Moodle Administration Book Review (Packt)

Courtesy of Packt Publishing

Moodle AdministrationRecently I was asked by Packt Publishing to read and review the Moodle Administration book by Alex Buchner. So here goes…

This book is ideal for persons who are starting a Moodle project or for anyone who is currently in the early days of administrating a Moodle project. The book covers a wide range of topics from setting up a Moodle server through to administering courses and users, server security, networking,theming and backups.

The installation section is easy to follow and should be enough for anyone to get Moodle up and running on a Windows, Linux or Mac environment. Although it is a step-by-step guide the reader would benefit from a previous knowledge of web servers, PHP and MySQL. The author has simplified the process as much as possible but a complete beginner would get lost setting up a web server. The book also covers the use of the Moodle CVS repository which is handy for users who are new to using a versioning system.

The course management section teaches the reader how to organise courses into categories and how to set up meta-courses. The concept of meta courses in Moodle is usually difficult to get your head around but this book explains it quite well. (Those who already use child and meta courses in Moodle will know exactly what I’m talking about here!)

The book covers enrolments and account creation and walks the reader through the steps of using LDAP and database driven enrolments. The use of roles is well documented in this book and an entire chapter is dedicated to monitoring user activity. Essentially this book is a read once affair, due to its step-by-step walk through nature, however, you may find yourself referring back to key chapters for reference and it doesn’t have to be read from cover to cover.

The only criticism I have with this book is that feeling of "I’ve read all this before". Much of the information covered is already available via Moodle Docs and the Moodle forums. However, this book brings all that information together in one place, without the reader having to spend valuable time searching the web to find key information.

Overall, this book is an ideal companion for any Moodle Administrator, and is essential for any organisation who doesn’t have a dedicated Moodle Technical Team. It is a lifeline for anyone has been told that they are now responsible for running Moodle, or have been told "We need Moodle, your good with computers, get it up and running!"

It doesn’t cover all the technical hiccups you will encounter along the way but if your deployment runs smoothly then this book will have been a big help, and you can always ask for help in the forums. Happy Reading!