The modern web technologies that have made fresh and snappy interfaces in Moodle and competing LMS possible, if not mandatory, have continued to evolve into robust solutions that make for groundbreaking learning technologies.
We owe this evolution to game developers most of all. The web-based graphics engine OpenGL alone has become the standard for the massively popular apps.
An overview of the tools and use cases written by open source advocate Mozilla sparks some interesting ideas for teachers, instructional designers, and developers of learning technologies.
No other language offer such quick ability to create compelling experiences
The list of examples included in the document should give you plenty of inspiration. If you can dream it, you can add it: Multimedia, real-time graphics, keyboard shortcuts, camera, touchscreen, accelerometer and other sensor inputs; real-time online interaction, and more.
Did I mention APIs?
Familiarity with programming or computational thinking went from an obscure skillset to a marginal edge on your CV. Application Programming Interfaces will follow. They allow safe and easy access to data and functions from any app, software and website that provides them. Most current social media, web apps and LMS have an API ready for you to plug into your learning.
Operational and commercial advantages
Web technologies not only make it easier to create, test and put your creation on the hands of real users. You can do it all without paying for access. Of course, premium tools could help you speed up your process and increase the revenues, should you need it. But getting in is always free. The are also arguments that make advertising and marketing preferable, compared to, say, an app store.
Cool and simple things you can add right now
Whether you are thinking on a website, a Moodle plugin or even a theme, there is no shortage of things you can add to push your learning forward.
- A “full screen mode”
- Keyboard shortcuts, mouse pointer motion detection (or locking) or —why not— let students navigate using a gamepad
- Drawing board, which plugged to an image recognition add-on or API could be the basis for a nifty visual assessment acti
- Live interaction, from simple messaging to multi-player video conferencing.
- And for the bold ones, WebGL (the web implementation of OpenGL). It is a “high performance, hardware acceleration” library most commonly used for live animation rendering, but which could be used whenever more computational resources are needed. (And available: Make sure the user machine can support the benefits of high-performance computing.)
It’s worth mentioning that many interactivity tools already offer some of these functionality under an easier interface. Namely, H5P continues to increase the types of interactive experiences you can create. But even here, basic coding skills can greatly enhance both tool and content.
This should be enough to get you started. But if you enjoy looking forward, rest assured your development does not need to stay within the boundaries of an LMS. A Web Worker, worth just a few lines of code, can easily turn your creation into an Android app.
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