Moodle is shopping for a media player default to include in the Moodle core and is requesting opinions on the forums. Depending on your side on the matter it could be a fascinating or surprisingly difficult conversation.
Characteristics that everyone would find agreeable on do not seem to exist. Take Open Source. Who would propose to add a licensed player to Open Source Moodle? Well, two of the options with the most consideration are Flowplayer and JWPlayer, which are not free to use.
To be clear, Moodle is a web application, and if users do not access courses through the Moodle Mobile app, it means they do so through a browser. The ability to play video and audio files comes from browsers compatible with the HTML5 standard. The players, about which the moodleverse is debating on, are visual customizations on a technology that comes in the browser. They bring styling and additional features to web elements inside the tags
In fact, if Moodle did not have any player, the elements would simply use the browser default. Each modern browser has its own player with its own look. So users accessing the same video from different combinations of operating system and browser would find differences, albeit they would be able to see and listen to the same files.
This does not mean choosing the default HTML5 media player for Moodle is a vain discussion. Video will only become more prominent in Moodle as it will across all learning. Interactive design based on video, such as H5P, is poised to grow as it proves its powerful engagement abilities.
There are many features everyone would love to have. How about video subtitles that you can add or download as text files? But as with any feature we want, the discussion of technicalities and standards sees no agreement.
Aside from the player, the other big, dreary-ish part involves compatibility of media rendering with pluggable players, APIs and themes. Changes in how media tags are handled in the Moodle core could break some third-party applications. On the other side of the balance, a better definition of media resources will improve compatibility. It would make it easier for administrators to change the Moodle default HTML5 media player for one that adds their desired characteristics. Like subtitles.
At the end of the day, it’s all about making powerful tools easier for teachers to use. But functionality and power seem to always be at opposite ends of the tug of war.
See a preliminary Moodle development page on HTML5 players. It includes a feature comparison by the pluggable player candidates.