In the last few years, I’ve got out of the habit of buying computing books, knowing that generally I’ll only make use of small sections and how quickly they become dated, so have tended to rely on using the internet to look up what I need. Even in cases where I’ve needed to learn something from scratch, I’ve again generally relied on online tutorials/examples.
With this in mind, I was recently asked to review a new book from Packt publishing ‘Moodle 1.9 – ELearning Course Development’ (on Amazon). Well, I say recently, but it was actually a little while ago now, and I’ve only just had chance to have a proper read.
Although aimed at “anyone who wants to make the most of Moodle’s features to produce an interactive online learning experience”, it strikes me as more a reference book for Moodle. With an extensive section (around a quarter of the book) devoted just to the installation and initial setup of a Moodle server, including authentication, security, filters, themes etc , I started to think it was aimed mainly at system administrators, but the remainder of the book is devoted to explanations on how to create courses, add resources and activities – the areas most teachers and course creators would want to know.
Extensive coverage is given to how each of the blocks and activity settings can be used, which, whilst very useful as a reference, may come across as a little intimidating, especially for new Moodlers. Explanations are also given on why you might want to use the activity although I found that it lacked real life examples of good and bad practice. I’m sure many teachers would want to know what others have already tried, whether successfully or not.
Given the fast paced change of most software, Moodle is no exception, I would also have liked to have seen some reference (acknowledgment?) of the features coming in Moodle 2. Perhaps this was deliberately left out so as not to confuse readers, or perhaps Moodle 2 wasn’t in a stable enough form at the time of writing, but this book is likely to date quickly, assuming that Moodle 2 is released according to plan in mid 2009.
There are a couple of other books in the same series, ‘Moodle Teaching Techniques’ and ‘Moodle Administration’ and I’d have really like to have read all three alongside each other, to find out where the differences are, any overlaps and if either of these other books plug the gaps I felt were left open by Elearning Course Development.
In summary, an excellent book if you already know what you want to do with Moodle but aren’t sure how to use the settings to achieve your aims. I’m unlikely to be seen reading this book without also having a PC in front of me with Moodle in my browser.