Open Thinkering


Tag: blacklivesmatter

Weeknote 23/2020

Note: these weekly reflections of mine are by their nature introspective. Any small hardships I experience as a privileged middle-aged white man are nothing to those experienced every day by those whose skin just happens to be a different colour to mine.

Last week, I sent my resignation to Martin Dougiamas, Moodle’s Founder and CEO. This was mostly because, with a two-month notice period, I have done what I came to achieve: to take MoodleNet from zero to v1.0 beta.

This week has been… difficult. I have had to deal with one of the most challenging situations of my professional life.

I’ve tiptoed around this issue, but I’m actually very disappointed with the way Moodle has dealt with a tweet Martin sent out on Wednesday that could be construed has having racist overtones. People make mistakes, but you can judge people by their reactions as well as their actions.

He has since apologised and deleted the tweet, but has done so in a way that many people, including members of the MoodleNet team, don’t think goes far enough. It seems like the kind of apology that you make when you want the problem to go away.

I would not be so unprofessional as to repeat things I have seen on Telegram and statements made to me during internal meetings. But I am glad that I am leaving Moodle.

I am proud at what the MoodleNet team has achieved despite an extremely difficult working environment. I hope that they stick around, if they feel able, and I wish whoever becomes the next MoodleNet Product Manager the very best of luck.

I really enjoy innovation work, which is what MoodleNet has been for the majority of my tenure. It’s been a rollercoaster, for sure, but I have enjoyed:

  • Taking a couple of pages of rough notes given to me when I started, then doing deep desk research and interviewing the community to come up with a white paper, a vision for the project.
  • Hiring and working with Mayel de Borniol as Technical Architect. It has been a pleasure and privilege to work with someone of his calibre over the last couple of years. As, of course, it has been with subsequent additions to the team.
  • Asking Outlandish, a fellow member of the CoTech network to run a design sprint leading to a prototype which we put in front of real educators.
  • Creating an MVP which successfuly tested MoodleNet’s value proposition.
  • Getting ready for a content sprint in preparation for the release of Moodle LMS 3.9 (which integrates with MoodleNet)

Perhaps I should write a retrospective of 2020 up to this point, just as I did for 2018 and 2019.

The past year has had me more in ‘manager’ role than ‘innovator’ role, which is another reason that I decided to wind down my role at Moodle. After all, just because other people tell you are good at something doesn’t meant you enjoy doing it.

So what’s next? We Are Open Co-op! Work is really ramping up, especially now we have a new impetus with Jen joining us last month. I’m leading things from our side with some help we’re providing for the Social Mobility Commission. The project finally cleared contract hurdles, so we should be able to get our teeth into it properly next week.

I’m also continuing to help my co-op colleagues with the work we’re doing with Greenpeace’s Planet 4 project. This week I’ve been mostly focusing on finishing off the recommendations on how the team can better prepare for the upcoming Day of Action around open source contribution.

On Thursday morning I spoke on behalf of the co-op at the University of East London‘s Mental Wealth Staff Development Day. My morning keynote slot was on Digital Literacies for a Post-COVID World and there is a backup here if the slides aren’t embedded below:

Next week is in flux, but I’ll be splitting it between winding down my MoodleNet work and ramping up my co-op work.

Header image of huge mural painted onto the newly-renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza next to the White House in Washington D.C.