Moodle 2.o for Business is part of the Packt Moodle series and is co-written by Jason and Jeanne Cole and Gavin Henrick. It’s refreshingly different from the other Moodle books in that its focus is not on students in an educational institution learning, say geography; rather; it concentrates on another major global use of Moodle – commercial enterprise. It shows how a company, whatever size, can benefit from Moodle’s features to improve its recruitment, training, staff development and internal communication processes. Written as a “Beginner’s guide”; its language is accessible and, despite being collaboratively authored, it reads smoothly in a consistent style. (Hands up -I was one of the three technical reviewers of the book.)
Chapter 1 starts us off by suggesting ways to download Moodle to experiment/play with it before using it “in anger” – as the modern saying goes! We learn the very basics of course administration, adding resources and a discussion space. I particularly liked the “E-learning framework for implementing Moodle” section where we consider ADIME (Align/Develop/Implement/Measure/Evaluate) and also the case study at the end of the chapter. The inclusion of real-life case studies is an inspired Plus to this book, I believe, setting in a genuine context the features explored in the chapters and sharing Moodle experiences from the world of business.
Chapter 2 explains how potential employees can create new accounts (safely!) on your Moodle site and how the assignment module can be used to allow them to send in their CVs. Employers can use the assignment grading facility to rate the applications; the quiz module can serve as a means of administering competency tests and the choice module can help schedule interviews. This whole chapter appealed to my mindset because I love tweaking/adapting/manipulating Moodle to do what you need it to do, and here were whole scenarios I hadn’t considered before.
Chapter 3 handles the need to provide product knowledge both internally and externally. (Incidentally, an added bonus for me reading this book was that not only did it give me some ideas about using Moodle for business, it actually also taught me about business!) We looked at different course formats, created a glossary f0r specific terminology, a chat session for role-playing and a database for peer reviewing created product knowledge sheets. Another case study at the end of the chapter gives, in this instance, AA Ireland the opportunity to pass on advice for businesses planning to implement Moodle.
Chapter 4 can be downloaded here as a freebie taster! Its focus is how to use Moodle to deliver in-house staff training such as legal compliance or health and safety to selected groups of employees. Here, the authors take us through the Lesson module and explain how to put groups and groupings to good effect. Completion tracking, whereby employees can track their progress is also explained in this chapter, leading usefully on to the (new to Moodle 2.0) concept of course completion.
Chapter 5 is a very thorough explanation of the use of outcomes in Moodle – a feature I sometimes think is underused (but maybe that’s just me?) Outcomes can help with competency tracking and the reader is shown how to add an outcome to an assignment and grade it. I actually learned something myself too – how to import outcomes via CSV- how cool is that?!
Chapter 6 discusses how to make the most of Moodle’s features to support informal communities of practice. So we are talking forums, wikis and collaborative glossaries and databases. The reader also gets to learn about how enabling RSS feeds can improve communication
Chapter 7 is about web conferencing. Moodle doesn’t have a built-in web conferencing tool so the authors discuss the various alternatives that can plug in to Moodle – one of them being Adobe Connect Pro (which I assume you have to pay for) and the other being Big Blue Button (which is free) I have experience of both of these and they are both very valuable additions to an online training program. Once more, at the end of the chapter, we have an informative case study – this time from Moodle Partner Remote Learner (for whom the authors work)
Chapter 8 concentrates on repositories and portfolios -ie, how, in Moodle 2.0, you can bring in content from external sources such as Google Docs or Alfresco and you can “push it out” to external sources such as Mahara. As I increasingly use Mahara myself, I can see it as an essential add- on to a commercial Moodle site – indeed, maybe the authors should consider writing Mahara for Business next?
Chapter 9 is about enrolment plugins (how best to get your users onto your Moodle, allowing them to keep their existing corporate usernames and passwords. It also touches on themes as having an attractive corporate image on your Moodle site is essential – themes in Moodle 2.0 are much enhanced and easily customisable. Finally, and just as important, we learn how to change the words on Moodle. By default, Moodle uses terms such as “teacher”, “student” and “course” as its origins are based in the educational environment – but it is a simple move to alter these to language more suited to your own organisation.
In summary -if you are thinking of using Moodle in a commercial enteprise, then this is an extremely valuable book On a personal level, I enjoyed it because it shows Moodle being used differently from the norm I am familiar with, so it was an inspiring read