Packt were kind enough to send me a copy of Nicholas Freears book Moodle 2 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds to review. Having reviewed a few other Moodle 2 books I was interested to see what the difference was in this book. The book was published in October 2011 and had a great list of reviewers including the well-known Mary Cooch, so my expectations were high. Nicholas subtitles his book “Use Moodle to create quizzes, puzzles, and games to enhance the learning ability of your students” – so this is the theme along which I have read the book.
For those who don’t know Nicholas he works as an Application Programmer/Web Developer in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University.
The book is broken down into chapters on key topics:
- Getting Started
- Basic Math in Moodle
- Telling Stories
- Spot the Difference
- Setting Homework
- Fun Games
- Interactive Puzzles
- Stories Revisited
- Embedding the web
I am going to go through two of the chapters in detail in this review.
After the getting started section, it seems each chapter can really be taken in isolation, so I jumped into Chapter 3.
Nicholas kicks off this chapter on imagination and uses this as a backdrop to introduce a way to help nurture creativity and narrative skills in storytelling, both written and verbal. He explains that one way to achieve this is using the database activity and then takes the reader through the setup of the activity touching on some of the important aspects including accessibility.
He then introduces and takes the reader through installation and usage of an audio recorder for recording MP3s to enable use of audio in the storytelling.
The chapter provided a solid introduction to the usage of the database covering all the key aspects well through a solid use case.
Next chapter I looked at was Chapter 6.
The chapter is focused on the use of a custom activity called Game. This is a great plugin which enables you to have games like crosswords and snakes & ladders in your Moodle course. Of course to have these type of games you need content (questions, words) and the chapter introduces how the Glossary activity is a great place to manage this content and provides a nice table of which game and which source of content is suitable.
Nicholas here introduces us yet another reason why the Glossary is such a wonderful activity. The reader is taken step by step through setting up the Glossary, adding items and how to enable auto-linking of the entry names. The instructions are clear and the pace is good.
Once this is done, he quickly takes us through installing the custom GAME activity and then gets into creating a game of Snakes and Ladders. This was very well explained and easy to follow. Then Nicholas brings us through creating a word search puzzle. Again the instructions are clear and easily replicated. He finishes off the chapter with a more complicated setup using quiz questions and a glossary to help create a Hidden picture puzzle.
Overall the chapter provided a thorough introduction to he GAME activity through clear examples and context.
After that chapter I felt like I wanted to try something else, so I opened Chapter 4.
Spot the Difference
This chapter introduces the Lesson module and takes the reader through creating a lesson and editing images for use in the spot-the-difference activity. The Lesson activity is a complex one, so it was refreshing to see Nicholas introduce the Lesson with some clear examples and contrasts to the quiz module. He also has a nice diagram to explain the workflow that is possible with the Lesson. The diagram is used as the reference for the activity setup and provides a nice visual to help people get back on top of things as they progress through the setup if they get lost or confused.
To find images for the activity, Nicholas uses the Open Clip Art Library and takes the reader through downloading and repurposing the SVG image with an editor to have two similar images but with a difference for use in the activity. Although knowing how to change images is not exactly part of the core Moodle skill set - these type of skills are important to learn to fully utilise media in the LMS and it is great to see them explained so clearly. Nicholas then brings the reader through setting up the question pages using the newly altered images. The chapter ends on introduction to student enrolment.
The other chapters in the book follow the same approach with solid instruction backed by clear examples and concepts. The book ends with a chapter on basics of administration as well as some other smaller features.
So if you are looking for ideas on how to set up some fun activities, be it storytelling or games in Moodle, this is certainly the book for you. The style of delivery and clear instructions make it a must buy. Thanks again to Packt for sending me a copy to review.
The book is available from packtpub.com in Printed copy and a range of eBook formats: ePub, PDF and Kindle.