Book Review: Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

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Original Image by Magic Marie on sxc.hu

This review is for Moodle 1.9 Multimedia by João Pedcro Soares Fernandes, a 272 page technology how-to guide published by PackTPublishing.

If you want to learn how to develop a course in Moodle, look to another book.

If you want to get your hands dirty with a variety of multimedia tools to enhance your course, read on.

The author is upfront with the fact that you will be using 20 different programs throughout the book to build a variety of multimedia activities (actually, it’s more like 45 or so including links to additional software/services). While that may seem overwhelming, it’s a good idea of what is available for free to the average instructor. Most, but not all, of the software is web-based so there is a minimum of downloading required.

Be aware that software is updated all the time so that the exact steps used in the book may be slightly different or non-existent by the time you try it for yourself. However, the general ideas of the activities are still valid.

Once past the first chapter, João jumps right into the “how to” portion of the book with a simple tutorial that uses an image, a sound file and a video in a forum post (pp 17-20). These three short tasks introduce the reader to his easy-to- follow presentation style as well as some of the chapter topics.

The rest of the book is broken up into the main multimedia categories:

  • Chapter 2: Picture This (images)
  • Chapter 3: Sound and Music (audio)
  • Chapter 4: Video (video)
  • Chapter 5: Web 2.0 and other Multimedia Forms (interactives)
  • Chapter 6: Multimedia and Assessments (interactive assessments plus a rubric)
  • Chapter 7: Synchronous Communication and Interaction (communicating in real time)
  • Chapter 8: Common Multimedia Issues in Moodle (copyright and child safety)

What I think is most effective about this book is that you don’t have to go through it in a linear fashion. While João guides you through each step (and how he built the activities in his own course), in reality you can pick and choose where you go in the book and what you want to use. Each chapter is self contained, although some later tasks require that you have a passing familiarity with multimedia software presented in previous chapters.

Each chapter also represents an activity that the students in Music For An Everyday Life must complete on their own. He shows the reader how to use the tools even as he discusses how his own students use the tools for the activities within his course. It’s a clever way to show and not tell particularly on a topic as wide and differentiated as multimedia.

There were a lot of activity ideas presented throughout the book but they tend to be sprinkled in throughout the chapters. The how-to’s are usable across LMS platforms so, even if you don’t use Moodle, you can still use the book.

The section on rubrics, pp. 218-219, is not as detailed as the rest of the book although João does offers minimal guidelines to assess multimedia projects with rubrics. While it may feel anemic after reading the previous how-to’s, understand that 1) this book is about multimedia and not assessment specifically, and 2) his audience is international. Therefore, he cannot give advice across borders for rubrics that may not even apply to a particular country. My suggestion is to Google multimedia rubrics for something more specific to your course as supported by local education standards.

Chapter 8, about copyright and child safety, should be read first before starting in on Chapters 2-7. Even if you are already aware of these issues, you should remind yourself before diving into creating multimedia for your courses.

Try before you buy: download the PDF of Chapter 6: Multimedia and Assessments to get a general feel for the writing and instruction style of João Fernandes.

* Please note that I offer only my honest opinion on the contents of books I review and do not receive compensation for doing so.
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