In this episode, Moodle HQ Communications Manager interviews Zoe Rippon from The Moodle Experience Lab.
Participants in the Moodle Experience Lab can contribute to research and design projects that make a difference for over 300 million people worldwide.
Join the Moodle Experience Lab or learn more here:
Visit Moodle at Moodle.com
Hello and welcome to the Moodle Podcast.Speaker 2:
Hello everyone and thank you for joining me for the new episode of the Moodle podcast. I'm your host, Sonya tdi , communications manager at Moodle . And today I have with me my colleague Zoe Rippon product experience lead at Moodle . Zoe is deeply passionate about exploring, defining and shaping human led digital experiences. With the rich background in UX research, product strategy and agile software delivery, she thrives on truly understanding users and applying this valuable insight to shaping product direction. At Moro hq, Zoe leads the Mood Experience Lab a project I'm really keen to hear more about so I can't wait to get started. Hi Zoe, how are you today?Speaker 3:
Good, thanks Sonya . How are you?Speaker 2:
Perfect, thank you very much. So to start with, tell us about your role and Moodle hq.Speaker 3:
Yeah, so I have been with Moodle for just over one year now. Um, and with the product experience team, my role is quite multifaceted. So I directly lead a team that has content design, UX research and BA capability. Um, but I also lead the broader Moodle design team. So that includes all of our UX designers that sit within our product teams. And in that role as leading that broader Moodle design team, I focus on building culture, improving our ways of working, driving best practice approaches to things like discovery and design and supporting the team on any key initiatives to help them drive them forward and come up with the best ways to solve any problems or blockers that they might come up against. So yeah, really kind of immersing myself with our design team much broader to try and get the best outcomes for all of our millions of users of mood .Speaker 2:
Wow, that sounds really exciting and quite a lot of work. What exactly is Moodle Experience Lab and what is the purpose behind it?Speaker 3:
Yeah, so the Moodle Experience Lab is a fancy name for our research panel. We decided that we would create this panel, it was probably a little bit before the last moot , so a little bit before September , September last year. So the lab is consistent of Moodle and non Moodle users that have signed up to participate in user experience research. So they could be involved in a range of different activities. So things like user testing or exploratory research, in depth interviews, ideation, co-design. It really kind of depends on what the teams are working on and what is coming through the roadmap . The purpose of it is a few fold . So the first one is to be able to have an in-house resource available to engage for feedback because we do have the ability to work with partners , um, such as User Zoom to reach out to their panels where we don't have that coverage in our own panel, but it does cover the cost . So we wanted to start to create an in-house resource that we can leverage , um, and also to be able to engage our community in specific and more structured pieces of work that Moodle HQ are working on. We do engage our community a lot. Obviously we have many channels that we do that and we love all of the contributions that our community make, but we do have some key projects that Moodle HQ work on and we really wanna make sure that they have the opportunity to be involved in those key projects. Um, the other advantage of creating the panel is that it gives us some visibility over the diversity and the people that we're engaging for feedback. We wanna make sure that we are talking to a broad range of users and potentially non-users. So having a panel allows us to have a look at the membership of the panel and work with people such as um, the marketing team to try and recruit people in areas where we think we're a bit light on and we might need some more input to make sure we have that diverse set of panelists that we can engage with.Speaker 2:
Now I would love to go a little bit more in details. Can you please tell me what kind of topics are you working on or probably some examples of the initiatives that you're focused on at the moment?Speaker 3:
Absolutely. So I can talk to you about an initiative that , um, my team, so myself and Satara , my senior UX researcher, we are gonna be kicking off this coming increment. So we are going to be carrying out some ongoing research with the Moodle Experience Lab and the aim of this is to try and drive forward , um, our persona development. So we are going to aim to talk to two to three people a week , um, and we'll be focusing on one of our key user groups. So for example, that could be educators or administrators or students. We haven't decided which one is yet. And what we'll aim to do is understand more about their behaviors, their needs, their attitudes in order to be able to synthesize everything we learn , create some personas that will be amended and updated over time as we continue these ongoing pieces of research every week. And these help our product teams to understand more about their users or potential users and use that insight when they're working on coming up with new ideas or ways in which they might solve problems and they can really be valuable to make sure that we're keeping the user in the heart of the decisions that we are making every day . So we wanted to find a way that we could engage the panel a little bit more 'cause it is quite new. Um, and what better way than to learn more about the people that we serve and give that information to our product team . So we are looking forward to kicking that off in the coming weeks.Speaker 2:
Absolutely. It sounds really exciting and you already talked quite a bit, but I want to know how does Moodle Experience Lab contribute to the overall development and improvement of the Moodle platform?Speaker 3:
Yeah, so we did touch on this a little bit, but the purpose of the lab is to have a diverse and engaged group of people that can help us to shape the experiences we're creating or improving across Moodle. So by having the resource highly available in in the panel that we manage, the hope is that we'll be able to build the right things and build things right? And do that by being able to very quickly and easily reach out and connect with users or non-users , people in our panel that are there and willing and ready to help us learn or test things, provide feedback, contribute to co-design activities or ideation activities. And so it's really an effort to , um, help our product teams engage with our users more often , um, and in enrich ways.Speaker 2:
Okay. Okay. Part of your job is pretty much collaboration, I would say. So how do you collaborate with other teams within Moodle HQ to drive the platform's development forward?Speaker 3:
Yeah, so there's a bunch of ways that we do this. So I'll cover off a couple , um, three come to mind straight up. So , um, as part of the Moodle products team, we have something called the Moodle Products Heartbeat. And this is essentially the way that we operate as a broader products team. And a part of that is our increment planning process, which is a week that we stop as a whole products division and we step back and look at what's on our roadmap , um, where we are now, what are the, what work do we need to bring in, do we need to make any changes to what our roadmap looks like? And the team's really focused on looking forward for the next three months and then the three months after that for discovery activities leading into delivery and the following increment after that. And so we are a massive part of that because we work with the product managers and the teams to understand where our resources are needed and that can obviously then flow into needing to leverage the experience lab or other ways in which we can reach out to users to help inform the things that the teams are gonna be working on in discovery or delivery. So that's one key moment and we're in that at this very moment. We're in planning week , so it's very fresh. Um, and then the other way that we collaborate with the teams is kind of ad hoc in the sprint. So we might have designers that will come to us and they'll be like, Hey, I've started this prototype, or I'm wire framing and I'm not sure about something and I really need to get some feedback , um, to keep going or inform the next way that I wanna take this . And so we have set aside some capacity in our team to ensure that we can respond to those requests , um, making sure that we are not completely jam packing our increment with projects that we know are on the horizon so that we can dip in and out of the teams as needed to help that kind of short sharp iteration of customer feedback within the sprint. And then the last one that comes to mind is kind of looping back to something I mentioned earlier around , um, leading the broader design team. So as a part of that, we have a design team meeting, obviously, but we also have weekly design critiques. And these are are designed for the group to come together and share the work that they're working on within their team and get feedback from their peers, get visibility over what is happening in the platform because as we know, there's a lot of things that happen in Moodle that affect other teams within Moodle hq. So something we might do in Core can also affect Moodle workplace. Um, so making sure that we have that, that forum where people can start to learn and contribute and give their point of view , um, bring any changes that they might be doing into that kind of space to make sure that , um, we are getting consistency throughout the platform, but also collaboration within the teams. Because if we are doing things in silos and we haven't engaged each other, then we may have missed something or we may not have shared the best knowledge on the way that we can solve a problem or there might be a team that's actually working on the same thing . So these things come up all the time in these sessions and they've been so valuable to start to create a bit more consistency across our process.Speaker 2:
Absolutely. Can you please provide some insights into the future direction and , uh, upcoming projects of Moodle Experience Lab?Speaker 3:
Yeah, I can. So a couple come to mind. As I said, we're just in planning week now, so probably three things I can share. So as I mentioned, we do do a bunch of different type of research. So we might do some generative research or a evaluative research, which is more like user testing . A big project that comes to mind in the generative space is our Moodle , um, educational solutions team in the coming increments is going to be looking at how to improve the content management experience in Moodle. And so this is a really, really big piece and it's fundamental to how Moodle works. So we are going to be focused firstly at this point in time, I believe, on content creation and sharing content. So if you already , um, if you already have a piece of content, you're a teacher and you've created a course, how can I share a piece of content with one of my tiers that wants to also use maybe an activity that I've designed or I wanna share that with my broader organization because , you know, everybody's seen it and everybody's like, oh, I'd love to use what you've done and how can we make that easier for people to do? So this is pretty big meaty piece. And so next increment we will be kicking off research to under discovery research to understand more about content management. So how do people do this? What's important? What are they looking for? What does a good content management experience look like? What, how does it perform now in Moodle and what are the pain points people have? There's so many questions that we'll answer as a part of this research to then at the end of that, synthesize it down and provi and work with the product teams to provide a way forward where we can start to address the right problems or build the most important thing. And so that's a , a big piece that's coming very soon. In terms of the evaluative work, we do that quite often. So as the de designers and the product teams are working through their pieces of work, we will support them to do any user testing that they need to do. We will be actually towards the end of the year doing a little bit of a bigger piece, which is looking to understand how the upcoming matrix integration is performing. So that's coming , um, into Moodle very soon and we are very keen to look at how that's performing, how people are finding the experience. Um , the platform team are very, very keen to make sure that they're keeping their finger on the pulse and being able to improve that experience , um, with real time feedback from our users. So that's something we're gonna be looking at doing next , uh, the end of this year actually. And then , um, in terms of some more probably tactical things that are directly related to the lab, it is kind of a product in and of itself. It's something that people engage in and it's something that we need to love and nurture. And so we actually are in the process of hiring , um, another researcher and a part of their job is going to be coming up with a way and a strategy that we will , um, employ to engage and retain the panelists on our labs . So we, we don't wanna just be going out ad hoc , um, potentially we have lulls like coming up to the moot. We're gonna be having quite a bit of a lull in terms of engaging with our users, albeit we will be engaging with lots of them at the moot , um, of course, but through the experience lab probably a bit less . So we wanna make sure that we have a fairly consistent , um, way of engaging and retaining our panelists. It's very important investment into making sure that all of this good work continues to go , um, in the direction that we want it to go, and we can continue to reach out to that resource. So that's another , um, focus for the direction of the, the lab over the coming six months.Speaker 2:
All right . So you mentioned a couple of times people , uh, community, how to engage more with people and because community is really essential part here in Moodle . I wanted to ask you last question for you is how can people join the lab? Are there any specific requirements, qualifications, and what are the benefits of joining?Speaker 3:
Firstly, there's absolutely not any qualifications needed for joining the lab. Some people have asked if they need to know Moodle, no is the answer. We would love to have as many people that have never heard of Moodle on the lab because that insight is very, very useful. Um, the only requirements we do have is that they are over the age of 18 , um, and that you can engage with , uh, a device. So , um, hopefully a computer, because we can sometimes ask you to engage with prototypes and be on video. So those would be kind of the only two requirements per se. Um, but apart from that, we really want to encourage diverse people to come and join the panel and give their feedback, give their knowledge, give their opinion. This is to create, as I said before, a really diverse group of people that wanna make a difference to one of the world's biggest l m s um, software companies. So it's an important, important piece. So in terms of how people can join , uh, we have recently created a landing page for all things , uh, Moodle Experience Labs . So here you'll find some information about the types of things that we do within the lab, frequently asked questions, and also a sign up . So if you go to moodle.org/experience lab , you'll find everything there. Yeah, I think that's, that's it.Speaker 2:
Brilliant Zoe. It's been enlightening to hear about the behind the scenes of the Moodle Experience Lab. Thanks for sharing your insights with us. For our listeners, if you are keen to play a part in our research and shape the future of Moodle , head over to moodle.org/experience lab . By participating, you are influencing design and research projects that impact over three 15 million users globally. Stay tuned for our next episode, and until then, take care and see you soon. Bye-bye.