Monday, 27 February 2012

Packtpub:Moodle 2.0 Book Reviews

I have the great pleasure of reviewing two books on Moodle published very recently by Packtpub. I will outline my thoughts briefly on each book individually as set out below. I would like to stress that I term myself as a lay person with regards dealing with Moodle, and therefore my opinions are purely personal and based on ease of understanding of the content within each book reviewed. With an ever increasing demand by "Moodlers" for more information about this versatile Virtual Learning Platform / Environment, Packtpub offers an array of books specifically geared to enlighten would be users / seasoned Moodlers alike.

Book Review One:Moodle 2.0 Course Conversion Beginners' Guide

Written by Ian Wild and published by Packtpub as a second edition in November 2011, Moodle 2.0 Course Conversion Beginners' Guide provides a valuable and insightful guide to converting your teaching materials to the latest edition of Moodle 2.0. At 368 pages long, with nine clearly defined chapters, divided in two parts, the information showcased is comprehensive and easily managed.

Moodle 2.0 Course Conversion Beginners' Guide is primarily aimed, but not exclusively, at teachers / educators who are beginners in dealing with Moodle. The e book demonstrates in a very comprehensible manner how easy it is to create a course entirely online using the teacher's own worksheets and materials. My opinion is that this is a very practical and useful guide to have for any teacher contemplating shifting their work from a paper based / non digital format to a highly sophisticated and modern online medium.

The introduction quotes the notion of a "fast" learning curve for readers of this book, and this caught my eye. Although the book is packed full with useful information, it is indeed condensed in a very efficient way and therefore easy to read in manageable chunks with clearly defined headings to lead the way. My feeling is that objectives can be achieved in a short space of time by following the considerable amount of tutorials, screenshots and clear explanations included in the book..

What I liked...

The step by step approach with ample screenshots was greatly appreciated, and made the information much more easily accessible.

I particularly liked the Pop Quiz to recycle information digested, and there were many examples of this feature in each of the chapters. I found myself keen to see if I could answer the questions quickly to prove to myself that I had taken in the information.

In addition, the "Have a go hero" feature is a great touch, which sets practical challenges. It also gives you ideas for further experimentation of materials covered, as viewed in the screenshot below.

I also liked the practical "Word of caution" sections, and I learned some useful tips for things to avoid doing, such as not logging on to Moodle as two different users.

The frequent "What just happened?" question was useful in breaking up chunks of information, and served as a useful review of the content. The "Time for action" heading also served a useful purpose for running through procedures.

Would I recommend it?
Moodle 2.0 Course Conversion Beginners' Guide seems to do what it says on the blurb and cover and as a result, I would recommend this book to any teacher / administrator / tutor embarking on adding files and materials to Moodle.

I would love to own a hard copy of this book as well, and that for me is a very high recommendation!!

You can download Chapter 5, a free bonus chapter for you to view the contents. Have fun!

Book Review Two:Moodle 2 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds Beginner's Guide

My second Packtpub book for review is Moodle 2 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds Beginner's Guide. It is written by Nicholas Freear and it was published in October 2011. It consists of 332 pages divided into ten main chapters.

The title Moodle 2 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds Beginner's Guide intrigued me straightaway, as the idea of using Moodle with such young learners seems to be very 21st century indeed. This reflects a sign of the times, which is increasingly geared towards blended learning.

Who is this book for?
According to the official blurb, "This book is aimed at teachers of children aged 4 to 9 who wish to integrate the Moodle open source virtual learning environment into their teaching. It assumes a basic knowledge of the Web but no prior knowledge of Moodle, although it is expected that you will either have Moodle already set up in your school, or a friendly IT technician who can do it for you."

My Opinion
This book contains a comprehensive and useful amount of information, which is geared for teachers of this particular age group. It was a little bit technical in some parts for me, but I am sure this would be appreciated by most teachers dealing with Moodle. The author mentions throughout the book to ask for in-house technical support if a teacher doesn't feel confident enough to download relevant plug-ins and so on.

Moodle 2 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds Beginner's Guide contains insightful sections on creating games and quizzes and these activities are what most children find enjoyable. The step by step instructions and references are very clear, and can be followed easily with the ample amount of excellent screenshots provided.

I particularly liked Chapter 3, Telling Stories, which outlines various creative writing projects, which young learners would find entertaining. Specific chapters are devoted to Fun Games, Spot the Difference and Interactive Puzzles, thereby resulting in a huge bank of diverse activities for the keen teacher to develop and enhance any Moodle course for young to very young learners.

Would I recommend it?
I feel that Moodle 2 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds Beginner's Guide does what it sets out to do very well. If I were teaching this age group, I would certainly want to read through it in order to take advantage of all the exciting features Moodle 2.o offers as a learning platform.

You can find out more information about it on Nicholas Freear's unique Facebook page.

You can also listen to the author outlining what his book is about on the video on his Facebook page. Link
You can download a free sample chapter - Chapter 4, Spot The Difference, from the Packtpub page link here.

Moodle 2 Administration
Packt has recently published another Moodle book as well, titled "Moodle 2 Administration". You can read more about it on their website.

Please note:I have received a free e-copy of each of the two books reviewed in exchange for writing the reviews in my own time. The reviews are based purely on my honest and personal perspective. I hope the reviews will give you some insight into the essence of the books.


Nick said...

Hi Janet,

Thank you for taking the time to review "Moodle 2 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds.." - I'm glad you found it a useful read.

There is a support site at / moodle.

And, I love your use of Podomatic and ;).

Best wishes,

Nick (writer & developer)

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Nick

Thank you for popping by and for your kind comments. It was my pleasure to review your book and I enjoyed reading it.

I'll add a link to your Facebook page on the post.

Best wishes