Monday, January 28, 2008

Dashing into Moodle with Dasher

Warning: this post will load Java into your browser. Sorry.
I started this post about a year ago, while thinking about inclusivity and VLEs. It's hung on the shelf for a while, but after coming across a Google Tech Talk on Google Video earlier today (see my del.icio.us for this an others), it's worth completing.
Dasher blew me away about three and a half years ago at a Becta Expert Technology Seminar at the British Library. It was a day on Human Computer Interaction and Accessbility and was one of the more disappointing ET Seminars - that was, until David McKay got up and explained Dasher (you can listen to the audio if you want). When I was part of a team in Futurelab's Design Challenge we used a Playstation 2 and a dance mat/DualShock controller to enter text using Dasher for our winning entry. Once we started using Moodle across the county, I began to think about how we might use alternatives to the default HTML editor of Moodle. Dasher could be one such alternative, but to explain it here's David McKay giving the Google Tech Talk which caused me to publish this today. A demonstration of Dasher is at 6 minutes 18 seconds in (the video's over fifty minutes long):

Once you've seen that, here's Dasher (embedded in this web page as a Java applet) for you to try out for yourself. I'd like to modify the Java applet to sit within a Moodle site and be able to edit a user's profile to allow them to choose Dasher over the HTML editor as their text entry method.

Dasher's free to download and works pretty much anywhere. Anyone want to collaborate on integrating it into Moodle? Actually, last year I had an idea for this, mentioned it to a representative from a company, and this year it was being sold at BETT. Grrrr.

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