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June 08, 2007

Summer Reading Suggestions (only semi-learning related)

Do you have your summer reading list compiled? If you don't, I have a few suggestions for you. These are not your traditional learning and development books on ISD, ILT or e-learning. These are books to take you outside your comfort level and they do...sort of...kinda...relate to training. Let me explain.

Snow Crash by Neal Stepehnson. This book is what is known in sci-fi speak as a cyberpunk novel. In the story, the hero named Hiro Protagonist (not kidding) enters into the world of the metaverse (a three dimensional world with buildings, motorcycles and other cool stuff) to save the physical world. The interesting thing to me about this book is how seamlessly the hero/Hiro goes back and forth between the physcial and 3D worlds. Think about those implications as you read the book.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Another sci-fi book but this one takes place primarily in outer space as young children train to do battle against an unseen alien enemy. I have two young boys about the age of Ender (the main character) and I found the book unsettling but compelling. Read it and think about the role of games in the development of children and in training programs. It will give you an interesting perspective on the whole game/simulation thing.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Yes, this is an oldie but...If you have to deal with any type of bureaucratic hog-wash, any bit of absurdity in your dealings within the corporation or academic institution...then this book will bring a smile to your face. Set in World War II, it tells the story of John Yossarian and his battle with the entire US Army while they battle the Axis powers. We all know a Milo Mindbender--a business person who is only looking out for number one but keeps telling us to take one for the team.

Scott McCloud has written two books that are of interest to learning and development professionals. One is called Understanding Comics and the other is Reinventing Comics. Personnally, I like Reinventing Comics better, it does a great job of explaining how the web is used to help generate wealth and the incredible value it can create and why the web is so powerful. Helps explain the appeal of e-learning from a business perspective. Good, interesting stuff and it is written like a comic book. So if you want to see if comics can really be "serious" then this book is a good one to check out.

These books should keep you busy for the summer and if you have any more semi-training related books, please add them to the comments page.

Karl Kapp is the Assistant Director of Bloomsburg University’s Institute for Interactive TechnologiesLogoggg_2 and a professor of instructional technology. See his own blog, Kapp Notes for information on the convergence of learning and technology. He is the author of the book Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning.   


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What a great set of books! I love them all. I would suggest adding Janet Murray's Hamlet on the Holodeck, Jim Gee's Why Video Games are Good for Your Soul, and Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen.

Karl Kapp


Great additions! I am going to pick up some of these up. Hamlet on the Holodeck sounds cool.


Jason Allen

Fantastic List. I want to go read Snowcrash and Ender's Game again in an entirely new light!

Nicole Forst

More books to look into buying. Thanks for the list Dr. Kapp.

Jane Bozarth

Gawande's "Complications" is an excellent first-person account of learning-in-practice.

George Campbell

I think Neal Stepheson's "The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" would be an excellent addition to this list.

Karl Kapp

Thanks for all the great book ideas. I am going to a need a longer summer.

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