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Monday, November 26, 2007

Finalist in Best of E-Learning / Corporate Education Edublog Awards

It is an incredible honor to be a Finalist in the EduBlog Awards in the category of Best E-Learning / Corporate Education. As you can see by the co-finalists, we're in amazingly good company, and that in itself is an honor.

I would like to invite you to visit each of the blogs listed below, and to be sure to vote. Here is the link to the voting page:

Clive on Learning
E-Learning Queen
eLearning Technology
In the Middle of the Curve
Mohamed Amine Chatti’s ongoing research on Technology Enhanced Learning

Many thanks to the EduBlog awards for promoting blogging on elearning. They are doing a great service create and sustain a wonderfully supportive learning community.

Moodle Teaching Techniques Meets Numerous Needs

Packt Publishing’s Moodle Teaching Techniques (2007) by William H. Rice, IV, is a welcome addition to any instructor, course developer or administrator’s personal library. Although the text is geared toward the Moodle open source learning management system platform, the ideas and techniques contained in this book are universally applicable for any learning management system, and, more universally, to any e-learning program. What sets this book apart from other texts that discuss ways to develop courses and to teach effectively online is the fact that it has a heavy Web 2.0 orientation, which means that it incorporates interactive web applications and encourages sharing and interaction, which in turn accommodates multiple learning styles and also facilitates the development of a robust, active learning community.

Schools, not-for-profits, training institutes, and corporations that are turning to Moodle to host their online learning. They have gone to Moodle because they like the fact that it is open-source and very customizable. Many people are finding that if they use a hosting service like Site Ground ( the hosting service is very helpful in getting the user started with exciting user applications.

If one does not have the time an energy to configure Moodle for their server, one can also use a service such as Moodle Rooms (, which exists to help individuals and organizations put together Moodle sites.

Here are the specific areas addressed in Packt Publishing's book. Please bear in mind that what appears below is not a table of contents, and the actual content in the book is arranged in a different way. I’ve simply categorized the content along instructional lines.

The book does an outstanding job of connecting the ways to teach with specific instructions of how to do the activities in Moodle. Screenshots and captures help the reader follow what is happening.

Learning Community Activities:

Moodle Forums

Moodle Chat

Content Mastery Activities:

Quiz set-ups, solutions, and deployment

Proctored, Timed tests from Secure Locations

Content Presentation:

Lessons Settings

Lesson Instructional Materials

Sequence of Activities

Wiki: Interactive content

Supplemental Activities:


Moodle Teaching Techniques

While the organization and presentation of the instructions is very clear, concise and easy to use, it is possible that the reader will be left asking “why” to a number of the suggestions and guidelines. For example, in the section entitled, Need for Sequential Activities, the book states: “We don’t want our students to ‘meander’ or wander through course items. We want to enforce a specific order of resources and activities” (Rice, 2007, 88). My immediate question was, “Why? What’s wrong with meandering?” Such questions would be well answered if the author provided a rationale, and at least two underpinnings from learning theory – one pro and one con- to help the reader gain a sense why decisions are made, and how learning is enhanced.

The book is quite technical, which is good. However, it would have been very nice to discuss other issues, such as motivation, in an online course. I realize that there was perhaps not enough space in the book, and, perhaps it would be better to have a separate book – one that deals exclusively with learning theories as they apply to distributed education (whether online, or via mobile device).

A key question that the reader is likely to have at this point is, “Must I be using Moodle to use this book?”

Moodle Teaching Techniques bridges all learning platforms and addresses the deeper issues of how to really take advantage of what the Web has to offer in terms of e-learning effectiveness. So, the answer to that question is that you don’t really have to be using Moodle, but this text certainly makes it easier to take advantage of open source solutions.

In the past, colleges and universities have shied away from Moodle because they have feared that their online registration services, their grade databases, and financial services databases will not easily integrate with Moodle. While this can definitely be true, there are new solutions that will place a student in a course (and in the Moodle room) as soon as they’ve paid for the class. It is not necessary to manually enroll every student. As for entering grades in the final gradebook, many colleges and universities still use programs such as DataTel for their grades and transcript management. It may be necessary for instructors to manually enter grades in the DataTel system, rather than relying on a program to integrate the Moodle database and DataTel.

I only mention the mechanics because I want to show that it is not necessary for the large users to shy away from Moodle. One popular misconception is that Moodle is only good for the newbies to online education, or the small user, and as soon as one gets a bit of experience under one’s belt, one graduates to Angel, Blackboard, D2L, or another even pricier (and ultimately unreliable) solution.

The nice thing about Moodle is that it is likely to be stable for quite awhile, and the twice yearly version changes that have made Blackboard and WebCT administrators’ lives a nightmare can be avoided in Moodle. In Moodle, you don’t have to wait for the program to provide all the applications, features and functionality you desire. You can easily import them and integrate them into the platform.

This book helps course developers, instructors, and administrators put together very effective Moodle-based courses that include asynchronous as well as synchronous activities.


Rice, W. H. (2007). Moodle teaching techniques: Creative ways to use Moodle for constructing online learning solutions. Birmingham and Mumbai: Packt Publishing.

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