Core Contributors Introduction Thread!

In this thread, we invite all Core Contributors to provide a brief introduction following the template below. You are encouraged to also post a picture of yourself - but keeping in mind that this forum is public, it is not required.

Core Contributor! Please let us know:

  1. A little intro about you - What type of Core Contributor are you? Where are you located? Who do you work with? What are some fun facts about you? etc
  2. Why did you originally join the Open edX community? What motivates you to stay involved?
  3. What are your area(s) of expertise within the Open edX ecosystem?
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I’ll start! Hi, I’m Sarina Canelake and I work at The Center for Re-imagining Learning (tCRIL), the nonprofit that runs the Open edX project. I’m located in Cambridge, MA, USA. I live with my three beautiful cat sons, and if you get to know me at all you’ll certainly hear about them. I like biking, skiing, very long walks through the city, and cooking! Right now I’m really into cooking Chinese food specifically from Xi’an, and sometimes Sichuan as well. I like watching (American) football, sometimes baseball, always World Cup. Best fact about me: my family owns a candy shop!

I joined edX in 2012 after working with Anant and other MIT professors when I was a graduate student focused on the problem of making computer science education translate to an online experience. I strongly believe in the mission to make education of all types freely available across the globe. I am proud to say I work on the Open edX project!

I am the engineering manager at tCRIL, as such my areas of expertise have more to do with knowing our systems at a high level and helping to make sure projects have what they need to stay on track, and engineers have what they need to thrive. I run the Core Contributor program and in the new year would like to turn more attention to the problem of onboarding new CCs, particularly those who commit code. I’m always available for question or a chat. I look forward to working with you!

Here’s a pic of me, my cat Percy, and my Christmas Ditto.

(if you look closely below my wrist, I think Rupert is hanging out in the cat hammock)

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Hi, My name is Zia Fazal and I work at edly by Arbisoft. It is a unit of Arbisoft focused on providing online learning solutions to wide range of customers. I’m located in Lahore, Pakistan.
I enjoy asian spicy food like Nihari, Paya and chicken karahi.

I joined Open edX community to contribute to edX platform in making it one of the stable and extensible online learning platform and I’m part of the community since 2014.

I have contributed to different areas of edX ecosystem including web certificates, content gating, edX for enterprises, edX APIs, xBlocks and plugins.
Me and my daughter

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Hi. I am Ghassan and I work for myself or zaat.dev. I am located in Jerusalem, Palestine.
I like to read (when in the mood), walk (to change the mood), and write (but it can take ages).

I joined and keep contributing to the open edx platform for two main goals: I am aiming for reaching two goals 1) Contributing to an open-source project with high value and mission, and 2) to gain both experience and publicity in order to land my next job or/and a project.

Note: because currently I am not working on any commercial project nor am I affiliated with any organisation (besides my own). I spend a lot of time contributing to the project or/and learning about it. It might be the cause soon that I would land on something so I might not be as available.

I have made very humble contributions or came across different parts of the platform to name a few: Xblock, the edx documentation, tutor, the MFEs. My first exposure to the community was in the docs hacakthon, about a few months ago.


This is a recent Christmassy photo of me somewhere before I returned(yesterday) back home.

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I’m Omar Al-Ithawi. I live in Istanbul and work at Appsembler, which we provide LMS and Virtual Labs.

I joined the Open edX community in 2014 during my work at Edraak and started to contribute with Sarina, Frances and Ned to fix i18n and RTL bugs and then got hooked ever since.

Contributing to Open edX helped me to sharpen my skills and picked up on various engineering skills especially on Continuous Integration and tests.

Fun fact about me: I’m personally distributed in four locations: I live in Istanbul, with some work presence in Amman, Jordan work with Appsembler in Boston and I’m from Iraq.

My brother (left) and me (right) – not my yacht on the back – it’s a ferry in Istanbul:

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Hi everyone!

My name’s Ali (well, actually Alison) and I live in a beach town in South Africa called Hermanus. To escape the South African Winter, I spend part of the year in Central America where I get the chance to practise my (still very shaky) Spanish.

I have a small UX and UI company called Fixate. I’ve been working with OpenCraft since 2019 and during that time have learnt so much about the open source way of working, and MOOCs in particular. I love the community-driven aspect behind Open edX, and I’m really chuffed to have been made a Core Contributor!

I’m looking forward to lending my UX and UI skills to the Open edX community. Hopefully our paths will cross many times in the future!

Here’s a pic of me with my dad at his 70th birthday party…

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Hello Everyone,

I am Felipe Montoya and I am one of the founders of eduNEXT. I came in contact with the open edX project throught edx.org when back in 2012 I took the CS169 course from Berkeley. This course absolutely blew my mind. I became a course tutor for the next course run. Also this made me want to create my own startup doing sofware as a service. I quit my job then and started drafting something with my brother when edX announced that their own code would be open sourced. I downloaded the source code the first day it was available in github and I started contributing to the community a few weeks after that.

I live in Bogotá, Colombia, but some times I take time to live and work in other places. So far I have always returned.

I like all sort of water sports and I love building things with wood. Here is a picture of a project I made with electricity wood burning and resin.

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Heya!

I am Xavier Antoviaque, the founder of OpenCraft, and an early contributor to Open edX – actually, I do have the privilege of the first merged pull request to the platform from the community outside of edX, right after the project became open source in 2013: #34 :stuck_out_tongue: I was (and still am) an avid MOOC user at the time, and when I saw that Open edX was being published, I was glad to have an occasion to give back to a community I had received so much from! And I’ve been enjoying contributing to it ever since.

I don’t code as much nowadays, so as a core contributor I am currently a project manager & moderator, helping with projects like governance, the core contributor program, the contributor meetup, or coordinating contributions – including making sure we at OpenCraft keep contributing the majority of our client work to the platform.

I am a nomad, working remotely from multiple places all around the world – including Spain, the US, France, Polynesia, the US… Staying at each place around 2-3 months, before going to the next one…

There are many activities that I like – from movies/series, to paragliding/aviation, free diving, horse riding, reading… and of course, traveling!

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Bonjour Monde ! :wave: :earth_africa: My name is Régis Behmo – you can pronounce that any way you like, but there is just one rule: the “s” is not silent. I’m French, and a couple years ago I moved to a small village in the southern French Alpes, near Briançon, after being fed up with life in the city. Living here allows me to do what I love most – no, not hacking into edx-platform (sorry), but going outdoors and having fun in the mountains. Here’s a picture of my favourite object in the whole world, my bike:

(Seriously, mountainbiking is a TON of fun. If you ever get the chance, do try it out!)

My involvement with Open edX started when I joined France Université Numérique (FUN) in 2014, as a software engineer. I came for the job and stayed because of the community. After I left FUN I kept making small contributions here and there. I also did some teaching, both online and offline, and at some point I decided that I wanted to put my courses on a self-hosted Open edX platform. However, I dreaded the native installation, so I started working on a Docker-based installation, which later became Tutor. Note that I never got around to actually porting my courses to Open edX, so you could say that Tutor was the result of an intense yak shaving effort.

Tutor was not exactly a runaway success, but at the San Diego conference in 2019 it got me invited to lobster restaurants and a pool party (thank you Abstract Gmbh!). So I figured I was holding onto something, and I decided to work full time on what was until then just a side project. That was a terrible decision of course, because that’s about when COVID19 hit the world, and there were pool parties no more. (or are there? maybe I’m just not invited)

Anyway, in late 2019, COVID was just an acronym that few of us had even heard of and the e-learning world was not yet swimming in cash. @nedbat approached me and basically told me “we need to get our sh*t together and create better Open edX releases” (not his exact words). I enthusiastically agreed, because that’s what I always do with Ned, and we created the BTR working group. I only had one condition: I would contribute to the group if and only if edX committed to producing a project changelog. Let’s just say that things did not exactly go as planned…

These days, I keep doing what I’ve always done, which is mostly solving technical problems with Open edX and expanding Tutor to address the higher levels of the Open edX hierarchy of needs. I created Cairn, an analytics solution for Open edX of which I am immensely proud (perhaps even more than Tutor itself) and I’m the maintainer of a SCORM xblock. I also do custom developments and live 1-on-1 consulting sessions for customers. I’m a fullstack engineer, but if I’m being honest with myself I’m really not great at frontend development.

I hope to meet ya’ll IRL soon!

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Hi everyone!

I’m Braden, and I am a core contributor as well as OpenCraft’s CTO.

I live in Vancouver, Canada. In my free time I enjoy reading, hiking/backpacking/camping, going for walks, travel, and playing video games. That said, I don’t have a lot of free time these days because in addition to my work with OpenCraft, I am co-founder of a startup called TechNotes, which aims to create a free, open engineering knowledge base about clean tech.

What else can I say? Well I’m currently learning German and Russian, and I’ve always been able to speak English backwards fairly fluently - a completely useless skill.

When it comes to work, I’m happiest when I’m coding, especially deeply creative coding. I joined the Open edX community in 2014 when I was looking for a new job - specifically a remote job that involved open source. So of course Xavier’s recruitment ad on Hacker News caught my eye, and I joined OpenCraft initially as a developer and later became CTO. I’ve loved the job, the company, and the community, and it’s a pleasure being part of it.

What are my areas of expertise related to Open edX? Well I’ve been very involved with XBlocks over the years, both on developing them and on the runtime side of things, so definitely XBlocks. I also co-designed both the original implementation of content libraries and Blockstore / Content Libraries V2, which gave me a good understanding of modulestore and other internals of the XBlock runtime.

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Hello! :wave:

I’m Jill, a core contributor and Open Source Developer for OpenCraft. My first contribution to Open edX was merged in Dec 2015, and I’ve had the pleasure of contributing to the platform as a developer and operator almost continuously since then (github). Most of my large contributions have been to Insights and the analytics pipeline, but I’ve worked a lot on the configuration/ansible side, with XBlocks and internationalization, ORA2, and various small changes to the core platform itself. I’m currently working on LabXchange, which unfortunately itself isn’t open source, but did produce the blockstore and a number of API improvements to Open edX.

My adopted home for the last 18+ years is Adelaide, South Australia, but I was born and raised in the US, so my family is still back there, and I visit when I can. My favourite thing to do when I’m not coding is scuba diving :diving_mask:. South Australia has some beautiful shore dives where you can see leafy sea dragons, cuttlefish , octopus, squid, many kinds of fish, colourful soft coral, and sponges. Over the holiday break, we got to spend 3 days diving the Great Barrier Reef, which was another kind of magnificent, and much warmer than down here. I also have 2 tabby kittens, Luna & Stella, who keep me joyful. I don’t really do selfies, so will post pics of them instead:

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A little about me: I envisioned having a site for Continuing Medical Education for Medical Professionals and founded CMEonline.com. I moved to the OpenEdx Platform about 2 years ago and have been paying programmers to customize the platform to meet my specific needs. I am located on Long Island - in New York and enjoy playing soccer in my spare time.

I have joined the community to share the customization that have been developed with the rest of the community, If I find them useful I am sure that others will also find them useful. I am currently working with my development team to develop a list of how we have extended our implementation to share with the community. It has been a few years since I have written any code, these days I write the specifications and let others write the code.

As far as my area of expertise within the ecosystem - none. I am still learning but I hope that the code that has been developed for my installation may be useful to the community. Watch for a post with has the list of functions that have been developed. I still have to figure out how to share the code with the community and hopefully other members here can assist me with that endeavor. I do hope I have posted to the correct thread.

Michael

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Hi @mbrody and welcome!

This thread is meant for Core Contributors (the program is detailed here: https://openedx.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/COMM/pages/3143205354/Open+edX+Core+Contributor+Program) to get to know one another. There are some great places in the Open edX ecosystem to jump in to share your work or connect with others - the Open edX Slack is fun for real time communications and has a bunch of chat rooms; I’m not sure what types of customizations you mean, so I can’t quite direct you to proper places. You might find the Development category (Development - Open edX discussions) a great place to share your work as well.

Again - welcome to the community!
-Sarina

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Hello world!

I’m Gabriel D’Amours, a non-technical Core Contributor. I’ve been a team member at OpenCraft since 2017, and before that I was a member of the community through my involvement with EDUlib (University of Montreal). I mostly approach and understand the Open edX platform from a teacher / instructional designer perspective.

I’m currently living in Quebec City, Canada. As a Core Contributor, I work on both the Marketing Work Group and the Translation Work Group. I manage administration at OpenCraft, and wear a few more hats: freelance instructional designer, failed history teacher, bourgeois punk, live sound engineer (pre-COVID, at least), drummer for-hire, and home cook. I love travelling, eating any kind of food, nature walks, playing with synthesizers, reading, and listening to / playing death metal music (among other genres). I’m probably what you’d call a people person, and I love going out and having fun (a certain someone who posted here will (or won’t) remember a certain night out at the Madrid conference — vermouth on tap is magical).

Pleased to be part of this group!

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Hola, beloved community :wave:t3:

I’m Maria Grimaldi, a core contributor and a backend developer at eduNEXT. I’m from a small town near Valencia-Venezuela, but a couple of years ago, I moved to Caracas for my bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. This is what I wake up to nowadays (El Ávila):

I’ve been working for eduNEXT for about two years now. Since my first contribution, I made it my mission to stay close to the open-source community since I know firsthand its impact on the educational systems in places like Venezuela :notebook:

I enjoy dancing, eating out, watching series/movies, and listening to music. Lately, I’ve been into opera and classical music, with a bit (bunch) of merengue and other Latin genres (I know, my Spotify recommendations are all over the place). I spend my afternoons playing with the funniest dog ever, Diana:

When she’s not sleeping (I mean, the 4h left of her day), she’s helping me with my contributions (she’s the mastermind behind all of them :wink:)

And that’s me. It’s my pleasure to meet you all :wave:t3:

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Finally we get more information about your location! :smiley:

Looks so perfect I am pretty jealous…

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Hello Core Contributors,

1. A little intro about you - What type of Core Contributor are you? Where are you located? Who do you work with? What are some fun facts about you? etc

In 2022 I committed to be a non-technical Core Contributor, contributing as Forum Moderator in the Education space mostly, and this year I endeavour to help as many working groups as I can, including Product Working Group, Built-Test-Release Working Group, Marketing Working Group. I’m currently bouncing between England (cold) and Thailand (warm).

2. Why did you originally join the Open edX community? What motivates you to stay involved?

In 2015 I helped the Republic of Indonesia to launch an e-learning platform which I presented at the Open edX® conference at Stanford University. The video can be found here: Day 2 - Dean Jay Mathew, IndonesiaX- Implementing Open edX for Developing Countries - YouTube.


Caption: Marco Morales arrives at my talk

Since then, together with my best friend and mathematical marvel James who lives in Palo Alto, California, we founded an e-learning company www.abconlinecourses.com mostly focused on Open edX® solutions for the UK and Commonwealth nations (or anyone in our time zone really). What motivates me to stay involved is to help support the technical people i.e. the important people (yes you!) who help keep Open edX® alive and well. I also want to ensure the survival of our company and clients who use Open edX® for some pretty important training initiatives in healthcare, water conservation, childcare, etc. Also, we donated $5,000 to the development of the new Open edX® website a year or two ago so I’m a little bit invested in this project. We’ve also sponsored Friends of Open edX® twice.

3. What are your area(s) of expertise within the Open edX ecosystem?

I’m an Open edX® Studio guru!

Can you spot me and Régis Behmo or anyone else in this picture from the San Diego conference?

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Whaaaat! My grandparents live in Kleinmond down the road from Hermanus as you know! Amazing to see a “local” here in this global community.

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Haha, wow! It’s a small world.
But not as small as Kleinmond! :joy:
Do you ever get the chance to visit this side of the world?

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