Accessing LearningCentral (Blackboard) content offline using an Application Cache3 December 2014
by Christopher John (guest blogger)
Chris is the E-learning Officer for the Masters in Educational Practice (MEP) programme, a bilingual Welsh Government Masters programme available to all Newly Qualified Teachers in Wales, based in the Cardiff School of Social Sciences.E
For me one of the greatest advantages of HTML5 has been the introduction of the application cache, less well known in the HTML5 family than perhaps HTML5 video, an application cache can be used to make your web content/applications usable offline.
What is an application cache?
An application cache is a manifest file that lists all of the resources that a browser needs to download to run your web content offline. The manifest is included in the <HTML> tag of your web content and all of the resources included in the manifest (Including resources the user might not yet need to use, but may need to use later) are downloaded when the web content is viewed the first time. Later when the user is on the train or out and about they can use the web content just as if they were online. (Obviously this would not include video or large image files etc.)
Using an application cache
On the Masters in Educational Practice programme, we have adopted this approach for the delivery of our distance learning modules. The modules are served up through the Learning Central Content Collection in a scalable web-based format using an application cache to seamlessly store key module files on the learner’s computer or device. Mobile/tablet users can add a shortcut to the modules on their device homepage and access them as they would an app, alternatively the module pages can be bookmarked. The learner can then access the modules offline and without having to authenticate with Learning Central, as they must through the MobileLearn app. If the modules are updated on Learning Central the updates are automatically downloaded the next time the learner accesses the module when they are online.
This is a benefit-all solution for the MEP, we retain version control over our modules by delivering them via Learning Central in a portable web-based format we can use elsewhere and our learners benefit from being to access the materials flexibly whenever they wish. This will be of particular benefit to our workplace-based learners with poor technology on-site and with limited study time.
I hope this information will be of interest to other Learning Central / Blackboard users with similar interests or related projects.
Examples using an application cache:
Search | Chwilio
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