published in May 2008
    In this free eBook you will find tips in the following categories: blending synchronous learning with other learning modalities, designers of synchronous presentations, courses, and webinars, managers who lead synchronous learning efforts, synchronous speakers and instructors, and technical production, planning, and preparation.
  30. Theory and Practice of Online Learning published in May 2008
    This free eLearning book was awarded the Charles A. Wedemeyer Award by the University of Continuing Education, and features a myriad of eLearning concepts and insights. Developing an online course, creating an infrastructure, dealing with copyright issues, and teaching in an online learning environment are just a handful of the topics covered.
  31. 239 Tips for Producing and Managing Flash-based e-Learning Content published in April 2008 In February and March, 2008.
    The eLearning Guild conducted a survey of its members, asking for their favorite tips for producing and managing Flash-based e-Learning. A total of 147 members responded to the survey, contributing 239 usable tips on 28 products (17 of which were not included in the original list). The tips range in length from one-sentence ideas all the way up to multi-page discourses. Some are very basic in nature, and others are quite advanced. These tips were different from past surveys in one significant way: Many of them contain detailed ActionScript code that will help you solve common problems. The tips are not edited in any way, other than to correct spelling – everything you see in this book is in the tipsters' own words. As a result, these tips will be useful to any designer or developer looking for best practices to incorporate into their own production process.
  32. The Strategic Management of e-Learning Support published in 2007
    This book includes the research of three innovative American Universities with more than 50 interviews with key persons reflecting a wide variety of perspectives. In this research project the strategic management of eLearning support at American research universities was studied.
  33. 162 Tips and Tricks for Working with eLearning Tools published December 2007
    This free eBook features 162 useful tips collected from a survey of 122 eLearning Guild members, broken down into five key categories: course authoring and eLearning tools, rapid eLearning, simulation tools, combining and deploying authoring tools, and media tools.
  34. The eLearning Guild's Handbook of e-Learning Strategy published September 2007
    This e-Book will help you make a broad, fundamental connection between learning, e-Learning, and your organization's mission, business objectives, and the bottom line. Chapters address everything from crafting a focused strategy, to keeping your strategy focused, to change management. Refocus on e-Learning strategy and insure that your e-Learning technology and methodology investments pay off and so you can achieve your e-Learning goals!
  35. The eLearning Guild’s Handbook on Synchronous e-Learning published in January 2007
    The eLearning Guild’s Handbook on Synchronous e-Learning is intended for anyone who wants to produce, lead, or promote live, interactive learning events on the Web. Novices will find information on what other people are doing in this medium, which kinds of training and education are best suited to it, how to convert existing classroom content for delivery online, how to lead effective and compelling live learning events on the Web, and how to promote these events to obtain maximum participation. More experienced practitioners will find a wealth of ideas that they can use to improve or enhance their current processes. All readers will find job aids, references, examples, and information to significantly reduce the amount of time required to produce online learning events.
  36. Designing Successful e-Learning published in May 8, 2007
    "While its target audience is instructional designers, this book should also be required reading for all training managers seeking guidelines on implementing world-class training. Allen bridges the gap from theory to practice on both training and educational programs. His guidance is as applicable to classroom-based as it is to e-learning based training." - Patty Crowell, director, Global Education Services, LSI Logic 20 webtools applied to teaching by Ana Maria Menezes.
  37. E-Learning: A Guidebook of Principles, Procedures and Practices 2nd revised edition published in 2006
    This guidebook was developed from materials that were developed for a series of workshops on e-learning sponsored and organized by the Commonwealth Educational Media Center for Asia (CEMCA). This guidebook has not been designed to serve as another textbook on eLearning, for there are many such books that are readily available on the market. Instead, the aim of this guidebook is to clarify, simplify and demystify eLearning.
  38. E-Learning Concepts and Techniques published in 2006
    This free eBook, which was created as a result of a group project, is a great reference for those who want to know the basics of online learning. The subjects discussed include: benefits of eLearning, eLearning tools, instructional strategies, development, delivering eLearning, and managing data, just to name a few.
  39. Learning Spaces published in 2006
    Space, whether physical or virtual, can have a significant impact on learning. Learning Spaces focuses on how learner expectations influence such spaces, the principles and activities that facilitate learning, and the role of technology from the perspective of those who create learning environments: faculty, learning technologists, librarians, and administrators. Information technology has brought unique capabilities to learning spaces, whether stimulating greater interaction through the use of collaborative tools, videoconferencing with international experts, or opening virtual worlds for exploration. This e-book represents an ongoing exploration as we bring together space, technology, and pedagogy to ensure learner success.
  40. 382 Tips on the SELECTION of an LMS or LCMS published in December 2006
    This free eBook is an awesome collection of tips from hundreds of your professional colleagues. These tips will help you navigate the LMS minefield, streamline your selection process, and help you save money! Nowhere will you find a more comprehensive set of tips that you can use to improve your LMS and LCMS selection efforts.
  41. 311 Tips on the MANAGEMENT of an LMS or LCMS published in December 2006
    This free eBook is an incredible collection of tips from hundreds of your professional colleagues. Why reinvent the wheel when you can learn from these tips on the management of your LMS or LCMS system! Nowhere will you find a more comprehensive set of tips that you can use to improve your LMS and LCMS management efforts.
  42. 339 Tips on the IMPLEMENTATION of an LMS or LCMS published in November 2006
    This free eBook is an amazing collection of tips from hundreds of your professional colleagues. Nowhere will you find a more comprehensive set of tips that you can use to improve your LMS and LCMS implementation efforts. This eBook is available for everyone regardless of their affiliation with The eLearning Guild - so don't hesitate to tell all your colleagues about it.
  43. Educating the Net Generation published in 2005
    The Net Generation has grown up with information technology. The aptitudes, attitudes, expectations, and learning styles of Net Gen students reflect the environment in which they were raised—one that is decidedly different from that which existed when faculty and administrators were growing up This collection explores the Net Gen and the implications for institutions in areas such as teaching, service, learning space design, faculty development, and curriculum. Contributions by educators and students are included.
  44. 834 Tips for Successful Online Instruction published in December 2005
    This free digital book is an amazing collection of tips from 336 of your professional colleagues. Nowhere will you find a more comprehensive set of tips that you can use to improve your knowledge and skills in online instruction. This eBook is available for everyone regardless of their affiliation with The eLearning Guild - so don't hesitate to tell all your colleagues about it!
  45. My Most Memorable Teacher published in Summer 2005
    In this free eBook, almost 800 people share in-depth stories about their teachers. As people recall their most memorable teachers, strong recollections and even stronger opinions about teaching start flowing.
  46. What Keeps You Up At Night 672 of Your Issues and Challenges published in March 2005
    In this free eBook, learning and training professionals ask to the question “What Keeps You Up At Night”. Their responses have been categorized in relevant sections such as: content, standards, LMS, company culture/ structure, metrics, and marketing just to mention a few.
  47. 701 e-Learning Tips Summer 2004
    The MASIE Center collected over 1000 eLearning tips from readers and consortium members, and then compiled the best selections to create this free eLearning eBook. It features 701 helpful tips and ideas, which have been broken up into 14 categories for easy reference. It covers a variety of eLearning topics, including the basics of online learning development, strategic planning, learning tools, pedagogy and webagogy, and global implementation.
  48. Web Teaching published in 2000
    This free eBook consists of 20 chapters focused on subjects like encouraging discussion, interactive strategies, students and web use expectations, etc.
  49. Down-and-dirty Guidelines for Effective Discussions in Online Courses no date
    This free eBook is ideal for new eLearning professionals who want to boost the effectiveness of online discussions. Includes tips and guidelines for how to manage, design, and facilitate discussions for virtual learners in order to achieve more meaningful learning experiences.
  50. Improving the Odds of Effective Collaborative Work in Online Courses no date
    In this free guide you will find valuable information concerning basic guidelines for online collaborative student work and suggestions on assessing online collaborative work
  51. Protocols for Online Discussions no date
    The protocols that are being discussed in this guide were modified from protocols described in the following two books: Brookfield, S. D., & Preskill, S. (1999). Discussion as a way of teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, and McDonald, J., Mohr, N., Dichter, A., & McDonald, E. (2003). The power of protocols: An educator's guide to better practice. New York: Teachers College Press. These revised protocols help students process readings, podcasts, videos, etc. during online discussions.
  52. The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro no date
    This 46 page free eBook is ideal for eLearning professionals designing or developing deliverables that involve fast turnaround times or those intended for rapid knowledge acquisition. It includes a variety of tips and techniques that can help to make rapid eLearning more effective for learners and easier to develop for instructional designers.
  53. The Instructional Use of Learning Objects no date
    This is the online version of The Instructional Use of Learning Objects, a new book that tries to go beyond the technological hype and connect learning objects to instruction and learning. The free eBook is divided into five major sections: learning objects explained, learning objects and constructivist thought, learning objects and people, learning objects implementation war stories, learning objects and the future.

With this list of free eLearning books on-hand, you can tap into the invaluable experience and expertise offered by top eLearning experts. Best of all, they are all free and can be downloaded quickly and conveniently.