Opinion: The Importance of Moodle Mobile

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I wrote an article on the relevance and importance of Moodle Mobile over at Opensource.com (http://opensource.com/education/10/4/can-you-moodle-me-now).  In it, I outline two projects that have come into the lime light over the past few months and the general benefits to the community that their work might usher in.  I want to reiterate the importance of a Moodle mobile initiative and how it will help Moodle grow and prosper in the future.  In a few years, access to websites via mobile will be a default capability.  Android, Win7 Mobile, iPhone OS and other players may all end up being the majority of traffic to our sites of learning, commerce and information.

A short term benefit of these projects is publicity and exposure for Moodle.  While we wait for a Moodle2.0 release, Moodle Mobile has provided the community with a stop-gap raison d’etre. Though access by mobile may not be perfected for years, the future viability of its ubiquitous adoption is shored by the fact that there are multiple projects working collaboratively, simultaneously and sharing their progress publicly.

That being said, the longterm effects of Moodle mobile will have a substantial community, financial and developmental effect on the Moodle economy.

Mobile Community

The community will benefit from exposure to millions of additional users, who otherwise may not have even been considering Moodle, will find another “pro” in their list of pros and cons for possible learning management systems.  Perhaps rural countries and communities with better cell coverage than internet will leap frog to a mobile implementation in general.  Africa, with it’s savvy and growing mobile community comes to mind specifically¹.

Mobile Finance

In terms of straight dollars and cents (or pounds and pence) we could see a strictly mobile Moodle partner establish itself, contributing money and code to Moodle HQ.  This isn’t to mention the possible book titles (who’s going to write Designing Moodle for Mobile Use: A Guide), custom themes, freelance and contracted Moodle mobile theme installations, native apps created or other custom work.  The question isn’t “will Moodle mobile create jobs?” it’s “how many?”².

Mobile Code

In my article over at Opensource.com I argue that development will be profoundly affected by the introduction of mobile.  In a quick survey running at MoodleMonthly currently, over 50% of respondents say “yes” to the question “Now that Mobile access is available for Moodle sites, will that change how you construct your courses?”.  We might quickly find a movement to make mobile course construction easier and faster (I hope so).  In general we might find teachers trimming the use of features that don’t work for mobile, simplifying their course structures to ensure that all students have equal access and opportunities.

What about new modules specifically designed for mobile use?  SMS, better live chat, photo upload from mobile cameras, voice recording as an activity….  What other mobile modules might you want for your students?

Conclusion

In a few years looking back I hope we’ll recognize this as a significant event in the long history of Moodle.  There are a great many possibilities and if only part of the community’s vision for Moodle mobile is realized it will be great news for education.

¹http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_39/b4051054.htm

²http://opensource.com/education/10/2/moodle-driving-jobs-education

3 COMMENTS

  1. Our commercial product MoodleTouch (mTouch) is around for one year and we have learned too many things, discovered lot of areas for improvement and I believe we have accomplished a very difficult task. Over this period we encouraged each of our users to provide us feedback and resolved too many issues and improved our understanding on mobile moodle. mTouch is not open source nor it is free but our domain expertise on mobile moodle is free. We want to declare that we are ready to participate on a community driven mobile moodle initiative which will be organized and lead by moodle hq. Last year was hard and busy year for moodle hq since moodle 2 release had to be kicked so they missed our efforts on mobile moodle. I hope mobile moodle initiative will be formed on 2011 and we will have the chance to contribute to this effort and have a place to speak out our experience.

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