Creator and Editor of Moodle News, which is the brainchild of Joseph Thibault- is currently working as the Executive Director at StraighterLine. Recently, we got the rare opportunity to have a chat with him and draw inspiration from his multi-tasking, multi-talented personality.
What inspired you to create Moodlenews.com?
I started Moodlenews when I was working for a startup that was providing Moodle hosting to
teachers across the US for free. As part of the role, I was researching all about Moodle with a
general focus on all things edtech and LMS related. I quickly came to learn that there is just too
much happening with Moodle– driven by the community, partners, HQ, and elsewhere– that I
couldn’t keep it to myself.
I originally registered Moodlemonthly with the thought of creating a journal, however after
posting 15 posts a week and not being able to keep up with all there was to write about I
adopted Moodlenews.com and was off to the races pretty quickly.
Did it have anything to do with your editorial work in high school?
Haha, I see that old bullet from my LinkedIn is still relevant. I guess the real answer is yes and
no. It’s a totally different skill set but I have always been interested in communication which is
why I restarted the Lagaday, our high school’s paper which has lapsed in publishing regular
papers. Back then we learned how to create the newspaper using actual paper which was a trip.
Why did you pick Moodle over all the other available LMS’s?
As an open source platform for education, like WordPress, I think it’s great that there’s such a
healthy community driven solution available. Moodle is a wonderful tool, it has loads of
momentum and a great and growing community.
In education, I always have thought that we’re
all on the same team so the choice of Moodle is just picking that platform which I think will
ultimately win out to enable teachers and students to learn most effectively using the internet.
What is your typical day like?
When it comes to Moodlenews when I was posting daily, I usually started around 5 am or 6 am to
get up, get the dog walked and then hit the computer before my day job began. You would be
surprised what you can get down with a spare hour in the morning working on researching
Moodle, writing about it and setting those posts up to publish throughout the day.
Which is your favorite “Moodle story” from the ones mentioned on Moodlenews and why?
I was able to announce that my company, StraighterLine, was going to be a Moodle driven
company in 2012 which I thought was great. We had been a Blackboard Learn company and
were making the switch. I’m really proud to say that we’ve served over 70,000 students using
Moodle, that we are now hosted in-house with help from Moodlerooms and that the future looks
really bright for our students.
You have a degree in Political Science. Would you like to pursue politics to bring reforms in the
You might say that I already am. The Moodle Users Association is a political and democratic
organization designed to assist and drive the development of Moodle. While it’s not “politics” in the
traditional sense, it is “politics” that for this day and age I am happy and willing to engage in. I
encourage all Moodle users to join at least at the individual level.
How do you manage to juggle a blog with a full-time job?
You have to make time. I do it by getting up earlier and diligently planning that time.
What is your advice for someone who would like to start a blog?
Why wait? Start today.
What do you think about Edwiser RemUI as a theme for Moodle?
Moodle themes have come so far since “wood” and “metal”. I think that RemUI has joined the
likes of Essential and Fordson in putting forward unique user experiences which are compatible
with all of Moodle’s strengths.
The experience of a student in gaining access to things that they
can learn easily, without barrier, and with an experience that might leave a smile on their face is
no small feat. I hope that more developers, companies, and schools will step up to see what
they might innovate to improve Moodle’s position in the market.
Well, thank-you Joe for taking time out to share with us your valuable insights and experiences!