The open educational platform SmartLMS won three prizes — 'Gold Winner' in the 'Education' category and 'Silver Winner' in the 'Best User Experience' and 'E-Learning' categories. Sergey Bykov, Adviser at the Office for Digital Transformation, and Anton Mishin, Head of Proscom, involved in platform interface development, spoke to HSE University Life about their work on the project.
When developing new information systems, we believe that user interface convenience is crucial. Therefore, immediately after implementing the MVP SmartLMS, we turned to UI/UX specialists.
The Moodle system is used as the basic solution for creating SmartLMS. However, firstly, we wanted SmartLMS to be easily recognizable and branded in HSE University colours, and secondly, it was important to improve the usability of the interface embedded in the basic solution. It turned out to be a difficult task technology-wise, but the joint team of Proscom and HSE.digital successfully dealt with it.
We focused on developing a new user-friendly interface for Smart LMS. The previous version was a modified basic interface of the Moodle system. I should say that Moodle likes its interface very much and hardly lets you customize it.
At first, we toyed with the idea of creating custom-made LMS. But for obvious reasons, this option was discarded — it significantly increased the development time and cost, which we could not afford. So we had to work with the solution we had.
After conducting major analytical assessment, including studying 1,800 pages of confusing technical documentation, we managed to create an interesting hypothesis. It allowed us to create our own interface and literally wrap Moodle in it. The secret is to use the Moodle API for mobile devices in a web project. It turned out that they let you create customized mobile applications, but not for web services.
As a result, in addition to the fact that our Smart LMS interface is among the winners of international competitions, we also managed to conduct a unique study — as far as we know, HSE University team was the first to do it. We hope that the study results will help us simplify the development of future services that work with Moodle.