Our first Open edX Conference is just days away! We’re expecting a great turnout, and are excited to meet Open edX community members from around the world. Meanwhile, read on for some background on Xavier Antoviaque‘s work with the Open edX platform as CEO and Founder of OpenCraft.

Where is OpenCraft located?
OpenCraft is a French company, but in reality we are an international team working remotely – from the US, Canada, Germany, Slovenia, Russia… Geography is only a factor for timezones. We seek out the best and brightest developers, independent of location, to work on Open edX.

How does working with Open edX relate to OpenCraft’s mission?
Working on Open edX actually is our organization’s mission. We are specialized in Open edX development, customization, and instance setup — working only on Open edX allows us to be really good at it, instead of edX being just one of many software code bases we work on. We believe in free software, and today Open edX is by far the most promising free software project advancing the cause of education. Working on Open edX and contributing developments to the project is for us the best way to both help the project attain its ambitious goals and work on free software.

How did you first hear about the Open edX initiative?
When edX originally announced the publication of the source as free software, I was (and still am!) an avid MOOC user. After having benefited so much from online courses as a user, I saw the release of free software as a good occasion to give back. I started looking at the code base to contribute, and joined the community. It turned out that, at the time, there was a shortage of skilled developers and a lot of demand for instance customization and features development on edX, and that gave birth to OpenCraft.

How long have you been working with the Open edX platform? What’s been your focus?
Since its release as free software, in March 2013. XBlocks have been one of the first things I have worked on – my first contribution was the XBlock tutorial– and it has remained one of our areas of predilection since then: the mentoring XBlock made for HarvardX/GSE was the first XBlock to be used in a live course on edx.org, and we have since then developed a series of XBlocks for edX and one of its clients. We also install and customize hosted instances for companies and academical institutions alike, and we have recently started developing content libraries.

What will you be discussing at Open edX Con?
XBlocks of course! I’ll be co-presenting an introduction and tutorial that explains what can be done with XBlocks. I invite you to attend, even if you don’t have a technical background as I will demo some of the XBlocks from the community.

What other topics are you interested in hearing about or talking with your fellow Open edX developers about?
I’m very much looking forward to the keynote from Gerald Sussman. I will also be interested to hear Beth Porter and Ned Batchelder talk about the future of Open edX, which should be pretty bright! : ) I have also developed an interest in LTI lately, so I will attend the talk from Jim Waldo – interoperability is always an important concern for software freedom, and it’s great to see edX improving its support for the LTI standard.

What inspired you and what keeps you inspired to work in the EdTech space?
What keeps me fascinated by MOOCs is the thrill that I get from learning in MOOCs. My current favorite is Andrew Bacevich’s accounting of the War for the Greater Middle East. It illustrates perfectly how important education is to the world, and the difference MOOCs can make by improving access to such knowledge.

Follow Xavier on Twitter and Google+.