I had written a review of William Rice’s previous book and noted that it was rather technical. Moodle Teaching Techniques is more pedagogical and gets down to the details of how to develop online courses in Moodle.
Moodle adoption is growing and it is probably the most widely-used open source learning content management system in the world. That makes this book rather timely [not like my review which I had hoped to write in 2007].
This is a good guidebook for anyone developing online courses with Moodle. The introduction covers some basic instructional techniques and then the book gets right into the “how-to’s” of course building. One comment I found interesting was how Rice recommends that wikis, forums and blogs should be used:
In Moodle, each student can have a blog. This is turned on by default. However, a student’s blog is not attached to any course. That is, you do not access a Moodle blog by going into a course and selecting the blog. Instead, you view the user’s profile, and access that user’s blog from there. In a Moodle student’s blog, there is no way to associate a post with a course that the student is taking. This results in “blogging outside of the course”. Also, as of version 1.9, you cannot leave comments on Moodle blogs.
These comments show the inherent weakness of the “course” model when used online. Everything has to fit neatly inside the box that contains the course. Having blogs outside of the course is a good concept, because student’s posts can travel with them from course to course. The use of “tags” could alleviate the problem of finding blog comments, but would require another tool for aggregation of these tags. Once again, several tools (blogs, wikis, social bookmarks, etc.) loosely joined may give more flexibility than a single system, such as Moodle. Furthermore, I cannot understand why the comment function was removed from Moodle blogs. Why have a blog at all if you cannot comment? You may as well just have an HTML editor and a place to publish web pages.
The bottom line for this book is that 1) if you are using Moodle and 2) you are designing courses, it’s full of helpful tips and techniques. An excellent review of this book is available from Susan Smith Nash.