Saturday, June 18, 2011

Book Review. Science Teaching with Moodle: Raw

Book Review of Science Teaching with Moodle 2.0: RAW (Raw book by Vincent Lee Stocker)

Published by Packt Publishing Ltd.

This book is about using the new version of Moodle 2.0 in teaching science. The author gives a detailed explanation of the Moodle tools and resources in creating an interactive courses and classes for elementary or high school classrooms. Having a vast experience in teaching science with Moodle, the author provides a good overview of different aspects of interactive, engaging teaching and helpful tips for educators of how effectively use different tools and techniques. The book is written in a generic format and can be applied for designing a course using Moodle in any subject area.

When reading Stocker, it was comforting and inspiring to confirm some of my personal educational convictions and understanding of the constructivist nature of Moodle philosophy. I agree with the author’s position regarding the effectiveness of Moodle tools that allow teachers to create a collaborative classroom environment: these tools are discussed in chapters 3, 6, partially in chapters 8 (blogging, reflections, and blog commenting), chapter 9 (feedback, peer reviews, involving in creating quizzes, etc.). Augmented with pictures, the author provides clear steps explaining the HOW TOs of adding resources and activities on Moodle. The examples are based on the author’s teaching experience of science topics.

As I have just completed the development and teaching of a Moodle-based science methods course, myself, I was in a good position to compare notes with this resource. Indeed I found many similarities in the use of tools for my own teaching of a Science Methods course. Stocker does a good job of communicating the improvements found in Moodle 2.0, including such tools as wikis, blogs, etc. Several of the illustrated features sound very promising for empowering student learning: monitoring student learning outcomes and progress, integrated feedback, and specifying what activities and attainment in these activities have to be met for users to complete the course.

A raw book format implies that the author is still working on the book’s content and there is always room for improvements. What are the aspects of the book that need some change editing or perfection?

I think this book is more about Moodle 2.0 tools than it is about Science Teaching. I wish the author gave more examples from his Moodle course design, the Science assignments, the activities’ selection and the look of the Module patterns. By way of an example of what is missing from Stocker, here are two screen shots showing module formats from my own Science Methods course, which employs the following text book:.. Cited content from this volume is included in these screenshots.

Example 1: This illustrates the module format used for my Methods Course. The reader can see that the Module starts with an overview of the week’s learning outcomes and goals; highlighted terms are words from the course glossary; note that color coding is used consistently for various aspects of the course.

Example 2: The example below illustrates the use of external links, in this instance the Wordle word cloud site.

That such concrete illustrations are missing from the book is particularly surprising given the title “Teaching Science with Moodle.” I fully expected to learn from this book how to design a science course using Moodle 2.0, how to use the Moodle integrated tools to engage students in Science study and how to distribute use of such tools throughout the course, and so on.

It was refreshing to see a chapter about the tools and websites beyond Moodle. However, it would be more effective and useful if those Web 2.0 tools for science classrooms were classified by type and presented in a table or chart format – E.g., productivity tools, stimulating creativity sites, collaborative tools, science interactive websites, etc. By way of example, look at the table I created to compare and contrast the features of Web 2.0 tools (at:

Last but not least, it was disappointing that there were typos, wrong words used, or Grammar errors in the book. Even "raw," a higher standard of professionalism is expected. Here are some examples of errors found in the text that suggest a need to proofread the work and make corrections before any copies are sold:

"Question Back" when Question Bank is intended (p99); "conditions very depending on the nature of the activity” when vary is intended (p. 113); "Blooms taxonomy" when Bloom’s taxonomy is meant (p.136) and " it is always goo to explain the reasons..." when good is meant (p. 184).

In conclusion, this book will be definitely helpful for the beginning teacher who desires to design an effective course with the constructivist Learning Management System Moodle. Stocker generously shares his ideas of building an aesthetically pleasant course with a productive, engaging learning/teaching environment. At the same time, the volume is indeed "raw;" perhaps too raw for publication without further improvement.

I am in the process of reading new Moodle books published by Packt Publishing Ltd.

More reviews are coming soon. Here are the new titles: Moodle 2.0 for Business Beginner's Guide, Moodle 2.0 Multimedia Cookbook and Moodle JavaScript Cookbook