Can you Moodle me now? | Opensource.com

Can you Moodle me now?

Posted 14 Apr 2010 by 

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In its 10 year history, Moodle has been confined to computer screens around the world; with countless fields, description areas and scrolling filling the screen.  There have been attempts at mobilizing Moodle in the past, but as a user you either didn't have the time to use it or it simply wasn't worth using.  With the proliferation and widespread availability of web-capable phones, however, mobile customers worldwide now have in hand a versatile portal into the web and to Moodle.

Over the last month or so, a Moodle Mobile community has exploded into existence and is making major headway releasing Moodle-focused web and native apps for web-enabled phones.  There are two major initiatives:

Moodle4iPhone (http://iphone.moodle.com.au): is a web app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, Android and Symbian phones and is based on wpTouch software by Brave New Code.  The project was initiated by a trans-national team from Antwerp, Peru and beyond.  It now has an official home with Pukunui Technology, an official Moodle Partner. The app, which is by far the most versatile, is installed to the Moodle site's theme itself, recognizes web traffic from mobiles and renders pages especially to fit on the screens that fit in your hand. 

MoodleTouch (http://moodletouch.com): is a native app for iPhone and iPod Touch only. The project is proprietary and will provide one app in the Apple app store which works on all Moodle sites -- nothing needs to be installed to the Moodle site itself.  It'll be a paid app, but schools/organizations will be able to commission their own customized apps to be submitted to the store (which might be freely available to mobile users connecting to the site).  Note that mTouch was released 4/13/2010 for $2.99 in the App Store.

The apps, at least in terms of rendering Moodle for a phone, both deliver.  Public availability of the apps will truly mean that Moodle has gone mobile.  It's a huge step for Moodle in general, but it's a giant leap for mobile education at large.

Perhaps what is most exciting about these two projects is that they are retrofitting the large scale LMS with a simpler gateway to anytime/anywhere learning.  What users will love about using Moodle on their phone is that the apps force a view of Moodle that is less cluttered and inherently simpler.  There aren't any slow loading blocks, fancy graphics embedded in labels, or non-functioning media filters to frustrate students with slow connections.  The clutter of Moodle activities and resources on a regular computer screen may not be available on the iPhone or Nexus One, but the basic pedagogical underpinning still is.  That alone is a huge win for this new era in Moodling.  Even in their first iteration, the apps provide a simpler UI to the software than a computer screen does today.  

Since Moodle can now be seen through a simpler interface on a phone, why not pursue simpler interfaces for the computers in classrooms around the world?  It'll take time and effort to rethink what's necessary for learning (mobile or not) in terms of features and general functionality -- but luckily, one of the largest beta tests is about to kick off.  

Could the widespread embrace of mobile learning skew the development roadmap of the computer based software for modules, plug-ins and features that are more phone friendly?  

Here's to hoping so.  

More information about either project is available at their respective websites or the specific tag sections of http://www.MoodleMonthly.com:

 

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4 Comments

RuiSeabra

Are those apps for iPays Free Software? (it should be evident I don't mean gratis, and I have no problem with people charging for giving out copies of software as long as it's Free Software)

If so, as Section 7.2 «makes it clear that any applications developed using Apple's SDK may only be publicly distributed through the App Store» so they could (and have already done so) apps because they are portable to other devices.

http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/03/iphone-developer-program-license-ag...

If not, it's a shame to promote them here on this site.

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joeythibault
Open Minded

Though mTouch (which is a native app) may fall under those guidelines, the other project (moodle4iphone) is being developed as an addon to a theme of a Moodle site. This would put it outside the purview of the App store and would maintain the integrity of the open source project at large.

I do think that it's unfortunate that developers cannot "open source" an app for any Apple products (but I guess you pay a premium for Apple for a reason). I didn't mean for the article to be a commercial for any specific project, but I do want to reiterate that a movement to make Moodle mobile is a step in the right direction for open source learning. In fact, I'm pretty sure that these two will not remain the only two players in the mobile Moodle market very long, rumor is Open University is already working on their own.

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Ali Ozgur

I can not understand what is your argument? The section you mentioned is to prevent IPhone apps to be distributed to jail broken devices for example from cydia repositories. There is nothing to be scared. And the word "publicly" changes the whole meaning of that section, I think.

At the core of mTouch we do not use Apple SDK, we just use Apple SDK to construct the UI of mTouch. So if we decide to port mTouch to Android phones or Windows Phone 7 Apple can not prevent us from doing this.

I know that we, mTouch, is mentioned in this site just because people care about mobile learning and believe that Moodle falling behind the trends. It is year 2010 and Mooble does not have any true support for mobiles, I think that would be shame not mentioning us here.

My best regards

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sean behan

the article is about mobile moodle. while some of the mobile apps may not be open source, the moodle project certainly is. not reporting on the entire ecosystem that surrounds the largest open source project in edu, i feel would be a greater shame.

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Joseph is a husband, start-up junkie/entrepreneur, open source software user, blogger and online course manager/developer for www.StraighterLine.com. His goal is to advance open source software, open educational resources, educational opportunities and to make education more efficient. He writes about Moodle (at www.MoodleNews.com) and a host of other interests wherever he can get published.

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