Moodle Offline #2

Just to recap on this topic. The question was asked, “Would it be possible to build an offline client for Moodle, and if so, how?”
I previously looked at the different ways in which you could build a course, and then proceeded to discount them, leaving only Flash.
You could build a standard ‘Topic’ course in Moodle using Flash content for each lesson in the course. The Flash content can be tracked in Flash (Matt Bury), and the Flash content can be launched and viewed on it’s own. So, no web server need for the PHP.
So we could build a basic web page that looks like our Moodle course, and call the Flash content for each lesson. It’s manual work, and we have no tracking, but we do have an offline course that can be used by anyone.
And that’s where the story ends…….. not quite.
I’ve been playing around with AIR and SQLite db’s. For those not familiar with AIR and SQLite, I’ll explain briefly. Think of AIR as a desktop Flash application that can be installed on you PC, almost like an exe file. SQLite is a local database, that sits on your PC, and does not require a database server. Essentially the ‘data’ is written to a file. An easy example would be if you were to build an address book using AIR and SQLite. The AIR application would be the front-end, used for view, adding and deleting contacts. All the contacts are saved in a file on your PC, the SQLite database.
So, this is the idea then.
  1. Instead of using a web page to hold the menu for the course and launch the Flash files, we build a small AIR application.
  2. We start off by building an XML menu to define the course – Overview and lessons with links to the Flash content.
  3. When we launch the AIR application, it uses the XML file to load a menu. Each item in the menu points to a Flash lesson from your course. These would be the same Flash files used in your Moodle course online.
  4. Clicking a menu item will launch the Flash lesson.
  5. As you work through the lesson, tracking data is back to the AIR application, which writes it to the SQLite database.
We now have an offline course that:
  1. Provides tracking information to a database
  2. Uses the same content as the Moodle course
  3. Does not require a server to be installed
In the next addition I’ll be looking at a few limitation and possible roadblocks to this idea. Please feel free to pull my theory apart, or agree.

0 thoughts on “Moodle Offline #2

  1. Hi Sean,

    I stumbled across your blog and am very interested in your work with offline Moodle. I would especially be interested in your progress especially in the area of forums and the ability to sync offline posts back to the server. If you need someone to help with testing, please keep me in mind.

  2. Hi Henry

    I had not thought about the forums to be honest since it’s not something I use a lot. Drop me a mail and tell me how you guys use the forums and I’ll look see how I can include that in the project.

    Thanks for the offer to test, I may just take you up on the offer.


  3. Sean… stumbled on you looking for dashboard apps for Moodle – primarily for student reporting, early intervention etc… this post is interesting as we were discussing the same thing this morning in regards to this news article… Eminently doable with Moodle.

    Certainly interested in seeing where you go on this… we are working on several mobile options for Moodle ourselves…. I’ll stay in touch.

  4. Hi Sean,
    For a little background, we are providing masters level training to pastors and church leaders throughout the Spanish speaking world. Our courses contain a heavy amount of reading (mainly PDFs). A lot of the “learning” takes place through our use of forums. Our students are required to interact with each other in response to discussion questions or topics put forth by the professors. Since we are not in the highly connected North American context, our students quite often only have periodic access to the internet, at which time they have to respond to the forum questions. For us, to be able to provide our students the ability to synch forums with their local computer (or app hosted on a thumb drive) and allow them to formulate responses offline would be a big help to them.

    I ran across another project, a couple of years old, by some grad students who used Adobe Air/Flex to start such a project. I don’t recall if they had the ability to post to the forums offline, but I think that might have been there. I also think that they had a server side component handling some of the work, but, again, I’m not sure. After a bit of work, I was able to contact one of the primary developers, but he was unresponsive to my request for more information about their system.

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