Interview with Susan Smith Nash

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Susan Smith Nash is the author of Moodle 4 E-Learning Course Development we got the chance to sit down and find out more about her experience of writing with Packt.

Q: What are your specialist tech areas?

Susan: Learning management systems and platforms

Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?

Susan: I first became an author for Packt in the early years of Moodle. I had been publishing extensively on e-learning for my blog and other learning blogs, and had been using various learning management systems and I really found it fascinating to bring together learning theory, organizational missions, and student achievement.

Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?

Susan: This is an update, so I had to spend quite a bit of time learning about Moodle 4.0 and the ways in which it constitutes a major improvement over earlier versions of Moodle.

Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?

Susan: Working with Moodle 4.0 before it was widely available was a definite challenge. I wanted to focus on cloud-based versions, so I relied heavily on Moodle’s official demo to make sure that I was using the latest, bug-free version. Moodle 4.0 does in fact represent a significant departure from Moodle 3.11, and I found the new use experience to be very effective. That said, Moodle is working with a massive legacy platform that is riddled with complexity, especially when you start wading into the realm of 3rd-party apps (plugins) and other community-contributed content. But, the same token, the fact that there are so many people who are actively contributing to Moodle third-party plugins and also providing hosting services means that there is a dynamic community of eager knowledge-seekers.

Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?

Susan: I think that Moodle 4.0’s emphasis on mobility and collaboration is exactly where we’re going as a learning community. Moodle has been around for so long that some of the activities are a bit redundant — and that is reflected by Moodle’s streamlining. In my opinion, the way to start is with a course map (also could use a storyboard), and then follow it up with a course design document. Having the map by your side as you build courses is critical.

Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?

Susan: This book is very different from the competitors in that it is a true guide to creating effective coursework that incorporates instructional design and learning principles. It shows you how to build a course map and how to follow it in the course design document — and it helps you select the best possible activities and resources. One really cool differentiator is that it goes through and tells you just how to write psychometrically valid multiple choice test questions. It also shows you how to align your learning objectives with Bloom’s taxonomy and to connect the right kind of resources and assessments. Another differentiator is its focus on student success — not only in the course content and assessments, but also with collaboration and catchy engagers.

Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?

Susan: Plunge in and take a hands-on approach with a real-life opportunity.

Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?

Susan: http://www.elearningcorgi.c

Q. Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?

Susan: e-Literate, Stephen Downes OL Daily, EdTech Blog, E-Learn Chat and subReddit (when feeling brave)

Q. How would you describe your author’s journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?

Susan: It has been amazing — the Packt team is extremely supportive and always has a great attitude. They are quick to respond, knowledgeable and professional.

Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?

Susan: Yes, E-Learn Chat

Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?

Susan: American Journal of Distance Education (ISSN 0892-3647) AJDE is the internationally recognized journal of research and scholarship in the field of American distance education. Distance education describes teaching-learning relationships where the actors are geographically separated and communication between them is through technologies such as audio and video broadcasts, teleconferences and recordings; printed study guides; and multimedia systems.

Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (ISSN 0814-673X) AJET is a refereed journal publishing research and review articles in educational technology, instructional design, educational applications of computer technologies, educational telecommunications and related areas.

Campus Technology (http://www.campustechnology.com) Campus Technology provides in-depth, aggressive coverage of specific technologies, their uses and implementations, including enterprise resource planning; e-learning and course management systems; presentation technologies; communication, portal, and security solutions – all the important issues and trends for campus IT decision makers.

Innovate (ISSN 1552-3233) Innovate is a bimonthly, peer-reviewed online periodical published by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University. The journal focuses on the creative use of information technology (IT) to enhance educational processes in academic, commercial, and government settings.

Instructional Science (ISSN 1573-1952) Instructional Science is a publication of the Association for Educational Communications & Technology. It is an interdisciplinary refereed scholarly journal aimed at promoting a deeper understanding of the nature, theory and practice of the instructional process and of the learning to which it gives rise. The journal’s conception of “instruction” is broad-based, recognizing that there are many ways to stimulate and support learning. Papers published in recent years represent a wide variety of perspectives from the learning sciences. The journal covers learning by people of all ages, in all areas of the curriculum, and in informal as well as formal learning contexts.

International Journal of Education and Development using ICTs (IJEDICT) (http://ijedict.dec.uwi.edu/) (IJEDICT) is an online journal that strengthen links between research and practice in ICT in education and development in low and middle income countries and and rural and remote regions of high income countries. The emphasis is on providing a space for researchers, practitioners and theoreticians to jointly explore ideas in order to transfer best practice, policy development and theory creation. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET) (http://online-journals.org/i-jet) This interdisciplinary journal aims to focus on the exchange of relevant trends and research results as well as the presentation of practical experiences gained while developing and testing elements of technology enhanced learning. So it aims to bridge the gape between pure academic research journals and more practical publications. So it covers the full range from research, application development to experience reports and product descriptions.


Journal of Distance Education (ISSN 0830-0445) The Journal of Distance Education is an international publication of the Canadian Association for Distance Education (CADE). Its aim is to promote and encourage scholarly work of an empirical and theoretical nature that relates to distance education in Canada and throughout the world.

Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?

Susan: I developed a schedule for myself, which involved careful investigation of Moodle 4.0 to familiarize myself with the changes, and a series of careful notes.

Q. What is the one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?

Susan: Create a clear, balanced outline that adheres to the goal of your book.

Q. Would you like to share your social handles? If so, please share.

Susan: You can find me on: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susannash/

You can find Susan’s book on Amazon by following this link: Please click here

Moodle 4 E-Learning Course Development is Available on Amazon.com