A year ago, I was invited to be part of an opportunity to help give some guidance to a new product. The Network for Learning were developing a portal for teachers to share resource, best practice, learning and ideas. The portal that was being developed was to cater for New Zealand teachers and education providers. Being one of the educational advisers allowed me access to its early release last year, to put in items and think how this could help other teachers who are working on developing new courses for NCEA or junior units. A pioneer educator event provided discussions with the developers what worked and what didn't through an awesome day with other teachers and the development team. A lot of what you see in POND now came out of that day.
Tonight, was a large release in the eyes of N4L POND. I was invited to see this release in person. This has seen months of work come to life around 5pm on Tuesday. When Maintenance Mode was initiated. This is also the same screen that you see when things go wrong. During the last couple of months Ian and his team have been busy working on developing POND to see new ideas, new frameworks and of course the teachers feedback be developed. Through the software development methodology, agile, this allows for features to be added as the product is being used. Rather than a build it all and then release it, N4L POND has been developing a working solution for the past 330 days (going by the new stats available for every POND user). This means that bugs are fixed and new features added almost every two weeks. This means that users are getting to have input on how they use the N4L POND and what features they would like added to make it a product that works for all. This is where feedback is important, if you find something that doesn't work or would like a feature added, Feedback. It's as simple a clicking the Feedback button, clicking how you are feeling, what type of feedback you are commenting on, they do like feedback on what is working for you as well with a Compliment. The feedback is shown on a TV screen in real time right beside the developers desks, where at 10am every morning they go through the feedback.
Tonight was no exception, through a variety of Quality Assurance tests while developing and in the past couple of months a number of developments have been made. When a release goes live, the developers are in straight away testing to make sure that the database, registration and common features are tested to make sure users get the experience that they have always had. It is surprising that a number of new features work on the Quality Assurance server and not on the Production server. During the two hours down time that users were experiencing, POND was running, you just couldn't access it. Final testing was being completed and a whole re-index of the database was happening. From version 6.0.0, 2 hours later version 6.0.7 was running for POND users to access. This is rather a stressful time, as you don't want your product to be down for too long.
Throughout the walls of the office in N4L POND are the next developments, the ideas, screen shots, posts it notes giving thoughts and ideas on design and features. Whiteboards have timelines drawn on them and I must say there are some pretty good features coming out in the next couple of months that will enhance N4L POND.