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Comment: Re:Moodle 2.0 is Horrible (Score 1) 32

by melbenson (#36693714) Attached to: Book Review: Moodle 2.0 First Look
We sort of changed our mind with the upgrade and decided to install a fresh version of 2.x which will be used for new staff development courses and a few super Moodlers. Part of that reason is that prof development/training. We plan on getting feedback from Moodlers about what is most different and make our trainings include those things. We may open the 2.x up to more after 6 months and within a year have everyone moved over. We want to make a good Moodle training course and face to face training so it eases the "pain" of learning a new Moodle. The one thing that I would try getting across to staff is reasons why they WANT to change to 2.x - all of the awesome new features. Try and make them see how much better it is..I mean if you tell them they can have a quiz hidden until they get 85% on the practice quiz...they'll be first in line to learn 2.x! http://www.moodlebites.com/enrol/index.php?id=116 is a course for 1.9 to 2.0. I have not seen how good it is.

Comment: Re:quality, security? (Score 1) 32

by melbenson (#36637132) Attached to: Book Review: Moodle 2.0 First Look
Good question. From what I can remember I do not believe the book covered much of this. I know throughout the version updates they specify the security risks that have been fixed, most notably implementing salting the password (not a security/server expert). I don't want to give out bad information, the moodle.org forums would be a great place to start if you're seriously looking into this.

Comment: Re:Moodle 2.0 is Horrible (Score 1) 32

by melbenson (#36637098) Attached to: Book Review: Moodle 2.0 First Look
I agree with waiting to upgrade until 2.1 (comes out today). If you are starting fresh and have not been using Moodle 1.9 then I would install Moodle 2. I'm not quite sure what appointment scheduler you're talking about but I would just use the new Google Appointment feature! Use whatever tool works best! Moodle's good at some stuff and other things are better at other stuff!

Comment: Re:Biggest question... (Score 1) 32

by melbenson (#36637074) Attached to: Book Review: Moodle 2.0 First Look
I'm not sure what you mean by "course creation" - what you can do IN a course or the actual creation? If you're talking about mass creation you can already do that by importing files. We have all of our staff automatically assigned the Course Creator role so they can do it by themselves. Something that may be of interest is "cohorts" or site-wide groups and the ability to enroll an entire cohort into a class. Ex: make a staff cohort and enroll them in staff dev courses. Most notable improvements in course creation tools is conditional activities and course completion tracking. Filters set by individual course is a small, yet powerful improvement. It allows you to turn on media filters for better/easier embedding of media. The ability to clone an activity or resource will also be a big favorite for course creators.

Comment: Re:Packt = Shill Review (Score 1) 32

by melbenson (#36636560) Attached to: Book Review: Moodle 2.0 First Look
In no way did I get "paid off" to read or review this book. Unless getting a free copy of the book means getting paid off..I'm an active Moodler on moodle.org, twitter, have a Moodle blog and participate in a lot of networking with Moodlers. I enjoy reading Packt's books and this book was no different. I hope it will help others and like I said if I can help in any other way I'd be happy to.

Comment: 2.1 comes out today (Score 4, Informative) 32

by melbenson (#36636400) Attached to: Book Review: Moodle 2.0 First Look
Hi guys, I just wanted to make a comment on the latest with Moodle 2.x. I submitted this review on March 25th and in those few months there has been a lot of activity and progress made regarding performance issues, patches and bugs. Moodle 2.1 comes out today and the biggest (most important) improvement is the ability to import 1.9 courses into 2.1. Other updates include the ability to clone activities and resources and a question engine rewrite. I highly recommend admins to use http://tracker.moodle.org/ . See 2.1 release notes here: http://docs.moodle.org/dev/Moodle_2.1_release_notes I hope this will help ease the transition/upgrade and if you have any questions I'd be happy to discuss and help out.
Book Reviews

+ - Book Review: Moodle 2.0 First Look

Submitted by melbenson
melbenson (1871902) writes "The open-source software, Moodle, has become one of the most popular Learning Management Systems around the world and in November 2010 Moodle 2.0 was released. The release came with hundreds of changes, new features and even completely rewritten features. Because of these major changes and potential issues when upgrading from Moodle 1.9, there has been a lot of fear and uncertainty among Moodle admins in the Moodle Community when it comes to Moodle 2.0. I am one of those admins and that is why I chose to read Mary Cooch's book, "Moodle 2.0 First Look".

Moodle is a free and open-source Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) that was created by Martin Dougiamas. There are currently 50,000+ registered Moodle sites with over 1 million registered users in the moodle.org community, which creates a lot of discussion and debate especially around the topic of Moodle 2.0 . The long awaited release came after several delays resulting in a much later release date than expected. Perhaps the reason for the all of the delays was because of the scope and amount of changes in Moodle 2.0. I am currently a Moodle admin in a K-12 school district and I plan to upgrade our Moodle 1.9 site to 2.0 in the summer of 2011. I read this book hoping to learn about the new features, relieve any fear and to gain confidence in upgrading. In Mary Cooch’s book, “Moodle 2.0 First Look”, published by Packt Publishing, the cover accurately describes the book “Discover what’s new in Moodle 2.0, how the new features work, and how it will impact you”.

First, this book is for both admins and non-admins, although not all chapters will pertain to a non-admin user. Readers should have intermediate level knowledge of Moodle features and how they work. Throughout the entire book the author describes what’s new and changed in Moodle 2.0 by comparing it with version 1.9. Second, I believe it to be most useful for readers who are currently using 1.9 and will be upgrading to 2.0. However, it can be somewhat helpful for Moodle users just starting off with 2.0 because it does describe Moodle 2.0 and it’s features (although it could get distracting when the author mentions 1.9). Finally, although it’s not required, I highly suggest having a Moodle 2.0 site to work with when going through the book. I found the book’s examples easy to follow which consisted of step by step directions and illustrations for each example. Moodle is a free software which an be downloaded at moodle.org and can be installed on a host or your local computer (Mac, Windows or Linux).

Chapter 1 acts as a teaser to the rest of the book, giving a brief overview of Moodle 2.0 and the new features which will be discussed in the the following chapters. Chapter 2 jumps right into the quite significant changes in Navigation and Blocks. To help the reader get an idea of different perspectives the author introduces 3 characters which you will follow throughout the book — a student, teacher and administrator. Being able to see a Moodle page at 3 different permission levels lets the reader see which blocks and settings are available depending on the user, which gives the reader a better understanding of the big picture. In the Navigation and Blocks chapter the author shows the differences of navigating between the Moodle Front Page, My Moodle and a Course page along with how the new Blocks and block settings integrate with the process of navigating throughout Moodle.

Chapter 3 tackles another big change which is the new WYSIWYG Editor and File Management. I highly recommend paying close attention and following along on an actual Moodle site in the chapter. There are some big changes in file management and the book does a good job of showing the reader how the new File Picker works and looks. The book covers a new concept when uploading and storing files that users will need to know and the book provides nice screenshots and examples allowing the reader to follow along on their own site. File management in Moodle 2.0 works totally different than in 1.9 and could cause confusion for users. The author gives some tips and advice on how to make the transition of this change easier for your users. New integrations with services like YouTube, Flickr and Google Docs are examined and explained. As an admin I will definitely need to do more research when it comes to the back-end, file structure concept issues and changes. The book covers the how-tos and interface changes

Chapters 4 and 5 cover what’s new in Activities and Resources. These two chapters cover the changes and small new features nicely, but it’s an easy read as there is nothing too complicated in the differences. The Resource names in 2.0 are different and some have been combined. A nice image comparing 1.9 to 2.0 is shown to the reader. One notable feature rewrite is the Workshop Activity and improvements have been made to the Wiki and Quiz.

For me, the most complex section was Chapter 6 “Managing the Learning Path” which introduced the powerful new feature of conditional activities. The author dedicated a large section to this topic and it is imperative that the reader follows along on their own Moodle site. The author goes through a few real life examples to test your knowledge. Chapter 7 eases up and describes the significant improvements in Blogs and Commenting. The final chapter named “Admin Issues” covered a lot of essential and commonly used material. The author goes over each item in the Admin Block on the front page. The topics of users, permissions and plugins were covered most extensively. A must read for all Moodle admins to show what to expect in Moodle 2.0, but as the author points out at the beginning of the chapter, it is in no way meant to be a complete administration guide.

I believe the book delivered exactly what it said it would — a “First Look”. As expected, the book was an overview of Moodle 2.0 that introduced but only touched on the new and changed features. However, as mentioned in my review some features were discussed in more depth than others. The book does a good job of comparing version Moodle 1.9 to 2.0 to show the differences and how it could potentially impact me and my Moodle site. Although there is still fear and much more research needed before an upgrade it did give that “first look” and I’m much more comfortable with how Moodle 2.0 works — the hurdle for me and other admins will be the upgrade process. I believe this book is a great first step in a long journey to moving to Moodle 2.0.

You can purchase this book on barnesandnoble.com buy book here

Full disclosure: I was given a copy of this book free of charge by the publisher for review purposes. They placed no restrictions on what I could say and left me to be as critical as I wanted so the above review is my own honest opinion."
Book Reviews

+ - Book Review: Moodle 2.0 First Look

Submitted by melbenson
melbenson (1871902) writes "The open-source software, Moodle, has become one of the most popular Learning Management Systems around the world and in November 2010 Moodle 2.0 was released. The release came with hundreds of changes, new features and even completely rewritten features. Because of the major changes and the seemingly difficulties of upgrading from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2.0, there has been a lot of fear and uncertainty among Moodle admins in the Moodle Community when it comes to Moodle 2.0. I am one of those admins and that is why I chose to read Mary Cooch’s book, “Moodle 2.0 First Look”."

Comment: Re:Argggggg. (Score 1) 57

by melbenson (#34383628) Attached to: Moodle 1.9 Extension Development

I didn't say your review was fake. Just that it looked like advertising. My god man, how many have you read?

(WOman ;) ) Oh, I didn't mean to respond to your post with that comment syousef.. Um, about 6ish Moodle books total (we had extra grant money to buy some for our prof dev library :) ). This one was the first one I've read with more of the coding aspect to it. The only documentation I've read on Moodle coding/plugins so far has been online.

Comment: Re:CMS == Content management System (Score 1) 57

by melbenson (#34382314) Attached to: Moodle 1.9 Extension Development
I don't believe I mentioned the term, CMS, in the original review and I don't normally call it that as I know it is not the first thing people think of. The above description comes from Moodle.org and it spells it out in the description. As stated in the intro it says "This book, intended for users with a solid knowledge of the Moodle software and Moodle technologies, does a...". I guess I didn't think anyone would read a book on a specific, detailed topic on a topic if they don't know what the topic is. But thanks for the feedback, it makes sense to include terms and 1-2 sentences on the main topic - I'll keep it in mind!

Comment: Re:Still enforcing horridness? (Score 2, Informative) 57

by melbenson (#34381736) Attached to: Moodle 1.9 Extension Development
Moodle requires the following to be set in php.ini "magic_quotes_runtime = Off". Starting in 2.0 it is strongly recommended to disable magic quotes completely - http://docs.moodle.org/en/Errors_FAQ#Any_text_I_add_with_an_apostrophe_.28.27.29_or_a_quote_.28.22.29_causes_errors_or_comes_up_with_a_slash_added

Comment: Re:Argggggg. (Score 1) 57

by melbenson (#34381698) Attached to: Moodle 1.9 Extension Development
I assure you that this review was NOT an advertisement. I can definitely see the need for a basic overview of what Moodle is and the criticism surrounding that but I don't want this book review to be looked at as "fake". It's sitting by my work desk now with bookmarks and references. It was the best Moodle book I've read so far!

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