Official Moodle Mobile App for iPhone

Today the eagerly awaited Official native Moodle app for iPhone has been released on iTunes!!!!! This article provides a review of the Mobile app and what it can do.

Background

There have been some unofficial apps available for Moodle 1.9 and Moodle 2.x which work in various ways.  One works with some extra web-services added into Moodle to provide the gateway to the data from the Mobile app, while the other takes the data from the Moodle page. Although these were okay, they were an attempt to implement Moodle into a mobile solution rather than come up with an application which worked with Moodle by design, enabling the key features that people would use the phone for rather than the whole LMS. Some of the applications were MoodleTouch (also known as mTouch), mPage and Mbot (created for Android).

There was also effort to create alternate web-app or web interfaces for Moodle which worked better on Mobile than the default themes. There were a number of projects which tackled this, including the well publicised iPhone4Moodle which had a lot of interest for Moodle 1.9. However, there was  pros and cons to this approach as well.

Taking all the approaches into account, Moodle HQ decided to focus on writing native mobile apps initially. As some may know there was a number of web-services built into Moodle 2.0 and these were expanded for Moodle 2.1 so that the native apps could have a secure and consistent interface with the Moodle site.

Platforms

One has to start somewhere and Moodle HQ has started with the iPhone Moodle app which has just been released. HQ has publicised that they will be tackling the platforms in the following order:

  • iPhone
  • Android
  • iPad
  • Android Tablets
  • Other platforms

Features

HQ also decided to get a version of the app out as fast as possible, so rather than replicating the functionality of Moodle, they focused on some initial tasks. They held public brainstorming sessions and welcomed feedback on the process to help define the roadmap.

So what can it do?

When you download the Moodle mobile app for the first time it will prompt you for your site url, your username and password. The site must have the mobile web-services enabled(details on this at bottom of the article).

Once you log in, you are presented with the initial dashboard of four options:

  1. Upload
  2. Participants
  3. Web
  4. Help

There is also two other icons, one for handling offline synching and the other for handling multiple accounts to the same or different Moodle sites.

Upload

When you choose the Upload option, you are presented with a new screen.

This presents you with a number of options allowing you to either

  • Browse photo albums
  • Take a picture or video
  • Record Audio

Browsing the photo albums works as you would expect, you see your albums and can select a photo or video from them. Once you select the photo or video, you are shown a preview and given an option to Upload. If you are online this will upload to your Moodle site immediately. If you are offline, this will place the upload action into a queue for later synchronisation.

Taking a picture or video, brings up the camera and allows you to take a picture or video and see the preview. You are then given an option to retake it, or Use it. When you select Use it will then upload it or add it to the queue.

The Record Audio option is one of my favourites. This will allow you to record some feedback or sounds as you decide and then automatically upload into your Moodle site.  You are given the option to Replay or to send to Moodle.  If you choose send it will prompt you to upload and let you know the size of the file.

One crucial aspect is where the files go.

These will upload the file into the users Private Files area on Moodle 2. Once in the Private Files repository the user can use it for adding to posts, or assignments, or as a teacher for use in an activity or resource. Such a nice easy way to get your media into Moodle securely.

Participants

The participants section is one of the most useful for keeping in contact with those running or on a course. When you load this section it will download the list of your courses with the Full Name and the shortname.

You can then select a course which will then fetch the list of participants on the course.

When you view a participant it shows your some of their public information. There are four actions available

  1. Email – If you click on the email address it will bring up the send email interface on the iPhone.
  2. Send Message – If you click this option you can send a message to the user through the Moodle Messaging system
  3. Add a note – If you are able to add a note (like a teacher can) then you can add a note to the user
  4. Add as a contact – you can automatically add the user details into your iPhone contacts.

 

This is shown over 2 screens which you can scroll down.


It should be noted that it will correctly not download or show the email address if this has been hidden on the profile. This follows the standard Moodle security policies.

As is common with the iPhone if you drag the course list or participant lists down, it will update the data from the server. I liked this consistency.

Web

The web link brings up the Moodle site in the browser. You are not logged in and will be required to log in again. This is useful if you need to do something which goes beyond the features of the native app.

Help

This section loads the main page of the MoodleDocs with a nice Mobile interface for the wiki. This is one site I often jump to on my mobile to double-check some aspect of Moodle, so having it in the app is really great.

Task Queue

The task queue enables you to queue up actions (upload picture, send message, add note etc) while you are offline and then once you are online you can select to process the queue. This is quite handy to help avoid using your 3G and waiting until you are on wireless.

Configuration

The config icon allows you manage multiple logins, either to the same Moodle or different a different Moodle.  Each login just requires the URL, the username and the password. You are able to just select the other account which will then swap you over to that session. I found this very useful in testing access to courses.

You can easily add a new connection or delete the existing connection.

Roadmap

There are a list of features which are on the roadmap for the native app, some already added to the issues tracker. Here is a selection of the items on roadmap

  • Resources – select a course you are enrolled in and see the list of the resources so you can choose to download and view the file (if it is a PDF for example)
  • Grades 
  • Attendance – As Moodle has not got this feature natively, I would imagine that functionality something like the attendence module would have to be added first to Moodle.
  • Messages – reading and sending the messages like in Moodle
  • Calendar

You can see all the dev details for the app here: http://docs.moodle.org/dev/Mobile_app  and the tracker items here: http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MOBILE

 

Summary

Well done Moodle HQ on a great first version.

Moodle has taken a huge step forward with the release of this native application for iPhone. It will be very interesting to see which features are released in what order, as the community gets more and more used to the Official iPhone app.  I imagine the audience feedback / Live poll activity will be one which could perhaps replace clickers longterm.

I for one hope to see a native “Dropbox” type interface for the Private files at some stage, but as it’s not mentioned on the roadmap yet, who knows when if ever.

 

Enabling the Mobile web services on your Moodle 2.1 site.

As a matter of security, web-services are not enabled by default, and only the administrator can turn them on. The steps are quite simple

  1. Go to the Settings Block
  2. Select Site Administration
  3. Select Plugins
  4. Select Web-Services
  5. Select External Services
  6. Tick Enable mobile web service

The Mobile app will now work.

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27 Responses to Official Moodle Mobile App for iPhone

  1. Pingback: The Official Mobile App for Moodle is OUT NOW | Moodle News

  2. Ian mcneill says:

    Can’t log in login error ..

    • Francisco Herrera says:

      I have the same login error!

      • admin says:

        Hi
        Are you using moodle. 2.1?
        Have you enabled the mobile web services?

        • Tabitha Washburn says:

          I did enable the mobile web service but still no luck. We are using Moodle 2.1 as part of the MoodleRooms Joule. Does the fact we are using Joule make it not work for us? I know they have the Joule app, but it’s costly.

          Thanks!

          • admin says:

            Hi Tabitha,
            Thanks for the post.

            I checked with MR’s chief architect, Tom Murdock, and he says that they have not disabled the feature in any way.

            He encourages you to put a support ticket so that they can help you get it going.

            Hope that helps!

  3. Gavin, I wanted to leave a comment and recognise just how supportive you are to the moodle community. I for one appreciated.

    There is of course great potential for the iPhone app both as a learning tool and then in-class tool that you have already noted. I love the fact you can now upload content which takes away all of the effort to get files onto the platform.

    How the App will be developed will be very interesting. I for one would like to see one or two features fully developed as the other teacher she highlighted developed in the background.

    For example, focusing on and fully developing the communication element presented in the current app. Developing communication from connecting with single users, ‘group and course users’ ‘site wide users’ making the iPhone app a real communication hub.

    The of course this is easy present in principle but I recognise that communication also overlaps with such elements as the calendar and message.

    One point I left ask a tweet was the decision to launch the APP as free, as I thought a small donation would have been one way to support moodle app development. I don’t wish to appear naive and I’m sure HQ and there reasons and they don’t need to justify anything me. I am of course very happy with free.

    • admin says:

      HI Kristian,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      It will be good to see how it develops, which features get priority etc and how quickly these are rolled out.

      G

  4. looks like a great application, i hope that the new enhanced features might be as per the expectations

  5. Pingback: Official Moodle Mobile App for iPhone – Released! | Some Random Thoughts « HotChalk Labs Feeds

  6. Tban says:

    is secured server https required?

    • admin says:

      https is not required, but it works with that as well.

      My test server for using it is just http not https.

  7. tban says:

    I use a local host with Moodle 2.1.1+ (Build: 20110907) and the Moodle mobile web service enabled.

    When I using Mobile APP a IPAD with WIFI the next message show: “Invalid user account, please check your username or password”

    When I using IPAD Safari I login.
    I trying enablewebservices in advance enabled too, but persist the problem.

    Thanks!.

    • ghenrick says:

      Hi,

      Did you enable the “Enable mobile web service” as above or just web services?

      Also, if it is running on your laptop, you are accessing it local lan wise, i guess you are accessing it from 192.168.1.x ? dont forget Moodle 2 only likes running on one domain if u access from localhost on the desktop and the actual lan ip, that is 2 and may cause issues or confusion. you should be sure to configure M2 to run on the Lan IP of the desktop.

      • tban says:

        both, firs “Enable mobile web service” and after I trying enable web services too.
        I have M2 installed on a server in our domain. I access via IP address (10.136.x.x).
        Thank

  8. MikeTheTall says:

    This is great stuff!! I’m really looking forwards to seeing where this goes!

    Speaking of which – I always wondered how long it would be before cell phones could be used as ‘classroom clickers’. I thought that one could probably do a text-message based system, but something more directly integrated into Moodle (like this iPhone App) would be much better.

    Again – great work, and thank you all very much for it!!

  9. Josh Davis says:

    I installed the app and I’m pumped about using it. I noticed that when I click on upload, I don’t get the “Record Audio” option. I only see options to take a picture or browse my albums. I’m using an iPhone 3GS running ios 4.2.1. Any ideas?

  10. Peter says:

    Thanks for the hard work to date. A couple of suggestions.

    I spend a lot of time with my university’s moodle site tracking discussion forums for each subject. Rather then getting emails sent from the forums (tends to fill up your inbox with rubbish and out of context words), I would love to be able to review selected forum threads of interest from the iPhone. While this could be done via safari it would be great to have the threads presented intelligently (optimised) on the iPhaone and a easy to use interface, to configure discussion forums of interest, review, mark as reviewed recent posts and tag entries of interest for later followup.

    There other cool thing would be to integrate “tasks” (including assessment) due dates including due dates with calander/to-do (or other suitable feature) in iPhone.

    The grade feature is good. Could it notify me when something has changed (rather than having to go and look constantly)

    Peter

  11. Mike Flat says:

    Have anyone used and experienced it??? If yes then please share your experience with me, especially the moodle 2.1.

  12. Kajal Kavia says:

    Hi,

    I have managed to get into the app and think it’s fantastic! However when I try to upload anything (photo, video or audio) i get the error “This file is bigger than the maximum size.”
    When I look in my Moodle installation, my upload limit is set to 18MB so sureley it can’t be bigger than this?

    Any ideas?

    Thanks,

    Kajal

    • ghenrick says:

      Hi Kajal,

      It works fine on my test site.

      What version of Moodle are you using?

      When you go to upload a file into the private files area, what size does it say there for you?

      Gav.

  13. Kajal says:

    Hiya,

    Thanks so much for your reply – I am using Moodle 2.1.2.
    Also when I go to my private files area it says 18MB as the limit and I can load files here ok.
    I have also allowed web services for external devices so no idea. I am not going in via a https url however some previous comments said this is not needed?
    Is there anything to configure my private files to accept the upload?

    Many thanks,
    Kajal

    • kajal says:

      Hiya,

      Sorry – i was just wondering if anyone has had any problem uploading files from the app into their Moodle site. I am really struggling to find a solution and need to get it going quickly!

      Any ideas would be much appreciated.

      Thanks,

      Kajal

  14. Steve Audus says:

    Good Morning,

    Trying out your App.
    Works well with your demo site
    But I just keep getting this message when attempting to contact to our Moodle site.

    “For security reasons only https connections are allowed.”

    We only allow https traffic due student and parent personal details on our site.

    I have enabled Web Services, and updated Moodle to 2.4.4

    Please advise.

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