More than 10 years ago, Moodle App was created by Moodle community member Juan Leyva, and since then, he has joined the team at Moodle HQ and has been part of the transformation of this project, shaping it as the product manager. We recently met with Juan to discuss the journey so far.
Hi Juan, could you share with us how it all began? How did the first version of the Moodle App come into existence?
Absolutely, it’s a pleasure to reflect on the journey so far. The first version of the App was the result of an experiment I conducted in my free time when I wasn’t working for Moodle HQ yet. I shared the outcome with the Moodle community, which was well-received by everyone, and later, Martin Dougiamas (founder and CEO of Moodle) contacted me to turn that experiment into something real with a future perspective. This was the moment when I joined Moodle HQ. More than 10 years ago!
Can you highlight some significant milestones in the App’s development over the past 10 years?
In 2017, we reached a significant milestone with the release of version 3.4. This update brought complete support to activity modules for learners.
Activity modules are the most used features by students within a course. These modules are what educators use to deliver content and to evaluate learners – this meant that learners were able to have access to everything the teacher put in their Moodle course accessible on the Moodle App. This was that moment when we could say that the App was fully functional for learners.
It was the very same year that we started providing our first commercial services, the Branded Moodle App (branded version for organisations).
At the beginning of 2020, the global pandemic led to an exponential increase in the number of users relying on our App. As the world shifted to remote learning, the App played a vital role in ensuring uninterrupted access to education. In the same year, we introduced Pro and Premium plans, a pivotal step that enabled us to further invest in the App’s development and ensure its future feasibility.
I am proud also to mention the release of version 3.9.5 in 2021, which marked a significant achievement in terms of accessibility. We achieved WCAG 2.1 AA compliance, ensuring the App is accessible to all learners, including those with disabilities. Accessibility is an ongoing commitment for Moodle, which can be seen across our products and services.
And finally, perhaps one of the most relevant milestones was the release of 4.0 in 2022. This version represented a major evolution in the App’s design and user experience. The comprehensive redesign was very well received by our users. This comprehensive redesign includes changes in the user interface to make it more modern, improvements in the navigation to help students easily find their way and simplification of the different interfaces to provide a distraction-less experience.
Sounds great! Tell us a bit more about the team that works behind the scenes to make Moodle App a success.
Our product team (focusing on the Moodle App and Workplace App’s development) consists of five dedicated developers. We also have a UX designer and a QA professional for quality assurance. And, of course, I am the product Manager responsible for the vision behind Moodle App.
What sets our team apart is their extensive experience, with many members having more than five years at Moodle and some with over fifteen years in the field. I am happy to work with so experienced and motivated colleagues, and all this wouldn’t be possible without Moodle’s commitment to offering a superb work environment.
Our Branded Moodle App (BMA) team consists of seven people who take care of the implementation and maintenance of the hundreds of branded Apps we’ve built for our valued clients. The BMA leadership team is also very experienced in Moodle, with more than seven years in the company (since the launch of this service).
The Moodle mobile App boasts an impressive 10 million users per month on average. What does this milestone mean to you personally and to the Moodle community as a whole?
This milestone is a testament to the impact Moodle LMS and the Moodle App have had on global education. 10 million users per month is not just a number; this represents a community of learners worldwide benefiting from accessible education. Personally, it’s incredibly fulfilling to know that our work is making a positive difference in the lives of so many people.
It is really impressive to hear this, Juan! Version 4.0 of the Moodle App received positive feedback and improved App ratings. How has this success impacted Moodle’s position compared to its competitors?
We are very proud to share that over the past year, the latest versions of the Moodle mobile App have consistently achieved superior store ratings compared to any of our major competitors in the market. These results reflect that we are on the right track and are very motivating. They also serve as evidence of Moodle’s ongoing efforts to bridge the gap in user experience when compared to our competitors.
What are the current challenges that the Moodle Apps team is facing in maintaining and enhancing the App, especially in light of the evolving needs of online education?
One of the ongoing challenges we face is keeping pace with new and rapidly evolving technology. There is also the challenge of maintaining a very complex App (from a technical perspective) like ours and making it usable when connecting to any other Moodle platform, including versions from previous years that are not managed by us.
And finally, there is always the need to strike the right balance between adding very cool new features and making the App easier to use.
Could you share some success stories where the Moodle mobile App has made a significant positive impact, especially in regions where offline access is crucial for education?
AfricaRice is a notable example. To address the poor internet connectivity in Benin, West Africa, The Green Innovation Centre (CIVA) uses the Moodle App to empower students and give them the necessary skills to gain employment in the thriving agriculture industry. In Benin, there is a very young population and a high level of unemployment, so CIVA is working to alleviate these issues and improve food security in this region. Read more about this here.
Another great example is FINCA Impact Finance, which uses Moodle as its LMS to deliver learning and professional development courses globally. FINCA uses their own version of the Branded Moodle App to alleviate poverty through inclusive and responsible banking. Learn more about FINCA Learning here.
Our commitment to providing the best educational tool extends to situations where a reliable internet connection may not be available. We have directly and indirectly participated in projects aimed at ensuring seamless learning experiences in such scenarios. Our involvement spans various initiatives, and you can explore some remarkable success stories on moodle.com/news.
Looking ahead, could you share some insights into the roadmap and future plans for the Moodle App? What can learners expect in the coming years?
We highly value user feedback and prioritise their needs in shaping our roadmap. Currently, our primary focus revolves around enhancing the overall user experience, with a particular emphasis on reducing user friction. This includes streamlining the onboarding process for first-time users. Additionally, we are committed to improving the App’s support for community-created plugins, recognising their importance in extending the App’s functionality and versatility. Apart from the previously mentioned, we always try to ensure functionality parity between Moodle LMS and the App for learners so they can enjoy all Moodle features on any platform.