Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Using Moodle

I recently reviewed the new Using Moodle (2nd Edition) book. It's a good (but not great) book. Here's my review.

I felt that the book presented a nicely rounded picture of the VLE Moodle to some academic practitioners, but would baffle most.

The book is not aimed at the novice user, but would assist those who have some prior IT background or have previously dabbled with the popular Open Source VLE Moodle. It is the perfect book to help staff developers and trainers deliver some well structured courses.

The introduction is brief (which is a shame) and only outlines the underlying pedagogy behind Moodle, namely social constructivism. And, indeed it’s this underpinning pedagogy coupled with the intuitive interface that has ensured that Moodle continues to be adopted by millions of users worldwide. This strength is merely hinted at. There are some references to 56KB modems and RTF files, which make the publication feel outdated! An earlier chapter also explains files type and sizes, which are vital to understanding how a VLE works. As the book continues to unfold all we get is the mechanics of the most popular of Moodle tools and its Modus Operandi. This is somewhat of a disappointment as this chapter format forces us to adopt the view that this “Moodle thing” is just another VLE, which in fact it is clearly not. That said, the chapters explaining the most popular Moodle tools such as blogs, wiki, glossaries, database, lessons, etc, are very good, if a little verbose. Accompanying screenshots help break up the text and illustrate instructions (but not enough). For example, when explaining how branched lesson activity block works in Moodle, this could have been done much more concisely using some simple diagrams, and removing ½ the chapters text. This book also presumes too much prior knowledge, i.e. that all busy academics/trainers are aware of such ICT tools are and their potential, which is not the case.

I would say it’s a useful reference book for those who know what a VLE all about is and are curious to try out Moodle, together with ICT trainers and VLE staff. For most busy academics tho,’ we require a much more basic publication that explains such tools as a VLE, wiki, and blog, etc. But more importantly such a publication should ensure that the pedagogy is promoted as the driver to allow academics to effectively utilise Moodle to engage learning, rather than a “list of tools “ operator manual approach.
  • Being "Open Source" this book is now available as a free download from Moodle :
  • On a related note, there is another good Moodle book out at present called E-Learning Course Development. You can read most of it online here :

  • Find out more about Moodle using these free tutorials:

1 comment:

Matthew said...

We have this book and i find that its not really usefull at all, as most of the information in it is either available on the net from the moodle site or via mailing lists.
We also have the other moodle book again which we dont find that usefull. My advice would be to look aorund the moodle site first before looking into buying this book