Paint tool questions

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Summary

I am Mihai Sucan, one of the Google Summer of Code 2009 students. I will be developing a new paint tool for Moodle. The Web application will not require any browser plugins. Drawing will be only bitmap-based. The gist of the code will be JavaScript mostly, with some server-side code for integration into Moodle.

The main goal of the project are to is a working, simple to use paint tool for kids. For adults, the tool could also act as a quick way to draw something on a whiteboard. First and foremost, we plan to integrate PaintWeb into TinyMCE so that users will be able to click "Edit image" for any image element they have in the HTML article they are editing. This will invoke the paint tool from where any changes can be made, and then saved back to the server.

Beyond the stated goals, we cannot expect too many things in addition, since three months is not much time. We did think about implementing layers support, vector shapes, realtime collaboration in Chat between multiple users, and more. However, such features are not a realistic aim for the end of the summer. This doesn't mean such features will never become available - we might go ahead and implement some after the summer.

Please read the specification, and also please check out the Google Code PaintWeb project where you can play with the paint tool already.

This wiki page serves the purpose of listing questions to potential users of the paint tool. I want to understand how teachers/users would want the paint tool integrated, how they want to use it, for what, etc.

I welcome any additional feedback, besides answers to the questions below.

Please post your replies in the K12 forums thread. Thanks!

Thanks go to Olli Savolainen for his valuable feedback provided on the forums!

Questions

Background information

  • Are you a teacher? What do you teach?
  • Please describe what you do, your interests, and why you use Moodle.
  • Please describe why you would want a paint tool in Moodle.
  • How much do you use computers? How about Web browsers?
  • Do you have experience with other educational platforms?
  • Do you have experience with other drawing tools? online? offline?
  • Do you have experience wth dynamic geometry software? Like Geogebra, Sketchpad, Kig or others.
    • Out of the dynamic geometry applications you have tested, name the one you like most.
    • Also, please tell me the one you use most often. (might not always be the same as the most liked application...)
  • Do your students have disabilities? Please explain which kind of disabilities.
    • Do their disabilities impose some kind of requirements on a paint tool and on software in general? Please explain.

Project goals

Let's see how the stated goals fit into user needs.

  • What's the first thing that came into your mind when you heard a paint tool is being developed during GSOC for Moodle?
  • Do the stated goals come close to what you expected? Please explain.
    • If not, what would you believe is more important?
    • If this is not really what you want, would you still use it?
  • If you would have to choose having only one Web application, what would you like in Moodle:
    • a dynamic geometry application,
    • a vector drawing tool,
    • or a bitmapped drawing tool?

Technical requirements

  • What are the system, OS and browser requirements for the paint tool in your case?
  • Please describe your usage environment (operating systems, browsers, general system performance, etc).
  • Would you use the paint tool if it only works on one of the following operating systems: Windows, Linux, or Mac?
  • Would you use the paint tool if it only works in Internet Explorer? Would you use it if it works in all major browsers except Internet Explorer?
  • What screen resolution do you generally use?
  • What image dimensions would you expect to use? (images of a high resolution need additional system resources)
  • Your Internet connection speed?
    • How about the school, how's the Internet connection speed?

Usage

  • As a teacher, would you ask your young students to do drawing assignments/exams in an online environment?
    • How would you do that? Please explain usage scenarios:
      • How you would create an assignment/exam?
      • Where you would like to find the paint tool?
      • How would you use it?
  • Do you want the paint tool to be available anywhere TinyMCE is used for article editing? Such that you can edit any image in your article.
    • If not, where would you like it only?
  • In which situations your students should be allowed to draw?
    • How about disallowing students to draw in some situations?
    • When would you require students to only draw instead of write?
    • Would these situations have different requirements on the application? Different user interface, tools, interaction, integration, etc.
  • When would you require your students to draw on a physical support instead of using the digital drawing pad?
    • How about the other way around, requiring students to use the Moodle painting tool instead of a physical whiteboard?
  • What impact do you believe a painting tool would have on how you teach drawing to children?
  • How do you proceed when you ask your students to draw something? What's the process, from start to finish?
  • Based on the current process, what would you like in a Moodle painting tool?
  • Do you find the current process of inserting drawings into Moodle cumbersome?
    • What would improve things for you?
  • Name something you do not like in the current process of working with drawings/images in Moodle.
  • Name what you like most about Moodle in regards to working with drawings.
  • Would you use the proposed painting tool in Moodle for quick-drawing of some mathematical formulas?
  • Would you use the proposed painting tool in Moodle for drawing geometry shapes? Triangles, rectangles, etc. (even if it's not a dynamic geometry application)

Tools and features

  • Does the current set of drawing tools satisfy your needs?
  • Which new tools you want added?
    • Please name a few new tools you deem as required.
  • Do you want predefined shapes?
    • Please list some of the ones you would need most often.
  • How important would be the ability to replay the drawing construction?
  • How important is to have multiple layers support?