Helen Foster celebrates 17 years as part of Moodle’s HQ community

February 27, 2024 By Moodle

Helen Foster recently celebrated her 17th anniversary as a member of Moodle HQ!  Join us as we interview Helen and explore the milestones, projects, and contributions that have marked her journey with Moodle.

Amongst the Moodle community and team, Helen is known for her Moodle expertise. Júlia Verdaguer, Content Designer, said: “Helen is a fountain of Moodle knowledge, and she’s always willing to generously share that knowledge with the whole community.”

Hi Helen! You’ve been part of Moodle for 17 years now! That is incredible. Can you tell us a little about yourself? 

I was born in the UK but have lived in Belgium for 17 years. Before joining Moodle HQ, I taught Mathematics for 12 years to students aged 11–18 and adults in the UK and Botswana. Outside of work, I love nature and the outdoors, as well as animals (dogs, cats, horses).

How did your journey with Moodle begin, and what motivated you to participate actively in the community?

In 2004, I persuaded the college I was teaching in the UK to switch to using Moodle. I learned about Moodle myself by spending time in the forums on moodle.org, reading the discussions, trying things out on a Moodle demo site and eventually managing to answer some of the questions. In doing so, I experienced the social constructionist pedagogy that Moodle is based on, and I was hooked! 

From there, what did your work with Moodle entail? 

In 2006, I was given the job of Moodle Documentation Steward, managing Moodle Docs, our new documentation system, initially as a volunteer, then in 2007 as part of Moodle HQ. My work also included facilitating the forums in Moodle in English, which provide free support for Moodle users worldwide.

In 2007, I also co-authored the book “Using Moodle” (for Moodle 1.8), which is very old now, though still available for download for free.

In 2008, I started working for Moodle as Moodle Community Manager, which was announced in the post A new face on moodle.org. My work included maintaining, improving and directing the growing number of Moodle community sites, organising developer meetings and presenting at MoodleMoots. Several years later, I took up the position of Community Engagement Team Lead, managing a small team of developers working on maintaining and improving the community sites.

Which Moodle projects have you been involved in? Do you have a favourite?

Over the years, I’ve had the chance to be involved in many projects, such as the Cool Course Competition (encouraging the community to donate courses to the Moodle.org Open Community Hub, MOOCH, the precursor to MoodleNet), Google Summer of Code, the Learn Moodle Basics MOOC and helping develop the Moodle Educator Certification program

My favourite was the Learn Moodle Basics MOOC, which ran almost twice yearly from 2013 to 2020. The course allowed people to learn how to teach using Moodle by participating in activities as a student. This has now evolved to become Moodle Teaching Basics on Moodle Academy.

What are you most proud of when thinking about your 17 years at Moodle? 

I’m proud to be listed in the Moodle Translation credits as the English fixes language pack maintainer and contributor to the Dutch language pack. The Moodle Translation site enables community members to collaborate to translate Moodle into over 100 languages. 

I’m also proud to be included in the group of Particularly Helpful Moodlers in the moodle.org forums.

Particularly Helpful Moodlers (PHM) are awarded based on how “helpful” other forum users find their posts! Can you tell us a bit more about your current work?

In 2022, I took on a new position of UX analyst and writer in the new Product Experience team. My work includes reviewing new feature and improvement requests in the Moodle Tracker, helping the Moodle LMS development teams with issue triaging and backlog refinement, and business analyst support for key projects. I’m about to start a new project with Mary Cooch to develop a Moodle Administrator Certification program.

How do you feel looking back on those 17 years with Moodle? Can you share a favourite memory?

I very much appreciate the opportunity I’ve had to work with so many amazing people in the Moodle community and participate in MoodleMoots all over the world. I have tons of great memories, and it’s difficult to come up with a favourite! 

Helen Foster and Koen Roggemans at the Australian MoodleMoot 2011 in Sydney. Source: Moodle Image
Helen Foster and Koen Roggemans at the Australian MoodleMoot 2011 in Sydney. Source: Moodle

One memory I have is from the Moodle Czech Hackfest in 2009 when we spent hours discussing possible improvements to Moodle 2.0 and whether we should move Moodle to Git (see the Czech Hackfest 2009 notes). On the last day, we all went outside in the snow and built an enormous snowman that was way taller than Martin!

What do you like most about working at Moodle HQ?

I love playing a part in Moodle’s mission to empower educators to improve our world. 

Interested in becoming part of the Moodle global community?

Connect with fellow Moodlers to share ideas and post questions and answers about all things online learning in our community forums. And explore opportunities at Moodle and become part of something bigger.