Book Review: Moodle 2 Administration by Alex Büchner

I was lucky enough to get a copy of the new  Alex Büchner book on Moodle 2 administration from Packt Publishing. As the book says, it is “An administrator’s guide to configuring, securing, customising and extending Moodle“.

In some ways, it’s an impossible dream to try to cover everything about Moodle 2 administration in 370 pages, however Alex provides a good overview of all aspects of Moodle 2 administration which is useful to both the newcomer to Moodle and to those experienced with Moodle already.

With all the extra features in Moodle 2, the administration side has increased a lot. There are so many more aspects to know about, repositories, portfolios, new plugin approach to name a few.

There are 16 chapters and an appendix jammed full of essential information on all aspects of Moodle administration:

Chapter 1: Moodle Installation

This is a good section for anyhow who needs to manage their own installation.

It not only covers one method of installation, but multiple specifically installation:

  • in a LAMP/Unix environment
  • in a Windows environment
  • in a Mac OS X environment
  • via the Command Line Interface

It also covers upgrading Moodle manually and via Command Line Interface and source control systems.

Chapter 2: The Moodle System

The second chapter provides a great overview of the Moodle architecture. It introduces to how to find your way around Moodle and covers in detail the file management aspects of Moodle. This is all explained in a very readable way.

Chapter 3: Courses, Users, and Roles

This chapter provides the user an overview of the nuts and bolts of basic administration about administering Moodle courses, managing users and how the very powerful roles system works.

Chapter 4: Course Management

This chapter tackles the category and course instance creation works in addition to how the enrolment systems work. The nice diagrams help simplify the complex structures that can be setup.

Chapter 5: User Management

The powerful options that are available to manage users are important to master. This chapter tackles all the key management aspects including discussing profiles, authentication options and how users can be added manually and in bulk.

Chapter 6: Managing Permissions: Roles and Capabilities

One of the most complex areas of any system is how the permissions work, and Moodle is no different. This chapter takes the complexity out of the roles and capabilities providing a easy to follow explanation of how they work and can be implemented to create some example roles (such as an inspector role).

Chapter 7: Moodle Look and Feel

Designing a good-looking site (as I covered in the Moodle 2 Themes whitepaper) involves more than just a theme, it involves addressing the front page layout and content as well as considering accessibility. Chapter 7 covers these areas providing a solid introduction to the concepts and issues involved.

Chapter 8: Moodle Plugins

This chapter provides a good grounding around the core module plugins, Repositories, portfolios and other specialist plugins such as the text editor and question types. Clear explanations and guidance are provided on how to configure and set up the different plugins.

Chapter 9: Moodle Configuration

This chapter takes a slight step back and introduces the organisation back into the administration of Moodle, highlighting that what is used and not used, whether it’s a technical aspect of a course aspect is something that may or may not be useful depending on the organisation and the goals of the teaching / training.

Chapter 10: Moodle Reporting

There are a lot of good reports available within Moodle, and this chapter introduces how they work and outlines what is possible namely:
Who did What, When, Where. He also covers some custom options including the basic usage of Google Analytics.

Chapter 11: Moodle Security and Privacy

There are different aspects to security and privacy and this chapter brings the user through each one in a clear concise manner. The explanations of the security notifications, user security, data and content security and system security will give any level of user a good grounding in this area.

Chapter 12: Moodle Performance and Optimization

As with any web application, to get the most out of your hosting, you need to know how to optimise it. This chapter provides the introduction to this topic, including explaining how to profile and monitor the performance of your Moodle site.

Chapter 13: Backup and Restore

Moodle has a very thorough course backup which can snapshot all the data for users and the course itself, this chapter gives an indepth instruction on this feature and also explains how site-level automated backups work. Alex also explains about backing up the site, both as a full server backup or just the Moodle instance.

Chapter 14: Installing Third-party Add-ons

This chapter introduces the area of community contributed add-on plugins for Moodle 2.

Alex starts by explaining “the good bad and ugly” of Moodle plugins.

“As externally developed software is not scrutinized by Moodle’s quality assurance process, you will have to make your own judgment about the trustworthiness of non-core add-ons”

He then goes on to cover some popular plugins and how to install them. (I have 30+ plugins reviewed here on the blog ).

Chapter 15: Moodle Integration via Web Services

Although Moodle 1.9 had some contributed web services, they are now native in Moodle 2. This chapter provides a great run-through the key aspects of the web services including those used by the native Moodle mobile app.

Chapter 16: Moodle Networking

Moodle networking is used for a few different things now including, Moodle hubs, Mahara integration and peer-to-peer networks (Two Moodle sites connected). This chapter gives a detailed look at this area.

Appendix: Configuration Settings

The appendix provides the list of configuration settings available.

Summary

In short, this is a hugely detailed book which provides a solid grounding in Moodle 2 administration. I had the Moodle 1.9 version, and am glad to have gotta a chance to review this one.

If you haven’t got it yet, what are you waiting for? Go here to order it !

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One Response to Book Review: Moodle 2 Administration by Alex Büchner

  1. Pingback: Overview on Moodle 2.0 books | Some Random Thoughts

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