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Moodle 2 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds Beginner's Guide Paperback – 24 Oct 2011
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About the Author
Nicholas Freear got into software and educational technology through a series of happy accidents. During research for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Birmingham he was thrown in at the deep end, learning to program in C++, using the Windows API, and programming against the interface card for an early digital camera (a 'frame grabber', since you ask). Bizarrely, this didn't put him off. In his next job, he was a programmer at a high-tech startup company helping to create products from voice recognition and speech synthesis software. However, the World Wide Web was calling. After a character-building stint as a self-employed developer and accessibility consultant, Nicholas joined the team that was working on The Open University's next generation e-learning environment. And so, he was introduced to Moodle and the open-source software community. Following several fruitful years, Nick joined the Institute of Educational Technology at The OU, where he got to talk to more academics, pursue his accessibility and usability interests, and work on many different education and research projects. He blogs (http://freear.org.uk), contributes to the Moodle community (http://moodle.org/user/view.php?id=93815), and likes to talk at workshops and conferences despite his stammer. When he's not trying to understand the mysteries of the Web, Nick likes to sing, cycle, listen to loud music, and learn about all things Chinese. Occasionally all at the same time.
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Nicholas kicks off this chapter on imagination and uses this as a backdrop to introduce a way to help nurture creativity and narrative skills in storytelling, both written and verbal. He explains that one way to achieve this is using the database activity and then takes the reader through the setup of the activity touching on some of the important aspects including accessibility.
He then introduces and takes the reader through installation and usage of an audio recorder for recording MP3s to enable use of audio in the storytelling.
The chapter provided a solid introduction to the usage of the database covering all the key aspects well through a solid use case.
Next chapter I looked at was Chapter 6.
The chapter is focused on the use of a custom activity called Game. This is a great plugin which enables you to have games like crosswords and snakes & ladders in your Moodle course. Of course to have these type of games you need content (questions, words) and the chapter introduces how the Glossary activity is a great place to manage this content and provides a nice table of which game and which source of content is suitable.
Nicholas here introduces us yet another reason why the Glossary is such a wonderful activity (FYI: Michelle Moore will present at the Moodlemoot in Dublin about the Glossary being "Moodle's Swiss Army Knife" ). The reader is taken step by step through setting up the Glossary, adding items and how to enable auto-linking of the entry names. The instructions are clear and the pace is good.
Once this is done, he quickly takes us through installing the custom GAME activity and then gets into creating a game of Snakes and Ladders. This was very well explained and easy to follow. Then Nicholas brings us through creating a word search puzzle. Again the instructions are clear and easily replicated. He finishes off the chapter with a more complicated setup using quiz questions and a glossary to help create a Hidden picture puzzle.
Overall the chapter provided a thorough introduction to he GAME activity through clear examples and context.
After that chapter I felt like I wanted to try something else, so I opened Chapter 4.
Spot the Difference
This chapter introduces the Lesson module and takes the reader through creating a lesson and editing images for use in the spot-the-difference activity. The Lesson activity is a complex one, so it was refreshing to see Nicholas introduce the Lesson with some clear examples and contrasts to the quiz module. He also has a nice diagram to explain the workflow that is possible with the Lesson. The diagram is used as the reference for the activity setup and provides a nice visual to help people get back on top of things as they progress through the setup if they get lost or confused.
To find images for the activity, Nicholas uses the Open Clip Art Library and takes the reader through downloading and repurposing the SVG image with an editor to have two similar images but with a difference for use in the activity. Although knowing how to change images is not exactly part of the core Moodle skill set - these type of skills are important to learn to fully utilise media in the LMS and it is great to see them explained so clearly. Nicholas then brings the reader through setting up the question pages using the newly altered images. The chapter ends on introduction to student enrolment.
The other chapters in the book follow the same approach with solid instruction backed by clear examples and concepts. The book ends with a chapter on basics of administration as well as some other smaller features.
So if you are looking for ideas on how to set up some fun activities, be it storytelling or games in Moodle, this is certainly the book for you. The style of delivery and clear instructions make it a must buy.
I like the lay out of the book and how it is structured. As the title suggests, it is for teachers to understand and grasp the information in the book quickly.
The book has a step by step guide on using different functions of your school's Moodle site (Virtual learning environment) followed by images. This makes it easy to find your way around using Moodle. It doesn't matter if you are a first time user of Moodle or if you have used the earlier version - Moodle (1.9), as the book goes through the basics starting from logging in all the way to using quizzes, setting permissions and creating courses for the students.
Some of the things you will notice after reading each section/ task are these reference:= "What just happened" and "Time for action". These are practise tasks that let you do some practise after completing each section. There are also some basic "html" code references in the book to give the teacher and those who have basic web design knowledge to make their courses more interactive for their students.
All in all this is the perfect book for beginners and teachers.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The title Moodle 2 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds Beginner's Guide intrigued me straightaway, as the idea of using Moodle with such young learners seems to be very 21st century indeed. This reflects a sign of the times, which is increasingly geared towards blended learning.
Who is the book for?
According to the official blurb, "This book is aimed at teachers of children aged 4 to 9 who wish to integrate the Moodle open source virtual learning environment into their teaching. It assumes a basic knowledge of the Web but no prior knowledge of Moodle, although it is expected that you will either have Moodle already set up in your school, or a friendly IT technician who can do it for you."
This book provides a comprehensive and useful amount of information, which is specifically geared for teachers of this particular age group. It was a little bit technical in some parts for me, but I am sure this would be appreciated by most teachers dealing with Moodle. The author mentions throughout the book to ask for in-house technical support if a teacher doesn't feel confident enough to download relevant plug-ins and so on.
The book also contains insightful sections on creating games and quizzes and these activities are what most children find enjoyable. The step by step instructions and references are very clear, and can be followed easily with the ample amount of excellent screenshots provided.
I particularly liked Chapter 3, Telling Stories, which outlines various creative writing projects, which young learners would find entertaining. Specific chapters are devoted to Fun Games, Spot the Difference and Interactive Puzzles, thereby resulting in a huge bank of diverse activities for the keen teacher to develop and enhance any Moodle course for young to very young learners.
Would I recommend it?
I feel that Moodle 2 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds Beginner's Guide does exactly what it sets out to do very well. If I were teaching this age group, I would certainly want to own this book in order to take advantage of all the exciting features Moodle 2.0 offers as a learning platform.
This is an easy to follow book with lots of tips for the novice and the intermediate Moodle user. You understand how to create activities and quizzes that are specially adapted for younger children and are quick and easy to setup in Moodle. Also the step by step lessons help in making things a lot easier
One shortcoming of the book has to do with editing. There are some non-English sentence structures and some font inconsistencies that are slightly confusing.
But overall, this book achieves what it promises.
If you are teaching with Moodle then you will definitely want to add this book to your library and keep it within arms reach.