Connecting dots of digital learning

Mobile Learning with Moodle – Part I

MOODLE is a free open-source learning management system (LMS) that teachers can use to develop online courses, or to enhance their face-to-face classes with online components. These days, learners will access Moodle from a variety of devices, not just a Desktop computer. Moodle Mobile App is a free App available on iOS and Android devices for Moodle LMS, users can take the courses on the road and work from virtually anywhere.

The Moodle Mobile app allows learners to:

  • Select or capture an image and record audio or video from your mobile device and upload it into Moodle
  • View their course participants and contact information
  • Use Moodle messaging
  • Access to push notification

Moodle Mobile is a HTML5 web app. It requires an internet connection to perform best, but it can do some offline tasks; for example, if you upload a photo or an audio file, it will be saved on the device cache and uploaded onto Moodle once an internet connection is available. New features such as calendar sync, offline course browsing, offline posting in forums or offline grading might be available in future.

mobile app of moodle LMSAccording to the news release from Moodle, the new app has been designed as a platform with the following strengths:

  • It is secure
  • It can work offline
  • It makes some Moodle operations faster and more convenient
  • It will support notifications on all platforms
  • It can be branded by any Moodle site easily using CSS
  • It can be customised and expanded by an institution (the code is open source)

Find details, roadmap and links to download the App here.

Getting started

The system administrator must enable web services for mobile devices so that the Moodle platform can talk to Moodle Mobile app. Under “Administration” block, go to Site administration/Plugins/Web services/Mobile, check “Enable web services for mobile devices”, and then click on “Save changes.”

When users download and install the app onto their devices, they will be asked to log in to Moodle and register their Moodle URL.

Mobile-friendly theme

Starting in Moodle 2.5, new Themes are being developed and added which are Responsive, and change depending on the size of the screen. A theme called Clean is new to Moodle 2.5. It looks like a typical Moodle theme until you make the screen a bit narrower. The typical Moodle blocks have now disappeared at the left and right side. They can now be accessed from the bottom. If you make the screen wider again, the blocks re-appear.

Offline usages

Being able to access learning content and continue learning activities while without internet connection is an important concern, here are some options.

File downloads

In Moodle, there are many different file types that are suited to mobile delivery: documents, slide presentations, spreadsheets, and images… On your course page, click “Turn editing on”, then “Add an activity or resource”, then select “File”, then enter a filename and a description. For a better user experience, it’s suggested to choose “Open” option under Appearance, also check the boxes of “Show size” and “Show type”. As users visit the course URL in their browsers when internet connection is available, with file size information users can decide when is the best time to download the file.

Another way to have users download files is using QR codes: printed materials can include QR codes for students to scan and download the hangout to their mobile devices. In the hangout further reading links can automatically open files on mobile devices. Clever readers might have figured that we can put the QR code of the Moodle course page on those printed materials so that learning becomes more smooth for learners. (just scan and go back to Moodle page)

SCORM packages

SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model, it’s a standard that enable content developers to create a single digital learning resource to work with all SCORM-compliant LMS. Moodle SCORM activity accepts SCORM 1.2 or AICC packages, and IMS content package resource type will be accepted too. You have many options about the appearance and grading method for playing content packages.

Now there are many considerations when selecting a SCORM authoring tool for mobile learning. Authoring tools like Claro let you author the interactive learning courses once and deliver to many devices. The SCORM packages can be consumed in its offline player and learning data can still be tracked.(ask us about it) A little more details about the offline player from Learning Solution Magazine:

Learners can download any SCORM or Experience API (xAPI/Tin Can) content to their tablet or smartphone, play it (regardless of their connection), and track and synchronize their learning activity back to their LMS.

If an organization’s LMS doesn’t have a mobile content player, the organization or their LMS vendor can take full advantage of dominKnow’s open API to integrate the player with their system. Once integrated, a user could, for example, authenticate with the LMS, browse the content available, and download it to their device of choice for online or offline consumption. If offline, once they connect back to the Internet any local progress information such as test scores and content completion are automatically synched.

Book module

The Moodle Book module provides an easy way to create multi-page resources with a book-like format and navigation from previously created web pages.  Because this module allows one to import individual web pages or folders of web pages, it is useful for group work. Users can choose to print books or have a PDF version for offline reading on their Ipad, e-reader etc. And, it’s good to know that there is an extension lets you import ePub ebooks into Moodle Book module, or export Moodle Book to become ePub ebooks. (ideas for using Book module)

User generated content

An important element of mobile learning is letting students capture audio, photos, or videos using the built-in capabilities of devices in their pockets. There are a lot of ways learners can utilize the mobile Apps to create content anytime anywhere and upload them to Moodle LMS, or connect with learning community on the go.

How to create an assignment file to be downloaded to students’ mobiles for viewing when without internet connection? Refer to the explanation for file downloads above. We’ll talk about the file submission and more in the next post.

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