Web Literacy Map, people need to understand concepts that underpin all of the work that we do. People also need to understand how to use web technologies in support of openness, and those two things together are, perhaps, more complicated than they sound. I want to help people teach the web in an open and participatory way, which means that process would have to be opened up. I was thinking about what a kind of Technical Training program for the web would look like, and to me, it looked like an open community. Our people - a globally diverse group of passionate educators and technologists - believe in the web as a platform for learning, sharing, connecting and making, and they believe that open practice and participation are key elements to becoming a citizen in the digital world. Our community members are eager to spread web literacy in their local contexts, but participating in the global movement means that one needs to navigate through a complex and sometimes confusing ecosystem of digital human communication. [caption id=”” align=”alignnone” width=”500”] TeachTheWeb MOOC was an online prototype we ran last year. Click the picture to learn more about it![/caption] Our Training program is designed to give people an easy in to the types of online communication and participation I’m talking about. We want to design a way for people to experiment and fail forward. We’d like the online component to support the offline actions and vice versa. This is the reason that everything in Webmaker Training is optional and that it’s all centered around making and connecting around what you make. This is also the reason that we are trying to encourage the peer to peer aspect of learning. To help us do that, Mozilla is once again partnering up with P2PU, a group of incredible connected educators who are helping bake peer to peer interaction into the Webmaker Training content. Together, we’re working on a Training platform and program that will make it easy for anyone to jump in and see what the Webmaker community is making to support learning web competencies. We’re running ongoing feedback and testing sessions through this open Wiki and by talking about this program in the Teach the Web Community Calls. To get involved, you can join our community calls or post your interest to any one of our monitored channels (#teachtheweb, #makerparty, @webmaker, the G+ Group, the Webmaker Newsgroup…). And if those options don’t appeal to you, you can send me an email and I’ll help you get started! I see a lot of potential in the modular, remixable way we’re designing our trainings to be. We’re building the content hosting platform using GitHub Pages, which will make it easy for us to bake in YOUR feedback early and often. It also means that anyone can contribute to Webmaker Trainings by sending a pull request. You can already build teaching kits for your specific organization or audience, and in the future, you’ll be able to build entire courses via remix. Using GitHub pages will allow us to build modules (e.g. courses) so that enthusiastic community members and partner organizations can remix them to run modified versions. Imagine if you could easily copy a single module, remix it to add your own lens, branding or curriculum and publish it. Then imagine that that action earned you a badge. Ideally, you will be able to save your new module to your Webmaker Profile, thereby giving you a URL where your module exists. When this functionality is working, we’ll have an Open Educational Ecosystem (OEE, I just made up a new term!) that has learner-focused resources (starter makes), full scale lesson plans for in the classroom (Teaching Kits), and a courseware platform (Training Modules) for online learning. And the icing on the cake? It’s all remixable, it’s all truly open and it’s all built with the Webmaker Community. We’d love to know what you think about this idea, so leave a comment or get in touch using the channels listed above!
“I intend to take the entire course, complete all 12 problem sets and earn the CS50 Certificate from Harvard University.”I haven’t been back. It took me about 6 hours to complete the intro and first project. Mainly because I spent a lot of time falling in love with Scratch, another thing that I’d had in my peripheral but never actually learned. I skipped a couple years of school because I got bored and wanted my freedom ASAP. I went to 5 universities before I earned my first degree. In my personal learning experience, I’ve found that my idiosyncrasies, my culture, my interests, my history, and more have led me down learning pathways so individual it’s difficult to imagine that there’s someone out there who is following the same path. If you combine that understanding with the universe of information on the web and try to imagine designing the perfect learning pathways for someone else, what you have is a damn near impossible task. [caption id=”” align=”alignright” width=”250”] Modular Origami. Image Credit Ardonik[/caption] All of these reflections have played into the work I do at Mozilla. These thoughts have influenced the learning design Teach the Web stuff for a while now. The vast majority of my work in education has been about constructing and testing modular learning models, and it all comes back to my understanding of my own learning pathways and the crazy chaos that is the World Wide Web. With the new training piece of what we’re doing, we have another chance to provide modularity as a method for individual growth. In the Mozilla community, we have people who have been throwing Mozilla branded events for years. They know how to get a venue and invite people to attend. They know how to file a bug to request swag and remix Mozilla slide decks. They know how to present information. What they might not know is how to throw a Maker Party. Maker Party isn’t just a brand, it’s an event that uses participatory pedagogies to help participants learn while they interact and make tangible things. Often, we see people in our community who are branding their events Maker Party, but not actually making or partying. Then there are people who are adept at using progressive pedagogies and interests to spur learning. There are educators who throw Maker Parties for 45 minutes during 3rd period every single week day, but they don’t consider their endeavors part of this global movement. They don’t see themselves as Webmakers, or maybe they just don’t know how to plug into the global community. There are people floating on the peripherals, all we have to do is pull them in. In order to build a training program that speaks to a great many potential Mozilla contributors, we have to assume that each person has varying skills and interests, and we have to help them learn how to teach the web in ways that speak to them. [caption id=”” align=”alignright” width=”250”] the structure of the teach the web training content[/caption] The new training program will begin by addressing the theory and practicalities behind how you teach the web and get involved with the Webmaker community. It will expand to help level up different skills for people who are already contributing. We’ll organize the training content in a way that allows people to come and learn the thing they want without forcing people to focus in on things they’re not interested in. Technical and social skill building is pulled throughout, whether you’re interested in learning about the educational theory behind Webmaker or if you want to learn more about the practical work of event organizing. You don’t have to know theory to teach, but understanding theory can make you a better teacher. You don’t have to be good at pitching projects to get funding, but understanding how to talk to a potential funder can improve your pitches. You don’t have to share online to participate in the global community, but airfare will get pretty expensive :P Learners will make, explore, communicate. And when the training is not applicable enough to a specific community due to cultural, social, or linguistic differences, we’ll encourage folks to read, rip and remix those parts of the training that the local community is most in need of. The global community will help individual local communities redesign pieces of the training to speak to their growing audiences. The vision is complex, but the execution doesn’t have to be. The long and short of it is, we don’t all need the same lessons to learn how to contribute to the global movement of digital and web literacy. We all have different things to contribute, and a good training program is one that allows people to focus on the pieces they want to contribute to and customize experiences for their individual learners. It’s my firm belief that this kind of modularity leads to individual as well as organizational growth. It allows us to move more quickly, iterate and innovate systematically, analyze more succinctly and, best of all, it allows us to put learners in control of their own learning.
Over the holidays I did my best to forget about education, technology, and everything in between. 2013 was an epic year of various successes, and I needed a break. But it’s impossible to escape from the things you’re passionate about and my work is one of those things (otherwise, why do it? duh.) This post is a bit overdue, but…
The Spark.[caption id=”” align=”alignright” width=”320”] Spark, an Internet cat. (Photo credit: Dave Hogg)[/caption] First, the reason I do this at all, the spark an educator or a technologist gets to see when someone is excited about their learning. I showed a nine year old, the son of an old friend, Webmaker. He can’t really interact with English, though he’s learning it in school (he’s knows some animals, months, common beginner phrases in English). Our German translation is only at 75% (fluent in a language other than English? Help Webmaker localize!), but I was determined to show him anyway. He was playing games, and watching him, I knew he was bored. After half a day hearing from his dad how into puzzles and legos he is lately, I thought he might like coding. I showed him Thimble, and he spent the rest of the time I was there playing around, editing, trying to make a Subway Map perfect (he made three different maps because, apparently, this 9 year old is also into cartography). Three days later he had called me twice to ask me how to do this, how to do that. Checking in on his Profile Page (I showed him how to make things public), he’s made more stuff. What I DIDN’T do is ask him “Do you want to learn something?” I didn’t prove how competent I am at webmaking by driving the mouse or showing things that he wasn’t interested in. I didn’t try to trick him into caring or even gently push him down a path I established for him in my mind. I let him play, ask questions, explore and fail. I had no expectations for his learning, I just put him at the center of it. This is something I’m learning: Let expectations go. You don’t really need them. If you have expectations you’ll be disappointed when they aren’t met, and if they are met, you’ll have expected it, so there will be no warm fuzzy surprise.
The Confusion[caption id=”” align=”alignright” width=”213”] Confusion (Photo credit: bob august)[/caption] Later in my break, I had a rather long debate in which I stood alone while five educated Germans misunderstood what I was proposing as an educational ideal. I explained my views on Connected Learning, shifting dynamics, the issue with standards, and how many policies make progressive and learner centric pedagogies difficult. I vocalized arguments from far smarter people than myself, referenced research, talked about education at a philosophical level, yet I couldn’t seem to make the point that we have an opportunity to redesign our understanding of what the system is. I couldn’t seem to make the point that in education it isn’t all black and white - what it means to “be educated” is the grayest of gray with all the cultural implications, contingencies and opportunities. I’m not against forward facing pedagogies, I just think they don’t work for everything. I’m not against testing, I’m against a certain test being the primary indicator of someone’s performance (be that “someone” a learner, a teacher, a school, a district). I’m not against standards, I just think standards should be flexible. In these sorts of conversations I find that what people understand is that their education was “wrong”, and that’s offensive to them because they are, actually, educated. We underestimate what we’re doing. Changing education is about remixing a “working” system. We’re messing around with the system, but it looks like it works because people go to school, and they are taught things, and they are assessed, and they grow up. People don’t necessarily see education as being broken because the system and its contingent systems haven’t collapsed. Surely, if it were broken, the entire economy would fall apart. Non-educators (or, perhaps, non-connected Educators, non-American Educators, non-??) and/or non-techies don’t have the cultural understanding that it could be optimized. We don’t have this problem because our cultural understanding of “open” is that we are allowed to iterate, we are encouraged to try to break systems, and we are always looking for ways to improve things. Maybe most people are uncomfortable questioning systems or authorities in realms were there were never told “you’re an expert”? In any event, the confusion and debate around implementing more ideal learning environments has been going on for centuries, so there’s no reason to expect it to let up any time soon. I find it encouraging that people not in our direct target audience are interested enough to have the debate in the first place.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” - Mahatma GandhiI think that 2014 is the year we win.