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[school-discuss] Book Review "Moodle: E-Learning Course Development"

PACKT Publishing sent a copy of this book over for review, more information can be found at http://www.packtpub.com/moodle/book, as well as a sample chapter (I think this was mentioned earlier on the mailing list.)  Here is what I found.

"Moodle: E-Learning Course Development"

Given the increasing popularity of learning management systems (LMS,) specifically those available under open source licenses, there is a need for reference materials and documentation which explain the technology and answer questions to a very broad audience. The book being reviewed, "Moodle: E-Learning Course Development," was written by William H. Rice IV as a course development guide for Moodle.  The book was published by PACKT Publishing, and after taking a look at their website (http://www.packtpub.com) and seeing that they do a lot of books covering open source, I was curious to find out how their products are put together.  As I've been carrying this book back and forth from home to work and reading parts of it here and there, it's held up extremely well, and I'm impressed by the quality and durability of the book. 

The book starts out by introducing Moodle by describing the groundwork (Social Constructionist Pedagogy) that the application is built on.  The approach that William took throughout the book is effective, as it describes the different features and tools available in Moodle and then breaks those tools down into actions that a user could apply towards designing a course. Another thing I liked is how the content is laid out;  the book can be followed sequentially in learning the different aspects of Moodle, or can be used as a reference to find specific information.  Nearly every action that someone developing a course would take is described and illustrated with screen shots, which is a very valuable and important aspect of any guide that hopes to reach an audience that varies in technical understanding. The screen shots are thought out and most users would be able to follow along and feel comfortable that what they are doing matches what they are reading. 

While this book provides an excellent description of what the tools are and how to use them, something that I think would be complimentary to this would be a guide that provides example courses and objectives, and steps the user through building that course through a tutorial.  For someone looking to design courses, another thing that might be noted is that the initial chapters on installation are somewhat more technical than what is found later.  The good news is that it's easy to follow documentation and the rest is working within Moodle.

All in all, this book would be a great reference to those considering Moodle and those developing courses with it. For those considering Moodle, this book will help you understand what benefits and features the software offers and how the social constructionist approach is applied through Moodle. For someone that is developing courses in Moodle, this book would be very handy to have around while learning the various ins and outs of the application from setting up wikis and forums to setting up quizzes and grading work.  I'm definitely pleased to have a copy of this book, it has introduced me to many features that I was unaware of, and I now see Moodle with much more depth.  I'm certain that I'll be referencing it in the future as I learn about the different types of educational content that is available.