Corrections made in August 28.
The “Moot where Moodle plays home” usually ends with a splashy closing keynote from an invited speaker. It is meant to inspire and awaken the Open EdTech senses. Last July in Melbourne there was almost no exception.
The only difference: This time the delight came from within.
Nearing her ninth month on the job, Moodle’s Chief Product Officer, Gry Stene, showcased a disciplined vision of transparency and collaboration. Norwegian, self proclaimed “geek whisperer” and big believer in AI and STEAM —the main topic of the TEDx talk last November—, she focused on articulating her strategy and leadership style for the Melbourne audience.
She did, however, offered lots of new information about the company’s internal structure. For an open company, Moodle has been famously less than forthcoming about its internal operation and finance. Stene’s glimpses, included at the end of this article, might suggest a culture shift is taking place inside the company.
By pursuing valuable ideas and community engagement throughout the development roadmap “more intentionally,” Stene hopes to add enough to brings out the best possible version Moodle can be.
Education is at the core of it
“I could not believe my luck that there was a company in Perth that did exactly what I had identified as my purpose: To bring quality education to everybody globally.”
Against her better judgement, she decided not to pursue her parents vocation —they are both teachers— and chose to go into computer science. Fortunately, her journey took her from Europe’s big tech, then “little tech,” then Australia in mining software, then a startup, KinChip Systems, involved in digital technologies for healthcare in remote areas.
Stene is in charge of putting Moodle products into shape. But as she goes through them, she purposefully focuses on her role as a community catalyst. Instead of preset standards, communication, collaboration put to the service of customer problem solving, sustainability and teacher empowerment take the front lead.
“We have a product with a large and dedicated community that just wants to help the world.”
Under Stene, each product has a leader and a team. As Moodle transitions towards a fully remote and global organization, teams are made of people living all over the first world. For now, however, Stene keeps the Perth base for the cross-sectional effort of User Experience (UX).
See the teams and leads at the end of this article.
Stene’s priorities one and two
After the detailed exploration of Moodle’s current roles and teams, her main focus, Stene’s keynote moves onto the second most important thing: The Roadmap. She is equal parts opinionated and resolute about the way processes will steer away from business as usual.
“The typical roadmap is based on outputs… They are very linear” going from design, to development, to the QA cycle and then documentation. “It can be challenging, it can lack buy-in, it’s not very empowering for the team.”
Under the new process, egos take a step back to a much healthier dose of engagement from the team and the communities early on. “Brilliant ideas” must first pass the threshold of actual value. A stage that in her mind is only the result of disciplined iteration.
In this sense, roadmaps play an important guidance, while becoming a less authoritative source. And in the current state of Moodle’s portfolio, they will play another key role: Breaking silos.
Stene plans to review her “Outcomes-based Roadmaps” quarterly, to make sure they add value, reflect voices, and above all, empowers.
The two main priorities of Moodle’s products are, as a result, sides of the same one.
Realign Moodle, bring its core values into shape
This whole new normal is only expected to sharpen Moodle’s core advantages. Flexibility comes first. The teams behind the product should be able to “slice” the many components available to build their own or to customize solutions. This is, in fact, the plan for Moodle Workplace as it has been presented, with the features unavailable in the Free License Moodle eventually trickling down. Similar processes, if not as organized, have been taking place, with the several Moodle versions catering K-12, Higher Ed, Corporate and others; including non-Moodle HQ or Partners.
Once such a system is in place, Stene’s next front might be unexpected, but perfectly coherent: Risk Management. Tackling risks up front will provide a more accurate framework for the collaborative processes, which she promises will be pursued “more intentionally.” Only her proposed Outcomes-Based Roadmap, properly set up, will allow to effectively manage the 4 main categories in which she sorts threats and challenges:
- Value Risk: Will features be actually used? Will the product actually be bought?
- Usability Risk: Will the user take advantage of the feature properly and comfortably?
- Feasibility Risk: Can the company actually build the product?
- Business Viability Risk: Is the effort actually worth it for Moodle?
The following list comes from Stene’s slides. Moodle may release this information on official outlets at a later date.
Moodle LMS (license-free Moodle)
Product Manager: Sander Bangma. Until now referred to as Open Source Development Coordinator.
Locations: Perth (HQ1), Spain (HQ2) Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, U.S.
- 3.8 (December 2019): Advanced Forums, initial H5P integration, Learning Analytics, Accessibility
- 3.9 — Long Term Support release (June 2020): Advanced H5P, Relative dates, Accessibility, Forums
Product Manager: Emilio Lozano
Locations: Spain, UK, Brazil
Roadmap for the rest of the year (Moodle 3.8):
Scheduled for release before the end of the year, exclusive features in its first release will include:
- Migration tools
- LMS Integration
Product Manager: Lee Goldsworthy
Team size: 5. With: LRB Ball, Frances Le Page, Craig Morton, Mathieu Petit-Clair, Jordan Tomkinson
Locations: Perth (HQ1)
Rest of year Roadmap:
- End-to-end customer journey
- Customized onboarding
- Purpose-built packages
While the good old moodle.net repository will cease to exist by the end of the month, Stene confirms MoodleNet will only launch by MoodleMoot Global in November.
Product Manager: Doug Belshaw
Team size: 5. With: Mayel de Borniol, Karen Kleinbaueru, James Laver, Ivan Minutillo
Locations: UK, France, Italy, Belgium, Czech Republic
- Integration with Moodle
Moodle Education (Moodle Education Certificate, MEC)
Product Manager: Bob McDonald
Team size: 2. With: Solange Lalonde and collaborators Mary Cooch, Helen Foster, Barbara Ramiro
Locations: U.S., Canada, UK
Roadmap (Moodle Educator Certificate)
- Transition from “Foundation” to “Comprehensive” level
- Partner facilitator training
- Partner rollout
- Pilot projects
A cross-sectional team involved in all of Moodle products.
Lead: Steene. With: Ash Bettridge, Moodle Education’s Barbara Ramiro, Hina Khan, Moodle Workplace’s Rafael Lechugo, MoodleNet’s Ivan Minutillo
- Further validation
- Social proof
- Standard mobile apps for Android and iOS
- Branded mobile app service, also for Android and iOS
- Moodle Desktop for Linux distributions, Mac and PC desktops
- New announced Moodle Workplace apps
Juan Leyva remains at the helm of Moodle apps, whose role is set to expand among other things because of Moodle Workplace.
References, Resources and ‘Ripples’
- The Pulse: Gry Stene
- MoodleMoot Australia 2019 slides (Does not include Stene’s presentation)
- Download an automated transcription of her talk (version with timestaps)
- @GrooveeFreo on Twitter
Corrections made on August 28. Some product leadership roles have been corrected
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