GitDone aims to make GitHub Issues easier to use. It’s a simple browser extension that streamlines the GitHub Issues interface for new users and non-developers — and can add handy features and shortcuts that project managers and Task Rabbits will love.
Right now it’s just a bare-bones proof of concept for developers. We’re hoping the next 0.2 release will start to deliver enough value that we can begin testing and human trials with actual project managers and novice GitHub Issues users.
Who is GitDone for?
Non-technical users. People new to GitHub or GitHub Issues.
Anyone looking for a fast, easy task manager. Or an issue tracker that both technical and non-technical audiences will like and use.
In many ways, GitHub Issues is like a “product unto itself.” For a growing segment of users, it’s the only part of GitHub they regularly use.
Project managers like me and my team-mates at Mozilla love it. Of all the issue trackers out there (Bugzilla, Asana, etc.), it’s arguably the easiest to use. And it has a huge added benefit: it’s the same tool our developer colleagues are already using — a major bonus.
The challenge is…
GitHub can be intimidating for new users. On first use, GitHub looks and smells like a place that’s “just for developers.” That can make it harder for project managers to explain and get their non-technical team-mates to embrace.
GitHub’s language and terminology is foreign. For project managers or people just trying to get tasks done, terms like “repos” and “pull requests” don’t make sense.
Routine tasks take too many clicks. It’d be nice to get common features like “create new task” or “see all my tasks” into a toolbar that’s always close to hand. And some features are hard to find in the current GitHub interface. (e.g., “How do I add a new label?”)
By hiding some of GitHub’s complexity for “Task Rabbits,” our hope is that we can make it easier for new users to understand and get started. We can also make UI tweaks, translate terms and add shortcuts that make project managers’ lives easier.
Removing stuff that’s confusing. Hide parts of the GitHub Issues interface that are confusing for new users.
Providing some tool buttons for commonly performed tasks. A lot of value can be provided by just by pulling helpful GitHub functions and links into a toolbar.
GitDone 0.2 will:
Add stuff that’s helpful. Add elements to the interface that project managers will love. (Like: displaying labels and milestones right on the project page, adding a “new label” button right on the label list, etc.)
Then: test with humans. Gather feedback. Decide whether / what for release 0.3
What’s the ultimate goal?
Make a simpler issues management experience
Provide a gateway drug / on-ramp into the rest of GitHub for new users
Help non-developers interact with developers productively on a shared platform
For the Mozilla Learning plan right now, we’re focused on impact. What impact will our advocacy and leadership work will have in the world over the next three years? How do we state that in a way that’s memorable, manageable, measurable and motivational?
How do other orgs do it? As a way to think big and step back, we asked participants in Tuesday’s community call to give examples of organizations or projects that inspire them right now. Here’s our list.
Who inspires you?
Free Code Camp— learn to code by helping non-profit organizations (Amira)
18F — kicking ass when it comes to bringing open source to government (Kaitlin)
model view culture— cranky and continuous analytic deconstructions of intersections between technology, inclusion, diversity with anger and no apologies and a paper journal that arrives on a regular basis. (@leahatplay)
Hollaback— uses online tools to work with young people and confront street harassment (Sara)
Craigslist — because their success is based on the assumption that most people are good. (David)
Dark Mountain — thinking through how WebLit does / does not survive in the anthropocene. (Chad)
NPR – They strike a successful balance between mass appeal and education. (Simon)
The above examples are…
Crisp. Our group was able to communicate the story for each of these projects — in their own words, off the top of their head, in a single sentence. That means the mission is telegraphic, simple and sticky.
Viral. Each of these organizations has succeeded in creating an influential, mini-evangelist to spread their story for them: you!
Edgy. Many of these examples have a bit of punk rock or social justice grit. They’re not wearing a bow tie.
Diverse. There’s a broad range of stuff here, not just the usual tech / ed tech suspects. This is a party you’d want to be at.
Real. There’s no jargon or planning language in any of the descriptions people provided — the language is authentic and human, because no one’s trying too hard. It’s just natural and unscripted.
Can we get to this same level of natural, edgy crispness for MoFo and our core strategies? Would others put us on a list like this? Food for thought.
I recently completed my yearly performance review. It was a great chance to step back and think about my goals from now to the end of the year. I’m publishing them here, in case you have ideas that can help, or are working on something similar. Got something helpful I can read? An example or case study of how other orgs are doing these things well?Let’s chat.
What do I do?
Impact: I strengthen how we plan — yearly, quarterly and each Heartbeat.
My goal is: to make MoFo more transparent, focused and collaborative. I want to measure that through: clarity, velocity and happiness.
Clarity — what’s the plan? what are our goals? what percentage of staff and community know where / how to find them?
Velocity — how quickly can we ship quality work?
Happiness — how engaged is our team? are we a happy pirate ship of productive MoFos? are people freed from administrivia, confusion and baloney, so they can focus on what matters?
My goals for Q3 / Q4
1) Rock 2016 planning
“How are we putting the Mozilla Learning plan into action?” Work in the open to create more shared ownership with all staff and community. Apply what we learned from last year’s process.
2) Strengthen our quarterly planning
“What did we learn last quarter? What are our goals for this one?” Iterate our Program Review process to make it more transparent, relevant to more staff and community, and focused on follow-up items.
3) Sharpen the Heartbeat process
“How are we deploying resources for the next two weeks? How do we make that smarter?” Create ways to measure (and increase) our velocity and happiness.
4) Ship “build.mofo.org”
“How do I do x? Where do I find y?” Expand and improve build.webmaker.org. Create a single planning dashboard, on-boarding platform, and point of truth for all MoFo. Consolidate build, plan and handbook into one thing.
5) Strengthen our PM muscle
“How do we achieve better results with less work?” Have Product Managers, Program Managers and Project Managers work more closely together. Bring product thinking into everything we do. Learn from MoCo.
Success criteria and testing: for each of these, I’ve listed some potential success criteria below. Meaning: how could we *test* to see whether these things are actually working or not?
rock 2016 planning
Apply what we learned in 2015 to make 2016 planning process better. Specifically:
More and earlier participation from specific players.
Broader socialization and ownership from distributed leaders and staff.
Smarter process for setting and socializing our goals and KPIs.
Teams are ready to work / start executing on Jan 1. With Q1 goals that are already well fleshed out.
Distributed leaders understand and use a shared planning vocabulary. (e.g., goal, KPI, program, key initiative, impact statements, etc.)
Better integration for our support teams into the overall plan.
Strengthen quarterly planning
The Program Review process has become a big part of how we do emergent planning each quarter. We can improve it by increasing transparency and co-ownership for all staff in that process. Specifically:
Better follow up on key issues raised in the review. Feels like we get to the finish line, then drop and move on.
More transparency and participation for all staff. This is key. There’s good stuff in those reviews — we want everyone to know what’s in there, and play a role in it.
Increased harmony with the board slide process. Apply what we learned in Q1 and Q2 to increase efficiencies.
VPs, Directors and Program Managers report that Program Review is making their work better.
Program Reviews produce concrete changes to the program’s plan of record.
Staff feel like they’re well-included.
People no longer complain about templates.
Consolidate and expand MoFo’s organizational dashboard.
Evolve build.webmaker.org into something for the whole org.
Single point of truth. A single view for all MoFo goals, programs, metrics and plans of record, through a simple interface.
Package and consolidate a bunch of what we shipped already this year (handbooks, shared roadmaps, etc.) into one thing.
Why? Better on-boarding for MoFo across the board. Less document confusion and chaos. More visibility and longer-term planning. Streamlined workflow and documentation.
Success criteria: a new hire can go there and understand WTF is going on.
sharpen our Heartbeat process
We’ve made great strides here, but we can still sharpen the axe. The role of production work vs. non-production work (e.g., stuff that requires designers and engineers vs. not) is still unclear to many. There’s also a request to strengthen the inputs and outputs between the Heartbeat process and our senior management team.
Increased velocity. A better way for us to measure velocty together.
Happiness metric? We could also consider integrating Scrum.inc’s “happiness metric” here.
Strengthen OUR PM muscle
By that I mean: Program Managers, Product Managers and Project Managers working more closely and sharing tips with each other. It doesn’t make sense for our Program Managers to work in a vacuum — they should work more closely with Product Managers, and with people who don’t necessarily have “project manager” in their job title, but that do a lot of this each heartbeat. We also need to learn more from Program Managers at MoCo. I think this is the next step in the evolution of how we should do Program Management at MoFo.
Evidence that we’re translating best practices / success templates across MoFo programs and key intitatives
Applying at least one insight or best practice from MoCo at MoFo
MoFo PMs start regularly attending MoCo Program Reviews
An issuer organization decides to start a badge program, so its staff members design a badge system to go with the program’s content delivery and assessment practices. Then they run badge software to issue badges to recipients.
“Spending time right after workweeks to knock out documentation, to-dos, and reflection puts wind in our sails.” –Michelle
Allocate time for documentation and follow-up after work weeks. Be intentional about spending time to write up documentation / key decisions made. At the MozFest prep in Scotland, for example, we had a whole day to wrap, document, prep blogs and wikis, etc. — it really helped.
“PTO requires more prep to keep everyone in sync and unblocked … and keep PTO enjoyable.” — Matthew
Be more intentional about vacation hand-off and planning. PTO and calendar confusion slowed us down last Heartbeat. Be more intentional about planning and hand-off. In heavy PTO season, we may need to adjust our roadmap / expectations.
The CRM project is big and hard to keep a track of. So we spent time making the ‘Plan of Record’ a more useful view: http://mzl.la/CRM
Working with communities may be easier and more effective (and appreciative) with a dedicated community manager. We’re collaborating with Participation Team, but have more work to do to on-board community.
It’s hard to have engineers jump onto tasks with same results as regular team. Continuity helps. Discontinuity slows us. (See: PTO.)
There’s so much we want to say – we can’t put it all into an over-long announcement. Here is a growing list of some of the top questions:
What’s happening to the Badge Alliance?
The Badge Alliance is responding to the community’s evolving needs and adapting to focus more closely on the Open Badges Standard and organizing direct cooperation between Alliance members whose success the Standard depends on. Nate Otto is taking on the responsibility of leading the BA as it makes this transition. The BA aims to remain a strong informational resource and a place to organize collaboration and discussion between community members.
Will all of the 2014 working groups continue?
The BA is a the best place to connect to the conversations happening in the world of badges, but it should not be the only place where conversations happen. Most of the call series that started in BA working groups in 2014 will not be reestablished within the BA formally, but for any of these groups and topic area that wants to restart regular calls, we can develop a plan and the infrastructure to make it happen. For example, Dan Hickey, James Willis, and Carla Casilli are continuing the Open Badges in Higher Education working group, which kicked off its new call series July 7, with fortnightly calls already lined up for Tuesdays at Noon US Eastern. Other topic area interest groups have already started organizing, led by individuals and organizations dedicated to making badges work within their niches. A great example is the Open Badges for Teacher Professional Development consortium led by Ben Roome (BadgeList/Knowledgestreem) and Sarah Blattner (Tamritz). We recognize that many of these conversations are best distributed across the ecosystem, not centralized in one organization, and will support those interest groups with central coordination when needed.
Will the Community Calls continue?
Yes, same badge time, same badge channel. This call has been a great resource for the badges community over the years to stay checked in. Nate Otto will take over moderating the weekly community calls and welcomes feedback and suggestions about how to use this space to best serve the community.
What’s happening with the original Badge Alliance team?
It has always been the intention to make the Badge Alliance entity as streamlined and easily sustainable as possible, so that we can spend less time raising money to cover operations, and more to feedback into the ecosystem. Additionally, with a new scoped focus on the Open Badges Standard, we felt we needed more technical leadership. For those reasons, we’re transitioning the BA to a new, smaller core team led by Nate Otto. The original team will continue to contribute as community members, as well as through their own projects including Badge Labs and IMS Global.
When will I hear more?
Stay tuned to this, the Open Badges blog, BadgeAlliance.org, and the weekly community calls for more announcements and opportunities to ask questions or provide feedback.
What about the Cities of Learning?
The Cities of Learning program and its use case for Open Badges will continue to be improved and supported, including with the forthcoming release of a revamped badge-enabled platform that organizes learning. Look for more announcements about the Cities coming out over the summer and early fall as well as opportunities to sign your city up for summer 2017.
Nate is an employee of Concentric Sky. Won’t there be conflict of interest with Concentric Sky driving a neutral body like the BA since they have businesses interests around open badges and interest involved?
Much of the work of the next phase of building co-existing badge-enabled systems and services will be performed by member organizations of the BA, like Concentric Sky. Through the Standard Working Group charter and communication channels facilitated by the BA, all of these organizations will have a consensus-based process to guide the Open Badges specification and ecosystem forward in ways that seek to lift all boats as opposed to providing any commercial advantage to particular Alliance partners. Representatives from other commercial organizations working with Open Badges are likely to fill leadership roles and responsibilities in the future. As part of their responsibilities to the communities, representatives to the BA from these organizations will be asked to maintain a spirit of open cooperation, disclose their interests when relevant, and not take advantage of official roles within the BA to direct advantages to any particular organization. Questions, comments, and concerns are welcome in order to build the most effective and accessible BA possible.
Will the Badge Alliance be up to full speed right away?
No. Thanks for your patience as we work out the kinks, clean up loose ends, and get started on new initiatives. Our core regular programs, like the community call will have no interruption during the transition period, but it may take a little bit longer to get answers to questions and specific help as we finalize staffing for 2015-16.
It’s been half a year since we set out in earnest to launch Mozilla Clubs. The goal was to make a program that offered a unique, sustainable way to teach the web in local communities.
Now with 17 volunteer Regional Coordinators poised to serve 128 Mozilla Clubs with more underway, I’d like to share a 2015 half-time report.
Wait, why are you doing this?
The Web is where our personal, civic, and economic lives connect. Knowing how to wield the Web is essential to success today.
There are 2.3 billion internet users today, and another billion coming online soon. It is critical that everyone knows how to read, write and participate in the digital world.
So why Mozilla?
Mozilla is dedicated to protecting the Web as a global public resource that promotes openness, innovation and opportunity for all. This Web is as important to education as it is to economy, culture and society.
Mozilla, together with partners and collaborators, are striving for universal web literacy.
participation in city-wide professional networks (Hive)
organizing local groups to playfully explore web literacy (Mozilla Clubs)
joining convenings to celebrate, share and be inspired with other leaders (Mozfest).
What’s a Mozilla Club then?
A Mozilla Club meets regularly in-person to learn how to read, write and participate with the web in an inclusive and engaging way.
A Mozilla Clubs has these key elements:
Connected learning in action. Research shows you learn best when you learn by making projects you care about, with peers who support and encourage you. That’s why our program is hands-on, production-centered and social. Learners gain confidence with the Web by actively shaping it together.
Curriculum that’s free & open and educator-tested. Our curriculum features hands-on ways to teach the Web, free of cost and free to reuse and remix. Each activity includes step-by-step instructions and tips for how to teach it, all underpinned by the Web Literacy Map.. What’s more, activities can be taught with limited or no connectivity, ensuring the Web can be learned anywhere and by anyone.
Best practices and community mentorship. Clubs are key nodes in the Mozilla Learning Network, which enables connections to other people teaching digital literacy. By connecting with others, individual Mozilla club nodes have access to best practices and mentorship around the world. Local clubs are more resilient and effective when they are networked with each other.
Regular engagement. Literacy doesn’t happen overnight. Learning takes time and application of both theory and practice. Through regular meetings, both learners and club captains grow and improve. This deepens peer learning within the local community and with each other.
It’s all about the people, baby
The biggest lesson in the last months was renewed appreciation for the people that will make this program successful. That means a deeper understanding about who wants to participate, what motivates them, and what they need.
Authentic relationships matter. And there is no shortcut for good, engaging relationships if you want to empower leaders and have a healthy, happy community.
Our program relies on volunteers supporting other volunteers. This is part of the magic. Nevertheless, it takes time to grow that capacity.
Learning from initiatives like Mozfest and Hive city networks, as well as folks like the Obama campaign organizers, we know that to deliver a high quality experience to all, and to sustain the scale of our efforts over time, we need real volunteer-to-volunteer relationships in place.
There is a lot of interest in Mozilla Clubs. That’s amazing, But at the moment, there is too much interest to serve everyone properly right now.
So we decided to move slowly, quickly.
The more you participate, the more you learn
From now until the end of the year, we are identifying and supporting Regional Coordinators.
This leadership role is dedicated to serving Mozilla Club Captains (the ones running the clubs) in realizing their full potential through on-going mentorship and leadership development.
If we are successful at this, there will be hundreds of Mozilla Clubs supported by volunteer-to-volunteer relationships.
If this sounds interesting to you, and you’d like to spread web literacy in your region while learning how to be a more effective, facilitative leader, then check out what it takes to be a Regional Coordinator and apply!
At Hive NYC’s regular bimonthly community call in June, our guest Bill Mills, Community Manager at Mozilla Science Lab, introduced a recently developed instructor training kit. We discussed the kit as an exemplar of open education practice and engaged call listeners in participatory reflection on its content.
Mozilla Science Lab is a network of peers collaborating to leverage the open web within research practice. The instructor training kit is an openly remixable “cookbook” for basic pedagogies. While it has been created as a resource for instructors working in open science, the content of the kit is purely pedagogical, and can therefore be applied to different subjects, contexts and communities—particularly where open collaboration on the web is involved. Like the programs we pilot within Hive NYC, the Mozilla Science Lab approach to teaching aims to create and support pathways of opportunity within diverse communities of stakeholders.
The instructor training kit demonstrates how, by working open, we can promote sharing and reuse of lesson materials in education—rather than continually “reinventing the wheel”, this approach frees teachers to focus on nuance and to create quality content for their learners.
Designing for reuse
The kit will be used as a resource for Mozilla Science Lab fellows, and has already undergone some remixing and adaptation following initial use. The learning programs primarily supported by this resource will be delivered in community contexts, for example a study group led by a grad student or a government project to serve an open data mandate. Bill shared tips on creating lesson materials with reuse in mind, such as breaking content into modular sections and building clear pathways for people to remix a resource to meet different needs.
The instructor teaching kit outlines two workshops, exploring four key aspects of leading a learning experience: knowledge and expertise; feedback; compelling instruction; design and adaptation. A focus on hands-on learning gives instructor trainees opportunities to try out the pedagogical techniques, for example by pairing up to teach micro-lessons. Participants can also use the workshops to prepare outlines of practice for specific learning sessions they are planning.
On the call we looked in more detail at the Compelling Instruction component of the Mozilla Science Lab teaching kit—the following excerpt illustrates a key principle:
“..by understanding what motivates non-mandatory participation and by understanding how to remove barriers to participation, we can potentially dramatically extend and diversify the audience we are able to reach.”
Bill expressed the view that a vital characteristic of open culture is inclusivity, and that being mindful of the learner experience allows us to design the lesson as an opportunity for them to empower themselves. The discussion touched on the fact that true open practice requires more than putting resources on the web—it’s about creating a framework to share content openly within a community in which participation is enabled and encouraged. These are principles we pay attention to at Hive NYC, not only when we create learning experiences for youth, but also in the way we collaborate to work and learn together as a community.
Community, morale and engagement
The Compelling Instruction section of the teaching kit examines the power of self-concept in setting students up to succeed, potentially overcoming past failures and creating a sense of belonging, making students feel that the material and environment are “for” them. Mozilla Science Lab aims to promote this approach in specific learning programs and throughout a global network in which, like Hive NYC, a diversity of participants makes ambitious goals possible to achieve.
The group followed the discussion with a participatory exercise reflecting on the kit, with listeners adding their thoughts and answers to guided questions, expressing views about what worked and didn’t work, as well as potential uses in member projects. We were welcomed to contribute to the ongoing development and adaptation of the project via its GitHub repository.
Although the Mozilla Science Lab teaching kit is focused on science education rather than creative and digital literacies, which tend to be our priority in the Hive NYC community, this resource is a valuable example of applying open practices to the learning process. You can listen to the call or check out the etherpad for more detail on the discussion we had.
2014 was a great building year for the badges ecosystem and the Badge Alliance (BA) network, and 2015 has been an exciting year so far. Rooms are overflowing for badging-related presentations at conferences around the world, more compelling use cases are popping up all the time, and the level of understanding and conversation about badges is far higher than two years ago. While the Badge Alliance has played a pivotal role in this progress, much of the work has come from the community itself.
The BA was created to grow the community and seat the ownership and accountability of the badging work in the ecosystem that was using badges. We’ve accomplished that - the BA has grown, with hundreds of organizations pledging to work together to issue and understand Open Badges. The first year of the BA’s investigation, community-building, and outreach provided us with a better understanding of the state of badges in the world, and connected a vibrant community around collaborating to use a shared technology. The momentum behind Open Badges has never been stronger.
Our initial efforts also revealed that there are still significant barriers to implementation and to achieving the community’s goals for Open Badges usability and impact. Over the last year, we discovered that the network is large and diverse, and that it is positioned to continue to diversify in multiple dimensions. It became clear that it is more important than ever for the BA to redouble its efforts on maintaining and improving badges technology and interoperability to make Open Badges the best way to recognize, capture, and communicate learning across all contexts.
With this analysis, we’ve decided to rescope the BA’s priorities and focus on the areas where the BA’s contribution to the community is most needed. Based on all of the foundational work that has been done to-date, it’s evident that zeroing in on the Open Badges Standard and the community around it is critical for accelerating adoption and realizing mainstream acceptance of open badges..
The BA is bringing on Nate Otto of Concentric Sky as its new Interim Director to help make this shift, drawing on his technical background and deep familiarity with the badges ecosystem to capitalize on the momentum that has built over the last 16 months. Nate will oversee the new BA focused on the Open Badges Standard, as well as other priorities as identified by the community. Nate is working with the founding Badge Alliance team to collect community feedback about priorities, and we welcome any additional thoughts community members have about this shift.
This is a blog post by Amelia Marsh, Summer Intern at Mozilla Hive NYC.
Before I start this blog post in earnest, I want to introduce myself. I’m Amelia Marsh, I’m a student at the University of Arizona (located in Tucson, AZ) and I’m a member of a youth design team, who designs and influences the way that the Pima County Public Library’s 101 Youth Space functions and interacts with the Tucson community.
Working at the 101 Space has defined how I look at learning and success, giving me a new pair of eyes around my own abilities and my potential for encouraging inspiration, success, and power in other students. I’m so excited to continue learning and working around educational innovation and networks, especially as a NYC rookie who can offer a unique perspective informed by the differences between my desert hometown and arguably the world’s most iconic city.
The first event that I attended as part of my blogger/intern duties was Maker Prom. For those who don’t know, it’s a celebration created for the high and middle school-aged winners of the national Scholastic Awards in Art & Writing. For me, it was fascinating, comforting, and straight-up FUN.
Whether you’re a seasoned organizer, a high school student in New York for the first time, or a newly assigned intern on her first assignment, there’s always a little bit of nervousness at the beginning of an event. I felt it as I wandered through the opulent Roosevelt Hotel in search of the Mozilla Hive NYC Team. With help from a security guard in the lobby and after a walk through a hallway populated almost entirely by the ribbons hanging off of balloons, I found the ballroom: full of organizers, waiting to be full of teenagers.
And soon it was. Around 650 of them, all told. They moved like a slow river,
to playing with Oculus Rift and motion sensing robots with Maker State,
to taking sonic prom portraits with Building Beats,
Little rivulets included photo ops and free chips, and the lake was the dance floor, which was packed by the end of the night.
Maker Prom is a somewhat unique event because it works to bring a lot of teenagers with separate geographical experiences together to celebrate their collective achievements. And honestly, it worked. That’s one of the really amazing things about making stuff. It’s a great icebreaker. The concept of icebreaker sounds cliché as I write it, but forging relationships is vital for personal growth and happiness, and breaking the kinetic energy of shyness to begin those relationships can be hard. However, when you and a new person are exploring a creative technology there’s plenty of ways to start a conversation.
I did this a lot at Maker Prom as I wandered around with Mozilla’s camera. I asked organizers what they had planned, but I also asked the teenagers what they were making. I sat next to a girl named Eden for 15 minutes as we worked on small zines. Both were a messy mixes of stickers, glitter paint, and newspaper clippings. Mine said “NYC”, her’s said “Art is Alive.”We shared our embarrassment at their simplicity, but she also told me about the story that got her the award that got her to this place, and about her friends and how New York City always manages to magic and new and full of possibilities. One of her favorite books is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
Making is a great conversation starter, but it’s more than a gimmick. A good conversation is fun and exploratory, and so is making a flashing dinosaur barrette out of hot glue, a mold, and an LED light. And let me tell you, I did not understand how that was going to happen until someone else explained it to me. And once I did understand, I wanted to explain it to everyone in the room. This kind of creativity necessarily exists in a community. I think that Eden said it best: art is alive.
I got to sit in on a great debrief / recap of the recent Webmaker go-to-market strategy. A key takwaway: we’re having promising early success recruiting local volunteers to help tell the story, evangelize for the product, and (crucially) feed local knowledge into making the product better. In short:
Volunteer contribution is working. But now we need to document, systematize and scale up our on-ramps.
Documenting and systematizing
It’s been a known issue that we need to update and improve our on-ramps for contributors across MoFo. They’re fragmented, out of date, and don’t do enough to spell out the value for contributors. Or celebrate their stories and successes.
We should prioritize this work in Q3. Our leadership development work, local user research, social marketing for Webmaker, Mozilla Club Captains and Regional Co-ordinators recruitment, the work the Participation Lab is doing — all of that is coming together at an opportune moment.
Get the value proposition right
A key learning is: we need to spell out the concrete value propositionfor contributors. Particularly in terms of training and gaining relevant work experience.
Don’t assume we know in advance what contributors actually want. They will tell us.
We sometimes assume contributors want something like certification or a badge — but what if what they *really* want is a personalized letter of recommendation, on Mozilla letterhead, from an individual mentor at Mozilla that can vouch for them and help them get a job, or get into a school program? Let’s listen.
An on-boarding and recruiting checklist
Here’s some key steps in the process the group walked through. We can document / systematize / remix these as we go forward.
Value proposition. Start here first. What’s in it for contributors? (e.g., training, a letter of recommendation, relevant work experience?) Don’t skip this! It’s the foundation for doing this in a real way.
Role description. Get good at describing those skills and opportunities, in language people can imagine adding to their CV, personal bio or story, etc.
Open call. Putting the word out. Having the call show up in the right channels, places and networks where people will see and hear about it.
Application / matching. How do people express interest? How do we sort and match them?
On-boarding and training. These processes exist, but aren’t well-documented. We need a playbook for how newcomers get on-boarded and integrated.
Assigning to a specific team and individual mentor. So that they don’t feel disconnected or lost. This could be an expectation for all MoFo: each staff member will mentor at least one apprentice each quarter.
Goal-setting / tasking. Tickets or some other way to surface and co-ordinate the work they’re doing.
A letter of recommendation. Once the work is done. Written by their mentor. In a language that an employer / admission officer / local community members understand and value.
Certification. Could eventually also offer something more formal. Badging, a certificate, something you could share on your linked in profile, etc.
Co-ordinate across teams. Other teams are doing similar things — need to synch up.
Tie this to a Mozilla Learning working group. Ben can help here.
TL;DR My last day at Mozilla already happened, but I’m still me. I bring together disparate things to foster learning, spread openness and design for participation. I’m a creative generalist who likes to make stuff, and I’m open to exploring opportunities.
About 5.5 years ago I took a broken dream to the first Mozilla Festival (at the time it was called Drumbeat) in Barcelona. Going to this festival with my struggling project was a last ditch effort, I was hanging on, trying to make it work.
Drumbeat was the place that I was finally able to let go, start over, try again. The people I met there gave me new ideas, they introduced me to a way of working that fit with how my brain operates. Drumbeat lit a fire under me. I met Mozillians.
photo by Mozilla Europe
I’ve resisted the status quo because when I’ve questioned it, I don’t usually receive satisfactory answers. Over the years, Mozillians taught me how to focus my defiance towards a common good. It’s that focus that has cultivated me and my way of being in the professional space.
I believe in open, and I believe that what Mozilla is trying to do for the world is a just cause. Openness can be hard, but in my experience the right thing is always more difficult.
Last Monday was my final day as a paid contributor, and I’m in the process of detangling Mozilla from my own identity. We’ve grown up together in this community. We have rallied around a nascent vision and made it something that is resonating throughout the world. I am proud to have contributed to every aspect of the Foundation’s work – from strategy to learning design to prototyping to evangelism to community management to production – I’ve helped Mozilla innovate in the teaching and learning space.
Our work has inspired people, and I’ll always be a Mozillian. But I want to be more too. Mozilla is a part of me, but it can no longer define me.
photo by Doug Belshaw
I don’t know what’s next for me, and that’s ok. I will continue to think and write and make and learn and fail, and I will continue to embody the open ethos. Even when it’s hard, especially when it’s hard. In the immediate future, I will pause, breathe and take stock. I can literally do anything with the competencies and skills I’ve developed and honed over the years. That feels like a powerful invitation to do the right things.
There is a lot of right in the world. I’m looking for something where I can design learning/engagement opportunities, develop leaders and apply open practices, digital/web literacies and all things geeky. I want to help people/orgs grow, collectively, as they allow me to grow together with them. I want to shift power structures and community dynamics, be a voice for people who need one and just be who I am – defiant, curious, unwavering in the ideals of open.
If you think you have a right thing for me, let me know. You all know how to find me. laura [at] this domain is where you started interacting with me in 2010, and it’s where you can continue to do so. You can also find me on twitter or LinkedIn (or just google me, I’m all over the web). I hope some of you reach out – there are plenty of wonderful memories and new ideas to discuss, and I will always be here for my Mozilla friends.
A couple weeks ago, in the Open Web Leadership call we talked about the last iteration of the Open Leadership Map (OLM) (notice: this call has been changed! New pad + details here). One of the things that we discussed was the idea that theory and practice are too often separated – that understanding theory is important for improving practice, but practicing is important for understanding. It’s cyclical, so trying to divide the competencies we believe are necessary for leaders in the Open Community into arbitrary theory/practice based groupings is simply not necessary. Upon conclusion of that discussion, we decided to collapse the “Understanding: Participatory Learning” and the “Facilitating: People, Processes and Content” strands together.
Makes sense, right? To have “what you need to know” and “how you wield what you know” as “What you need to know and how to wield it”?
While working through this, I made some decisions based on our conversations, so I’m particularly interested to hear your thoughts on how this worked out:
click for the enlarged version of the Open Web Leadership Map
First, as discussed, “Making” replaced “Prototyping” as the competency, and I moved Prototyping as a note on topics to cover (we may yet get to the granularity of skills!). Next, I moved “Open Practices” and looked at “Making” and “Open Practices” in concert. Design thinking, it was noted, fits well under making, but what seemed to work better was exploding the term “design thinking” into the steps in the process and organizing them under these two competencies. It was here that I started moving around what I viewed as mainly thinking versus mainly producing – to clarify, I say “mainly” because we are constantly producing AND thinking with our methods, so Making + Open Practices are always in concert with one another (for open leaders anyhow).
Aside: We had discussed that the terminology “Open Thinking“ isn’t right, but I did find it difficult to not want to address just how brain-heavy ideation, reflection and analyzation can be. Also, I sort of threw out “Connected Learning”. I was thinking that “Connected Learning” as a model comes in during a content step, rather than a meta organizing step. Though, at the same time, I found that “web literacy” as a model can be included because I feel that web literacy directly contributes to the ability to make, teach, organize and sustain learning for the web.
All of this was the hard part of the iteration. Afterwards, I simply moved all the topics from under participation to under “Promoting Action” because designing for participation is about promoting action IMHO. I also see a congruency between “promoting action” and “mobilizing community”, so I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation.
Another thing we should talk about – naming for this strand – in the meantime, I called in “Facilitating: Participatory Learning”.
Looking forward to hearing what folks think! Join us on June 2nd 16:00 UTC (18:00 CET / 12:00 ET / 09:00 PT) and share your thoughts, or leave a comment / tweet at me / tweet using #teachtheweb or send me an email :D
After thinking that “Facilitating” encompasses a series of skills and behaviors that are embedded in many of the other competencies, I changed the second strand to include facilitating as an overarching concept. I also slotted “developing leadership” under participation because I feel like mentorship and personal/professional development among collaborators is part of participating with an open ethos. Then I swapped “playtesting” as an overarching competency and replaced in with “prototyping” of which I feel “playtesting” plays a part.
We can discuss all this and more in this week’s Open Web Leadership Call! Or leave comments, contact me on twitter or start a discussion in Discourse, whatever your preference, I’d love to hear what you think ;)
Every year Hive NYC HQ invites representatives from lead organizations to an annual State of Hive NYC meet-up to participate in a lively discussion about values, purpose and practice. This meet-up is designed to provide an overview of the current Hive NYC landscape and identify goals for collective impact. It is an opportunity to plant the seeds for what comes next and to practice identifying and building upon the larger concerns and commonalities within our work. As network membership and ecosystem grow, our ability to leverage community assets is also strengthened, allowing us to create more robust collaborations.
1. Generous hosts
AMNH swag giveaway at State of Hive NYC 2015
The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) generously hosted this year’s State of Hive NYC event. They provided wonderful facilities, food and staff to assist us throughout the three hour event. To top it off they surprised us with a very special swag give-away!
AMNH has been a member of the Hive NYC Learning Network since 2009, when Hive NYC was a very new and experimental idea. As a founding member, they have seen the network evolve and grow into what a recent Forbes article calls “one of the more advanced initiatives working to provide tech education to New York City students”. We are grateful to AMNH not only for offering their facilities and time to this event, but also for their amazing contributions to Hive NYC over the last six years. Their continued involvement in the community is a compelling demonstration of what we can achieve as a learning network.
2. Diverse organizations and individuals
Strength and Power in our Differences slide created for State of Hive NYC 2015
More than 70 individuals participated this year, representing a diverse range of youth-serving organizations in NYC. Some are small and new to the network, like Divas For Social Justice. Others are large and have been participating in Hive NYC activity for years, like Parsons The New School for Design. These differing experiences, backgrounds and sources of expertise help make events like this exciting and unique.
Early in the event Leah Gilliam, Director of Hive NYC, talked about “honoring the strength and power in our differences”. Participants were asked to use the event as an opportunity to meet new people and identify where organizational differences and strengths overlap. This set the stage for the activities, discussions and thinking that followed.
3. Value and opportunity
Hive NYC community values and opportunities brainstorm from State of Hive NYC 2015
We started the event with an activity to get participants brainstorming on opportunities and values that members have access to through the network. They wrote ideas down on post-it notes and placed them on one of two prompts hanging on the wall. It was illuminating to see the wall fill up with a variety of responses. Here are a few samples of the results:
Two of the things I value most about Hive NYC are:
innovation and talent
partnership and opportunities
network and like minds
Hive gives me the opportunity to:
see what other organizations are doing and learn how I can support their work
try new things
broaden my perspective
4. Community input
We hired a photographer to help us document and capture community reflections and feedback. Along with these photos, we offered a video testimonial booth, where participants could leave short clips about their experiences as Hive NYC community members. 16 participants recorded a range of great ideas and perspectives, touching on topics such as networked thinking, partnerships, digital literacy and youth pathways.
5. Alumni expertise
We invited three Hive NYC Alumni to make guest appearances at the event. All three of them talked about how being a part of the network has guided their work and connected them to new opportunities.
Juan Rubio, formerly the Associate Director of Online Leadership Program at Global Kids Inc., referenced specific projects that demonstrate the opportunity Hive NYC creates for “groups of people coming together and creating really strong programs”. Kevin Miklasz, formerly the Director of Digital Learning at Iridescent, talked about another Hive NYC project highlighting “the ease and the ability in which we are able to form collaborations” and “the openness and flexibility to innovate”. Anne Greg, the Director of Community Programs at Carnegie Hall, described Hive NYC’s impact on youth and how it is “clear that the Hive Learning Network is an engaged and engaging group of leaders who care about young people and care about learning with and from each other”. “If the group can leverage this energy and potential, great things can happen.”
6. Vision and purpose
Leah Gilliam, Director of Hive NYC speaking to participants at State of Hive NYC 2015
After a 10 minute refreshment break, Leah Gilliam energized participants with the opening State of Hive NYC presentation. She began by noting the growing nature of Hive NYC, recognizing the new faces and organizations in the room as proof of Hive NYC’s vibrancy and success. Noting that Hive NYC’s growth was happening in the midst of larger changes, Leah reminded community members of the importance of knowing one’s vision and purpose in the midst of change. Leah specifically pointed to Hive NYC’s importance as a complex and diverse environment, noting that our strength as a network lies in our abilities to learn from and build upon one another’s differences. “Today”, she said “is about vision. It’s about generating a collective and shared vision of what we as a group value in the midst of change.”
Hive NYC is a growing and evolving community. And with growth often comes change. As new organizations and individuals join the network, new priorities and possibilities arise. This affects key features of the landscape. While things like funder priorities, collaboration opportunities and network practices may shift, we don’t want to lose site of our roots, what balances us and what is important to us—the hive community.
Leah concluded with an introduction to the next activity designed to help organizations think about what they valued as well as a sense of the collective value of Hive NYC.
7. Unique assets
Following Juan Rubio’s thoughtful video and Leah Gilliam’s bird’s-eye view of Hive NYC, participants got started on an activity to identify and map organizational assets to a modified Success Weakness Opportunities Threats (SWOT) Hand-out. A SWOT analysis (alternatively called SWOT matrix) is a “structured planning method used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in a project”. “It can be carried out for a product, place, industry or person and involves specifying the objective of the project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieve that objective.” (Wikipedia)
What resulted was a large collection of assets ranging from expertise, to on-site equipment, curricular resources and much more. Documenting these assets was the first step in identifying innovations, non-negotiables and important components to each member’s work with Hive NYC going forward.
After completing the hand-out individually, participants were asked to find a partner (someone they had never worked with before) and discuss their responses. They exchanged their SWOT Matrix and learned about the similarities and differences in what was shared.
Vision statement created by community members at State of Hive NYC 2015
The last activity of the day was a group exercise, with ten groups of roughly seven people. Over the course of around 40 minutes, each group created a collaborative Hive NYC vision statement. Getting there was not easy.
Groups started by choosing four assets from their SWOT analysis and listing them on post-it notes. They discussed and curated their lists to determine where and how each of their organizations aligned. Through this conversation and as they mapped out their vision for Hive NYC, groups were asked to consider the overarching Mozilla Hive Learning goals to Mobilize, Create, Catalyze and Grow. Groups were given a sample sentence to work from, but encouraged to create one of their own. These guiding questions helped as they collaboratively worked:
How can what you value in Hive NYC (refer to first activity) and your organizational assets (see SWOT Matrix) ground this vision statement?
What can you agree on with your group members?
What do you want to see going forward based on current Hive NYC realities and opportunities?
Each statement was hung on the wall and one person from each group presented the idea by reading it aloud. Each participant was then able to choose the statement they agreed with most. They could vote on the full statement or choose a small piece by placing a dot sticker near it.
10. Open mic
Naomi Solomon from MOUSE announces an upcoming event at State of Hive NYC 2015
We closed the event with an open mic. Several participants stood up to announce upcoming events, opportunities, reflections and youth programs. Naomi Solomon, from MOUSE, shared details and exciting updates about Emoti-con!. Hillary Kolos, from Dreamyard, gave an update about an ongoing collaboration with Parsons the New School for Design: Digital Learning Portfolios. Aaron Lazansky (a.k.a SpazeCraft), an independant artist teaching for several organizations, announced his work on an upcoming youth produced radio show.
This type of closing is very common among Hive NYC community gatherings. It is a representation of the constant activity and unwavering commitment individuals in this network share.
The State of Hive NYC meet-up reflects the unique set of characteristics that make this community such a valuable one to be part of. Our creativity, diversity of expertise and resources, and connections to one another through the network together make our ambitious goals achievable.
Program Review is just one piece of how we can all do smarter quarterly planning together. More detail on that below.
Getting to smarter quarterly planning
Quarterly planning is key; it’s how we learn, course correct and align as we go. And it’s a crucial link between our high-level plan for the year, vs. the minutiae of each individual Heartbeat, where it’s easy to get lost in the weeds.
A quarter is short enough to feel real, but long enough to get something meaningful done.
At the end of each quarter, we need to:
Report. On our progress. To each other, our Board and colleagues across Mozilla.
Reflect. Step back. Think hard about what’s working and what isn’t. Learn and share with teammates and peers.
Adjust. Surface key questions that emerge from that process. Make decisions in a clear and timely way. And then update the Holy Plan Of Record, so that everyone knows.
Quarterly planning problems and solutions
Board slides. It’s been too difficult to pull the data and story we need across all programs.
Clear quarterly goals. Hard to find for all programs, expressed in a standardized way. Focused on a small number of tight priorities — not a laundry list.
SOLUTION: We created a single home for all quarterly goals going forward: mzl.la/goals. Entered in a simple spreadsheet, with a basic template for all that will feed directly into our board slides.
PROBLEM: No shared planning template across programs. This makes it hard to get a birdseye view, and speak the same planning language.
SOLUTION: Move towards a shared “Minimum Viable Plan” template for all programs going forward. Develop a shared understanding around a north star KPI, crisp quarterly goals, and key initiatives for each program. mzl.la/program_review_recommendations
No org-wide roadmap. Planning in tiny two-week increments starts to feel myopic; we need to see further out on the horizon, across the org.
SOLUTION: We created an org-wide roadmap. With a high-level summary by quarter. mzl.la/plan
What / why “Program Review?” This is new. It feels like we confuse ourselves with semantics here, conflating “program review” with the larger process of how to do quarterly planning in general. We need to be clearer about the goal.
This is a crucial question for any project, community or organization. What’s the plan for ‘x?’ Where do I find it? It’s hard to get on the same page when we don’t know where that page is, or who owns it.
Until now, it’s been too hard to find the various Plans of Record at MoFo. They’re buried in a maze of etherpads, google docs and wikis.
e.g., “Where’s the go-to-market plan for Webmaker? When’s the beta release date for the app? Where’s the Clubs roadmap? How does it dovetail with the teach.moz.org roadmap? What are we doing this month to get ready for Maker Party?” etc. etc. etc.
To make that easier, we’ve linked all Plans of Record on mzl.la/plan. This will provide one-stop shopping for all key planning documents and roadmaps. It’s a single point of truth for the Plan of Record. There’s lost more to update and add, but we’re getting good feedback on it so far.
Q: “What’s the plan?” A: “You’ll find it on mzl.la/plan“
Don’t worry — you don’t need to update yet another wiki! Just keep using whatever tools or documents you’re already using; mzl.la/plan just links to or embeds your existing etherpads, google docs, wikis, spreadsheets, or whatever your team prefers to use. Just make sure they’re linked from mzl.la/plan, so that others can more easily find them.
How do we ensure key planning issues get addressed?
Our quarterly reviews will regularly surface key questions or decisions that need to get made. In Q1, our Program Review and quarterly planning process did a great job at surfacing key issues like:
The crucial bit to optimize is: how do we ensure we’re able to discuss those issues with the right stakeholders, come to a decision, and then update the plan of record in a timely way? Going forward, program managers and program leads will need to streamline how we make use of these three groups to get that done:
Ops. Our senior management team.
TPS. Our distributed leadership and Heartbeat planning team.
Working group. A RACI made up out of members of both, or whatever specific stakeholders are needed to dig in and document a proposal or update to the plan of record.
The interface and hand-off between these three units needs to be clearer. And key issues or challenges need a clear project manager and decision-maker or they won’t get done. More on that soon.
The goal: open, social, focused
Experience has taught us that simply drafting plans isn’t enough; we have to socialize those goals and plans with the people directly affected. And build shared ownership in the plan. “Working open” doesn’t work when we just chuck planning documents over a wall and hope they land in the right spot.
If there’s one thing this planning work underscores, its the fact that we probably have too many key initiatives. The holy grail for us is smarter execution and focus. We have a way to go yet — but hopefully this is a step in the right direction.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about an organizing structure for future (and current) Teach Like Mozilla content and curriculum. This stream of curriculum is aimed at helping leaders gain the competencies and skills needed for teaching, organizing and sustaining learning for the web. We’ve been short-handing this work “Open Fluency” after I wrote a post about the initial thinking.
Last week, in our biweekly community call, we talked about the vision for our call. In brief, we want to:
“Work together to define leadership competencies and skills, as well as provide ideas and support to our various research initiatives.”
We decided to change the naming of this work to “Open Web Leadership”, with a caveat that we might find a better name sometime in the future. We discussed leadership in the Mozilla context and took some notes on what we view as “leadership” in our community. We talked about the types of leadership we’ve seen within the community, noted that we’ve seen all sorts, and, in particular, had a lengthy conversation about people confusing management with leadership.
We decided that as leaders in the Mozilla Community, we want to be collaborative, effective, supported, compassionate for people’s real life situations. We want to inspire inquiry and exploration and ensure that our community can make independent decisions and take ownership. We want to be welcoming and encouraging, and we are especially interested in making sure that as leaders, we encourage new leaders to come forward, grow and participate.
“Open Web Leaders engage in collaborative design while serving as a resource to others as we create supportive learning spaces that merge multiple networks, communities, and goals.”
Next, we discussed what people need to feel ownership and agency here in the Mozilla community. People expressed some love for the type of group work we’re doing with Open Web Leadership, pointing out that working groups who make decisions together fuels their own participation. It was pointed out that the chaos of the Mozilla universe should be a forcing function for creating on-boarding materials for getting involved, and that a good leader:
“Makes sure everyone “owns” the project”
There’s a lot in that statement. Giving ownership and agency to your fellow community members requires open and honest communication, not one time but constantly. No matter how much we SAY it, our actions (or lack of action) color how people view the work (as well as each other).
After talking about leadership, we added the progressive “ing” form to the verbs we’re using to designate each Open Web Leadership strand. I think this was a good approach as to me it signifies that understanding, modeling and uniting to TeachTheWeb are ongoing and participatory practices. Or, said another way, lifelong learning FTW! Our current strands are:
Understanding Participatory Learning (what you need to know)
Modeling Processes and Content (how you wield what you know)
Uniting Locally and Globally (why you wield what you know)
We established a need for short, one line descriptors on each strand, and decided that the competency “Open Thinking” is actually a part of “Open Practices”. We’ll refine and further develop this in future calls!
As always, you’re invited to participate. There are tons of thought provoking Github issues you can dive into (coding skills NOT required), and your feedback, advice, ideas and criticisms are all welcome.
This specification is fully backwards compatible with v1.0.
We have adapted the specification to use Linked Data/JSON-LD technology which is increasingly being adopted by the big players such as Google, Yahoo, Yandex and Microsoft. You can read more about that here. This only requires adding three new JSON-LD properties to new badges to make them fully understandable Linked Data: @context, id and type.
What are the benefits of JSON-LD?
This will enable all 1.1 Open Badges to be indexed and understood better by search engines and directories.
Key stakeholders in the ecosystem such as issuers, earners and badge consumers will benefit from well-understood, well-defined and context-driven metadata.
The biggest feature introduction is the extension specification. As many of you know, open badges metadata fields are clearly defined, and there has long been the ability to add additional data to badges but nothing was ever done with this additional data. Increasingly members in the community have been requesting the ability to add additional fields to satisfy the particular needs of their communities in a way that can be understood across different issuers. The extension specification enables just that. We think this has a couple advantages:
We can keep the open badges foundational metadata itself lean.
We can experiment with additional fields through the extension field first. If we see increasing use of a particular extension, say geolocation extension, we can start a discussion around the utility of bringing it into the foundational specification.
As many of you already know, Open Badges are comprised of 3 objects: Assertion, Badge Class and Issuer. Any of these 3 badge objects may be extended.
We think this is an exciting development for the Open Badges community.
Today is an exciting day for the open badges community! IMS Global, the leading education technology standards body, announced that they are kicking off a new IMS Digital Credentialing initiative.
In case you are unaware, IMS Global is a nonprofit membership organization that advances technology that can affordably scale and improve educational participation and attainment by collaborating on interoperability and adoption initiatives. Check out the IMS website for more information.
The new IMS Digital Credentialing initiative will be focused on furthering the adoption, integration and transferability of digital credentials, within institutions, schools, and corporations. The initial aim of IMS Digital Credentialing will be to further investigate and expand the reach, adoption and value of open badges in several potential ways, including: badge integration in the IMS eT work already underway, Open Badge Standard extension work, and exploration of new models of badge system design, storage, usage, or evaluation.
“This is exciting news for the open badging work, which was incubated initially at Mozilla Foundation and then expanded upon at the Badge Alliance,” according to Erin Knight, Executive Director of the Badge Alliance. “We’ve been working for years to get the kind of access and influence that IMS can bring to the table, and now we can focus on building the necessary extensions and/or new standards needed to make badges usable and valuable to institutions and employers across the world.”
Check out Erin’s blog post to learn more about the natural evolution of this exciting new initiative and what it means for the open badges community.
For more information on the new IMS Digital Credentialing initiative, check out the press release here.
After fruitful conversations around open fluency and making a commitment (next call April 30th) to think about what that means, while in parallel producing leadership and development content for Teach Like Mozilla, we’ve made some decisions about what is most useful to the overall Mozilla Learning strategyright now. I’m happy to know that once “right now” is over, there’s a whole roadmap for “what’s next” because I’ve planned Mozilla curriculum production for…well the foreseeable future.
I’ve mapped the production work and marked which pieces are intended for the more global professional development curriculum we call Teach Like Mozilla. I’ve created a shared Google Doc folder to streamline production (because I’m worried that if I send everyone to the Teach Like Mozilla curriculum on Github, people will get snagged in the technical details instead of immersed in the content production).
Later this week I intend to file late Q2 and Q3 curricular issues that harness the likely-too-brainy roadmap harnessed in this google doc.
There is PLENTY of room for involvement. All docs are open, issues are open for discussion and if you are feeling lost with the way I organize, please reach out and say “Laura, no one understands this except for you…” I need that kind of direct feedback, and I swear there is a method to the madness!
This week we dived into a discussion on soft skills and workforce development, led by those who kickstarted a conversation last week. We also heard from Alan Reid of Coastal Carolina University, where he developed an online program in which students earn performance-based digital badges in their first-year writing courses - http://ccc.coastal.edu/. They were able to successfully convince the college to recognize badges as a legitimate credit hour - that’s a pretty huge deal in the formal education space!
Now, the ENGL courses that were traditionally 3 credit hours have become 4 credit hour courses, with the fourth hour defined as students’ demonstrated ability to earn the digital badges (each badge takes students roughly 1-1.5 hours to complete). Obviously, this had a large impact on the rest of the university, shifting entire programmatic curriculums, as well as affecting financial aid and tuition schedules. They began the program last August, and so far, we have had an overwhelmingly positive response.
Establish Mozilla as the best place to teach and learn the web.
Not only the technical aspects of the open web — but also its culture, citizenship and collaborative ethos.
How will we measure that? Through relationships and reach.
2015 goal: ongoing learning activity in 500cities
In 2015, our key performance indicator (KPI) is to establish ongoing, on-the-ground activity in 500 cities around the world. The key word is ongoing — we’ve had big success in one-off events through programs like Maker Party. This year, we want to grow those tiny sparks into ongoing, year-round activity through clubs and lasting networks.
From one-off events to lasting Clubs and Networks
Maker Party events help active and on-board local contributors. Clubs give them something more lasting to do. Hive Networks grow further into city-wide impact.
What are we working on?
These key initiatives:
teach.mozilla.org will provide a new home for all our teaching offerings — including Maker Party.
What we did: developed the site, which will soft launch in late April.
What’s next: adding dynamic content like blogs, curriculum and community features. Then make it easier for our community to find and connect with each other.
We shipped the model and tested it in 24 cities. Next up: train 10 Regional Coordinators. And grow to 100 clubs.
This is a new initiative, evolved from the success of Maker Party. The goal: take the sparks of activation created through Maker Party and sustain them year-round, with local groups teaching the web on an ongoing basis — in their homes, schools, libraries, everywhere.
What we did:
Established pilot Clubs in 24 cities. With 40 community volunteers.
Shipped new Clubs curriculum, “Web Literacy Basics.”
Field-tested it. With 40 educators and learners from 24 cities, including Helsinki Pune, Baltimore, Wellington and Cape Town.
Developed a community leadership model. With three specific roles: Club Leader, Regional Coordinator, and Organizer. (Learning from volunteer organizing models like Obama for America, Free the Children and Coder Dojo.)
Train 10 Regional Coordinators. Each of whom will work to seed 10 clubs in their respective regions.
Develop new curriculum. For Privacy, Mobile and “Teach like Mozilla.”
What we did:
We added four new cities in Q1, bringing our total to 11. Next up: grow to 15.
Made it easier for new cities to join. Clarified how interested cities can become official Hive Learning Communities and shipped new “Hive Cookbook” documentation.
Strengthen links between Clubs and new potential Hives. With shared community leadership roles.
Document best practices. For building sustainable networks and incubating innovative projects.
Ship a fundraising toolkit. To help new Hives raise their own local funding.
A global kick-off from July 15 – 31, seeding local activity that runs year-round.
What we did: created a plan for Maker Party 2015, building off our previous success to create sustained local activity around teaching web literacy.
What’s next: this year Maker Party will start with a big two-week global kick-off campaign, July 15-31. We’ll encourage people to try out activities from the new Clubs curriculum.
This year’s MozFest will focus on leadership development and training
Mark your calendars: MozFest 2015 will take place November 6 – 8 in London.
A key focus this year is on leadership development; we’ll offer training to our Regional Co-ordinators and build skill development for all attendees. Plus run another Hive Global meet-up, following on last year’s success.
What’s next: refine the narrative arc leading up to MozFest. Communicate this year’s focus and outcomes.
What we did: In Q1 our focus was on planning and decision making.
What’s next: improve the user experience for badge issuers and earners.
“I run two tech programmes in Argentina. I do it outside of my job, and it can be tricky to find other committed volunteers with skills and staying power. I’d love help, resources and community to do it with.” –Alvar Maciel, school teacher, Buenos Aires, Argentina
“I always thought I’d visit websites. Not make them! But now I can.” — middle school student from PASE Explorers, NYC afterschool program
“Our partnership with Hive makes us fresh, keeps us moving forward rather than doing the same old thing all the time.” –Dr. Michelle Larson, President and CEO, Adler Planetarium, Hive Chicago
“We had constant demand from our community members for web literacy classes, and we were finally able to create a great recipe with Web Clubs and curriculum.” –Elio Qoshi, Super Mentor/Mozilla Rep, Albania
The focus this year is on building partnerships that help us: 1) activate more mentors and 2) reach more cities. This builds on the success of partnerships like National Writing Project (NWP) and CoderDojo, and has sparked conversations with new potential partners like the Peace Corps.
It’s hard to track sustained engagement offline. We often rely on contributors to self-report their activity — as much of it happens offline, and can’t be tracked in an automated way. How can we incentivize updates and report-backs from community members? How do other organizations tackle this?
Establishing new brand relationships. We’ve changed our branding. Our current community of educators grew in deep connection with Webmaker. But in 2015 we made a decision to more closely align learning network efforts directly with the Mozilla brand. How can we best transition the community through this, and simplify our overall branding?
Quantifying impact. We’re getting better at demonstrating quantity, as in the numbers of events we host or cities we reach. But those measurements don’t help us measure the net end result or overall impact. How do we get better at that?
I’ve been thinking about lenses on the Web Literacy Map again. Specifically the “Leadership” component of what we do at Mozilla. In his post, Mark called this piece fuzzy, but I think it will become clearer as we define what “leadership” in the context of Mozilla means, and how we can offer professional development that brings people closer to that definition. What does it mean to be “trained” by Mozilla? Or be part of Mozilla’s educational network? What do the leaders and passionate people in our community have in common? What makes them sustainable?
What do we need to cognitively understand? What behaviors do we need to model? How do we unite with one another locally and globally?
I have some theories on specific competencies a leader needs to be considered “fluent” in open source and participatory learning. I’ve indicated possibilities in the above graphic [edit note: the smaller text are just notes of topics that might be contained under the competencies). The Web Literacy Map Doug Belshaw and the Mozilla community created is extremely relevant in this work, which is why this post is using the word “fluency” – to indicate the relationship between the map and this lens on it. It feels like leadership in our context requires fluency in specific competencies – the highlighted ones on the web literacy map above.
There is a lot of content for professional development around teaching Web Literacy. I’m working on collecting resources for an upcoming conceptual and complete remix of what was Webmaker Training (and before that the original Teach the Web MOOC).
Last week in a team call, we talked about my first attempt to use blunt force in getting the Web Literacy Map to cover skills and competencies I think are part of the “Teach Like Mozilla” offering at Mozilla. I made the below graphic, trying to work out the stuff in my brain (it helps me think when I can SEE things), and I immediately knew I was forcing a square peg into a round hole. I’m including it so you can see the evolution of the thinking behind the above graphic:
I’d love to hear thoughts on this approach to placing a lens on the Web Literacy Map. Please ask questions, push back, give feedback to this thinking-in-progress.
People have been talking about a crossover between Open Badges and Tin Can (xAPI) since 2012. Blogs have been written, ideas shared and there’s even a Twitter account that got set up at one point! Nobody has actually come to the point of defining the details of how it would all work though. Until now. Today, we published an xAPI Open Badges recipe to the Registry. This recipe is the work of the xAPI Open Badges working group including people from both the Open Badges and Tin Can communities. The recipe has also been published on openbadges.org and uses openbadges.org identifiers; this is a real collaboration of both specification groups.
Exciting developments in the integration of Tin Can (xAPI) and Open Badges! Click the link above to read the full blog post from Andrew Downes.
This week we heard from the folks at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, who invited BA Executive Director Erin Knight to an event back in January which explored innovations in workforce preparation with an emphasis on digital badging. It focused on new research linking specific work-ready (“soft”) skills to workforce outcomes and explore digital badging as a potential strategy for credentialing these skills. Various stakeholders contributed to the discussions, including young adults, workforce organizations, non-profits, and private industry representatives.
Christine Capota and Chris Shannon spoke about the event and ongoing conversations happening in and around Boston about employer acceptance of badges, which will depend on two things, according to Capota and Shannon: conceptual acceptance, and technological acceptance. Regulation and quality control will help with the former, and technology options that make the badge evaluation process easier will help with the latter.
“What makes badging with workforce unique is that it’s not a contained environment,” they said. “Badges are a currency within a certain environment but from a global comprehension perspective, they appear to be difficult to parse.”
There are learning, fundraising, and advocacy programs where there weren’t before. We’re empowering hundreds of thousands of people to teach each other the web. We’ve built a $15M/y fundraising program from scratch. And we’ve helped Mozilla find its voice again, playing a lead role in the most significant grassroots policy victory in a generation and the largest ever in telecommunications: the battle for net neutrality.
I’m grateful to Mark and Mitchell Baker for the opportunity and trust to help build something great, to my colleagues for their focus and dedication, and to all of Mozilla for fighting the good fight.
While the 10th will be my last day as an employee, I’ll be around until the end of June as a consultant, helping with the transition of my portfolio to new leadership. I’ll announce my new home closer to that time.
For now, as always, once a Mozillian always a Mozillian.
Thanks again to all of you. I’m looking forward to seeing what we accomplish next.
TL;DR: I’m leaving Mozilla as a paid contributor because, as of next week, I’ll be a full-time consultant! I’ll write about that in a separate blog post.
Around four years ago, I stumbled across a project that the Mozilla Foundation was running with P2PU. It was called ‘Open Badges’ and it really piqued my interest. I was working in Higher Education at the time and finishing off my doctoral thesis. The prospect of being able to change education by offering a different approach to credentialing really intrigued me.
I started investigating further, blogging about it, and started getting more people interested in the Open Badges project. A few months later, the people behind MacArthur’s Digital Media and Learning (DML) programme asked me to be a judge for the badges-focused DML Competition. While I was in San Francisco for the judging process I met Erin Knight, then Director of Learning at Mozilla, in person. She asked if I was interested in working on her team. I jumped at the chance!
During my time at Mozilla I’ve worked on Open Badges, speaking and running keynotes at almost as many events as there are weeks in the year. I’ve helped bring a Web Literacy Map (originally ‘Standard’) into existence, and I’ve worked on various projects and with people who have changed my outlook on life. I’ve never come across a community with such a can-do attitude.
This June would have marked three years as a paid contributor to the Mozilla project. It was time to move on so as not to let the grass grow under my feet. Happily, because Mozilla is a global non-profit with a strong community that works openly, I’ll still be a volunteer contributor. And because of the wonders of the internet, I’ll still have a strong connection to the network I built up over the last few years.
I plan to write more about the things I learned and the things I did at Mozilla over the coming weeks. For now, I just want to thank all of the people I worked with over the past few years, and wish them all the best for the future. As of next week I’ll be a full-time consultant. More about that in an upcoming post!
What’s happening at the Mozilla Foundation? This post contains the presentation slides from our recent Board Meeting, plus an audio interview with Executive Director Mark Surman. It provides highlights from 2014, a brief summary of Mozilla’s 2015 plan, and a progress report on what we’ve achieved over the past three months.
Grew contributors and ground game. (10,077 active contributors total.)
Prototyped new Webmaker mobile product
Expanded community programs by 3x
Mozilla’s 2015 Plan
Mozilla-wide goals: grow long-term relationships that help people and promote the open web. By building product and empowering people.
Webmaker+ goal: Expand participation in Webmaker through new software and on the ground clubs.
Building Mozilla Learning
By 2017, we’ve built Mozilla Learning: a global classroom and lab for the citizens of the web. Part community, part academy, people come to Mozilla Learning to unlock the power of the web for themselves, their organizations and the world.
2015 Mozilla Foundation goals
Deepen learning networks (500 cities)
B uild mass appeal learning product (250k Monthly Active Users)
Craft ambitious Mozilla Learning and community strategy
Q1 Mozilla Foundation highlights
Major victory in US net neutrality, with Mozilla getting 330k people to sign a petition.
Launched Webmaker app at Mobile World Congress. Strong interest from partners, possible link to Orange FirefoxOS launch in Africa and Middle East.
Creating a catalog of curriculum & educational programming for a project as diverse as Mozilla isn’t exactly easy. We use a variety of pedagogies, we have different target audiences, we are starting from different places. There are semantics, politics, and relationships we have to consider when organizing learning materials and programming. And, a little secret, everyone organizes information a little differently, which can make it hard to see the relationships, understand the politics or even just agree on semantics.
But we have to organize information in a variety of ways because we have a variety of learners. The best way to serve our learners is to utilize each other’s work, and the best way to do that is by making mash-ups and remixes from one another’s work.
I’m quite pleased to see the vision of modular curriculum taking hold, and quite proud that we are creating an ecosystem of building blocks that will allow us to remix.
I’m remixing my heart out, so here’s what I’ve been working on and notes on stuff I’m planning to steal:
Teach Like Mozilla
We’ve built loads of curriculum to help other people #TeachTheWeb as has our community. Using the Web Literacy Map as the raw material that focuses this work, our team has coordinated and produced hundreds of pieces and parts.
I’ve been working on remixing our Training program, as well as stuff from the other projects listed below, to create curriculum for Teach Like Mozilla – a series of pathways to cultivate leadership within the project.
Melissa Romaine is thinking about teaching and learning modules that people especially interested in specific policy or advocacy topics can utilize to spread the word about important web issues and how to address them. She’s looking to build teaching kits and engagement activities to help people teach and train others in topics like Security, Privacy, Surveillance, Covalense and Suvaillence.
Andre Garzia is beginning to think about Advocacy as well, and is looking to continue testing curriculum in LAN Houses – a huge value add to what we’re doing with Club Curriculum because we can see what works and iterate on the fly.
The open science team was awarded a grant to level up their own professional development programming, and begin creating curriculum for the open science community. Bill Mills, Abby Cabunoc and Arliss Collins are also building out a fellowships program, complete with professional development and curriculum for train the trainers. They are focusing on technical skills for science, but also open source attitude and participation. I’m already pulling some of Mozilla Science’s stuff into Teach Like Mozilla, but plan on stealing more (often :)
Emma Irwin wrote a great post about building curriculum & training opportunities as a way to better empower contributor success on project goals. The potential for volunteers is the opportunity for professional development and a new realization of contribution as a singular learning opportunity. The opportunity for functional areas (and all of Mozilla) is to reach goals with higher quality contributions, and greater impact. Things like conflict resolution and facilitation modules to help events and communities be more empathetic, supportive and participatory by nature are core to this team’s learning objectives.
We’re talking regularly, and using and remixing things Emma has been working on is going to make the Teach Like Mozilla content top notch. We’re also trying to set ourselves up so that in the future we can easily pull all this great content together under a Mozilla Learning banner.
Lukas Blakk has an entire program, complete with 6 weeks of curriculum, that aims to help marginalized communities learn to contribute to open source. This curriculum pulls personal development into professional development and has weeks and weeks of agendas – I want to make sure Teach Like Mozilla does personal development and reflection too.
Chris Mills also has an entire program, complete with curriculum, that teaches the basic technologies of the web, and that is the fodder for MDN’s new “Content Kits”. Also at the MDN, Jeremie Patonnier, Justin Crawford and Diane Tate are a: friendly and 2: figuring out how the MDN can better support their communities with the Learning Zone, experiments and a fellowship program for developers in which fellows will develop teaching kits while contributing to Mozilla projects. I’m keeping my eye on the MDN work :)
For me, the next step is to develop a solid organizing structure for Teach Like Mozilla content. I’ve had conversations about the overarching structure and it’s time to get into the dirty details – which, as you might have guessed, I have several ideas for. The meta bit is 3-fold:
Meta-cognitive: Theories and Pedagogies (for learning) conceptually and in practice
Logistical: Practicalities of working openly. Building systems and processes to support collaborative work.
Social: Networking local activity with global communities (and vice versa)
The devil is in the details – the organizing structure will help me figure out how to take all of this amazing work and crochet it into a usable set of modules that is cohesive in style and voice. I love your feedback and comments, and I’m always happy for help. Please do reach out!
There is democratizing technology and authoritarian technology. I’ve written about that in the past. However, there is more than one way to approach this. You can look at the technology itself, its inherent features and how they are likely to lead one toward more authoritarian or democratizing structures. That, for example, is present in debates about gun control. Some argue that guns, by their nature, are designed to shoot things, including people. As such, people might push for more regulation and control around them, resulting in a more authoritarian ecosystem within which guns reside. Others look at the social landscape and argue that there are plenty of examples where guns are present, but violence with guns is low or absent. They are not necessarily looking at the affordances and limitations of the technology directly, but they are instead examining how it developed in a give context. As a result of their approach, they may argue for maintaining a larger democratizing ecosystem for the technology of guns. In reality, both of these factors are constantly at work with the assimilation of a technology in a new context. There are inherent affordances and limitations to the technology that make some things possible and other things more likely. At the same time, there are complex individual and societal forces that impact how it develops, especially the power structures that develop alongside a given technology.
Read the piece in full by clicking the link above.
Kate Coleman, of Deakin University, said “we need to start talking about new models of learning, education and business models rather than retro-fitting to realise the potential of the disruption” - an interesting stance, as Carla pointed out, as we often hear that “retrofitting is a requirement for adoption and growth,” perhaps indicating that Australia is ahead of other countries in pushing badges forward;
Tim Riches, of Digital Me, said that various trust models for badges are emerging, and this year will bring "proof points emerg[ing] around conneting badge earners to work experience / employment opportunities”
Serge Ravet, of Badge Europe, shared concerns about the fragmentation in thought and discourse that comes from talking about “micro-credentials” (something echoed in a 2013 blog post by Carla Casilli). He also brought up the distinction and potential confusion around trust and security: “‘security’ is embedded in ‘trust’, but once trust diminishes, 'security’ becomes external; trust is free, security without trust has a cost, hence there is a business model for security without trust, a more open one for "open trust."”
Follow the rest of the conversation by clicking the links above for the discussion notes and audio recording.
Our Director of Policy + Practice, Carla Casilli, wrote a thought-provoking piece inspired by a recent Twitter conversation about the future of education and the role of badges:
During a recent Twitter foray, I jumped into an ongoing conversation about where education is headed and the role that badges might play in where education is headed. The discussion stemmed from Kevin Carey‘s insightful and provocative NYTimes article, “Here’s What Will Truly Change Higher Education: Online Degrees That Are Seen As Official” (based on an excerpt from The End of College.) During that Twitter exchange, Anya Kamenetz (who has recently written The Test) was commenting on Carey’s book and mentioned that she felt that badges have been operating in—and will continue to operate in—perpetual beta. When I asked her why she felt this to be true, she tweeted, “I don’t see the value.” I tweeted back saying that badge value was prismatic. This post is an exploration of that position.
This week the team and community looked at the recent report from the Carnegie Foundation on the Credit Hour (download the report here).
The report, as reviewed by Inside Higher Ed, argues that “the credit hour is an inadequate unit for measuring student learning. Yet no better replacement for higher education’s gold standard has emerged, and getting rid of it right now would be risky.” We asked our community to weigh in on our discussion board, and you can follow that thread here: http://bit.ly/OB_CarnegieReport
We continued this conversation on this week’s community call, where a number of attendees echoed some of the IHE commentary, that “the credit hour is a measure of instruction, not a measure of learning,” but, as Carla Casilli eloquently put, it “is *the* archetypal measurement tool for education today” and simply removing it would indeed be risky, creating a vacuum that currently can’t be adequately filled by alternative credentials or assessment methods.
Others, including Nate Otto, talked about the role badges could play in this future space. The fact that “transcripts are hard to translate” is known by many employers who have echoed these sentiments about GPAs, letter grades and transcripts. Those working on open badges software are hoping to find ways to translate value using badges, creating networks of trust across education and the workforce.
For testing clubs this first quarter, we followed this process:
Invite testers. We talked to allies about the opportunity and invited them to join the testing process. Each tester was given the dedicated support of a staff member to ensure they had direct and regular contact with the project.
Kickoff call with testers. We initiated testing with a community call, which we continued to host fortnightly as an important check-in and reflection point. We used Vidyo and etherpad for the calls.
1:1 Interviews. To better understand our allies needs, we conducted 40+ interviews with them. We collated and analysized the data, which greatly informed our efforts.
Affiliate comparison. In parallel, we also reviewed 10+ other organizations who have a club model or other form of local group organizing. This review gave us best practices to learn from.
Curriculum curation. The testing process was two-part: curriculum curating and curriculum testing. To curate, we developed a curriculum arc (Reading the Web, Writing the Web, and Participating on the Web) and then sought existing activities to fill that out. Where there were gaps, we created or remixed new activities. This work was done on Github to great effect.
Curriculum testing. Every two weeks, our testers were invited to try out the latest curriculum section. We shared reflections and questions in Discourse and used our fortnightly check-in call to discuss our experience and feedback on the sections.
Assessment is hard. We know how important it is for benchmarks. We want to know how effective the curriculum is. We created brief questionnaires in Google Docs and made them part of the testing process. But the responses were low. This continues to be a challenge. How can we do friction-free assessment?
Partner cultivation. As the testing was going on, we also drafted a partner engagement plan. What organizations would be ideal partners for clubs? What are we offering them and how to we want to engage them? Next quarter we will put this plan into action with a number of wonderful organizations.
Website development. Furthermore, we discussed with testers their needs for an online platform to showcase and connect this initiative. The first version of this new website will go live in April.
Reflect early, reflect often. Throughout this quarter, we had conversations with testers, colleagues and other partners about this process. We constantly adjusted and improved. This is an essential practice. Going forward, I anticipate continual reflection and iteration as we develop clubs collaboratively and in the open. It was very beneficial meeting the team in person for several days of planning. I hope we can do that again, expanding to regional coordinators and testers, next quarter.
Get out of the way. Once the framework is set up and a team is in place to support testing, it’s important to get out of the way! Smart people will innovate and remix the experience. Make sure there are ways to encourage and capture that. But allow beautiful and unexpected things to emerge, like Project Mile.
Motivation: Strong on STRUCTURE.Wants good content for their learners
Needs: Curriculum & web tools, professional development, access to skilled educators
Incentives: Engaged learners, professional develop credentials
Concerns: Not drawn primarily by cause, narrative or brand.
To support these two personas, we established that intermediary volunteer leadership roles are needed. Inspired by Obama’s community organizing model, nicknamed “the snowflake”, we would like to pilot the following structure:
Club Leader. Runs a local club.
Regional Coordinators. Supports several local clubs.
Staff Organizer. Supports several regional coordinators.
Starting in April, we’d like to work with a handful of beta-tester regional coordinators to test and grow this organizing model.
The Facilitative Teacher
Furthermore, we realized that community leaders would benefit from professional development and training. In parallel to the curriculum stream we have around web literacy, we will also develop modules around facilitative leadership and teaching.
This includes hands-on activities to teach how to use open practices, connectivism, digital making and general facilitation skills to empower your learners and grow your local community.
I’m quite excited about this area of development and plan to collaborate closely with Aspiration Tech and Mozilla Reps to build this out next quarter.
For clubs, we needed well curated and field-tested curriculum informed by our pedagogy:
Why we teach:This is our mission. We are dedicated to empowering others with web literacy so that they have agency on the web as creators, citizens and future leaders.
How we teach: This is our pedagogy. Teaching and learning is how we achieve our mission. They are political as well as self-actualizing acts. We teach and learn by making projects together and openly reflecting on the process in an inclusive and locally relevant environment. Learning is social, production-centered, and open-ended. It is done best when facilitated in small groups meeting in-person.
Who we teach:This is our audience. We teach our peers, so that we can reflect and improve together. We teach our local community, so we can give back and make a different locally.
What we teach:This is our subject. We teach web literacy, which encompasses the mechanics, culture and citizenship of the web. Our learners are more self-actualized as creators when they can use the web as a platform for creativity. They are better citizens when they can make more informed choices on the web. And they are economically more empowered with skills and practical knowledge of this public resources.
Where we teach:This is our classroom. We teach locally, wherever we have our learners, be that in formal classrooms, to libraries and coffee shops and kitchen tables. We learn globally, as we connect with peers who inspire and mentor us to make local change that has a global impact.
For the last few years, web literacy pioneers have been developing open educational resources to teach the web.
Over the last two months, we curated some of the brightest examples of that work and sequenced it into a six-part introductory module.
They inspired and shared the foundational materials for the first module. Here’s what the result looks like!
Web Literacy Basics
Learners get familiar with reading, writing and participating on the web in this six-part module. Discover the foundations of the web through production and collaboration. The learning objectives underpinning each activity are informed by Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map.
Complete the activities in sequence, or mix & match for your learners.
Last Wednesday, March 4, Nesta and the Scout Association launch the new Digital Maker badge - bringing digital making skills to their network of 400,000 young people across the UK with a focus on creativity through computational thinking.
The new badge
Nesta believes that digital creativity, along with other digital making skills, are not only important skills for future jobs and personal agency in an increasingly digital world, but also fun to learn outside of the classroom.
After consultation and testing with The Scout Association, volunteers, youth members and technology experts, Nesta has developed resource packs to help Scouts achieve the Digital Maker Staged Activity Badge, at stages 1 and 2. Packs are accessible from the Nesta partnership page of the Scouts website as PDFs and are designed to be a fun introduction to how technologies work, including technologies that can be tried at home. A great example is ‘Sandwich Bot’ - how to program your scout leader to make a jam sandwich.
Recently I had the honor of speaking at Mobile Learning Week in Paris, co-hosted by UNESCO and UN Women. The two agencies interwove their agendas to focus on empowering women through mobile learning. It’s a strategic and necessary combo.
I shared a panel with Shelly Esque (Intel), Adele Vrana (Wikimedia), Ingrid Brudvig (World Wide Web Foundation), and Doreen Bogdan (ITU), which was impeccably moderated by Valerie Hannon (Innovation Unit UK).
Here’s a summary of my remarks as well as thoughts from the discussion.
The reason I’m here today is thanks to my mother—and Wikipedia. After some convincing, my mother agreed to join me on the train to the first Wikimania, held in Frankfurt, Germany.
I’d been enraptured by the Wikipedia project. And when I learned that Wikipedians were meeting each other for the first time just an hour away from our home, I had to go.
We spent the day talking with wonderful people. We listened to educational activists from Sub-Saharan Africa and had lunch with Serbian mathematicians. These volunteer Wikipedians were translating untold numbers of articles about math into Serbian. How incredible!
What struck me about the Wikipedians was that each worked in a small part on the project. In their language, in their subject. But together, they were creating something great.
They had a North Star to guide them. The Wikipedians knew there was a greater goal and that gave their individual contributions a direction.
Today, we are at a crossroads.
Billions of people are coming online for the first time. Thanks to low-cost phones, many are gaining access to technology that they never had before.
We know that technology is power. And knowledge is power.
With this new wave of technology, we can repeat the power structures of the past. Or we can change them.
Let’s ask ourselves: what is our North Star?
We represent many countries, many interests. But we’re here today galvanized around shared issues.
I’d like to propose that our North Star is not just equitable access, but access to knowledge. And that knowledge is understood as a literacy — web literacy.
Let’s create a web literate planet.
Literacy has been proven to combat all sorts of inequality: social, economic, political.
To overcome gender inequality, women must fully participate online–in their own language, in their own time, and in their own voice.
This requires knowing how to read, write and participate on the web.
Importantly, it is not just about what we teach, but how.
The classroom is a microcosm of a society’s power structures. Traditionally, teachers see their students as containers, receptacles of knowledge that the teachers, as experts, must fill.
Instead, teachers should be facilitators. They should help their learners find agency and be empowered. Teachers are there to help their learners take ownership of their own learning.
In this way, we can challenge traditional power structures. Learners must have agency and ownership of their learning. This goes for women as much as for men.
At Mozilla, through our low-cost and open source phones, we’re reducing the barrier to access. Through our teaching and learning campaigns, we mobilize communities in 86 countries to teach web literacy to 130,000 learners. And now we are working to sustain those efforts through local groups meeting and teaching regularly.
But these are small, humble contributions.
We, like all of you here, dream big. We see all of our efforts amplifying each other, guided by a North Star.
Together, we can do it. We can create a web literate planet.
Huge thanks to Jennifer Breslin and Mark West for inviting us and to Anar Simpson helping make the connection!
This week we were joined by Matt Rogers from Digital Me, who shared some of the recent work they’ve been doing in the UK, including professional development badges for computing curricula in partnership with NAACE (National Association of Advisors for Computers in Education).
Safe-Bots for Internet Safety
Digital Me and telecommunications company O2 recently led a campaign around Safer Internet Day on February 10th, encouraging youth to take leadership within their families and communities. Youth participants made Safe-Bots displaying e-safety messages at 87 core locations around the UK, including O2 stores. The SID activities were mapped at safebot.co.uk to educate youth about geolocation data and tracking.
Lucy Neale from Digital Me added that the Internet safety badges “are also designed as a way to engage parents with e-safety as this is something schools and corporates like O2 are struggling with.” E-safety is still seen as a taboo subject for many parents, who perhaps lack an understanding of the issues or feel it is irrelevant. “This project is designed to test whether the badges and digital making activities can offer a non-threatening opportunity for parents to engage with the topic, led by their children, in neutral spaces, including at home and in O2 shops and other public spaces.”
Click here for initial statistics and here for SID participation information. Teachers can download a free SID resource pack, available at www.makewav.es/safe, from the resource tab on the left hand side. You can read more about the SID Safe-Bot activities on the O2 blog.
Pearson’s Acclaim platform gets a spotlight in this BBC article on CV / résumé fraud:
“Up to now most achievement certificates or college degrees are on paper,” says Clarke Porter, head of the Acclaim scheme. “They are not very computer friendly and you cannot share your paper certificate you have hanging on your wall because it is not digitised.
"We want to bring about a transformation where proper credentials are digitised and can be shared on the internet,” he says.
Can badges help eliminate misinformation on digital profiles and résumés?
BadgeLAB Leeds is testing whether Open Badges can deepen or diversify young people’s engagement with the arts.
BadgeLAB Leeds is a new initiative led by ArtForms Leeds, Sheffield Hallam University and DigitalMe with the support of the Digital R&D Fund - Nesta, Arts and Humanities Research Council and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Young people’s learning via arts activities is often informal, taking place through one-off classroom sessions or specially organized local events. Some arts learning provision is designed to function as a complement to traditional classroom teaching, taking place outside formal education entirely.
BadgeLAB Leeds is exploring how Open Badges can act as an incentive to take part in arts based learning experiences, which are not normally recognized with traditional qualifications. To this end, [they] have helped develop badged activities at events such as Light Night Leeds, the March of the Robots Parade and Party as well as MozFest 2014.
One-off classroom sessions have also been supported with Open Badges for activities such as robot making, den building, contributing to a giant, flashing Robo-quilt and making clay pots in the style of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
All of the badges claimed as well as the personal experiences of practitioners are being carefully documented and studied by staff at Sheffield Hallam University as well. [They] hope the research results will reveal how effective an incentive Open Badges can be for young people participating in arts-based activities.
Tin Can was developed at similar time to Open Badges addressing similar areas (recording learner experiences and achievements). While there was some initial concerns about conflict or overlap, it turned out there were actually quite a few differences which made them quite complementary. Open Badges tended to be used more in academics to recognize bigger steps in the learning process, whereas Tin Can statements have been used in workforce to describe more granular steps before and after a badge is earned.
Andrew and the Open Badges xAPI Community of Practice have been working on ways these two technologies can work together, including:
sharing awarded badges between systems
localizing and sharing badge definitions between systems
sharing issuer metadata between systems
defining machine readable badge criteria and evidence
automatically awarding badges based on Tin Can statements
using a learning record store (LRS) as a backpack
Most of their work thus far has focused on using badges and Tin Can with professional bodies, but they are now moving on to organizations and accreditation bodies (see the diagram below). We look forward to hearing more from them in a few months - if you’d like to get involved in github, join xAPI Community of Practice around Open Badges:https://github.com/ht2/BadgesCoP
We were also joined on the community call this week by Dan Hickey, who is using BadgeList to issue badges in his Learning and Cognition Course, as well as working with Indiana University to install Badgesafe. His team is also collaborating with edX as part of his new project, Open Badges in edX and Beyond.
In Louisiana, Carey Hamburg is putting together a focus group study on the use of badges in recruiting and hiring in the local oil + gas industries as part of his doctoral study. At Concentric Sky & the Oregon Center for Digital Learning, Nate Otto and the team are working on software for one user to be able to manage their own earned badges, define and issue badges to others, and understand badges that people show to them, and are making progress toward an initial release.
The Standards Working Group is continuing to make progress with the W3C credentials community group: members are putting together open badges use cases, and drafting a vocabulary that is generalizable across various high and low stakes credentials. This vocabulary will be shared with the general community soon for feedback and comment.
Opportunities to get involved
The Standards Working Group is putting together development resources to update the Mozilla validator to 1.1 and they’re looking for contributors. The group is willing to work with interns or new JS programmers as a mentorship opportunity, so if you’re interested in a little bit of Node.js contribution, get in touch with Nate Otto.
Dan Hickey and his team are looking for additional collaborators on the Open Badges in Higher Ed project. Read more here and get in touch if your organization or institution is working with badges in interesting ways.
Thank you to everyone who joined us this week. Join us next Wednesday for more community project updates and announcements.
A recent report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching concluded that the credit hour, though flawed in many ways as a measurement of learning, is the best option we have in education.
Two years ago, in response to increasing concern over the adequacy of the credit hour, the Carnegie Foundation brought together a committee of 27 experts to look at the history of the credit hour and evaluate whether a competency-based model of learning measurement could replace it. The overarching theme in the report is that it would be risky - and difficult - to try and replace the current system:
“Achieving this goal would require the development of rigorous standards, assessments, and accountability systems—difficult work, especially in the field of higher education, where educational aims are highly varied and faculty autonomy is deeply engrained.” (Source)
Inside Higher Ed provided a commentary when the report was released, citing several experts who have both praise and criticism for the report:
“Several experts praised the study for its broad look at the credit hour’s role and history. But some said they wished the foundation had pushed harder to find a way to move beyond the standard. After all, the foundation created the unit, and at times has been a driving force for change in higher education.”
Dan Hickey is working on a general narrated slide deck called Open Digitial Badges: What, Why, When, and Where? to market open badges in the edX community and beyond, as well as working to get the Open Badges Design Principles and Documentation Project report out soon and moving forward with other projects.Steve Lonn is preparing for two badging events coming up: an open conversation about the intersection of badges and ePortfolios on Feb. 26 and a local workshop on digital badges for co-curricular learning on March 4.
We heard from Megan Cole that there is movement building around the Cities of Learning for 2015. The team is gearing up for a May / June launch again with three exemplar cities from previous years, Chicago, LA and Pittsburgh, with potentially a few others getting on board as well. Digital Youth Network is leading the technology platform for the individual cities this year. Also in Chicago, MOUSE is working with Hive Chicago to do a youth gamejam in May, aiming to get the participants to tap into MOUSE’s serious game design badge and curriculum after the jam. They’re looking for partner organizations in Chicago to do activities at the event, so if you’re interested, reach out to Meredith via Twitter.
Badges at ELI 2015
Indiana University’s Dan Hickey and University of Michigan's Steve Lonn were joined by Penn State’s Chris Gamratat the Educause Learning Initiative meeting last week in California to lead a panel on digital badges in higher education. Their slides are available here, and the video will be available after 90 days if you didn’t register for the virtual event beforehand.
Steve told the group on the call that more than half the room had at least a basic or fair amount of knowledge about badges, which was great to hear; the group still did a brief introduction to address specific terminology (micro-credentials, badges, etc.) as well as the continuing discussion of digital vs open badges, aided by the Badge Alliance’s Why Badges? page. Using Twitter, Steve also shared this quotable quote from Dan Hickey during their presentation:
It’s always interesting for us as a community to track our progress at these kinds of events, seeing which issues attendees get stuck on, what questions are most often asked, what the ‘aha!’ moments are. If you’re attending or giving badges presentations at conferences, let us know what your experiences are.
Thank you to everyone who joined us this week. You can review the full discussion in the notes and audio linked above. Join us next Wednesday for more community project updates and announcements!
We’re really excited to share this piece of news from across the pond: the Open University is introducing Badged Open Courses!
Check it out:
The Open University is building on years of knowledge, experience and research into Open Educational Resources (OER) with its release of innovative new badged open courses (BOCs). These have been developed in response to the needs of informal learners who are seeking access to study skills and to have their learning recognised.
‘We have listened to the changing needs and requirements of our informal learners using our open platforms’ says The OU’s Open Media Unit Director, Andrew Law. 'Badged open courses will complement The OU’s extensive and growing portfolio of OER on OpenLearn and provide learners recognition for their achievements through assessment – for free.’ The team at The OU who produced the courses were finalists in The Learning Awards 2015 for ‘Innovation in Learning’.
This week the team and community looked at the recent progress of the Standards Working Group, which has been focused on a variety of important issues, including an endorsement extensions proposal. The open badges community discussion on endorsement sparked a discussion around what kinds of issuing organizations, individuals and technical platforms will make use of endorsement. A number of community members indicated that their organizations will be interested in endorsement as a way to add value to badges in the ecosystem, including Nate Otto of the Oregon Badge Alliance.
The endorsement issue also raises concerns within our existing community that giving organizations the ability to endorse badges will open the door for those already in power within education and workforce standards bodies to take control within the badging ecosystem. BothSerge Ravet and Carla Casillicommented on the difficulty of creating new environments for existing power structures and the importance of ensuring the ethos of the badging work is maintained moving forward.
To take a look at the endorsement extensions proposal, click the agenda link above or join the conversation in the Working Group at bit.ly/BA-Standard-WG
Thank you to those who participated on this week’s call. Join us next Wednesday at 12pm ET to learn more about our community’s badging projects and share updates from your own.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (African proverb)
Jamie Allen reminded me that February 7th marked the two year anniversary of the Web Literacy community at Mozilla. We’ve achieved a fair bit in that time. Here’s a visual history of how we’ve got (nearly) to version 1.5 — inspired, in part by contributor Greg McVerry. There’s a list of all of the contributors so far at the end of this post and here.
Mozilla’s web literacy work was actually kicked off by Michelle Levesque before I joined Mozilla. I helped with some suggestions and iterations — as you can see from her blog. To begin with, it was just a list of skills that I suggested she might want to put into graphical form. So she did: There was a few months of overlap between me joining Mozilla as ‘Badges & Skills Lead’ and Michelle leaving. I took over development of the web literacy work and wrote a whitepaper.
Erin Knight, Director of Learning at Mozilla at the time, suggested we might work towards a ‘Web Literacy Standard’. We hosted a kick-off call in February 2013 which was well-attended. This is when the community work started, iterating towards a v1.0. The first draft (April 2013) looked like this: The ‘release candidate’ in July actually had some design love (from Chris Appleton) rather than me messing about in Keynote. This was the ‘Request For Comments’ version from July 2013: We’d decided to lock things down for September so that we could launch a version 1.0 at the Mozilla Festival the following month. We were still hoping for it to be a formal ‘standard’ so we called it a specification: As you can see, it’s very similar to v1.1 and the upcoming v1.5 – as you’d expect.
I’d moved teams in late 2013 to become ‘Web Literacy Lead’ at Mozilla. This meant that the Web Literacy Map was one of my main responsibilities. As a community we decided to transition away from ‘Standard’ as the term carries so much negative baggage in North America. After some discussion and debate, we settled on ‘Map’ — and took the opportunity to update it to v1.1. Cassie McDaniel provided the visual refresh: In April 2014 this was then used to underpin the Webmaker Resources section: Clicking on one of the competencies takes you to a page listing the skills underpinning that particular competency. It was contains resources for teaching that particular area of the Web Literacy Map. This was curated by Kat Braybrooke. In addition, nine of the ten points of the Mozilla manifesto link through to appropriate parts of the Web Literacy Map when you click on them for more information. For example under the ‘learn more’ section of Principle 2 it says Explore how to help keep the Web open. This links through to the Open Practices section of Webmaker resources.
Towards the end of 2014 we began work as a community on scoping out what we originally called ‘version 2.0‘. There was a series of interviews, a community survey, and a small number of community calls in the run-up to Christmas deciding on what we should focus on in 2015. Ultimately, we decided to re-scope to version 1.5 with the potential to go for a v2.0 later in the year. In the community calls we’ve held this year, we’ve already decided to combine ‘Web Mechanics’ and ‘Infrastructure’ to create a new, re-scoped Web Mechanics competency. At the same time, we’re separating out the two parts of ‘Design & Accessibility’ to create Designing for the Web and Accessibility. We should have v1.5 ready by the end of March 2015.
This is a visual history, but behind the simplicity we’ve aimed for is so much debate, discussion and complexity. I’ve been in awe at times at the nuanced thinking of contributors to this project. Some have showed up since the beginning of the project, others have given their precious time for just a couple of sessions. But either way, we couldn’t have come this far without them. If you want to get involved in this work, you’re very welcome! Here’s where to point your attention:
Here’s the community, in alphabetical order by first name. They’re all rockstars:
Elizabeth E Charles
Janet Laane Effron
Majda Nafissa Rahal
Have I missed your name? Apologies! Let me know. Finally, there’s a few people I want to single out for their extraordinary help. I can’t overstate how important Carla Casilli was as a thought leader to the community from 2012 to 2014. Ian O’Byrne has stepped up time and time again and has led when I’ve been away. Greg McVerry has been a tireless champion of the Web Literacy Map. Laura Hilliger has been inspirational, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Marc Lesser has been the voice of reason and wisdom. Gus Andrews has been thoughtful and questioning. Alvar Maciel has opened our eyes beyond the English-speaking world and been a indefatigable translator. It’s been such an enjoyable couple of years. I can’t wait to get v1.5 ready and then move on to version 2.0!
Webinar: Digital Badges to curate, credential and carry forward digital learning evidence
In case you missed the February 4th webinar hosted by Transforming Assessment, here is the recording of David Gibson (Curtin University, Australia) and Kate Coleman (Deakin University, Australia) discussing badges for recognition and motivation within higher learning environments.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the community call and online discussions - we look forward to another productive and badgeriffic week with you all. Have a great weekend!
Opportunity for UK-based badgers [DEADLINE TODAY, FRIDAY 6 FEB.]
Jorum are currently investigating the implementation of Open Badges with the depositing, repurposing and remixing of OERs and are forming a focus group of representatives from further education and skills sectors in the UK.
While the badge universe has grown exponentially — about 300,000 badges have been issued using an open-sourced software developed by Mozilla, one of MacArthur’s partners in the “Badge Alliance” — those first 30 pilot projects [from the 2012 DML Competition] are the most thoroughly scrutinized badges around. Their fates will be instructive. As this ambitious, multi-million effort draws to a close, I spoke to researchers who have followed it from day one. Those conversations suggest that badges will need at least two essential ingredients if they are to be more than a gold star sticker for the digital age — rigor and relationships.
“Badges are like a new currency,” says Sheryl Grant, director of badge research for the academic consortium known as HASTAC (the Humanities, Arts, Technology and Science Alliance and Collaboratory), another Badge Alliance partner, and the one that administered the pilot competition. “Currencies depend on a collective belief that something has value.”
And that value cannot be from mere participation, says Daniel Hickey, an education professor at Indiana University who tracked the badge pilots. For badges to be meaningful, they need to make specific claims about the learning they represent and link to evidence that backs them up. Some pilot programs, he says, took a year or more just to figure out what they wanted their badges to say.
“They had never thought, specifically, about what learning they provided,” Hickey says. What’s more, Hickey adds, badges should go beyond what’s already covered by grades, tests, blue ribbons or other marks of distinction. For example, finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search, a rigorous and prestigious high-school science competition, win thousands of dollars and a week in Washington, D.C., where they meet dignitaries and present their research to top scientists. In 2012, when the competition gave finalists digital badges as well, few bothered to claim them.
So the competition added badges for research papers judged to be college-level, and “initiative” badges, for students who had overcome hurdles such as a lack of advanced science courses or lab space in their schools. In 2014, 39 percent of the finalists claimed their badges, but the claim rates for research and initiative badges were 51 and 59 percent, respectively.
Ideally, of course, a badge won’t mean something just to the earner. It will also impress college admissions officials or potential employers. By that measure, badges have a long way to go. None of the college accreditation agencies yet recognize badges as course credit. While several universities award digital badges in select courses, most are still “considering” whether to work them into the admissions process. Most online human resources platforms can’t process them. People do post badges to their LinkedIn profiles, but it’s not common enough to track, says a spokesperson for the company — whose business depends on tracking everything subscribers do.
That brings us to the second key ingredient for badge value: relationships. Simply put, most badges will only be valued by organizations that already know and trust the issuer or that had a hand in developing them. The rigor behind a badge rarely speaks for itself.
Just ask Hillary Salmons, executive director of the Providence After-School Alliance (PASA), which offers workshops in subjects ranging from debate to dance to designing smartphone apps. When PASA started digital badges, students could find no use for them, so PASA dropped them after two years. Now PASA is planning to re-launch badges this spring.
This time, Salmons says, PASA is reaching out to local business and universities to find out how badges can be useful to them. “We’re asking them, do these skills we plan to measure seem right to you. Do you value them?”
We were joined by two new community members this week: Russell Okamoto of Cel.ly, where they have been developing a mobile app for showcasing badges via GPS, built with OBI compatibility in mind:
"We have built a digital badge app that lets you "carry" and "beacon out" your badges to people around you. You can also slap your badges like stickers anywhere you go sort of like digital graffiti. We think this app would be great for edtech badges to let people showcase their credentials. if you want to try it please let me know. The app is called Wave. We think for professional development, Wave might be a good way to advertise what interests and skills people have as they move around at events or in daily life.”
We were also joined for the first time by Bohdan Andriyiv, founder of ThankOut.com, where users can send thanks to others as recommendations and endorsements. Welcome, newcomers!
The Standards Working Group has been moving forward with numerous extension proposals - read more and contribute to the discussions on Endorsement and Identity in the mailing list. We’ll be hearing more from Working Group members next week, so join us next week if you’d like to hear more about what they’re working on.
This week we asked those who attended the Digital Promise Educator and Workforce Micro-credentials Summit on January 30 to join us and share their thoughts on the conversations and presentations they participated in during the Summit, which brought together around 100 teachers, administrators, entrepreneurs and non-profit representatives to discuss the value of micro-credentials for professional development. It was a small summit full of intense conversations, according to Carla Casilli, who said the term ”micro-credentials” was a “door-opener” that opened up conversations about badges to an audience of teachers discussing professional development credentials. Accreditrust’s Mary Bold said there were quite a few attendees starting from the beginning with badges and micro-credentials, using the phrase “eternal September” to describe the rolling on-boarding of those new to the badging conversation. Mary also noted the summit was largely California-centric, and spoke to the need for more global connections in the coming months, when asynchronous collaboration will become increasingly important. Nate Otto said there were lots of questions and conversations about how “recognizers of micro-credentials” (consumers of badges) can determine whether to trust or value certain badges and “convert them into opportunities for earners.”
A few people have written about the summit already:
Indiana University’s Dan Hickey is looking for new platforms and partners for his latest project, Open Badges in Open edX and Beyond:
"my team is funded for two years to support people who are getting innovative badge systems operational in higher education. We can offer quite a bit in terms of getting systems up and running, and documenting progress and projects in our open case library. The official name of this new project is Open Badges in Open edX and Beyond. Now that we have succeeding in getting open badges up and running in Open edX, we are looking for new collaborators and new platforms. We now know our way around Open edX, Canvas, and Google CourseBuilder, and are quickly expanding beyond that.
Get in touch with Dan or his research associate James Willis to discuss your projects - even if you don’t need help, your work may be included in the open case library the team is building.
When I start a new project, I often have a moment of anxiety - blank canvas syndrome. I am really excited about all of the possibilities that are embedded within the task of initiating new work, however I am overwhelmed by the blank screen that is staring me in the face. I start to think: will I ever be creative again? Will I create something unique? How can I effect the most change? ... make impact? do something original.... not find the obvious solution... but the best one.
Despite the fact that I feel like an impostor or a fraud in these moments - this is actually pretty common. I've talked to a lot of designers, illustrators and creative people and everyone seems to have a strategy for conquering this feeling. Here are some of my strategies:
Sit with a marker in your hand
My good friend Chloe Varelidi suggested this to me once and it works for me 99% of the time. I find if I just sit somewhere - a coffee shop, a subway ride, a library etc - with a pen in my hand and a sketchbook in front of me and just start the action of drawing, something will spur on an idea. If I am in a total rut, I will start by drawing what I think is the boring or obvious solution to a design problem - kind of to just put it out there into the world. After that is done, it's out of my mind - time to come up with a handful of other ideas. Look or listen to something that is unrelated but inspiring
I am the queen of podcasts - at any given time I can tell you about something that I found interesting in a recent episode of 99 Percent Invisible or The Moth. The topics of the show don't ever need to relate to something I am working on, but I find that hearing how other people process problems and ideas inspires me to create. Sometimes looking at art in a museum or gallery is helpful. I will say that not going online and hunting for ideas on Pinterest or Dribbble is the most constructive for me. If I go to those sites I tend to go into a downward spiral of self doubt - thinking - look at all these other designers rockin' it - will I ever get my idea? Instead I think more conceptually and proactively.
Move your body
You've heard of the expression - 'mind - body connection' right? Well there's a reason for that - it's true. Stretch, run, do yoga, go for a swim or a walk around your office. My friend Atul Varma actually takes off his shoes and paces from room to room while he is brainstorming. It's the act of waking up your body and prepping it to be creative that really motivates you - and it could be completely subconscious. I always hear about people coming up with great ideas in the morning while they are showering. This is unscientific, but I am sure that it has something to do with the fact that you are moving your body - stretching, standing and letting your mind relax. Context switch
Sometimes the reason that I can't get started on something new is that my head is stuck on something old. For example, I recently went from designing a snippet for Firefox to making an onboarding experience to then making promotional content for Privacy day. There's a lot of context switching going on here. I am switching mediums, platforms and thematic concepts! I am still struggling with how to get over this, but one thing that I do is context switch my physical environment. If I have been sitting at a desk for a week straight working on a project, I go to sit at a coffee shop or on a couch to brainstorm. If I have to work at my desk, I find some way to change it : re - organize it, put some fresh tea in front of myself, find a new pen to sketch with - sticky notes to cut up etc. Anything to alter the environment within my zone of comfort.
Talk it out
When all else fails, I find a friend or colleague to talk to. This might be in the form of a tweet, a blogpost (ahem ahem), a journal entry, an instant message or a conversation in real life. I tend to talk to everyone - my husband, my community, my mom, my fellow designers, people who are struggling with the problem that I am trying to solve - people who know nothing about the work that I am dealing with, people who won't respond - but just listen to me ramble, people who will respond and give me thousands of ideas that make no sense, just anyone. It's like talk therapy for me. I just need to get out my concerns and energy in some way so that I can move forward with the creative business at hand.
None of these solutions are fool proof, and it's not like you do one thing and it's a magic bullet or creativity, however, I find that these things are constructive ways to focus and release my anxiety or nervous energy when initiating new work. If you have other strategies, I would love to hear about them, please send me or copy me on a tweet.
The Digital Promise Micro-credential Summit is happening right now in Redwood City, CA, which we’ll hear more about on next week’s community call. Follow @DigitalPromise for ongoing updates, and take a look at this neat vine which captures some of the discussion topics below:
This week we met a new community member, Angela Fulcher, who is looking into options for developing a badge system for Harlem schools and is based at Columbia University. We also heard from longtime badgers Serge Ravet, who has made some updates to the Badge Europe site, and Nate Otto, who dialed in from the Digital Promise Micro-credential Summit (more on that next week).
Our main presentation this week was from Ian O’Byrne, who spoke to the group about the work the Badge Alliance Working Group on Digital and Web Literacies did during Cycle 1 in 2014. This group used Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map as a starting point for drafting recommendations for creating a privacy badge pathway. The Web Literacy community has spent the last two years scripting out the Web Literacy pathways and really think about what it means to be a web-literate individual. The goal of Cycle 1 of the Badge Alliance Working Group was to aim for a descriptive approach, avoiding being prescriptive about what these literacies should be. They began developing pathways, trying to be transparent about the individual skills/competencies incorporated, and what they would look like with badges built around them. The result was this paper: “Considerations when creating a ‘Privacy’ badge pathway.”
The discussion that followed touched on endorsement, federated badge systems, and badge currency, which the open badges community has been grappling with on the mailing list. Carla Casilli suggested this work might be a good use case for endorsement, with the Web Literacy community endorsing badges that align with the mapped pathways developed in recent years. James Willisargued that a certain degree of generalization is important in work this like, to increase accessibility for those who are new to the concept. As organizations start to explore badges, they look for use cases to find out what worked and what didn’t. Being able to generalize these lessons learned makes them more easily applicable to new members of the badge issuing community.
Meredith Summsfrom MOUSE shared this fun ‘privacy’ activity for youth on Mozilla Webmaker, focusing on users choosing privacy levels based on which digital identities it relates to. Check it out here.
What a great call this week - thank you to those who participated. Join us next Wednesday at 12pm ET to learn more about our community’s badging projects and share updates from your own.
Joined by over 40 organizations and individuals around the world, we’ll test the first section of our web literacy basics curriculum, based on our community-created Web Literacy Map.
We anticipate having a community-created and tested Web Literacy Basics curriculum ready by the end of March, consisting of three sections:
Reading the Web
Writing the Web
Participating on the Web
In addition, there will be extra guides and goodies packaged with the curriculum to help people start their own local clubs or to inject this kind of web literacy learning into their existing programs. These will be bolstered by an online “club house” and leadership development for club mentors.
We selected these activities because we’re looking for lessons that:
are production-centered and about learning socially.
readily adapted to a local context.
work as standalone lessons or strung together for a larger arc.
require little or no prior web literacy skills for the mentor.
done offline, without internet or computers. or, at the very most, with only a modern browser.
The testing process
Testers are looking at the effectiveness and compatibility of the activities. In particular, we’re interested in how people adapt the curriculum to their learners. One example could be swapping out the mythical creature, The Kraken, for your local variety, like Loch Ness, Knecht Ruprecht, etc.
We’d love to see greater remixes and alternatives to the activities themselves, hopefully uncovering more compelling and context-sensitive ways to teach credibility and web mechanics.
And most importantly, we’re looking at whether the activities meet our learning objectives. They should not only be fun and engaging, but instill real skill and a deeper understanding of the web.
where the questionnaires and reflection will unpack how the activities played out with learners and whether they taught what we think they do.
Co-creating 2. Writing the Web
In parallel to testing the first section, we’re co-developing the second section with our fellow club creators. Here we hope to up-level two existing activities from the community and to prepare them for testing in the next round, starting Feb. 10.
If you have ideas for how to teach “Writing on the Web”, particularly the competencies of remix and composing, chime in!
When I was creating the patterns for the Webmaker privacy campaign, I posted my works-in-progress up on Instagram and a few people asked if I would make them into desktop wallpapers. So... in honor of Data Privacy Day you can download them in a variety of patterns and sizes here.
Welcome to a new year of badging! In my last post, I detailed issues and topics that I think need to be a priority this year, and this one builds on that focusing more on new approaches for this year and beyond…
It’s hard to believe that January is almost over, but I’ve been impressed and excited by the energy and excitement that folks have had in just these first few weeks of the new year. Last week I attended an event at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston exploring ‘soft skill’ badges for Workforce in the Boston area and beyond. And Digital Promise is hosting an event this week in Redwood City to also dig into badges for Workforce, as well as Educators. It’s so fantastic and inspiring to see the initiative from the network organizations and these types of meetings occurring.
In general, I think there are some important themes around new approaches already emerging this year:
1) Empowered network and distributed leadership - We are seeing increased initiative and leadership from across the network, where organizations are driving key conversations, not waiting around for permission or for a centralized effort to kick it off, and organizing around specific goals. This is so exciting and will be critical to our success and scale as a network. Of course, it will be important to make sure that we’re ensuring findings and outcomes of these initiatives get fed back into the broader network as we go so that we’re minimizing duplication and learning from each other’s efforts. This is a clear area in which the BA can help.
2) Regional momentum - Conversations, projects and leadership are starting to have a regional focus, which creates more awareness beyond the early-ish adopters and further builds the network, focuses and speeds up policy considerations and conversations, creates relevant and strong partnerships, and even opens up more opportunities for funding. We’ve already seen many examples of this emerging, including the Boston event I mentioned, work in Oregon, Pennsylvania and Maine, and much of the current interest globally. Perhaps the strongest role for a centralized BA is to create any necessary support structures for these regional ‘alliances’ and then work to connect key leaders or representatives across each to share experiences and leverage one another further. This won’t work for every issue and project out there, but I think is an obvious and needed piece of how we optimize our collaborative work and productivity and scale well.
3) Specific projects versus general conversation - As I’ve written before, last year was great for building foundations, but this year needs to be focused on delivering specific work and projects that provide models and examples to learn from and point to. The Boston event was positioned around not badges generally, but how we could use badges to support ‘soft’ skill development and communication for workforce. It was a specific set of problems, with the right partners at the table, and is exactly what we need to see more of this year.
4) Face-to-face events - We are a distributed network, and growing even more distributed as global interest takes off, and virtual meetings and methods will always be a critical part of how we interact. But we can’t also discount the value of being in the same room every now and then. I think face-to-face events will need to be an important part of our collective strategies. Ideally we have an opportunity to get together as a network at least once, with more regional or project-based meetings in the meantime. And again, a lot of those specific events are already underway in the first few weeks of 2015. More thoughts on this to come on this shortly, but expanding our toolkit for how we work together is definitely an important theme.
To get even more meta on you, the theme across these themes is one of decentralized work, initiative and progress, with a strong BA role in connecting those efforts and people. More to come in my next post.
Here’s to an exciting year. Looking forward to working with you (and maybe seeing you) soon!
This week a few of the features that I have been writing about will be shipping on webmaker.org - the work for Privacy Day and the new on-boarding experience. You might be wondering what we've been up to during that period of time after the project gets coded until the time it goes live. Two magical words: quality assurance (QA). We are still refining the process, and I am very open to suggestions as to how to improve it and streamline it. For the time being, let me walk you through this round of QA on the Privacy Day content.
It all starts out with a github issue
... and a kickoff meeting
The same team who worked on the prototyping phase of the Privacy Day campaign work are responsible for the quality assurance. We met to kick off and map out our plan for going live. This project required three kinds of reviews - that more or less had to happen simultaneously. We broke down the responsibilities like this:
Aki - (lead engineer) - responsible for preparing the docs and leading a functionality review Paul - (communication/marketing) - responsible for preparing the docs and leading a marketing review Jess - (lead designer) - responsible for preparing docs and leading design review Bobby - (product manager) - responsible for recruiting participants to do the reviews and to wrangle bug triage. Cassie - (quality) - responsible for final look and thumbs up to say if the feature is acceptable to ship Each of us who were responsible for docs wrote up instructions for QA reviewers to follow:
We recruited staff and community to user test on a variety of different devices:
This was done in a few different ways. I did both one on one and asynchronous review sessions with my colleagues and the community. It helps to have both kinds of user tests so that you can get honest feedback. Allowing for asynchronous or independent testing is particularly beneficial because it signals to the reviewer that this is an ongoing process and that bugs can be filed at any point during the review period specified.
The process is completely open to the community. At any given point the github issues are public, the calls for help are public and the iteration is done openly.
and if there were any problems, they were logged in github as issues:
The most effective issues have a screenshot with the problem and a recommended solution. Additionally, it's important to note if this problem is blocking the feature from shipping or not.
We acknowledge when user testers found something useful:
and identified when a problem was out of scope to fix before shipping:
We quickly iterated on fixing bugs and closing issues as a team:
and gave each other some indication when we thought that the problem was fixed sufficiently:
When we are all happy and got the final thumbsup regarding quality, we then....
Close the github issue and celebrate:
Then we start to make preparations to push the feature live (and snoopy dance a little):
“To truly realize the power of technology to transform learning, it is crucial that students develop tech skills as well as the attributes of good digital citizens, outlined in the ISTE Standards. Taken Charge provides learners with an engaging and rewarding online environment that gets them ready to learn, create and thrive in a technology-infused world,” said Wendy Drexler, Ph.D., ISTE’s Chief Innovation Officer. “We are proud to award the first ISTE Seal of Alignment for an educational game to Taken Charge.”
We’re really excited to see educational games issuing digital badges for tech skills, and even more thrilled to see standards bodies recognizing those skills acquired through game-based learning.
This year it’s all about making these calls more about you, our wonderful community. With our revived “open mic” approach, everyone who wants to give updates on their badging projects can have time to share and gather feedback from their fellow badgers.
A question from another newcomer, IBM’s Laurie Miller, sparked an interesting discussion about badge value. This is a conversation that’s been ongoing since badges first started gaining traction, but has gotten more attention recently, with more people writing, writing (and writing!) about the potential and challenges of creating value around digital and open badges. We’ll be using one of the upcoming calls to dive deeper, so get your thinking (and writing) caps on!
Sunny Lee brought up a recent discussion thread from the community mailing list on badges and image / content licensing, raising the question of whether folks would be interested in digging into the points raised on a community call. Catch up with the thread here and stay tuned for more movement on that conversation.
Andrew Downes is working on a prototype for issuing open badges through the Tin Can API; follow the Gitter chat here: https://gitter.im/ht2/BadgesCoP.Nate Otto posted “minor updates” to the Badgr mobile apps for iOS and Android - if you find any bugs, report them to Nate directly via email. These updates should make them compatible with more issuers of open badges (how exciting!)
Speaking of exciting projects, Don Present is working on building a badge-enabled personal learning environment (PLE) for international humanitarian workers, starting with Doctors Without Borders. We definitely look forward to hearing more about this as it progresses - and if you’re going to the 2015 ePIC Conference in Barcelona in June, look out for Don’s presentation on this project.
We were also joined by more of our European friends, Nerijus Kriauciunas and Robertas Visinkis, who have developed BadgeCraft, which offers tools for organizations to design, manage and issue open badges. Their project made it through to the finals of hte DML Competition, and although voting has now ended, you can read more about their proposal here: http://bit.ly/DML_BadgeCraft
Thank you to everyone who participated this week - join us next Wednesday at 12pm ET to share and give feedback on more community badging projects!
The newly created Mozilla Foundation design team started out with a bang (or maybe I should say rawr) with our very first collaboration: a team debut on dribbble. Dribbble describes itself as a show and tell community for designers. I have not participated in this community yet but this seemed like a good moment to join in. For our debut shot, we decided to have some fun and plan out our design presence. We ultimately decided to go in a direction designed by Cassie McDaniel.
The concept was for us to break apart the famed Shepard Fairey Mozilla dinosaur into quilt-like tiles.
Each member of the design team was assigned a tile or two and given a shape. This is the one I was assigned:
I turned that file into this:
We all met together in a video chat to upload our images on to the site.
Anticipation was building as we uploaded each shot one by one:
But the final reveal made it worth all the effort!
Within ten years, there will be five billion citizens of the web.
Mozilla wants all of these people to know what the web can do. What’s possible. We want them to have the agency, skills and know-how they need to unlock the full power of the web. We want them to use the web to make their lives better. We want them to know they are citizens of the web.
Mozilla Learning is a portfolio of products and programs that helps people learn how to read, write and participate in the digital world.
Building on Webmaker, Hive and our fellowship programs, Mozilla Learning is a portfolio of products and programs that help these citizens of the web learn the most important skills of our age: the ability to read, write and participate in the digital world. These programs also help people become mentors and leaders: people committed to teaching others and to shaping the future of the web.
Mark Surman presents the Mozilla Learning vision and plan in Portland, Dec 2015
By 2017, Mozilla will have established itself as the best place to learn the skills and know-how people need to use the web in their lives, careers and organizations. We will have:
Educated and empowered users by creating tools and curriculum for learning how to read, write and participate on the web. Gone mainstream.
Built leaders, everywhere by growing a global cadre of educators, researchers, coders, etc. who do this work with us. We’ve helped them lead and innovate.
Established the community as the classroom by improving and explaining our experiential learning model: learn by doing and innovating with Mozilla.
At the end of these three years, we may have established something like a “Mozilla University” — a learning side of Mozilla that can sustain us for many decades. Or, we may simply have a number of successful learning programs. Either way, we’ll be having impact.
We may establish something like a “Mozilla University” — a learning side of Mozilla that can sustain us for many decades.
1) Learning Networks 2) Learning Products 3) Leadership Development
Our focus in 2015 will be to consolidate, improve and focus what we’ve been building for the last few years. In particular we will:
Improve and grow our local Learning Networks (Hive, Maker Party, etc).
Build up an engaged user base for our Webmaker Learning Products on mobile and desktop.
Prototype a Leadership Developmentprogram, and test it with fellows and ReMo.
The short term goal is to make each of our products and programs succeed in their own right in 2015. However, we also plan to craft a bigger Mozilla Learning vision that these products and programs can feed into over time.
A note on brand
Mozilla Learning is notional at this point. It’s a stake in the ground that says:
Mozilla is in the learning and empowerment business for the long haul.
In the short term, the plan is to use “Mozilla Learning” as an umbrella term for our community-driven learning and leadership development initiatives — especially those run by the Mozilla Foundation, like Webmaker and Hive. It may also grow over time to encompass other initiatives, like the Mozilla Developer Network and leadership development programs within the Mozilla Reps program. In the long term: we may want to a) build out a lasting Mozilla learning brand (“Mozilla University?”), or b) build making and learning into the Firefox brand (e.g., “Firefox for Making”). Developing a long-term Mozilla Learning plan is an explicit goal for 2015.
What we’re building
Practically, the first iteration of Mozilla Learning will be a portfolio of products and programs we’ve been working on for a number of years: Webmaker, Hive, Maker Party, Fellowship programs, community labs. Pulled together, these things make up a three-layered strategy we can build more learning offerings around over time.
The Learning Networks layer is the most developed piece of this picture, with Hives and Maker Party hosts already in 100s of cities around the world.
The Learning Products layer involves many elements of the Webmaker.org work, but will be relaunched in 2015 to focus on a mass audience.
The Leadership Development piece has strong foundations, but a formal training element still needs to be developed.
Scope and scale
One of our goals with Mozilla Learning is to grow the scope and scale of Mozilla’s education and empowerment efforts. The working theory is that we will create an interconnected set of offerings that range from basic learning for large numbers of people, to deep learning for key leaders who will help shape the future of the web (and the future of Mozilla).
We want to increasing the scope and diversity of how people learn with Mozilla.
We’ll do that by building opportunities for people to get together to learn, hack and invent in cities on every corner of the planet. And also: creating communities that help people working in fields like science, news and government figure out how to tap into the technology and culture of the web in their own lives, organizations and careers. The plan is to elaborate and test out this theory in 2015 as a part of the Mozilla Learning strategy process. (Additional context on this here: http://mzl.la/depth_and_scale.)
Contributing to Mozilla’s overall 2015 KPIs
How will we contribute to Mozilla’s top-line goals? In 2015, We’ll measure success through two key performance indicators: relationships and reach.
Relationships: 250K active Webmaker users
Reach: 500 cities with ongoing Learning Network activity
In 2015, we will continue to grow and improve the impact of our local Learning Networks.
Build on the successful ground game we’ve established with teachers and mentors under the Webmaker, Hive and Maker Party banners.
Evolve Maker Party into year-round activity through Webmaker Clubs.
Establish deeper presence in new regions, including South Asia and East Africa.
Improve the websites we use to support teachers, partners, clubs and networks.
Sharpen and consolidate teaching tools and curriculum built in 2014. Package them on their own site, “teach.webmaker.org.”
Roll out largescale, extensible community-building software to run Webmaker clubs.
Empower more people to start Hive Learning Networks by improving documentation and support.
Expand scale, rigour and usability of curriculum and materials to help people better mentor and teach.
Expand and improve trainings online and in-person for mentors.
Recruit more partners to increase reach and scope of networks.
Grow a base of engaged desktop and mobile users for Webmaker.
Expand our platform to reach a broad market of learners directly.
Mobile & Desktop: Evolve current tools into a unified Webmaker making and learning platform for desktop, Firefox OS and Android.
Tablet: Build on our existing web property to address tablet browser users and ensure viability in classrooms.
Firefox: Experiment with ways to integrate Webmaker directly into Firefox.
Prioritize mobile. Few competitors here, and the key to emerging markets growth.
Lower the bar. Build user on-boarding that gets people making / learning quickly.
Engagement. Create sticky engagement. Build mentorship, online mentoring and social into the product.
Develop a leadership development program, building off our existing Fellows programs.
Develop a strategy and plan. Document the opportunity, strategy and scope. Figure out how this leadership development layer could fit into a larger Mozilla Learning / Mozilla University vision.
Build a shared definition of what it means to be a ‘fellow’ at Mozilla. Empowering emerging leaders to use Mozilla values and methods in their own work.
Figure out the “community as labs” piece. How we innovate and create open tech along the way.
Hire leadership. Create an executive-level role to lead the strategy process and build out the program.
Test pilot programs. Develop a handbook / short course for new fellows.
Test with fellows and ReMo. Consider expanding fellows programs for science, web literacy and computer science research.
Learn more. There’s much more detail on the Learning Networks, Learning Products and Leadership Development pieces in the complete Mozilla Learning plan.
Get involved. There’s plenty of easy ways to get involved now with Webmaker and our local Learning Networks today.
Get more hands-on. Want to go deeper? Get hands-on with code, curriculum, planning and more through build.webmaker.org