Product Narrative

Project Acceptance Criteria

A slide deck that succinctly articulates a foundational Open edX Product Narrative. This narrative will be used to guide decisions around the Core Product Offering.




Action items & decisions

Aug 2, 2022

  1. Why are we building the product narrative?

    1. It’ll help us define the core product

    2. It’ll inform the product roadmap

    3. It’ll help us articulate the product vision

  2. What things should we cover in our competitor analysis

    1. Verticals (higher ed, K12, etc.) and use cases (scale, async/sync learning, etc.)

    2. Things that Open edX does really well today (so not functionality and support for on-campus learning)

  3. Areas we feel we should focus on:

    1. Scale

    2. Interoperability - integratation with the existing stack of tools and services (example: MIT is using Instructure to support on-campus learning, they have Open edX-powered MIT residential, and a number of platforms targetting non-matriculated learners

Action items:

[ON HOLD] Complete the competitor matrix for higher ed  @Faqir Bilal@Jenna Makowski@Sattaking Sattaking
Compile all resources related to this competitor research/analysis @Jenna Makowski


  1. Have the final deliverable ready for distribution by November 8, 2022

Aug 9, 2022

  1. Key decision: Hold off an a competitor/gap analysis. Focus first on identifying the fundamental needs and associated features required to support the primary Open edX use case - what Open edX was designed to do.

  2. Primary use case we will start with: Deliver online courses asynchronously and at scale, with scale defined as [number of learners total, number of learners at a time, and must also parse edX from rest of ecosystem].

  3. Deliverable: A mindmap/diagram that answers the question: What does each user/persona need in order to accomplish the primary use case? From this we will:

    1. Distill a list of core features that will drive the definition of a Core Product Offering

    2. Enable granular mapping of the Core Product Offering to the Tech Core

    3. Lay the groundwork for writing the product narrative

    4. Lay the ground for gap analyses for secondary use case

  4. Narrative challenge: Open edX is a generic core that can support many broad use cases. Look to similar organizations for inspiration on framing, messaging such as

  5. Reviewed mapping of features created by Marco for edX. (Source)

Complete the primary use case mind map for 3 key personas:
-Define the persona, any sub-personas or related personas (based on team structure of actual organizations)

-Create an exhaustive list of things/jobs/tasks the said persona needs to do to accomplish the use case successfully.

- List and organize features related to those tasks

@Faqir Bilal learner
@Santiago Suarez admin
@Jenna Makowski author
Deadline: Aug 16, 2022

(Follow-up task: “peer review” each other’s personas and lists)

(Follow-up task: Identify common functionalities and group them on the mind map to visually indicate relationship between different actors/personas)

Anonymize and share notes from discussions with different partners @Jenna Makowski

Sep 7, 2022

  1. Next steps for the use case diagrams - other use cases, assessing the value/impact, etc. Reference document (@Jenna Makowski)

  2. Review progress on the product narrative project (@Faqir Bilal)

  3. Align on the path forward - Objectives and timelines (@Faqir Bilal)

  4. Elements of the product narrative - review a very early draft (@Faqir Bilal)

Action items:

Make a list of use cases that we can work on next (and get input from the wider group) and propose a workflow for working on them. Share it with the rest of the group before the next PWG meeting. @Jenna Makowski@Faqir Bilal

Use case list here:

Create a draft (sandbox space) for the Product Narrative so that we can start thinking about the end product @Jenna Makowski



Sept 20, 2022

  1. Review: Skeletal slide deck

  2. Review: Narrative visual draft

  3. Review: Next steps for community feature use survey method

  4. Review: Next steps for building mindmaps for 3 other use cases


Oct 4, 2022

  1. Review: Next steps for building mindmaps for 3 other use cases

  2. Update: Product Narrative work

  3. Input: In-progress Product Core visual


October 25, 2022

  1. Discussion: Questionaire for value prop survey (@Faqir Bilal)

  2. Discussion: Next steps for the deck and connecting that to the value prop (@Faqir Bilal)

Next steps:

  1. @Faqir Bilal to draft survey

  2. @Jenna Makowski to share feedback notes from ToC on working ppt slides

November 01, 2022

  1. Discuss the survey design: (@Faqir Bilal)



Frameworks for the narrative

What should the narrative include?

Version A

  1. Who is Open edX for? <who is the protagonist of our story>

  2. What problem(s) does it solve for them? <introduce the conflict>

  3. Obstacles to solving the problems

  4. How does Open edX solve these problems

  5. What happens if we don’t solve these problems <the pain of not going ahead with our solution>

  6. Who we are as an organization

  7. Where we've been, where we are, and where we are going


Version B:

  1. Name the enemy

  2. Answer “Why now?”

  3. Show the promised land before explaining how you’ll get there

  4. Identify obstacles—then explain how you’ll overcome them

  5. Present evidence that you’re not just blowing hot air


Version C:

  1. What are the conditions that have led to conflict? For example, has the world changed in some ways but not in others?

  2. What is the conflict?

  3. How can the conflict be resolved?

  4. What can you/your product do to resolve this conflict?

  5. Why are you the right person to resolve this conflict?



Other examples:
Similarities to Open edX in that users are presented with a “generic core”, which can be easily customized to nearly endless potential. Open edX as the wordpress of online learning platforms?


Action items

Compile background and context docs
Primary use case mind maps
Competitive analysis with 4-6 top vendors
Share any product narratives that we like
Distill into a product narrative slide deck


Aug 2, 2022

Project kick-off


Aug 9, 2022

Deliverable 1

  1. Complete the competitor matrix for higher ed [on hold]

  2. to compile all resources related to this competitor research/analysis


Aug 16, 2022

Deliverable 2:

  1. Mindmaps for learners, course authors, admin

  2. Subpersona definition

  3. Exhaustive list of features required to accomplish primary use case

  4. Peer review




Feb 10, 2023

Final deliverable

  • Product Narrative Deck



Documents and resources

Open edX



Slides analyzing the impact and use across sectors/verticals, aggregated at the level of Open edX as an ecosystem:

Full list of current features:

DRAFT: Concept Doc/Gap Analysis - Open edX for On-campus use

Product Core and Tech Core: tCRIL has been brainstorming about what “core” means, both from a technical perspective and a product/user perspective. This diagram provides a visual representation of possible convergence and divergence between product and tech cores.



Comparison with other LMS providers



Moodle Docs

Competitive Analysis from the Marketing WG (1)

Competitive Analysis from the Marketing WG (2)

Authoring flows and LTI flows

Canvas: Authoring flows and LTI flows (course author perspective)



Creating a product narrative


Project brief


Product Narrative Subgroup meeting link:

10 AM ET every Tuesday

Sub-group members

@Jenna Makowski @Faqir Bilal @Santiago Suarez


In progress

Start date

Aug 2, 2022

End date

Nov 8, 2022