Design for how people learn
– by Julie Dirksen

Corjan Bast profile picture

by Corjan Bast
25 October 2018


ulie Dirksen is a true expert when it comes to learning design and the author of a really good book, Design for how people learn. And I was lucky enough to catch her on her European trip to ask her a few questions about why learning professionals should take a look at her book.

Julie, please tell us a little bit about your book.

Yeah, so, I’ve been an instructional designer for a very long time, and I found that most people find themselves doing instructional design because they know a lot about their topic. For example, they’re very good customer service people and they wind up training other customer service people in designing courses for people in whatever field they might be. Um, and these people are all great at explaining their topic etc., but they don’t necessarily have a lot of background in instructional design.

As a result, they don’t have knowledge of some of the underpinnings and principles that they need to understand instructional design. Also, a lot of books are available but they are very academic in tone. I wanted to write something that was immediately accessible to anybody who wanted to get started, people who know a lot about something and want to teach that to other people. I wanted to create a resource that will help them with this.


So it’s been a very successful book, and into how many languages has it been translated?

It’s translated into five languages. Of course, there’s the original English and then Chinese, Korean, Russian, Polish and Italian


Okay. And how many copies have been sold?

It’s around 40,000 copies, which I’m very excited about!


Why should instructional designers in the Netherlands buy this book? Perhaps because I tell them to, but there must be other reasons…

You know, I think that a lot of people working in instructional design are looking for some consistent practices that they can bring to the table, tools that will help them make good choices about what the learning experience should be.

And so, I try to provide some foundation of how you analyse something, how you break it down, how you select good interventions depending on what you find out about your topic… all of those kinds of principles.


And in a practical way?

Yeah, hopefully, and in a way that’s friendly and involves pictures of things like, you know, elephants, stick figures and things like that.


Thank you for explaining and thank you for visiting the Netherlands.

Thanks for having me! It’s been a wonderful trip.


The interview:

Want to know more about Learning Design?

Masterclass Learning Design
November 12, 2018 – Rotterdam, the Netherlands

The masterclass is intended for every learning professional who believes that good design is the way to achieve effective learning interventions and gives himself a day to follow this unique masterclass.

Julie Dirksen is a consultant and instructional designer with more than 20 years’ experience creating interactive e-Learning experiences for clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to technology startups to grant-funded research initiatives. She loves brains, and games and evidence-based practice. Her MS degree is in Instructional Systems Technology from Indiana University and she’s been an adjunct faculty member at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and an Elearning Guild Guildmaster.