Best Moodle Modules & Plugins : Part 2

Posted on July 16th, 2009 in Modules, Resources | 1 Comment »

best modules & plugins

I recently wrote a blog post listing some of the best Moodle modules & plugins. After reading a chapter in the book, Moodle Administration, about 3rd party add-ons and hearing your own suggestions I decided to write a little more on the topic.

List of “popular add-ons” from the book, Moodle Administration (minus the ones mentioned in my earlier post):

Recommendations from users:

Source: maberdour (Twitter)

Activity Module: Face-to-face

Description: Face-to-face activities are used to keep track of in-person (e.g. classroom) trainings which require advance booking.Each activity is offered in one or more identical sessions. These sessions can be given over multiple days.

Reminder messages are sent to users and their managers a few days before the session is scheduled to start. Confirmation messages are sent when users sign-up for a session or cancel.

This module may be of interest to administrators looking for a way to provide event management support for blended learning environments.

Activity Module: Feedback

Description: The Feedback module allows users to create and conduct surveys to collect feedback. The Feedback module is planned to be included in Moodle 2.0. As a result, the link to the Download latest version has been removed.

Documentation

Discussion

Source: Awyatt (Twitter / web site)


Activity Module: Attendance

Description: Module and block for not automatically marks attendance. Distributing as package of module and block. Main part is module, block is optional.

Documentation

Discussion

Activity Module: Course Menu

Description: A tree based expanding menu block with option to include links to the Gradebook, Calendar, Blog Menu and Messages blocks.

Interesting & Others:

(via @moodleman) Accessibility Block (modified)

Block: Administration Alert

Description: This block alerts the administration about things that can be wrong in Moodle site. (read more)

I quickly tested this block out on a past development site. It gives administrators alerts in a block about various information on the Moodle site. I do not have this block installed on our current production server for our site but I plan to install it soon.

Documentation

Discussion

Block: Trouble ticket

Description: The trouble ticket block was developed to provide Moodle users with a simple way to notify Moodle site administrators of a problem with the site or a specific module or block. The trouble ticket block allows Teachers to add multiple types of trouble tickets to a page as either a link or a button. Each Trouble ticket can be configured with a specific email to send the notification to as well as a custom response to the user.

I have not tested this block out, but it’s one that is on my list to try. Instead of sending emails, this seems like a good system to allow users who are having issues contact the correct person.

Discussion

Other Module & Plug-in information:



Cool tip! Visit: http://download.moodle.org/stats.php – See the top 50 plug-ins downloaded in the last 60 days (scroll down to the “plug-ins” section).

Cool tip! Note that there is a “rating system” for add-ons. On each individual add-on page there is a rating. But be aware that just because that rating is high (or low) does not mean it is good (or bad) necessarily. To determine whether or not an add-on is trustworthy check for ratings, documentation, support and discussions about the add-on.

As you can tell, I have not personally used each and every listed add-on. Some I’ve tested, some I’ve researched and some have been recommend from others. I plan to install and test drive a lot of the previously mentioned add-ons on my own development site. Later on I will write about my experiences in doing so.

If you have any experience with certain Moodle add-ons (positive or negative) please comment below.

Related Links:

Best Moodle modules & plugins (my first post about modules & plugins)
Moodle Administration book (Some of the above information and suggestions were taken from this great book!)
Contributed modules and plugins forum (Forum)
Installing contributed modules or plugins (Documentation)
Development:Guidelines for contributed code (Documentation)
Modules and Plugins Database – an improved rating system? (Discussion thread)

Moodle Administration: Complete Book Review

Posted on June 25th, 2009 in Information, Resources | 1 Comment »

I’ve finished the book, Moodle Administration, by Alex Büchner! It was a very easy book to read and I read it surprisingly fast considering how busy I have been lately.

Moodle Administration Book

Overview & Thoughts

This book started off giving an overview, a rationale for using Moodle and it explained the uses of Moodle. From there, it took you all the way through the installation of Moodle to more advanced features like Moodle Networking and Third-Party Add-ons. You can view the complete table of contents here.

What I liked about this book, which I have already mentioned, is that it’s easy to read. It does not overload your brain with so much text and information that you forget it two seconds later. Also, the chapters and topics covered were very well organized. Already being in the position of a Moodle administrator for our district for a year, I was impressed with the topics covered because during my first year working with Moodle those topics and issues were exactly what I had encountered. The book did a good job of explaining how to do things on different platforms. I found the instructions and explanations easy to follow and very concise. However, I had already done a lot of the processes before, so I may have been more aware than a user learning about it for the first time.

After the main chapters there is a nifty little “Moodle Health Check” and “Configuration Settings Reference” section. I am going through the Health Check now with our site. The Configuration Settings Reference section is great! It describes the different settings in the config.php file that can change the look and functionality of Moodle. Now I just need to get read/write permissions on the config.php file!

Overall, this book did a great job of explaining a lot of different topics and issues that I know from personal experience you will run into while implementing Moodle. Being a nerd, I do wish it was slightly more technical and talked more about the code and manipulation of code. The book also failed to have have a “themes” section, which I think would been beneficial to users.

Who is this book for?

Well, like the book title says.. I would say it’s for Moodle administrators : ) You don’t have to be a techy nerd to understand most concepts in this book. You don’t need to know all about networking and servers. This book is perfect for the person who will be maintaining your Moodle site and who will be taking questions about Moodle’s functionality and customization.

I would also suggest this book for your networking person (if they are willing to read it!). The reason being, just like any other software, there are settings and ways of doing things that are specific to Moodle. If your network admin can understand how Moodle operates I think it can really help you and your network admin to get things done. For example, I do not know much about networking so there are some things in Moodle I am unsure about. When I ask our network admin he is not familiar with Moodle so it’s hard to get on the same page. If your network department has a basic understanding of Moodle (which this book gives) I think it would help a lot.

In Conclusion

After reading this book I would highly recommend it. I really wish I would have read this book before we implemented Moodle. The topics covered in the book were exactly the topics we ran into and spent hours researching about. I think this book would have helped me out tremendously. However, even reading it after working with Moodle for a year was beneficial in that it really reinforced the important concepts and confirmed to myself that the correct settings were set (or not set!). Towards the end of the book the topics got a little more advanced. I learned a lot about the Moodle Networking piece and I’m excited to try it out. I’m also excited to try the Mahara/Moodle integration. I didn’t realize that the integration was so popular. So, in conclusion.. I would recommend this book to any type of future or present Moodle administrator.

Moodle Course Conversion

What’s coming next!

I will be reviewing the book, Moodle Course Conversion: Beginner’s Guide, written by Ian Wild. I’m eager to read this book because it looks like it will cover more “teacher” stuff. I love the technical part of Moodle but I need to learn more about the teacher side of things. If I don’t know the teacher perspective of things it would be pretty hard for me to make Moodle the best it can be for the teachers. Keep an eye out for my review.

Related Links:
Buy Moodle Administration
Packt Publishing Moodle Books

Moodle Administration – Check In

Posted on June 8th, 2009 in Information, Resources | No Comments »

me and book

In a previous post I mentioned that I would be receiving the book, Moodle Administration, to read and review. I have read about 3/4th of the book and I have been overall pleased with the content and the way it is presented.

Below is a stream of thoughts I have so far about the book with a couple of random interesting facts I read in the book.

Initial thoughts after the first few chapters

The first few chapters consisted of mostly beginner information and a lot of it was review for me. However, even if some of it was review it outlined a lot of the important concepts of Moodle.

  • Written in a non-technical way, but still covers techy concepts
  • Well explained, concise information
  • The book does not overload you with information
  • Easy to understand
  • Well-organized chapters and concepts


What I’m getting out of the book so far

  • A good refresher in installing and getting Moodle started
  • A good outline of the important concepts
  • The “recommended” or standard way of doing with with Moodle


Interesting facts and tid bits

“Moodle states that once you are registered the Moodle Registration button will be removed, which is not the case. The fact that the button remains actually makes sense, as it is used to change any of your registration details at a later stage.” – Moodle Administration page 33

Yes, a silly fact but I made note of it because I have always wondered why that button is still on my Moodle site and thought I did something wrong. Now I know it’s okay : )

“Meta courses are courses which take their enrolment from other courses. They populate many courses from one enrolment or one course from many enrolments.” Moodle Administration page 75

I had always been confused with what Meta Courses were and when to use them, the book explains what they are very clearly.

“It is possible to rearrange the column order, but the feature is rarely used in Moodle.” Moodle Administration page 172

I really want to test this out on my development site. I can see a lot of possibilities with themes and this option.

That ends my short review and check in of Moodle Administration for the first part of the book. My next review will be a full review with a more complete summary and discussion. Stay tuned.

Related links:
Buy this book
Packt Publishing Moodle books

Moodle links & more

Posted on June 1st, 2009 in Links, Off Topic | No Comments »

Edited 6-01-09 12:03 PM – Added another link

Hey all! I’ve been slacking on posts lately and keeping up with the Moodle news in general, but with good reason!

This week is our district’s last week of school and I can definitely feel the summer vibe. I’m an assistant coach this summer for a U14 girls club soccer team, which is now in full swing and taking up some of my time.

I have also received my review copy of Moodle Administration and have begun reading it. It’s been to quite a few places with me already – the gym, work, Chipotle, my car… So far so good (currently on Chapter 5 – page 115 to be exact). As I’ve read through some of the beginner content it seems to be clear and concise. A short review of the first half of the book will be coming shortly.

Here are a few links I’ve marked down recently:

Particularly Helpful Moodlers (Helen Foster/blog) 6-01-09

Moodle community get-togethers (Moodle Announcements) 5-29-09

Why I Love the Moodle Questionnaire module (via @sukhwantlota)

Real World Moodle – Unseen Resources (Global Classroom 5-28-09)

Technorati Profile