Open Thinkering


Weeknote 47/2019

Doug and Mayel at the Global Moot 2019

Wow, it’s been quite the week. The relativity of time really is amazing. Some days, weeks, and months seem to fly by, whereas others seem to, well, do the opposite.

I can’t believe it’s only been seven days since I last wrote a weeknote, as so much as happened in that time. I’ve been in Barcelona attending product and management meetings, presenting and facilitating at the Global Moot, and helping at Open EdTech Global.

The main headline, I guess, is that, sadly, I didn’t get to demo a working version of MoodleNet. Mayel and I had given a demo to Martin Dougiamas, Moodle’s Founder and CEO, last week. Since then, it worked, then it didn’t, then it kind-of-worked.

As a result, as Product Manager, I made the decision to show it to those who attended the Global Moot in Barcelona, but hold off giving out user accounts. I just didn’t want people’s first experience of MoodleNet to be sub-optimal.

For those interested in what went wrong, MoodleNet is a complex, federated system with a backend, frontend, and an API that communicates between them. We’d tested the new backend, but when we came to deploy it, unfortunately it broke all of the MoodleNet instances. Despite the best efforts of our small, part-time team, staying up into the early hours for a few nights in a row, and going well beyond the call of duty, it ultimately wasn’t enough.

This was a real shame, as Mayel, Ivan, Karen, and James (as well as Antonis and Alessandro, who we’ve had on loan) worked so hard on MoodleNet, and there is genuine enthusiasm within the community for what we’re doing. I don’t want to give any hard-and-fast predictions at this point, but we’re talking days/weeks, rather than months, before we can start testing federation properly with those who have already signed up for the programme.

Right after the Global Moot was Open EdTech Global, a new conference for those interested in, well, open educational technologies. The main focus of the event was on getting a draft of what’s being called the ‘Barcelona Blueprint’ which will be announced shortly. I’ve signed it, but view it as a v0.1 for further input from the wider community.

The small event was convened by Moodle, with sponsorship from other open edtech companies, and the process we went through was facilitated by Martin Dougiamas, whose idea it was. I can imagine next year’s event being much bigger, as it’s a much-needed way for people working in open edtech to pull together.

I’m looking forward to some time off next week, although I will be attending the monthly co-op day next Monday with my We Are Open colleagues. Next year, after an intense focus on Moodle-related activities, I’m going to be much more available for consultancy work through the co-op than I have been this year.

My MoodleNet work isn’t finished, but I’m so looking forward to getting back into working on a range of projects and with a variety of organisations through the co-op.

Other than that, next week I’ll be doing a retrospective with the MoodleNet team, as well as finalising the product roadmap. I’ve also got to plan for my upcoming trip to New York to speak at ITHAKA’s The Next Wave event, as well as start doing some background work for the AMICAL conference in Kuwait in January.

Photo is a selfie of me in Barcelona with Mayel de Borniol, MoodleNet’s Technical Architect, and all-round amazing human being.

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