General plugins

 
 
Matt Bury
Will Nanogong have to adapt from Java to another platform?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi,

First, a disclosure, I'm a Flash developer whicth might be favourable or unfavourable depending on your particular beliefs and interests in software development.

I work with organisations who use Moodle for language learning (EFL/ESL) and Nanogong provides an invaluable set of tools if they work on your system. However, I've already come across several computer labs where the IT admin implacably refuse to allow JRE to run in browsers (some banish it altogether) and so Nanogong, which depends on JRE in users' browsers becomes more problematic to use in some situations.

As you may know, Oracle recently issued a critical security alert with an immediate fix for JRE:

I'm not sure how much of this is hype or if it's a realistic concern. The media have certainly been making a drama out of it:

Unfortunately, we're living in an era where those who can tell the scariest stories are given the loudest voice in policy making decisions. So even if Java is as secure as other software platforms, IT admins may end up blocking it because of all the negative hype. Conversely, Javascript frequently appears at the top of the malware and security exploit lists, closely followed by Apple Quicktime and yet nobody would dream of blocking those completely. Also Flash Player is usually quite low on the lists and yet catches a lot of negative attention, partly thanks to Apple Inc.'s FUD campaigns. That's the crazy world of PR and marketing we live in today.

I would love to see Nanogong live on and work in as many situations as possible. Does anyone know if Nanogong are exploring any other platforms as possible candidates for fallbacks/alternatives?

Flash Player 11.4 (coming soon) will introduce concurrency/multithreading and so now will be able to do the heavy lifting necessary to convert captured WAV microphone input into lightweight and web friendly MP3, without the UI freezing and looking like the app has crashed, before uploading it to the server. Plus there are some nifty open source libraries around for doing "wizardry" with byte arrays in Flash. Would that be a reasonable option?

 
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Picture of Patrick Thibaudeau
Re: Will Nanogong have to adapt from Java to another platform?
 

As far as I know, Nanogong has no plans to move to another format. I used to use Nanogong, but for the reasons you mentionned above, we had to move to another solution. We developed our own solutions that use flash for the time being. Once HTML5 solutions are available, we will move our products to that. They can be downloaded in the plugins area. oohoo Capture is repository where you can record audio, video and take pictures without the use of a streaming server (I believe you already commented on it.) It's advantage, like nanogong, is that it is available throughout Moodle due to the fact that it can be accessed with the text editor. The other is OWLL which is a replica of the traditional language labs. That does need a red5 server in order for it to work. Yet another solution is Poodle. There are others I'm sure within the plugins area. I just don't know them all.

So there are other solutions out there to replace Nanogong if java is an issue.

 

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Will Nanogong have to adapt from Java to another platform?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Patrick,

One of the reasons I like Nanogong, and others have commented on this too, is that it doesn't require a media server - why should we use a media server if all we want to do is make short audio recordings and save them in Moodle? In that respect, Nanogong is ideal and personally I prefer it over 3rd party media server services, of which there are many very good ones.

I already have a working prototype of a browser based Flash microphone recorder. At the moment, it's stuck with either a long UI freeze when it transcodes the WAV to MP3, or a heavy WAV upload to the server and the need for a specialist Flash WAV player to play back the audio. However, when Flash Player 11.4 is released, along with the accompanying worker classes, all that will change.

 
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Picture of Paul Nicholls
Re: Will Nanogong have to adapt from Java to another platform?
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Matt,

Not wanting to toot my own horn, but I developed a Flash microphone recorder a while back that transcodes to MP3 without locking up the UI (it even provides a progress bar!) and can either perform an HTTP POST (with configurable extra fields) or pass the MP3 data into a JS callback.  It's available in a few forms:

You're certainly welcome to make use of it - either via the existing options, or in your own developments.  If you'd like to propose any improvements, please either file pull requests or bug tickets on the appropriate Github repository, or contact me directly.  I do have some plans for it, but I don't currently have much time for it - so enhancements that haven't been specifically requested are on the back burner for now.

 

-Paul

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Will Nanogong have to adapt from Java to another platform?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Paul,

You're more than welcome to toot your own horn. I'll have a look at those.

Thanks!

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Will Nanogong have to adapt from Java to another platform?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi again Paul,

I've tried out all the plugins you've listed, though not with learners yet, and everything works smoothly, logically and easily. I actually think it's an improvement on the Nanogong plugins because #1 - The audio is transcoded to MP3 so it's easier to incorporate into other activities and uses the standard Moodle audio embed features, #2 - avoids the issues with JRE versions, blocking, etc.

As you may well know, peer review writing has been gaining popularity for both first and second language writing courses over the past couple of decades, and the research on its efficacy is encouraging. A request I've had from some teachers and curriculum developers is to be able to do the same with audio recordings.

One thing I'd like to suggest, which isn't in the Nanogong plugins either, is a dedicated peer review audio assignment type. Yes, you can use the existing peer review assignment type and ask learners to embed their audio submissions using the WYSIWYG editor, but that means teaching the learners how to do it (and providing a lot of extra technical support for both learners and teachers) rather than it just being set up and working logically and easily for them.

Does that sound like a good idea?

Thanks for all your hard work and dedication and contributing a great plugin.

BTW, the WAMI Flash recorder is an MIT project: http://wami.csail.mit.edu/ I have to have a good look at the code to see how they've managed to make the MP3 transcoding run so smoothly!

 
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Picture of Paul Nicholls
Re: Will Nanogong have to adapt from Java to another platform?
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Matt,

Thanks for mentioning the WAMI Recorder - I hadn't come across that before, so I've added it to my list of projects and websites related to recording audio online.  I'll look into it in more depth when I have time.

I seem to recall hearing that peer review was a planned future feature of the "new" assignment module - and I think that's the best place to focus any development effort on peer review, as it'd allow for peer review on any assignment with any combination of submission types (including Online Audio).

In the mean time, I'm not sure what the peer review assignment type you refer to is - a quick search only turned up an old-looking 1.9-era plugin, but the Workshop module seems to be intended for peer (and self) review.  It's not the most elegant solution, but you could potentially use the Record Audio repository plugin in conjunction with the Workshop module - you'd just need to provide some brief instructions to let students know that they can/should record by clicking on the "Add..." button in the file manager and then choosing the Record Audio option on the left.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to run the list of submission files through filters, so you don't get an embedded player - just a download link - which also adds to the complexity.

-Paul

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Will Nanogong have to adapt from Java to another platform?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Paul,

Yes, I was referring to the 1.9 plugin assignment type. The Workshop module is a more comprehensive solution but creates a lot of issues with the majority of teachers in actually getting it to work, i.e. it's too steep a learning curve. Additionally, for learners of foreign languages, they need something as easy to use and intuitive and instruction free as possible. Could you imagine doing it in Hungarian?

Would be nice to have a general purpose peer review assignment type that allows teachers to specify the types of submissions and make the whole thing work that way.

 
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Picture of Sebastien Jaffredo
Re: Will Nanogong have to adapt from Java to another platform?
 
I believe there is a flash based plug in called Online Audio Assignment. It works just fine, I think efforts should concentrate on that solution. Still the real Nanogong added value lies more in the filter and the record button that embeds in the HTML editor. That's why we stick with Nanogong for instance.
 
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Picture of Paul Nicholls
Re: Will Nanogong have to adapt from Java to another platform?
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Sebastien,

Assuming you're not still stuck on Moodle 1.9, you might like to take a look at my Record Audio repository (also linked in my previous post in this thread), which uses the same Flash recorder which I originally built for the Online Audio assignment.  It allows you to record audio directly into Moodle anywhere that a file can be chosen (including in the WYSIWYG editor, via either the "insert/edit link" or "insert Moodle media" button).  Combined with the standard multimedia plugins filter, you can use it to embed audio snippets pretty much anywhere in Moodle.

I've never actually used Nanogong, so I'm not sure whether this combination (Record Audio repository + Multimedia plugins filter + Online Audio assignment) covers the full functionality of Nanogong - if not, I'd be interested to hear what additional functionality Nanogong provides (though I can't promise that I'll be adding it to my plugin(s) any time soon).

-Paul

 
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Picture of Sebastien Jaffredo
Re: Will Nanogong have to adapt from Java to another platform?
 

Hi Paul

That looks very promising. I wish such a combination existed 9 months ago (or that I had known about it) when we were looking for a solution for Moodle 2.

We put a lot of effort to remake our activities using Nanogong in Moodle 2, so the Flash option is no more practicable to us. But I hope this solution evolves towards maturity and integration over time sothat it may adress online language teaching needs for other users (or for us in the future).

 

 
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Picture of Kent Villard
Re: Will Nanogong have to adapt from Java to another platform?
 

We've used Nanogong since the first version was available for Moodle and it is a great tool (despite the trials and tribulations of Java versions and other issues)

Personally I wouldn't definitely not like to see Nanogong move toward Flash (not that they've ever indicated that it would move to any other dev platform)- that would pretty much make it unusable in the mobile market (at least reliably) - I know Java is also  not widely support on some mobile platforms.

I've not spent a lot of time creating HTML5 apps yet but if it is possible to duplicate the features of Nanogong in HTML5 that would definitely be a good alternative!

 

Just my 2 cents.

 
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Picture of Justin Hunt
Re: Will Nanogong have to adapt from Java to another platform?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Just while we are tooting trumpets. PoodLL (thats my project) can also record directly to mp3 from flash, without Red5. And it can gracefully downgrade to accepting file uploads from mobile devices. ( http://demo.poodll.com

I don't think there is much place for Java applets in the browser these days. So I think Nanogong should definitely build on their brand and move with the times. It would be an opportunity missed for them. Thats my 2c.

 
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