Mobile App Review – mBook

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This week I’ll be focusing on reviewing the various released and soon-to-be-released Mobile (both native and web) apps for Moodle.  These apps each are for Moodle 1.9 or previous versions and are available either through the App markets on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android or by download directly from the developing organizations websites.  If you have specific questions about usability or features which I haven’t covered, just let us know in the comments.

In most cases I am testing the sites/apps using a borrowed iPad or my Android 2.1 handset and am accessing a copy of the Moodle Features Demo Course from http://demo.moodle.net.

For a complete and growing list, check out our new Mobile services collection: Moodlenews.com/mobile

mBook

mBook is the 2nd app for Mobile Moodle developed by MassMedia (MassMedia.hk) from Hong Kong.  This is an expanded version of mPage specifically tailored for use on the iPad (the app is not available on any other OS).  This app is also a hybrid, requiring a purchase from the Apple App Store as well as installed files on your Moodle server (server side installation files are available from http://mbooks.hk/mod/resource/view.php?id=2).  NOTE: the same files for mPage are required for mBook (so installing for one of the apps makes your site ready for the other, which is a plus).

Post Pages - Post Inline - WIRIS

mBook is listed at $3.99 in the Apple App Store.

First impressions: mBook is certainly more user-friendly than it’s sibling, mPage.  The design is colorful and sleek and navigation isn’t totally lost when accessing courses.  The App is designed only for landscape viewing of the iPad (holding it portrait will stop you from seeing the necessary navigation bar).

Once logged in you have easy access to profile, front page news, an “inbox” (more on that soon) and your calendar.  Additionally all courses enrolled in are listed to the left hand site.  Accessing any will bring you to your courses front page displaying the courses’ weeks instead in your left-hand navigation.  Unfortunately, at this time the popular and ubiquitous “Topic Format” is not supported (and you’ll be relayed that message via a popup and reminder in the left hand column as now instead of each week date or summary displaying, you see “Unsupported Course Format” for as many topics as you should have.  While it’s not supported though, each topic’s activities and resources are still available (seems more of a bug than anything else, but I got stuck in a topic-based course without anyway to return to my home screen more than once).

All in all, usability is much improved over mPage, especially navigating weekly format courses.  Accessing any week shows each of the activities and resources and you can easily jump from one to the next to see what is required and what is due.

Breakdown:

The good:

  • easy navigation to courses (view topics or by activity/resource)
  • basic myMoodle available
  • Forums are easy to use, easy to navigate and easy to see what’s new.
  • Interaction with Online text and forums are the strong points.
  • Linked to MP3s play easily (positive)

The bad:

  • Most activities just show the original Moodle page (complete with your site’s theme) in a frame
    • Glossary
    • Choice
    • Lesson
    • quiz
  • Topic Format not supported

For more about mBook and the various features and updates that are coming check out http://mbooks.hk/course/view.php?id=2.

Screenshots¹:

¹screenshots from mBooks.hk (sorry, haven’t figured it out on the iPad yet); while borrowed, they are consistent to the end user experience.