Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: Moodle 2.0 for Business, a Beginner's Guide

Veronika Delvaux's objective review of  Moodle 2.0 forBusiness, a Beginner's Guide

This review is based upon the Moodle 2.0 for Business, a Beginner's Guide - “Implement Moodle in your business to streamline your interview, training, and internal communication processes”. Authors: Jason Cole, Jeanne Cole, and Gavin Henrick. This book is published by Packt Publishing – open source - BIRMINGHAM – MUMBAI. The Language is English, and the release date was May of 2011.
ISBN : 1849514208
ISBN 13 : 978-1-84951-420-0

Co-authors Jason Cole, PhD, Chief Operating Officer for Remote-Learner US, and his wife, Jeanne Cole, a Senior Project Manager also working for Remote-Learner US.  Mr. & Mrs. Cole both have an extended background in learning management systems, Moodle administration, course development, and project management.  Gavin Henrick, the third author, has a 10-year background in business, learning, and development.  He recently joined Moodle Partner Remote-Learner, and is responsible for organizations in Europe and Canada.

Chapter One introduces statistical data, the comparison between other LMS and positive arguments on why to choose Moodle, and open source learning is outlined to the point that the reader will understand what it is all about.  For someone new to and with little knowledge on what Moodle represents, the introduction to Moodle and its history is a very useful section.
The extended explanation on how to install a demo Moodle on a laptop is well written and organized with many helpful screenshots and hints.  A detailed course creation section follows, explaining how to add and utilize most all elements available to create a resource-rich and meaningful site.  It then explains how to add resources and other elements relevant for a Moodle business site.  Moreover, the chronological order and the “how to” screen shots assure the reader that he will not get lost in the process. The case study introduces the reader to real life business problems and how to approach a solution using Moodle. The outlined question and answer model used in the case study is easy to understand, and animates the reader to think outside the box.

The next chapter deals with one of the most important subjects in business. It introduces the reader to setting up the Moodle for use as a hiring, interviewing, training and testing tool for new employees. Getting the insight on how to set up a quiz module and question bank is just one tool Moodle can be used in business. The chapter is well organized and easy to follow. The comprehensive screen shots and hands-on explanations are well documented and trouble-free to understand.  Again, the case study at the end of the chapter will guide the reader in the direction of evaluating the process and adding and/or eliminating information relevant to the development. 

In Chapter Three, the reader will learn how to create a course, add course content, add and edit topics, add labels and objectives, work with summaries, and create terminology glossaries. The reader will be guided step by step in the process of successfully creating a course relevant for its targeted audience.

Using Moodle to manage compliance training is the topic of Chapter Four. Since it is of utmost importance that employees and trainees comply with rules and regulations, this chapter deals with how to effectively guide the participant through the learning module, track student data, and use data to supplement subject knowledge further.

Chapter Five deals with how to relate outcome to track competency within Moodle.  As it is true for schools, the same is true for business; knowledge and proficiency are important to assess student/employee.

Chapter Six touches on “best practice” communities and the importance of problem solving within a group of like-minded people, utilizing communities of practice within an organization, and setting up such groups in Moodle.  For example, chats, blogs and Wikis are options of a subject group to communicate amongst each other.  The reader also will be introduced to the usefulness of, and how to choose RSS feeds.

Chapter Seven touches on the background of web conferencing and where to find forums on the subject.  Since Moodle doesn’t come with an incorporated web conferencing tool, the book discusses in detail plug-ins suitable for use in Moodle to establish web conferencing.  It also lists the URL to a plug-in database. Elluminate Live and BigBlueButton , as well as Adobe Connect Pro and OpenMeetings are listed there.

Chapter Eight deals with outside components and repositories, such as Google Docs, Mahara and Alfresco.  It guides the learner through the process on how to add and use them successfully within Moodle.

The last chapter addresses enrollment methods, such as internal or external enrollment, and authentication plug-ins. There are easy to understand examples on how to employ them.  It touches on Moodle themes and how to successfully use the theme selector within Moodle.  Lastly, the chapter guides the reader through the process on how to incorporate images into the header and footer, and teaches how to customize the language pack in Moodle. 

Summary:
Each chapter is well organized, and extensive insight information is added to give the reader the confidence to master all elements addressed in the guide. Furthermore, Moodle 2.0 for Business -Beginners Guide is written in a way that is easy to understand; it’s not only written for the beginner, advanced learners can benefit from to it as well. It fully explains all of its unlimited uses.
The comprehensive summery section helps the reader to reinforce the material covered. The elaborate stream of information, screen shots, and help sections are detail oriented.  The easy-to-understand explanations will guide the reader successfully through the process of setting up and utilizing Moodle and its potential to its fullest. The case studies in each chapter are a welcome tool to check if the actions taken are compatible with specific goals. 
The “What just happened” header is a very helpful tool to think back on the completed task. Anyone in the process of setting up a Moodle site for any business will be pleased to have found a step-by-step guide for the entire process. Lastly, the multitude of business related information is a further useful learning tool for any reader. 

In conclusion, the Moodle 2.0 for Business - Beginners Guide is a priceless resource for any company who would like to explore the opportunity to setup, run, and administer its very own Moodle site.