I’ve used Moodle for about four years, and in that time I’ve found it to be an exceptionally useful, high-functioning and user-friendly learning management system (LMS). In my view, the one deficiency in its suite of resources is that it is less than intuitive in the way it enables administrators, teachers, and learners to create, integrate, manage, and deliver images, audio, video, animations and other media types.
Enter Packt Publishing’s Moodle 1.9 Multimedia by João Pedro Soares Fernandes.
I opened my copy of the text with a high expectation that it would be an informative and practical reference text. Why? Packt Publishing have been providing Moodle reference books for some time now, and their texts are usually either very good or excellent.
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 Moodle users’ path to competency in designing, developing and delivering multimedia on the platform. Broadly speaking, the text covers seven Moodle-related media-based activities:
- Evolution of Multimedia
- Using Images
- Sound and Music
- Web 2.0 and other multimedia forms
- Multimedia and Assessments
- Synchronous Communication and Interaction
The author assumes previous knowledge of Moodle, but not prior experience of multimedia development. Appropriately for a book about Moodle , Fernandes uses an Constructivist approach to instruction, and the content is structured so that the reader learns experientially – you learn by doing. This is a very good idea indeed: for newcomers this goes some way to providing an understanding of why multimedia in Moodle 1.9 looks and works the way it does, it acts as a pertinent reminder for experienced Moodlers, and sets the context for the content creation chapters in the book.
The book is designed in a logical and linear fashion: the author aims to guide you through the basics of content creation in each featured media type. For example, in Chapter 2: Picture This you find out about using the open source image editing called GIMP to capture and enhance images, integrate images into Moodle, create comic strips using the free-to-use Strip Generator, export PowerPoint create slideshows, and use online resources like SlideShare.
Given the assumption of little or no technical background in multimedia development, the author spends a goodly proportion of his time – in detail and very effectively – spelling out the advantages, and disadvantages of various media types, as well a processes, “how-to’s” and “gotchas” of using digital media in Moodle. With nearly 12 years experience as an learning professional specializing in e-learning, I would consider that I have a pretty comprehensive knowledge of digital media tools, technologies, and services. I’m delighted to say that Moodle 1.9 Multimedia introduced me to a range of resources that I had not encountered before. This is great: any resource that enables me to deliver content to learners in a more engaging and immersive fashion is a winner with me, and this book fits comfortably into that category.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I think that Moodle 1.9 Multimedia would be an invaluable companion for those new to using media on the Moodle platform. As an experienced Moodle user (and media expert), I will use the book very much as a “just enough, just in time” resource rather than as an end-to-end guide through image, sound, and video development, though I would suggest that the text would work very well if 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 the availability of a sample Moodle course for learners to access and “have a play with.” In my view this text is a straightforward and reliable companion for those who seek to find out more about – and use – multimedia in Moodle 1.9.