Review of ‘History Teaching with Moodle 2’ by John Mannion

I was asked by PACKT Publishing to write a review of John Mannion’s new publication: History Teaching with Moodle 2.  A link to the book can be found here, along with my review.  But for all of you who are DESPERATE to reads the review, here it is!

“The majority of books examining the use of Moodle and Moodle 2 are generic – that is, they deal with the functions and features of the VLE in terms that any teacher of any subject can follow.  This book goes a step further by tailoring content for teachers of History in the compulsory education sector.  Therefore, not only does author John Mannion look at how to use the popular VLE in generic terms – he also makes suggestions pertinent to specific subject-related content at key stages 3 – 7. At a time when many establishments are focusing their delivery more and more on digital learning  this book is nothing short of a Godsend – and this reviewer  would go as far as to say not just for teachers of history nor, indeed teachers delivering at Key Stage levels, but any practitioner wanting to use Moodle 2 appropriately, imaginatively and dynamically in their practice.

History Teaching with Moodle 2  hits the right note from the moment the book is opened –  Mannion’s   clear and cohesive writing style makes it a breeze to read and guidance is clear and well laid out throughout.  Suggestions and instructions are backed up by ‘clean’ illustrations and screen shots to ensure that even the most cautious Moodle 2 user can develop engaging, dynamic, interactive resources, re-invent tired resources such as worksheets and, importantly in this digital age, invite learners to reflect via blogging and collaborate via wikis and forums, ensuring the online learning experience does not feel isolated or unsupported.

Mannion takes the reader ‘under the hood’ of Moodle 2 too, looking at administrative tools such as course construction and the enrolment of users.  The administrative elements of Moodle can scare many users, but again the author gives clear, illustrated step-by-step instructions in a style that the reader cannot fail to misinterpret.  Areas such as course structure are covered thoroughly, with suggestions regarding the creation of  attractive courses before going on to look at interactive content as online assignments, labels, forums, glossaries,  and the like.  The Moodle 2 gradebook and quiz facility is also examined in detail.

The book goes on to look at other free, open source web 2 applications such as Audacity (audio software ideal for recording podcasts) GIMP  (image editing software) and Xerte (a simple to use and free eLearning development package) that integrate seamlessly with Moodle, and introducing the reader to the concept of the ‘mash up’ or ‘plug in’ – using the digital tools that are already freely available on the internet and weaving  them seamlessly and effectively into the VLE to enhance both learner engagement and the learner experience.

In all then, a book that comes highly recommended for any user of Moodle 2 – but a must for those teaching  History!”

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