I opened my copy of Moodle 1.9 E-Learning Course Development by William Rice with a high expectation that it would be an informative and practical reference text. Why? I was about to upgrade to Moodle 1.9. Did it meet my expectations?
Now read on...
Using open source software can be a daunting experience, regardless of your technical or business experience, and this text's purpose is to shorten users' path to competency in the application. Broadly speaking, the text covers four Moodle-related activities:
* Installing and configuring Moodle 1.9
* E-Learning course development and delivery
* E-Learning course management
* Moodle administration and maintenance
The author assumes zero previous knowledge of the application, and Moodle 1.9 E-Learning Course Developmentbegins by describing Moodle's Social-Constructionist approach to learning, before bringing the reader on a whistle-stop tour of Moodle 1.9's features and functionality- a very good idea indeed, as this goes some way to providing an understanding of why Moodle 1.9 looks and works the way it does for newcomers, acts as a pertinent reminder for experienced Moodlers, and sets the context for the course creation sections later in the book.
The book is structured in a logical and linear fashion: the author aims to guide you through the full application implementation and course development process. The text seems to be aimed primarily at teachers and trainers and the author spends the majority of the manual discussing - in detail and very effectively - the processes, "how-to's" and "gotchas" of using Moodle from a teaching and training perspective. I must point out that something strange must have happened during the editing process of the book, as there's some glaring typos (and even a whole word omitted from the back cover of the text) which are a distraction, but do not deter from the usability of the manual.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, this book was my companion through a recent upgrade from Moodle 1.6 to 1.9, and it did not let me down. As an experienced Moodle user, I used the book very much as a "just enough, just in time" resource rather than as an end-to-end guide through the application. My experience was that the text works very well when used in this fashion. Some other positive aspects of my "user experience" of the text included the author's accessible and direct writing style and use of web-based resources like a downloadable Moodle Project Plan. In my view this text is a straightforward and reliable companion for those who seek to find out more about - and use - Moodle 1.9.