Saturday, July 25, 2009

Book Review - Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

Note: Some time ago, I received an invitation to review Moodle 1.9 Multimedia book. Although offered advertising revenue, I declined and sought to review the book on my own terms. I've reviewed other Packt Publishing books in the Moodle area, and this--along with Mary Cooch's Teaching 7-14 Year olds--ranks as the best books on the subject I've seen anywhere.

The $40 book is excellent and well-worth the investment, especially for those new to Web 2.0 and for those who, like me, thought they were familiar with the wide range of Web 2.0 multimedia tools available. Aside from a free copy of the book, I have not received any other incentives to review the book. If I thought it was lousy, I'd say so.

No doubt, I'm attracted to "how-to" books. In my home library, I have dozens of books on how to write, how to accomplish something. The formula writing of how-to books and articles engages me and encourages me to write my own. Fernandez' Moodle 1.9 Multimedia: Create and Share Multimedia Learning Materials in Your Moodle Courses is such a book. For a how-to book, it explains the use of multimedia tools for use in online courses--which can be expanded to non-Moodle applications--and is VERY readable for classroom teachers. I can easily imagine purchasing this book to use as a text for a multimedia course, whether Moodle was involved or not!

The appeal of the book isn't that it is crafted for ONLY Moodle users. If that were the case, the book would still be eminently worth-reading for Moodle course developers. No, what is so engaging about Moodle 1.9 Multimedia is the fact that it presents dozens of tutorials in straightforward, approachable form and that what you learn can be easily applied to a variety of online web 2.0 tools, including blogs and wikis.

One of the beginning quotes that caught my eye in this book before it launched into a direct discussion and delightfully well-illustrated tutorials of a variety of audio, video, image sharing and gathering techniques included the following:
Moodle was built around an idea of learning that happens when a group of people construct things for one another, creating, collaborating, a small culture of shared artifacts with shared meanings.
It is a powerful quote that applies to more than just Moodle. Joao Pedro Soares Fernandez, the author, introduces the reader to a variety of Web 2.0 tools and resources that can't help but stir the mind and encourage application. I am tempted to recommend this book for purchase simply as an all-around tutorial on a wide variety of Read/Write Web Multimedia tools.

Some of the tools discussed, which included some I was not familiar with (denoted with an asterisk by way of incredulity):
  1. Creative Commons:
    http://flickr.com/creativecommons/by-2.0
    http://creativecommons.org/wired *
    http://commons.wikimedia.org
  2. Image sharing sites:
    Stock Exchange *
    ShutterStock
  3. Comic Strip Generator * - http://stripgenerator.com
  4. Slideshare.net
  5. Slide.com *
  6. The GIMP
  7. Jing
  8. Audio Archive - includes 300,000 digital recordings from the Internet Archive (archive.org), a great place to publish your own content as well.
  9. FreeSound.org *
  10. CCMixter.org
  11. Magnatune.com
  12. Odeo.com
  13. SoundSnap.com *
  14. Musopen.com - free classical music
And, though I had previously shared Embedr.com (especially since it now support Edublogs.tv) as an excellent tool to embed and share videos in Moodle, I had no clue about Imeem.com as a tool to upload audio and create embeddable playlists of audio (e.g. embed code).

It's not enough to share online content. Fernandez also explores--in more detail than I did in my VLC Media Tutorials--how to rip tracks off CDs and DVDs down to the minute, provides an excellent tutorial for Audacity and shares the text-to-speech tool, Voki, with readers. He also shares Podomatic.com as a place to host podcasts.

If audio and images weren't enough, Fernandez introduces video conversion tools, as well as sources of content such as:
...as well as ways to convert video. I was suprised at the omission of ZamZar.com, but Online.Movavi.com was certainly a great tool to share for video conversion! Another component I didn't know about was Keepvid.com's Bookmarklet tool for video conversion. Wow, what a find to read about all these exciting tools in this book!!

Fernandez includes a section on creating videos quickly and cheaply:
  • Grabbing video selections from DVDs with VLC
  • Editing video using Windows MovieMaker
  • Creating Photostories
  • Creating screencasts
  • Creating online TV with Mogulus
  • Stop motion movies with Animator DV Simple+
As you can guess, these tutorials are invaluable, especially when you consider they all appear in ONE book. I was also thrilled to see GoogleGadgets tutorial shared, FloorPlanner* (htttp://www.floorplanner.com), a mind-mapping tool called Mindomo (although I prefer Bubbl.us).


One tool I had stumbled across back in 2008 but hadn't been back to revisit. It was great to be re-introduced to the timeline creation tool called Dipity.com. In my previous blog entry, I point out that:
Dipity.com is able to pull in content via RSS feeds...and display it in different ways. I pulled in the PassionQuilt feed for the timeline, and in the flipbook, a simple list....
Of course, mention of Voicethread.com is made, a collection of multimedia assessment rubrics is discussed, but I have to give Fernandez' high marks for his tutorials on HotPotatoes.

In short, this is a must-have book for any virtual educator--or anyone who wants to work with multimedia. The book is available from Packt Publishing and has my unqualified recommendation (ok, except for the suggested additions below).

Some additions to Fernandez' book that I would suggest:

As rich as Fernandez' book is, it would have been nice to see mention of Edublogs.tv as a free alternative audio/video hosting site to Podomatic.com that only allows up to 500 megs of space before you have to pay. Also, using the Internet Archive (archive.org) as a podcasting/vidcasting host site is also a possibility and a great alternative to for-pay services. That's not to say Podomatic.com isn't a nice service well-worth paying for--as I believe some edubloggers do--but....

Also, new tools like Drop.io and Vocaroo.com also present alternative podcast host sources. Clif Mims also has a nice introduction to AudioBoo.com, a podcasting and audio blogging tool.

In terms of video conversion, as well as image/audio capture, some of these tools might have been mentioned as well:
For audio capture, virtual audio recording software devices might be helpful. Two of these include: TotalRecorder ($20) for Windows and Soundflower with Audacity combo (both free) are also helpful. This makes it possible to capture audio that might be playing on your computer but that can't be extracted using VLC Media Player, etc.

And, a list of audio sharing and/or playlist tools is available via Larry Ferlazzo's site.

Also, a bit more on working with images....
These tools weren't mentioned--as far as I recall--in the book but are worth considering, especially PicasaWeb which is adding Creative Commons copyright (or has already by now).


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

2 comments:

Moodle Fairy said...

I agree with you Miguel - this is a great book, and not merely for Moodle but for anyone with an interest in multimedia. I reviewed it myself in May http://www.moodleblog.org/?m=200905 and said at the time there were lots of features that would sit happily alongside Moodle to enhance the learning experience - some I knew, some I was,like you, delighted to find out about. I see Packt are bringing out another book in September, on Moodle for Language teaching -it's great that at last Moodle books are being written that encourage and inspire rather than merely explain how to install the software:)

DBenner said...

Miguel,

I, too, have to agree with you that Moodle 1.9 Multimedia is an excellent book. Although, I didn’t get to finish reading the entire book, the beginning chapters that I did read were fabulous. Just like you, I, as well, am fond of “How-To” books. As I have worked with teachers, I come to realize that most of them prefer the step-by-step approach, followed by examples. This approach works best for many of them and in that, I share your opinion that this book is very readable for teachers.

I was unfamiliar with some of the tools mentioned in the book, like Imeem (which is where I need to pick up reading again) and found myself taking notes on these unknown tools that I need to investigate.

Furthermore, I was mesmerized by the fact that the book is written around the design of an online course called “Music for Everyday Life” using Moodle. What a way to make the examples come alive for the reader!

I look forward to reading the rest of the book. :->

Diana

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Disclaimer

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure