Book review: Moodle Teaching Techniques by <i>William H. Rice IV</i>

Book review: Moodle Teaching Techniques by William H. Rice IV


Moodle is a well-known and widely used online Course Management System. It is based on Apache and PHP and is normally associated with a MySQL database and GNU/Linux. The application has high market penetration and recognition, especially for schools. However, no matter how good a tool is, a poor teacher will only generate painful online learning experience. Moodle Teaching Techniques published by Packt and authored by William H. Rice IV focuses on best practices for constructing learning solutions.

The book’s cover The book’s cover

This short book delivers well-balanced advice that will help course makers improve online interaction between student and teacher. William Rice intuitively understands the required pedagogical theory, and has applied it successfully to Moodle via a range of viable and Moodle-related recipes.

The contents

Like most Packt books, Moodle Teaching Techniques is straightforward and to the point. The book includes a range of screen grabs and diagrams. The screen grabs make any given task much simpler to learn, although they risk aging quickly as developers update the UI between versions.

William Rice has also written Moodle E-Learning Course Development, focused on the installation and basic use of Moodle. Moodle Teaching Techniques can be useful on its own, but can sit comfortably alongside Moodle E-Learning Course Development, Rice’s first book.

Moodle Teaching Techniques can sit comfortably alongside the author’s first book

The key to the book is Chapter one, which defines instructional principles and how they are related to specific Moodle related activities. The subsequent chapters zoom in on practical applications, one recipe at a time. In the next nine chapters, solutions are detailed applying forums, chat, quizzes, lessons, Wikis, Glossaries, multiple choices and workshops. The mini tutorials have the necessary level of detail. Each recipe directly enhances the student teacher online partnership.

I particularly liked one trick: in order to allow a one-to-one chat section between a student and a teacher, the author creates a group with one student. This type of practical advice is worth its weight in gold.

This type of practical advice is worth its weight in gold

Who’s this book for?

This highly tailored book is for teachers that use Moodle and wish to improve the basic quality of the online experience for their students.

Relevance to free software

Moodle has an enormous install base possibly influencing millions of students everyday--and that includes rainy Sundays. Moodle is good solid free software based on Apache and PHP and deployable on Linux with MySQL. The screen grabs are browser neutral, though I suspect that the author used Firefox. This book is purely about free software.

If you have a test machine with a Debian distribution installed, then you can use apt to try out the software, e.g.:

sudo apt-get install moodle

Yes, sometimes life is simple--at least for testing. The hardest part is knowing how to start making courses, but luckily I know of at least two books that can help with the initial learning curve.

Pros

This practical book delivers the necessary content quickly and clearly.

Cons

The book is a little on the thin side in terms of the number of pages due to the fact that the author gets straight down to describing the tasks in hand, rather than spending unnecessary effort on explaining the finer points of installing Moodle, which was of course dealt with in a previous book.

Title Moodle Teaching Techniques
Author William H. Rice IV
Publisher Packt
ISBN 9781847192844
Year 2007
Pages 200
CD included No
FS Oriented 10
Over all score 9

In short

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Comments

patsanchotok's picture

Absolutely it would be "free" to students and faculty. My point is that this is a small feature in the insanely over priced Blackboard 9 upgrade. So... while it is "free" to students and faculty, the BB9 upgrade takes a massive amount of time and resources for the given University's IT staff. Hopefully this is not the only thing exciting in that upgrade.
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Author information

Alan Berg's picture

Biography

Alan Berg Bsc. MSc. PGCE, has been a lead developer at the Central Computer Services at the University of Amsterdam since 1998. In his spare time, he writes articles, book reviews and has authored three books. He has a degree, two masters and a teaching qualification. In previous incarnations, he was a technical writer, an Internet/Linux course writer, and a science teacher. He likes to get his hands dirty with the building and gluing of systems. He remains agile by playing computer games with his sons who (sadly) consistently beat him physically, mentally and morally at least twice in any given day.

You may contact him at reply.to.berg At chello.nl