Moodle 3.5 has been out on the streets since May this year. You may have noticed that one of the things it includes are audio and video recorders on the TinyMCE and Atto editors. This is a new core plugin called Record RTC. Poodll’s TinyMCE editor and Atto editor plugins were among the very first editor plugins, and are in action on thousands of sites. But now Moodle users have a choice available to them, so which should they choose?
Before we dive into the feature comparison, lets preamble a little. First of all its high time Moodle did have an out of the box recording solution. So its a welcome development for Moodle. The Moodle Users Association and the team at Big Blue Button have really taken Moodle forward. In this table we are comparing Poodll and the Record RTC plugins in core as audio and video recording solutions.
|Atto (audio, video)||O||O|
|TinyMCE (audio, video)||O||O|
|Can set time limit||O||O|
|Mobile browser (android)||O||O|
|Mobile browser (iOS)||X||O|
|MS Edge support||X||O|
|Audio -> MP3||X||O|
|Video -> MP4||X||O|
|Can choose mic/cam device||X||O|
|Support non html5||X||O|
|Question type plugin||X||O|
|Database field plugin||X||O|
|Per icon permissions||X||O|
Record RTC allows you to set a time limit on recordings. Poodll has time limits elsewhere but not on the editors. That was because there is no way to customize the time limit per activity, course, or user. So it seemed restrictive. But there is no harm in giving users the option, so we will be adding this.
Firefox and Chrome on Android, and desktop computers are supported by Poodll and Record RTC. But outside of this Record RTC and other non Poodll solutions generally fall down.
iOS however has exposed only limited APIs for developers to work with and in addition adds some security restrictions that make it harder too. Poodll however has developed an HTML5 audio recording solution for iOS 11 and above. For video and for older iOS versions it falls back to popping open the native camera app. That works because we convert recordings to MP3 or MP4 when they arrive. The result is that only Poodll fully supports Android and iOS.
MS Edge and desktop Safari also do not supply all the APIs that Chrome and Firefox do. So RecordRTC can not record audio or video off it. Poodll however can record audio. And falls back to Flash for video. The result is that only Poodll fully supports MS Edge and desktop Safari.
So unless you can control the devices and browsers that students will be recording from, Record RTC may simply not be suitable for the task.
Its generally not a good idea to encourage users to record for more than a few minutes. There are technical, pedagogical and usage risks that rise as the recording time gets greater. Nevertheless it is possible to make recordings of 30 minutes or more with Poodll. This is because recordings are posted direct to our AWS services for processing. It is possible to set a time limit of zero on Record RTC (though the recorder UI clearly wasn’t expecting it …), but it would be perilous for many Moodle servers to accept direct uploads that big due to bandwidth and security restrictions.
Audio > MP3, Video -> MP4
This is a major feature of Poodll that requires significant infrastructure to implement. Audio and video recording is only part of the story. Ultimately the file needs to be able to be played back. Without a conversion layer or a bunch of browser plugins, videos recorded on Android won’t play back on iOS or MS Edge or Safari. Recordings from iOS won’t play on Firefox or Chrome. Desktop Safari won’t play back recordings from Firefox or Chrome. Its a mess.
So if you are going to do any sort of student exchange over a forum, and you can not control the browsers or devices your students use, Record RTC will not be suitable for the task. Similarly if you are producing content for your courses or feedback for students, and can not control what devices or browsers they will access that from, Record RTC will not be suitable for the task.
Choosing Recording Device
Some desktop computers and almost all mobile/tablet devices have multiple devices. A notebook PC might have an inbuilt mic, and a USB mic/headset. A smartphone will have a front and back facing camera. RecordRTC offers no ability for students to select the device. The browser might, but not all browsers do. And then the user has to figure out how to find that browser setting.
Poodll offers fallback options to Flash or upload in the event of a browser not supporting HTML5 recordings. These can be configured or disabled in the Poodll settings.
Assignments, Quizzes, Database Activities
Poodll is not restricted to use in the HTML editor. It is also available as Assignment submissions, Assignment feedback, Quiz questions and in the Database activity. There are more plugins on the way too….
Both Record RTC and Poodll allow you to enable video and audio recording in the site admin settings. Poodll Anywhere however also offers a capability per icon, and a capability also for the whole plugin. So you could allow audio recording but students, but restrict video recording to teachers. Or you could use Moodle’s fantastic fine grained permissions system to create recording roles and apply those to students by activity or by course.
I would like to say that audio and video recording is a piece of cake, and that nothing goes wrong. But it’s very complicated, as a quick read of this page would indicate. Poodll is your friend here and our professional support is another key reason to choose Poodll. Poodll users get the benefit of close to 10 years of experience in this field. Nobody knows online audio and video recording like we do.