Celebrating 10 years at Moodle HQ and more than 10,000 Git contributions with Principal Architect Andrew Lyons

December 12, 2023 By Lucy Sherwood

Moodle Principal Architect  Andrew Lyons recently celebrated 10 years of working at Moodle HQ! Although Andrew started his journey with Moodle in schools and universities, he soon became part of the Moodle HQ team and has been a huge part of  Moodle’s development, making over 5000 Git commits and over 5000 Git merges, and over 1,000 improvements, new features, bug fixes and other changes over the course of his history on the Moodle team.

“Andrew’s knowledge of Moodle LMS, his pragmatic approach and his technical skills have been invaluable in driving our vision forward,” said Matt Poritt, Platform Manager of Moodle LMS and manager of the team Andrew is part of.  “Andrew leads by example with his passion not only for our projects but for fostering a positive, collaborative environment. I wish him many more years with Moodle,” Matt said.  

Fellow Moodle HQ team member Mick Hawkins, who works with Andrew on the same team, said: “I don’t think there would be anyone in the Moodle community that hasn’t been impacted in some way by Andrew’s contributions over the last 10+ years, whether gaining valuable technical insights, as a developer whose work has been reviewed or integrated by him (over 3,000 issues and counting) or as someone who uses Moodle LMS and benefits from his many ongoing contributions to the project”. 

We met with Andrew to discuss his decade as an invaluable part of our team. Read more about what he shared with us below:


Hi Andrew, tell us about yourself and your role at Moodle.

I’ve been working for Moodle for 10 years in various roles, but I started developing Moodle about 14 years ago in the UK Schools and University sectors. I started at Moodle as a developer, and I have had various roles over the years. I was the lead developer for the creation of MoodleCloud, am currently on the Integration team, and am now the Principal Architect on the Moodle LMS team.

I really enjoy the variety of the work and being able to work on new and exciting projects for the development of the Moodle LMS platform. I’m currently working on some really interesting changes to Moodle Web Services, which have some awesome repercussions for Moodle over the next 10 years.

You’ve made such an impact at Moodle. How has the Moodle HQ team changed and grown in the past 10 years?

When I started at Moodle, there were around 20 of us!  The company has grown and changed massively over the past 10 years. We used to have a small office in East Perth, but since then, we’ve opened an office in Barcelona and have been primarily working from home with a small co-working space in the CBD.

The teams themselves have changed substantially with growth in all of our teams, the creation of MoodleCloud, UX, Product Experience, and many other teams. We’re a very different company in many ways, but there’s still a great sense of being part of a  team in my day-to-day interactions.

Andrew with a group of Moodlers at MoodleMoot Australia, 2019. Image
Andrew with a group of Moodlers at MoodleMoot Australia, 2019.

The team has certainly grown in that time! I’m interested in how the Moodle platform evolved over the past decade from your perspective and what significant changes or improvements you have been involved in.

As a platform, Moodle has changed substantially over this period, and I feel I’ve had quite a hand in many of those changes. I was one of the small team that created MoodleCloud, which was a very exciting time, and I’ve been involved in some significant infrastructure changes to Moodle itself. I’ve also worked to create User Tours, add new developer tooling and more.

I really enjoy getting involved with improving the Developer Experience and have really pushed for the adoption of many common standards.

More recently, I’ve been starting to map out the next 5-10 years of Moodle Development to update our development practices and think about how to bring all of our awesome plugin developers along with us.

My work within Moodle has also allowed me to contribute to a massive range of other open-source projects ranging from Chromium and Firefox to W3C ARIA and WebDriver specifications, Docusaurus, Gherkin Lint, JavaScript tooling, Selenium, the MDN, and many more.

It’s great to hear about the other open-source projects you’ve worked on in addition to Moodle! Are there any Moodle features or plugins you’ve developed that you’re particularly proud of?

There are so many that it’s hard to name one specific thing. I was very involved with the architectural design work for the Privacy API, and I was very proud of my contributions there. I’m also really proud of the User Tours feature and, more generally, the leaps and bounds that our JavaScript infrastructure has taken over the past decade.

Andrew Lyons has made more than 10,000 git contributions to Moodle. Source: Moodle.org Image
Andrew Lyons has made more than 10,000 git contributions to Moodle. Source: Moodle.org

The image above is an excerpt of a visual representation of Moodle developer contributions in the form of a word cloud. You can take a look at the full list on the Developer credits page.

Can you discuss your experiences collaborating with the Moodle community, including educators, administrators, and other developers, to improve the platform?

I was a member of the Moodle community many years before I joined MoodleHQ, and I’ve always tried to take part in that community with my role in MoodleHQ. I’ve always had positive experiences with the community, and it’s a great group to be a part of.

What trends or technologies do you foresee shaping the future of e-learning and, subsequently, the development of Moodle over the next decade?

I think we’ll see a lot of interest in AI technology in education over the next few years, in particular, but I also think we’ll see an increasingly blended learning experience for all learners.

We’ve been through decades of in-person learning, followed by a short period of forced online learning, and now that we’re out the other side of a global pandemic and things have largely returned to a new normal, I think people who may have previously been cautious around online learning may start to incorporate more of it into their daily lives.

Can you share a favourite memory (or two!) from your time working at MoodleHQ?

A few years ago, when we were a much smaller company, I organised a team-building exercise – The Perth Amazing Race. We were all running around the city trying to perform various tasks and using as many different forms of transport as possible. Martin’s team were really thinking outside the box, and their list included wheelbarrow racing, shopping trolleys, and heaps of others, too. It was a really incredible team-building experience, and I think everyone really enjoyed it.

Pretty much any Moot I’ve ever been to has created heaps of new memories. It’s always really great to meet and catch up with our community in person and to find out what things people are doing that we hadn’t considered before. I love finding people’s pain points and trying to fix them.

On a different level and a very different kind of favourite, I was really proud to be a part of the team that brought the Privacy API to Moodle. Bringing together a new API in a short space of time to make Moodle compliant with new EU legislation was a tough challenge, but as a collective, we managed it, and the result of that work is still working well many years later. Everyone really pulled together to meet a fairly tight deadline, and it was great to see.

Andrew recently accepted an award on behalf of Moodle at the Australian Access Awards 2023. Image
Andrew recently accepted an award on behalf of Moodle at the Australian Access Awards 2023.

What do you like most about working at Moodle HQ? 

The flexibility is great – especially since we work from home. I try to get a good work-life balance going. Over the winter, I try to start early, take the dog for a walk when there’s some light, put the slow cooker on during the day, and do a few other bits and pieces during the day (putting the washing on is the perfect screen break). Doing all of that frees up my evenings and weekends to spend with my family.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time or on weekends when you’re not at work?

When I’m not working, I love to spend time with my wife, my two-year-old son, and our dog. We also have two horses, and I am a qualified Show Jumping Judge. I have had the honour of judging at some of Western Australia’s biggest Show Jumping fixtures.

If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring Moodle developers based on your extensive experience, what would it be?

Get involved in Open Source projects. Learn how they work and interact, how they accept patches, how they manage their code and coding styles, and make meaningful contributions to them. Every project works slightly differently, and the ability to constantly adapt to different requirements and expectations is an instrumental skill.

Andrew’s insights echo the essence of the Moodle mission and its vibrant culture at HQ, showcasing both the team’s flexibility and cherished ethos. Andrew’s journey and unwavering commitment to growth serve as an inspiration to us all. We deeply appreciate Andrew’s invaluable presence in our team. 

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