Sunday, July 17, 2011

Moodle for Dummies review

   There’s a lot to like in Radana Dvorak’s Moodle for Dummies.   

  •     Lots of valuable information here.  I’ve been working with Moodle for more than 2 years, and still found a lot that I both didn’t know and can use.
  •     Includes a lot of Moodle Admin material, so as a teacher you might be able to do without some of the heavier Moodle Admin books. 
  •     Many things are described step by step, so helpful when you’re starting out.
  •     Examples of the ways teachers might use different capabilities are given, which is helpful as you’re thinking, “I wonder how I’d use that?”
  •     The chapters are organized, and the table of contents and index make it easy to find specific information.  Has the expected tips and warnings the Dummies books use. 

  •     Some of the Illustrations are tiny.  For example, the illustration on page 50 shows 2 full-page screen shots within less than 5 inches of page width; the screenshots have tabs which are referred to in the text, but I can’t read them.  When you have to hold the book 2 inches from your face so you can read it – if you can – the information is not getting across.  Publisher:  next edition please make the images big enough.   Hint:  show part of the screen, as you do for other illustrations.
  •     Users don’t reach the part of the book that shows how to add actual course content for 100 pages.  Chapter 5 is about adding content to your course.  Yeah, you need to know that other stuff, but this is the good stuff from a teacher’s point of view.  So if you’re new to Moodle, start here at chapter 5, then go back and read the earlier chapters.
  •     The audience for the book seems to be college and adult ed teachers, so some advice isn’t appropriate for K12.  For example, Dvorak strongly recommends using self-registration (the learners register themselves).  For K-8 at least, I would never recommend that; kids just aren’t that good at following multi-step directions, and some will do it wrong on purpose.  “Gee, Mrs. Lo, I just can’t get it to work, so I guess I can’t…”  

    This brings me to my final point.  I’m glad I bought Moodle for Dummies, but my favorite starting-out-with-Moodle book is still Mary Cooch’s Moodle 1.9 for Teaching 7-14 year olds.  That is written with K8 very much in mind.  But Moodle for Dummies provides a lot of useful information that will help beginners and intermediate Moodle users.

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