Book Review: Moodle 2 E-Learning Course Development by William Rice

Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course DevelopmentTo start 2012 off I have put together a review on the recently published  Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development from Packt Publishing.  The book is written by William Rice and is an update of his very popular book for Moodle 1.9. The book styles itself as “A complete guide to successful learning using Moodle” and Packt were kind enough to pass me a copy so I could do a review.

Having recently put together a soon to go live online course “Elearning through Moodle 2”, I was interested in reading William’s approach to the various issues I tackled so this review may read a bit differently to some others I have done.

Those familiar reading my blog will have seen the three presentations on Reasons to move to Moodle 2, and will be familiar with the many changes and improvements that are in Moodle 2 compared to Moodle 1.9, for those who aren’t I suggest a quick look over them before finishing the review as it will place a lot of it in context.

The book is a massive 344 pages covering topics from access levels to WYSIWYG tools. The 10 chapters covered the usual induction, installation and configuration of Moodle and then moved to the different steps covering different phases of your e-learning development.

Chapter 1: Learn About the Moodle experience (A Guide Tour of Moodle)
Chapter 2: Install Moodle (Installing Moodle)
Chapter 3: Configure your site (Configuring your site)
Chapter 4: Create the framework for your learning site (Creating Categories and Courses)
Chapter 5: Add basic course material (Adding Static Course Material)
Chapter 6: Make your courses interactive (Adding Interaction with Lessons and Assignments)
Chapter 7: Create tools to evaluate your students (Evaluating Students with Quizzes, Choices and Feedback)
Chapter 8: Make your course social (Adding Social Activities to Your Course)
Chapter 9: Add functionality by using blocks (Blocks)
Chapter 10: Take the pulse of your course (Features for Teachers)

As William explains, this book is designed for people who are creating and delivering courses in Moodle but he has also added in some administrator information.

Chapters 1,2,3:

In the first few chapters William brings us through the philosophy behind Moodle and then introduces and explains the interface. He touches on the architecture of the Moodle installation before bringing the users through the steps to install Moodle onto a web server. There is a lot of valuable information here for those who want to have that level of control over your code with information on the folder installation, domain configuration, database creation and the installation process itself. He also touches on the cron job setup.

Before he moves onto the live site work, he then takes the reader through the configuration side and covers the key aspects of:

  • account management
  • user authentication
  • enrolment
  • language
  • security
  • filters
  • front page

In chapter 4, William tackles the first key step for a live Moodle site – deciding the structure of the categories and course. He explains the way categories work and how the user can navigate them, and also explains about the limitations that categories bring.

William then covers the course setup and configuration itself. This part brings the user step by step through the key settings carefully explaining each one and the options available including the different types of course formats available out of the box. This is all presented to the user in a friendly and concise manner. He then explains how Teachers and Students are assigned using the enrolment methods.

Chapter 5 gets down to the actual course content – namely how the teacher adds the different types of course material, files, links, pages, labels and media. It explains the new file picker and then moves onto how the course itself is organised with sections and topic names and descriptions. One important note that he focuses on is the use of labels as context or instructions and not just as more content. William finishes the chapter touching on the ability to provide conditional access to resources.

Through chapters 6 and 7, the reader is stepped through adding various activities that can provide interaction and evaluation to the Moodle course. These included:

  • Lessons
  • Assignments
  • Quizzes
  • Choices
  • Feedback

Although the Lesson is one of the more complicated activities to set up, William provides clear and helpful explanation on the different aspects of the Lesson. He uses his namesake William (Wallace) to explain branches which is one of the harder aspects to understand for most beginners.

Throughout chapter 8 the reader is exposed to the many social and collborative tools that Moodle has to offer. This includes Chat, Forum, Glossary, Wiki and the excellent peer review tool Workshop. William provides steps for setup and usage of these tools and explains them in a clear helpful manner suggesting strategies for progessive rollout of these tools.

With chapter 9, William takes the reader through all the blocks with an example and a description of their usage. This is a nice simple guide for those not familiar with all the blocks that are available to enhance the course pages.

The book signs off with a chapter (10) on the fun aspects of Moodle, reporting and the Gradebook! As I wrote in another blog post Moodle logs a lot of the actions that users take. This chapter starts with an in-depth look at the logs and the types of reports that are available to the Teacher or Manager including the Activity Report and Participation Reports which are the key ones! The chapter then moves onto scales, grades and configuring the gradebook.

Summary

For Teachers not familiar with creating courses in Moodle, this book provides a solid introduction to all of the key aspects without overwhelming the reader with too many examples. It is well written in a clear and friendly tone and is a good read. For teachers more familiar with Moodle the book provides a good overview on the features that they would know but from a Moodle 2 flavour. Nice work and a pleasure to review.

The book is available on Packtpub.com http://www.packtpub.com/moodle-2-0-elearning-course-development/book

You can reach William through his website at http://williamrice.com

 

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