Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Book Review of Moodle 1.9: The English Teacher's Cookbook

I am very pleased to post this book review of Moodle 1.9: The English Teacher's Cookbook by Silvina P. Hillar, published in July 2010 by Packtpub. It consists of 80 fantastic and ready-to-use recipes to achieve some great results.

According to the blurb contained in the packtpub site "This cookbook provides a practical, step-by-step guide to building a complete reading comprehension, writing, and composition course in Moodle 1.9 starting with simple activities and ending with complex ones. It covers many features and techniques in order to allow you to organize your ideas to improve writing using Moodle as a virtual learning platform".

The big question is ...
does Moodle 1.9:The English Teacher's Cookbook actually do what it sets out to achieve? I believe it does, and in the process, I certainly learned a lot more about Moodle features and in addition, new Web 2.0 tools, which particularly interested me. I believe the blurb gives you a lot more practical information about the content of the book, so I will base my review on a few of the features that I particularly liked.

The book provides very clear and thorough step by step instructions on how to accomplish the many and various tasks that it demonstrates. I had a lot of fun trying out the different techniques. In particular I liked the "Let's Moodle it!" refrain that came before getting down to doing each task for yourself.
Below, I couldn't resist creating a Tagxedo cloud of key words in the shape of a cockerel.

The book starts off with easy to use activities, which will enhance your students' reading and writing skills and leads to more complex ones. The use of images plays a big role in creating the activities in Moodle 1.9:The English Teacher's Cookbook and there are many excellent practical examples.
I found out how to create a comic strip using MS word and adding silhuettes and speech bubbles like my basic example below. With more practice, I hope to create some more comic strips which I will add to this post in the future.

I really enjoyed creating this comic strip from Superherosquad. I learned how to do this in Chapter 8, "Creating New Sceneries", which showed fun and versatile ways to enhance writing skills.

You can print the strips straight from the web site and you can download the comic as a pdf. I created a screenshot and then saved the image to my computer, so it's fairly straightforward to use. I really like it!!

In chapter 9 I learned more about the design and upload of different mind maps, Venn diagrams or tree diagrams, which can be uploaded into the Moodle course. This prompted me to start experimenting more with the Smart Art feature on the Microsoft Word programme and led me to do a few digrams for my Powerpoint presentations as demonstrated in my Language in Motion:teaching with the flow ppt, for example.

Below you can see some of the mind mapping tools mentioned and demonstrated in The English Teacher's Cookbook.

You can have a look at the sample copy Chapter 5 -Creating Stories using Twitter and Facebook.
This is a topical chapter, which shows you how to use and embed these 2 popular social networking sites into your Moodle course. Again, the thorough and detailed step by step instructions help you to create and design interactive activities, which are bound to engage your learners! This chapter will give you a very good idea of how the rest of the book is written.

I would highly recommend Moodle 1.9:The English Teacher's Cookbook, because it contains a lot of lovely practical lesson ideas which can easily be incorporated into a Moodle course. I found some of the ideas a bit complex, but on the whole, as demonstrated above, I was able to follow the instructions and create some very nice visuals.

Please note:I have received a free e-copy of the book in exchange for writing this book review in my own time. I really enjoyed reading it and I am very happy to own a copy as a really useful reference guide to dip into for inspiration.

Coming soon!
I look forward to reading and reviewing "Moodle 2.0 First Look" by Mary Cooch. This will happen hopefully in the next few weeks, so watch this space!!

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