The new title, Moodle 2.0: First Look, out from Packt Publishing and written by Mary Cooch (@Moodlefairy) is an in depth look at the soon-to-be-released Moodle 2.0 core code and the various changes in usability and function as compared to Moodle 1.9. The book is well organized, chockablock full of information and screenshots, and highlights (I gather) the vast majority of new features and changes found in Moodle 2.0. The writing is conversational and easy to follow, but at points I was left a little confused by the interaction between screenshots and descriptions (but this was my own problem as I was not following a long with a fresh install of Moodle 2.0 to see the various shots on my own computer screen — which I highly recommend doing if you plan to go through the book cover to cover).
By far, my favorite parts of First Look were when Mary was exposing the new features of Moodle 2.0 and utilizing her well explained example users (in each of the various role levels) to illustrate the interactions of real users to new/improved features. Her explanation of Conditional Activities and Completion (in Chapter 6: Managing the Learning Path) was both interesting and insightful and is sure to be a highly utilized tool. Even despite the disclaimer that urged teachers to “leave students in control of their own learning and just use labels and layout, rather than locks and keys to suggest the best path” which concluded the chapter.
Mary’s suggestions for alternate ways to revive the legacy-style file system was also a breath of fresh air for anyone worried about the lack of a specific file directory attached to a course. In addition, any teacher interested in the Workshop activity should definitely be interested in Chapter 5: What’s new in Add an Activity which spends over a dozen pages on the creation, setup, work in progress and grading/evaluation phases of the improved activity (definitely a highlight of the book).
While each subsequent chapter had me noting “awesome,” “cool,” and “neat” in the margins, the final highlight for me was getting a brief look at the changes to Site Administration in Chapter 8: Admin Issues. With such an array of changed features and added capabilities, one would imagine that the added administration load for Moodle managers and staff would be significant, however Mary clearly highlights the efficiencies and simplification apparent in the changes to Site Administration. The best tidbit, in my opinion, is definitely the ability for users to manage Filters at the course level. This is truly a step in the right direction for providing teachers a more differentiated learning management environment for their students; providing them both the tools and the means to engage their students as they see fit. Kudos to the development team for including this change!
While reading the book I often found myself jotting notes of the URLs to Moodle docs where more in depth explanations of certain features can be found. I was (and am) eager for more explanation about the personal and aesthetic customization options within Moodle (and reflected in contemporary social networks), especially Theme Customization and myMoodle but found the book lacking. In my opinion, myMoodle is one of the most important aspects of Moodle 2.0 and will become a central focus of development in the future. This stepping off point for Moodlers is akin to a Facebook profile and will be the starting point for 100s and 1000s of Moodlers worldwide.
First Look is a quick and quality read which will be a great reference until the first official Moodle 2.0 user guides are released. If you don’t have a concept of new Moodle features in context of learners, this book can certainly fill that niche and provide a bit of real world scenario to put new features in perspective. It’s organization and handy index will make this a great reference book and I hope that First Look is given a chance to become Moodle 2.0: A Complete Guide in the coming months. Overall I give Mary’s new book 3 out of 5 stars.
For more information about Moodle 2.0, check out the following links:
- Moodlenews 2.0 guide: http://www.moodlenews.com/collections/moodle-2-0/
- Moodle 2.0 Release Notes: http://docs.moodle.org/en/Moodle_2.0_release_notes