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Moodle Addons: Extending your Moodle site with Community Addons Paperback – March 1, 2013
The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Gavin Henrick is a consultant based in Dublin who works with assisting organisations to implement a range of open source learning technologies including Moodle and Mahara. He recently set up an e-learning consultancy company Learning Technology Services (www.lts.ie). Gavin has worked with technology in business, learning and development for over 10 years and has been working with Moodle, Mahara other open-source applications for the last 4 years. Gavin is an active member of the Moodle community and is a regular speaker at a number of Moodlemoots and conferences on the use of Moodle focusing on practical examples of usage. Gavin recently organised the Ireland & UK Moodlemoot 2012 and 2013 in Dublin, and is planning the follow up for Spring 2014. He has co-authored the book Moodle 2.0 for Business Beginner's Guide with Jason Cole and Jeanne Cole. This was published by Packt Publishing in May 2011. Gavin uses the Twitter handle @ghenrick and maintains a blog at http://www.somerandomthoughts.com Michael de Raadt is Development Manager at Moodle HQ where he manages developers in Australia and around the world working on Moodle. He is also responsible for overseeing the Moodle Tracker, disseminating release and security information and organizing developer events. Michael is a regular speaker at Moodle Moots and educational technology conferences. He is Co-chair for the Moodle Research Conference for 2013 and 2014. Michael also has years of experience as a lecturer in the tertiary sector. Michael has conducted research in computing education and educational technology. He holds postgraduate qualifications in computing and education. Michael maintains a number of contributed add-ons for Moodle. He is the author of the book Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook published by Packt Publishing in November 2010. In his off time, Michael loves spending his time with his family and he enjoys swimming, jogging and theology. Michael uses the Twitter handle @Salvetore and maintains a blog at http://salvetore.wordpress.com
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Unlike many Moodle books already published, Moodle Add-ons doesn't come from Packt or O'Reilly. This means that it isn't written to a recognised formula; rather, the authors share the information in their own style, and one advantage of this is that they are able to provide more detailed background to the content covered. An example of this is in the first chapter where we get an introduction to the concept of add-ons in Moodle (add-ons is the name for contributed modules,ie ones that don't come pre-packed when you download Moodle) We learn about the history of add-ons and what drives developers to work on these extra plugins. As most of the book is concerned with reviewing a number of useful add-ons, Chapter 2 very wisely then takes us through how to install a test Moodle site so you can evaluate them, try before you (don't) buy - because surely you aren't going to simply shove them into your production site are you?
Chapter 3 is an extremely useful evaluation guide, covering such essential issues as: Is it easy to install? Does it have good documentation? Would teachers and students understand it? Would it affect performance? By the time we get to start, in Chapter 4, the process of investigating some cool add-ons, Gavin and Michael have ensured that the reader is fully aware of the need for a test site and detailed evaluation plan - no one can say they didn't tell you :)
So then we're away! Chapter 4 begins by introducing us to some add-ons for resources and activities. For each review, in this chapter and the others which cover navigation, course tracking, interface , course and site administration, course formats and virtual classrooms (web conferencing), the authors explore the background behind it, how to install and use it, the versions offered and documentation and support available. What's nice here is that not only do you get a thorough overview of each add-on, but you also get personal reflections " ...excellent manuals and guides... the author is a respected developer in the community...it would be good to see the [Docs] page updated as this module has so much to give..." so you get a feel that Gavin and Michael have really done their homework researching these add-ons. Which they have. I also liked how, where there are several add-ons of a particular type -for example, course formats - they present them in a useful easy to see table.
How to approach this book? Well, I suppose if you are a Moodle admin or developer, or someone planning to install or look after a Moodle site, then this should be required reading to gain an understanding of what else Moodle can offer over and above core. I am none of those people, but I have an interest in what can make learning and teaching more efficient and enjoyable. With that in mind, I simply enjoyed reading about all the different possibilities and how I could apply them. If you're a Moodle teacher, this might give you some ideas and send you off begging to your admin -with some flattery and chocolate biscuits of course...
My top 5? Picked at random: the whole PoodLL kaboodle, the PDF assignment, the Progress bar, Group choice and Configurable reports. Now go and buy the book and choose yours :)