Now that remote learning has become the norm for schools and universities, the use of LMSs and digital learning solutions is exploding. One of the key players in this revolution is Moodle.
Moodle is a leader in the world of Learning Management Systems. It is the most widespread and used platform among schools, thanks to its open-source, economical and plug-and-play aspects. The integration of a new instructional modality in Education is very often determined based on its integration into Moodle. Finding a way to be compatible with this platform is a significant technical challenge for innovative learning solutions.
The Uptale team looked into this unprecedented problem: How to organize Immersive Learning sessions with Moodle (training in 360 ° and Virtual Reality) that would allow users to:
- play the sessions with VR headsets or on any other type of device (phone, computer, tablet),
- authenticate learners,
- measure the progress of each learner in an immersive module,
- safely deploy the solution, even without an internet connection.
Thibault, Lead Developer at Uptale tells us how this technical challenge was successfully met!
Thibault, can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do at Uptale?
I joined Uptale in 2018 as a Software Lead Developer, after spending over 6 years at Microsoft. I have always been passionate about education and the transfer of knowledge. I see it as a source of answers to all types of problems. I discovered Immersive Learning with Uptale and it exceeded my expectations, everything is possible with Virtual Reality!
My missions vary. They range from technical support to the definition and development of the next innovative features of the platform. I most enjoy helping users directly in deploying VR in a practical way due to the various scenarios, use cases, and technical configurations needed.
Where did the first request to integrate Moodle come from?
Virtual Reality training is not intended to completely replace the traditional training we are used to. It is supposed to be an integral part of it. That’s why we offer different ways to integrate immersive experiences into all LMS (Learning Management System), such as Crossknowledge, Cornerstone, 360 ° Learning or Moodle.
The first requests for integration with Moodle came from the Education sector, mainly universities and trade schools. Moodle is the ultimate open-source reference in this sector.
What is the advantage of a full integration with Uptale? Is it not easier to just import a SCORM package?
Although Virtual Reality training is mainly used for basic educational content, it represents very specific innovative content. Real integration with the LMS (in x-API or other) will always be better for Immersive Learning as opposed to using the SCORM package. Integration has several advantages, for example:
- The possibility of using a Virtual Reality headset to play your module in total immersion
- The direct upload of learner data from the VR headset to the LMS
- There is no size limitation: some LMS’ limit the size of the modules to 200MB. The full Virtual Reality experiences can sometimes require media larger than the SCORM restrictions
- The automatic module update, done without having to reload SCORM packages which can quickly become obsolete
- The use of advanced features such as voice recognition, which can be used to launch different scenarios based on what the learner has said to later analyze the presentation skills precisely.
How exactly does it work for a trainer / teacher / educator?
Nothing is more simple! Uptale content integrates like any other type of existing content in Moodle. The educator chooses on our platform the immersive experience that they want to share with the students and receive a link. They can then create an activity in an already existing training session and configure it with the link retrieved. And there you go! The content is now accessible in the same way as any other educational resource in Moodle!
How does it work for the learner or student?
For the learner it is also very easy, because Uptale is only integrating into existing courses. The student will be invited to complete an immersive module during their usual course. A simple click is enough to start the experience on any type of device.
Indeed, our platform allows you to partake in the VR experience in several ways: in total immersion with a VR headset, via a computer, or with a mobile phone and a piece of cardboard (either a phone case or small VR googles to place on the phone).
When the trainee starts the experience, he has the choice of activating it on his web browser or retrieving a unique code. This code will allow him to play his experience on our application which works on all types of smartphones and VR headsets. This method allows learners to put this code on their VR headsets and to start the experience automatically! Then Uptale will feed back the necessary information to Moodle and the student will be free to play the content or to continue his training.
Students using Uptale in the classroom
Can you give us some current examples of using Immersive Learning on Moodle?
The most relevant example is that university working with a school of physiotherapists. In this current period, face-to-face lessons are not always provided, which led to rethinking the teaching methods. The training of physiotherapists is theoretical and practical, both of which are essential to the retention of knowledge. Virtual Reality compensates for the lack of this practical part of training for the students forced to stay at home.
The practice can be transmitted by a simple photo or 360° video. Thus, the student is easily placed in specific situations! In this specific case of physiotherapy students, the Virtual Reality experience was integrated into a complete learning program in Moodle.
If I work for a university or a school that wants to implement this integration, how should I do it? What are the procedures to follow?
This integration involves a technical and specific installation on Moodle. The xAPI allows Uptale to communicate with the LMS and an LRS (Learning Record Store) to be able to record the data that our platform sends. These data points are very simple but very useful; they allow the verification of which student has completed a module and what his score and difficulties were.
There are several LRS available, some of them are free of charge. For example, we have integrated several times with the LRS Trax. The LRS installation, which the university/school is usually in charge of, requires some technical knowledge. The next step is just to add an LRS plugin to Moodle directly, and configure it to receive Uptale content in xAPI!
How do you see this integration evolving? Are you going to integrate Uptale’s new features in a platform like Moodle?
Integration is always evolving! We analyze the needs of our users and their use cases. The new functionalities are designed according to these needs.
In the case of the Moodle integration, I think that we will transmit a lot of more educational data, due to the specific nature of Immersive Learning. For example, we could compare the behavior of a student in a VR module with the behavior of an ‘expert’. From this, we could identify areas of improvement, exercises well done, and overall improve the content according to this data.
Our philosophy is the universality of immersion training. So, if we develop new useful features for our users, they will obviously be available to them and on a lot of other platforms.