Doug, Ian, and I we recently published a paper for the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy entitled Guiding Students as They Explore, Build, and Connect Online. At the time of the publication Version 1.1 of the Web Literacy Map was in full swing, the Teach site was not launched, and we were deep in the design process of version 1.5 of the Map.

Paper publishing is so much slower than pixel publishing. In fact we incorrectly thought the new map would live at and not here: The article is paywalled but you can see a pre-published version here. We wrote and planned the document in the open but the needs of publishers required us to place our thoughts behind a paywall. To account for this Ian has added a series of interviews. Here is my interview:

We also published the the paper on and people noted that they thought our vignette was contrived. No way was a student going to unconferences and sharing his tale of #webliteracy. Well Ian interviews Garth here. We published Garth’s story not using a pseudonym but in the open.

Ian also interviewed Laura Hilliger and Doug Belshaw if you are interested.

Working with Ian, Doug, Laura, Tim, Mikko, Jess, Alvar, Ankit, and so many more was such a great experience. Much of what Ian and I discussed were the changes the community made to Version 1.1. I am very happy with the outcome. I argue we put the subjectives into what are loose objectives. We want the web lit to be used not to understand the web but to help build a web.

What is different?

Ian opened with a question on what is different. I used the metaphor of chimpanzee DNA again. Humans share 98% of our DNA with chimps but in that 2% you find the ability to simulate the future, genocides, and great works of art. Small difference matter.

Why is this important?

We spent some time discussing the Why. For me web literacy is the way we read, write, and participate in the Networked Society. There have been been great posts explaining the why better than me. Check out Laura Hilliger’s reflection to Marc Surman’s talk, and his recent post, and Ben Moskowitz. It really is about protecting the web for the next billion while also making sure everyone has access to a global economy. They all said it better than my babble.

What is missing?

Ian did ask me what is still missing. I struggled with this question. Specifically where do digital skills begin and where do web literacy skills begin. I used video production as an example. Does that belong?

I also wonder if we got at the artistry of the web. We split design from accessibility (a benefit to both competencies) but the skills are quite technical.

  • Using CSS properties to change the style and layout of a Web page.

  • Demonstrating the difference between inline, embedded and external CSS.

  • Improving user experiences through feedback and iteration.

  • Creating device-agnostic web resources.

Watching the Webmaker, Mozilla Learning, and Foundation repo’s on Github these skills all apply but still it feels something is missing. That eye for design, the debate over color and moods. Do these belong?

When to begin?

The last question focused on when to begin. For me I belive some level of reading, writing, and participating is required for basic civic and community engagement but passion has to drive the answer to this question. Not every kid wants to code. I am okay with that. Some will be into sports, cars, and knitting. Yet each of these crafts have been forever changed by the Web. Let passion drive what you make.


flickr photo shared by dmelchordiaz under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

I teach a class called EDU 106: Digital Text and Tools: New Literacies for Lifelong Learning. It fulfills our universities university’s liberal education program requirement for Technology Fluency.

Forking Clubs by Remixing Curriculum

I forked the Mozilla Web Clubs to teach this class. I began by creating my  class hub. I wish I had the time to display the change archives. If you watched them unfold you would see my increased alliance with the Web Literacy Map and a reliance on the legacy tools.

I taught college age students. They are younger than the Web. Yet if anyone walked into my classroom  they would immediately put an end to the concept of ‘digital natives.’ My students had basic use. They could share and pin posts and memories but they did not create for the Web. My students let other people own and control the places of their literary practices.

I sought to change this.

My Relationship

I joined my students as a co-learner. At the time I knew very little CSS. They knew very little about urls but could snap a selfie. We all had our basic skills to learn.  It is important to model how you learn in the open. Try to do what we call think alouds if as you learn. Engaging in the same struggle with your club members helps.

Learning goals of club

This class had to meet strict objectives for our tech fluency requirements. I wanted to focus on the Web Literacy Map. So I looked for correlations. How could I meet my required pedagogical goals while preparing students to read, write and participate on the web? That was the pedagogical choice that informed all iterations.

When we met

We met as a hybrid class. Everyone had to attend on Mondays. These days would begin with a maker challenge. Some quick puzzle involving a little code or webmaking. I would then do an ignite talk or other short lecture. I would then demo a tool and get them making as quickly as possible. More Hack, Less Yack. That’s important. We called them #MakerMondays

The class originally met as a hybrid on Mondays only. However I quickly realized folks wanted more support. I began to offer “Maker Parties” every Wednesday. This was unstructured design studio time. I was there to rotate and offers support.

I always had a tutorial ready for whatever make we were designing. I have been having good success with the animated gifs. I put a series of gifs into a slideshow. Short screencasts help as well. Just remember 45 minute lectures are just as bad onlline as they are in person. Keep it short, start making.

I set every student up with a blog. I used blogger. I think learning requires reflection and telling stories. Next time I will try to move my club members to their own domains.

Favorite Activities

I enjoyed how we opened and closed the course. We began the class by doing a literary response activity using memes. Students had to respond to dana boyd’s book Its Complicated using memes and reactionary gifs.

Then I designed the final. That really is the wrong word. It was a portfolio, but that doesn’t fit either. Mainly it was a curation of makes. Something my co-learners could be proud of.

Since many of these new webmakers will be future educators I am proud they got the chance to learn in the open as the developed the skills to read, write, and participate on the web. Here are a few examples:

 What to work on.

For many students this became another mandated tweet. Course feedback indicated students felt more comfortable with tech but also understood the balance. Very few students kept up a web presence every year.

I want to focus on not just skills to read, write, and participate on the Web,  but also on the artistry of it all. The passion and failures. In  formal settings, no matter how open the practice, the act of assessment changes motivation. I want my students to see past the numbers and look at what really counts.

In the next decade a billion more people will come online. I am happy to work within the Mozilla Learning Networks to  ensure these newly connected Web citizens will have a future online (click here to learn more about my journey).

Recently these efforts have taken me  across the globe without leaving Connecticut. A group of volunteers in Southern India reached out to me  and  thank me for my work. From there a partnership has blossomed and I now learn with CoderDojoErode.

CoderDojoErode is a group of volunteers helping to ensure the next billion people who come online can not only use but also build the Open Web. Erode is a district in the state of Tamilnadu located in southern part of India.

Six men from the same village came together after elders in the community placed personal data risk.  Arun ShanmugamGauthamraj ElangoGovindasamy RathinasamyMahendran PalanisamyPrabu Kalaiselvan, and Udhayakumar Sathiyamoorthy were childhood friends who wanted to ensure the kids of Erode had opportunities in high tech classrooms.

The started a CoderDojo which is a volunteer open source network designed to teach coding. CoderDojo works closely with the Mozilla Learning Networks.

CoderDojoErode first worked with the Mozilla Learning Networks to test curriculum being designed for Mozilla Web Clubs. The Goal is to start 500 other volunteer clubs around the globe in 2015.

I helped the club set up their own learning network by donating Server Space. Now I offer technical support and explore ways to localise curriculum and celebrate local traditions. Mainly I just learn from the team. They have taught me so much.

This post was adapted from and originally appeared on the SCSU Education Department blog.

Metric mania
cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Josep Ma. Rosell

I spent some time over the weekend really digging into Adam Lofting’s work with the metrics around #teachtheweb looking for insights into Marc Surman’s call for a Mozilla Academy by the year 2017.

You know family is town if you would rather spend the holiday looking at analytics rather than aunties. Still the numbers, and the KPI’s that came out of Portland shine a light on why a global movement is needed if webmaker….sorry….Mozilla Learning Networks is to be successful.

I am not a click counter by trade so I apologize in advance for my ignorance.


The problem, unlike relatives, users of webmaker tools leave pretty quickly.

The legacy webmaker tools, empowered users to read, write, and participate on the open web. Yet the conversion and retention rates are awful. After sixty days just over a half of one percent are still active and after 90 days the number might as well be zero.

Empowering tools means nothing without community.

People of #TeachTheWeb

The primary goal of the Mozilla Academy has to be connecting people. This will be done through both the Learning Networks and the Products.

The number of people within the Learning Networks is growing. The club data is still blank as that is a new initiative and the click counters are still debating what constitutes and club and a city.

In many ways I am trying to understand the vision and role of the Learning Networks. I kind of see a hierarchy of involvement. Maker Party evolves to club, club morphs into Hives, Hives become relatively independent and self sustaining.

All four of these levels fit under Mozilla Academy. Yet where should we put our efforts when discussing this global classroom?

Maker Party, due to this new vision, and a shift in funding, now are year round affairs. I am seeing this being conflated with the Mozilla Web Clubs. I disagree. Year round Maker Parties should be more flash events, that can be done with limited support.

Club First Strategy

Mozilla Academy is a lofty goal but when I look at the metrics that matter I think it becomes clear that building club capacity has to come first. Marc talked about the literacy, skill, and craft involved in the Learning Networks but these are simply metaphors to how enculturated one is in the discourses of the Open Web.

In a people first strategy you recognize that social capital, especially when you rely on volunteer contributors such as myself, is your greatest asset. We need to have a feeder system to move folks from skill to craft. We need people to use and evangelize the webmaker products and the Manifesto Values if we want to reach the KPI’s. More importantly you need people living on the Open Web.

Community Centered Design

The first goal of the Learning Networks should be the cultivation of community. The success of the Mozilla Foundation in the last few years has been nothing short of amazing (the fundraising especially). This growth rate  has required massive investments of time and treasure and has centralized much of the effort.

What I do not see is an uptick in social media impressions and sustained involvement as well. I think the metrics team needs to build (they probably do but its not in the public dashboard) and pay attention to the social media metrics as much as the tool use.

When you look at the #teachtheweb hashtag, the #mozacademy hashtag,, the IRC chat, and Google+ you see few interactions or the cultivation of relationships.  Engagement is notoriously impossible to measure but I know when I see silence in Web spaces.

I have seen new clubs from India start telling their story on Twitter. There has been an uptick of individuals on Google+ seeking entrepreneurial help (microbusinesses and the Academy..hmmm?), but it is quiet.

Without people the KPI’s are meaningless

Marc Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, asked for us in the #teachtheweb community to think about Mozilla Learning. He described the efforts to take #teachtheweb and scale it across the all of the Foundation’s efforts. He wants to build the global classroom. Marc has spearheaded Mozilla’s efforts to not only help bring the next billion users online but to also ensure users of the Web have the necessary skills and competencies to read, write, and participate in our networked society.

We have made the most effort is focusing on the know-how. Under the leadership of Doug Belshaw, we pushed Version 1.5 of the Web Literacy Map.

Michelle Thorne, Laura Hillinger, Amira Dhalla, and Merideth Summs. have taught me so much about designing learning activities for informal and distributed learning spaces.

The Badge Alliance, work that I do not follow as closely, developed a system that will bring these two efforts together and allow us to recognize the accomplishments of webmakers regardless of age or location.

Watching the newly formed design team work has been nothing short of amazing. They hold each other to such a standard of excellence, work at a break neck pace, and quickly figured out how to play inter-office games on GitHub

Overall, in the three years that I have been involved, Mozilla have scaled up the efforts to #teachtheweb. Never before have I seen or felt the sense of urgency that Mozilla has created around this effort, especially in the last two quarters. Must have been something in the water in Portland. The growth of the #teachtheweb movement has been huge. The year over year results of every metric presented at the March board meeting are astronomical. To keep this movement going because the know-who matters just as much to the #MozAcademy as the know-how.

What was once envisioned as a loosely federated group of like minded people remixing and hacking together teaching kits has become a shiny soup to nuts pre-packaged curriculum.

Let’s not forget the importance of kn0w-who.

The LMS Creep

While I am proud of what we built I also a little scared. I worry that in our commitment to protecting the open web we may close off possibilities for learning. We may not = recognize how central  know-who is to #MozAcademy

The metrics presented at the board do not tell a story of engagement and connection. They are the stories of siloed events across the globe. #MozAcademy has to bring these stories together. We just do not talk, read, and write in social ways. A major push in the coming development needs to be not just increasing the frequency of engagement but also the quality of engagement.

For all those numbers there was very little interaction across the old webmaker properties. The #teachtheweb hashtag was active among fifty or so users. The discourse community, while still new, does not attract many activities.

Mozilla Learning seeks to bridge the need. To fill in the back stories of the impressing growth, and most importantly to turn active users into active community members.

I am seeing words such as modules, defined pathways, need for assessment. These are not necessarily bad but they are design constraints that can negatively impact a learning space.

I don’t hate the click counters of the world. Watching Adam Lofting and his team work has been inspiring. I have written frequently that analytics is the most important writing tool not taught in school. When ever I speak at business education groups about technology I make the point that no business student is college or career ready without an understanding of analytics.

Yet when it comes to #MozAcademy the pedagogical goal rather than some KPI must come first. The data must serve the learning, not the other way around. Let’s use data to see how our pedagogical goal is either enhanced or inhibited by the goals we make.

Martin Hawksey reminds us of Norman’s law of e-learning in that all tools used for learning become an LMS once a threshold of users is reached.

I disagree. I think we can build an openly networked #MozAcademy without becoming a stale MOOC. In fact in many ways Mozilla was a MOOC before that was even a thing. Does it make tracking things harder. Sure. Do decisions take longer? Yes. Are designs different. Yep. It is also better.

Leadership and Learning

If the #MozAcademy is going to succeed we need to focus on the Academy as a tool to recognize, hone, and utilize leadership.

Marc wrote:

I am sick of the tired meme in education that, “students know more than their teachers.” I am starting to question the idea of teachers as simply “co-learners.” If you find yourself in situations where you consistently know more than the teacher it time to find a nee teacher.

I might be biased about the role of leadership in learning. I grew up in Boy Scouts. The idea that we lead folks to new understanding is baked into my worldview.

People will matter in the #MozAcademy. One year ago I knew nothing of CSS. Today I can mess up webpages in ways I never thought possible. This is due mainly to anyonynmous folks on the web but when I get really stuck Atul Varma and Stefan Bohacek

We need to provide webmakers the tool to cast a wide net for help.

Community is the content of the Academy. That is the only way a curriculum on leadership and agency can be built. We need leaders who can curate community to get at learning that matters.

Towards a Better Way

Marc asked about the kind of learning we seek in the Academy.

Maybe its the English teacher in me trying to eliminate needless modifiers but I wonder if we what we are trying to get at is “learning.” Nothing special or creative, just plain old cognitive apprenticeships….I mean distributed apprenticeship,…I mean apprenticeship.

Yogurt, just plain, Yogurt.

I worry about the #MozAcademy being swallowed by the MOOC monster. We need to bake the social into Mozilla Learning.

I suggest stealing the model that the Digital Media Learning Hub is developing. They build a class on stories. It is a forkable push and syndication model rather than a pre-packaged learning pathway.

The instructional design is loosely based on Jim Groom’s #DS106. He, Tim Owens, and Alan Levine, are getting real close to building an RSS interface to use in education. If the three stooges can make it happen I am sure Mozilla can.

Let’s build this City on RSS

Check out connected courses for an earlier iteration and the current dmlcommons. Lets build #MozAcademy on the backbone of others stories. Lets let RSS be the skin pulling it all together.

Mozilla has some of the coolest developers I know working on this project. Lets make the Mozilla Academy look like Planet WebMaker. I could imagine being able to filter feeds by continents, Mozilla Web Clubs, or by topic. This of course requires tagging and humans suck at tagging, but it would be neat.

On Assessment

We need to count what matters. The Badges and the metadata that points bac to different webmakers needs to be the metric that matters. Carla and the digital literacies badge alliance have talked about a federated badging system but I think the Academy and Mozilla Web Club badges need to be the gold-standard.

Instead of collecting easy to use, but wildly uninformative likert data lets curate stories. Take the open and reflective question stems from the pre and post questionnaires in the curriculum and turn them into a multimodal writing prompt.


On the Tools

Watching the field reports and research coming out of Africa and India enlightens us all. After playing with the webmaker app and prototyping and early versions of Tiles, I began to realize that the webmaker app might make a great UI for the Academy. That can be the doorway to the Open Web.

I understand the legacy webmaker apps, x-ray goggles, thimble, and popcorn have issues. The Goggles update was a much needed refresh. I was glad to hear from Andrew that the transition away from the older tools, especially Thimble,will be gradual. They were are great. I would not be where I am today if it was not for Thimble. I am starting to play in more industry recognized spaces like jfiddle and codepend, but Thimble got me started. Even poor neglected Popcorn is still awesome (hint: resurrect a Zeega like experience for an upcoming prototype…Its Easter resurrection is on the mind).

Products and free tools have always defined Mozilla Learning. I realize that now, and see it as something we should embrace. Redesigning the tools for a mass-audience can differntiate Firefox on OS and build in the serendipitous learning Andrew wants.

After reading about the interplay between brand, product, and Mozilla Learning using the  new suite of webmaker tools might makes sense. I also think it fits with the long term version of Makerfox and the Foundation as a whole.

Your whole team needs to be proud of what has been accomplished in the last three years. Looking forward to 2017.

BTW in terms of naming I favor Webmaker Academy. Say it three times. It rolls nicely off the tongue.


cc licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by vaXzine

In order to #questiontheweb we will first learn to annotate the web. Annotation is as old as text itself. Yet it has long been an interaction involving fewer readers in isolated incidence. Annotation has gone social.

This opens up wonderful opportunities for teachers to build text based analysis and text based discussion into the overall workflow of the class. Annotation requires a purpose, by focusing our annotations on questioning the web we can build up credibility skills.

How you annotate the web often depends on your text, platform, and browser. Some annotation tools work on iOS, some handle PDFs, some work in Chrome, and some tool are web-based and browser agnostic.

Three Tools to Annotate the Web

In this class we use two tool for annotation. and (click on my stream of annotations above) is an open source project built on open web standards, it handles pdfs nicely, but only works in Chrome. has features built for classroom teachers. Genius is web based and therefore available on any updated browser. You can upload texts or use a new beta feature to annotate websites.

Genius does not handle pdfs. Genius does allow inline embedding of video files. We will use this feature to conduct think-alouds of texts.

I also included a tool I learned about from Richard Byrne called CrocDoc. Some teachers may like the greater sharing and privacy options available to manage pdfs.

This tutorial will cover:

  • How to install
  • How to annotate the web
  • How to make multimodal annotations
  • How to share your annotations

How to install Hypothesis

Step One: Go to
Step Two: Click on Install Chrome Extension*
Step Three: Accept permission (note menu not visible in image below)

*Firefox extension coming soon

Step Four: A New Page will open up. Go to the page
Step Five: Click on Create Account
Step Six: Use a username (pseudonyms allowed –good for student privacy but I would stick with Twitter handle for adult learners)
Step Seven: Add email, and password

Step Eight: Check your email and activate account:

How to Annotate the Web

Step One: Choose a text worthy of reading
Step Two: Click on the speech box in the upper right hand corner.
Step Three: Highlight Text
Step Four: Click on Pen

Step Five: Add an annotation
Step Six: Click Save

How to Make Multimodal Annotations

Add an Image

Step One: Find the relevant image. Copy the image url (right click on image>save image url)
Step Two: Highlight text and click on the annotation pen.
Step Three: Copy your image url into the code.
Step Four: Add an image description
Step Five: Add an optional description below. This texts will show allowing the web to be accessible to all.

Add a Link:

Step One: Highlight Text:
Step Two: Click on Link:
Step Three: Copy in Link:
Step Four: Type in the the link text

Important the bracket and parentheses must not be deleted.

How to Share Your Annotations

Tag your Annotations

Tagging your annotations lets people find them.

Step One: add a questiontheweb tag (note the “#” sign is not necessary)
Step Two: add a tag if this annotation refers to a specific code book tag (claim, evidence, source)
Step Three: Add an optional classroom tag is assigned by the instructor.

Step Four: View the stream. Click on a tag.
Step Five: Share the link to the stream anywhere

Share your Annotations

Step One: Click on Share
Step Two: Send out link on your social networks using #QuestionTheWeb hashtag.

Other great features:

You can also reply directly to other annotations by clicking reply.
You can set any annotation to private or public.


Genius is a powerful free tool that educators use. The best feature of genius are the open and public pages where works of literature, rap, and news are annotated. Editors model close reading within disciplinary literacies.

While the public pages provide a great source of mentor texts teachers may want to use classroom pages as to scaffold students into the conversations held within texts.

First create an account.

Sign Up for an Account
― “A Teacher’s Guide to Genius” by Education Genius

Then request an educator account.

Genius Educator Accounts ― “A Teacher’s Guide to Genius” by Education Genius

Then create a class page.

Creating Class Pages
― “A Teacher’s Guide to Genius” by Education Genius

This tutorial all came from the Educator Genius Guide

Once you have a class page you can utilize the tags to organize students. Create tags for different credibility markers and classes. This allows you to quickly look at your data and adjust instruction when needed.


While we will not be using CrocDoc as part of #questiontheweb I wanted to share a breif tutorial. Some teachers may want to have greater control over the content and privacy of the files being shared.

If you do not want materials available on the open web and need to have students annotate PDFs I suggest using Crocdoc.

First make an account




Then you can create a shared folder:



From the shared folder you can set privacy settings. You can set it so students can only view, allow them to annotate, or allow them to upload to the folder.





You can find a source as a PDF or print articles and websites to PDF. Then upload the files to CrocDoc.

Locate Source


You can use powerful annotation tools such as highlighting, annotating texts and annotating sections.



Students can reply to each other’s annotations



Hackasaurus. CC BY-SA Mozilla Foundation.

It began with a dinosaur.

Telescope Mirror Segements (NASA, James Webb Space Telscope, 04/14/11)
cc licensed ( BY-NC ) flickr photo shared by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

As part of #walkmyworld we were asked to consider our mirrors. I am going to try to keep hacking at Palindrome Poems but they are really hard. Instead I turn to Mozilla’s efforts to #teachtheweb. Way easier than poetry…..


On November 19th, 2011 my journey as a Mozilla webmaker began. I attended a #hackjam sponsored by the National Writing Project and organized by Andrea Zellner.

So many wonderful people were there: Paul Oh, Melissa Techman, Ian O’Byrne, Chad Sansing, Nate Otto (maybe…somebody was there snapping lots of photos…it may have been Trent Kays)

We were attending the NCTE conference and found a coffee shop with free wifi for an improv hackjam. Andrea threw it together quickly on Twitter. The learning lasted but the wifi didn’t. Either way I became enamored with the tool and the hackasaurus mission

Thus my journey began. I quickly joined the Hackasaurus Google Group and that summer I organized my first hackjam at the Massachussetts New Literacies Institute I used to organize.

I got involved in the listserv and started posting and sharing ideas with Atul and Erin Knight. Still I knew little of the overall mission and efforts to develop Web Literacy (nor of @toolness ability to make really cool stuff).

Badges and Web Literacy

At the same time Ian began to dive deep into badges…real deep. It began when we asked Dan Hickey to serve as discussant on a session we organized  at AERA about assessing learning on the web. Dan basically called us out for our positivist reductionist efforts to only assess the residue of learning.

This brought Ian to badges which brought Ian to Doug (when he was badge lead) which brought us both to web literacy.

Ian went full force into the badging research and spoke at length of the importance and future of badging. So much so that I and the organizers issued him this NSFW Brevity badge for discussing badges. Meanwhile Doug, Ian, and I followed similar research paths in our dissertations (we jokingly argue about who first relied on the tired  alliteration trope  of C’s and digital literacy first ….update I win).

When Doug switched primarily to the web literacy map we followed. Ian more closely than I until recently.

Web Literacy Map

At first I hung out on the peripheral of the web literacy map development. My teaching schedule for the first year never allowed me to join the calls.

This was also at the height of Google+ when there was more than seven active users (for you Roz). I would reply to Doug’s queries there. We debated the use of nouns over verbs, the role of synthesis (an issue I am still pushing today).

Doug, once again great work. Though I think the web standards still fall a little short in capturing the complexities of making meaning in online spaces. Yes navigation is central, and a good predictor of those who succeed during inquiry tasks, but there is much more the standards do not capture. for example the reading of multiple sources, external storage systems (notes,Evernote, etc), remixing knowledge old and new are not really reflected.

I can’t wait to see and help the project unfold.

Me as a Mentor

Meanwhile I was actively trying to align my teaching and learning with the Web Literacy Map.Ian and I felt it was important that the Mozilla Foundation’s Web Literacy effort get coverage in traditional academic channels. One this would legitimize and spread the word in formal learning spaces; second the academy is filled with great thinkers by design.

We began to write and publish about the web literacy map and used our role as Area Chairs of the Literacy Research Association to sponsor Doug coming to speak to movers and shakers in literacy research.This semester I am on a research fellowship. One of my three goals is to conduct research and learn in the open on the Web Literacy Map. I want to do research that helps communities and not just citation counts. Relevance and rigor in research to me means making a difference.

Me as a Webmaker

I have been thinking about how to represent my open research work on the map. Sure the map will stand on its own but what did I learn during the process?

I am thinking (I know its a lot of me but this post started with a mirror metaphor so bear with me) that I should try an auto-ethnography. In my process of learning how we should teach the web I am learning how to build the web.

The more involved I get with the Mozilla #teachtheweb community the more skilled as a webmaker I become. I would love to trace my learning.

A year ago I still styles HTML using tables. It was the only way I ever knew how to make pages look the way I wanted. Now I am customizing CSS and playing with animations. All of this was made possible because of webmaker.

Data Sources

  • Pre-2001 –Mainly social consumer of web
  • Teacher websites (2003- begin building websites to teach)
  • Blog posts-I was a late blogger. I didn’t start until 2007 (because I had a session accepted on blogging).
  • Transition to WordPress (owning my own content).
  • Tweets (started late…2008 but focus on #hackasaurus and #teachtheweb hashtag).
  • Blogposts-Examine posts categorized as #teachtheweb or tagged with webmaker.
  • Makes on (wish I didn’t delete my drafts).
  • My Browser history (looking at HTML/CSS tutorials).
  • My search history (looking for tutorials).
  • Posts to Git.
  • Post to

I don’t have much ethnography experience and zero auto-ethnography (can this be done after the fact?) but my journey captures the networked learning that occurs in open spaces. It is as much social and interest driven as it is skill determined. I learned by doing and teaching. I taught by doing and learning.

My Future Mirror

Gear Up

When I project my future reflection I have two hopes that start to materialize in the vapor. The first is connecting the webmaker efforts with GEAR UP. This organization lives at the corner of formal and informal learning spaces and is committed to bettering the lives of American youth who may not otherwise make it past high school.

It is a perfect fit for Mozilla’s effort to #teachtheweb. It is also a perfect match for Ed Partnerships which oversees the GEAR UP program and recognizes the importance of STEM education.

New Haven-A Hive City?

This reflection is just starting to show up (reading the HIVE Cookbook) and may just be my mind playing tricks on me but if I look hard enough I might see this reflection in the mirror some years from now.

I imagine a partnership with SCSU, YALE, CRISP, NHPS, libraries, and businesses. We are building a lab school on campus I could see this outreach program baked into the school as a community HUB.

Both of these goals would take a strong effort for this reflection to become reality. Like all future reflections the mirror may crack or the light may shift before the future becomes reflected in truth.


Next week our small little corner of the Web kicks-off.

#QuestionTheWeb will be an exciting way to examine credibility of sources and argumentative writing. We will focus on critical evaluation and I think this emphasis on sourcing will improve how we construct and deconstruct arguments.

This is the first time I have tried to create an iteration such as #QuestionTheWeb. In the past I have completed connected courses but I envision this as a connected classroom. I want us to play as teachers and try student learning events. I want us to read, write, and participate on the open web.

Then we iterate and try the activities with students. My hope is that many of the students will also be be able to learn in openly networked ways. I do understand that some districts may not allow this so feel free to come along and have students work offline or in closed networks. Just share a reflection of what happened in your classroom.

This is not a MOOC

I want to connect our communities to student learning, artifacts, and outcomes. I want us to model how students co-learn in networked spaces.

Thats the difference I envision with #QuestionTheWeb. I want to make our students the focus of our growth. I hope we create a global hub with lots of small spokes forking and changing our resources.

It will work better as an open community building a connected classroom.

The workflow

There will be no forty minute talking head MOOC videos (15 minute netcasts you can join), no discussion board posts (unless you want) and no syllabus.

We will work together to help each other. Many of us will be trying new things. I hope we reach out using the forum or Twitter (hashtag: #QuestionTheWeb) if you need to connect.

There are no due dates or timelines. I will loosely stick to a once a week schedule for each of the professional development topics but you can stop by, lurk, or drop in any time. We care more that we learn and not so much when we learn.

Who are we?

Currently 13 educators have signed on for the ride. Eight ELA teachers, two history teachers, four technology, one writing, a music teacher, and a generalist (the math is off because of multiple topics).

There are potentially hundreds of students that will be getting involved in the project. I am excited to see how open many of us can be under the constraints of K-12 schooling.

What do we have to do?

Go to this site and register if you wish to apply for the completion badges and certificates. If you want to particiapte in  the forum join up and introdcue yourself.

What’s left to do?

Finish the Activities

I am trying to finish up the pinnacle make for the learning cycle. I believe that it hard for students to understand how perspective affects truth and bias when we strip away contexr.

To address this concern I am trying biased think-aloud. Avatars will read sources with a confirmation bias and an opposing bias.

Develop Professional Development Page

I believe in this professional development model. It is interest driven and customized for each teacher.

I want teachers to be able to apply this experience to their PD requirements where possible. We have the learning materials and we jduge our success using artifacts of student learning.

To track our progress you can choose to apply for badges. These are listed in each PD activity. When possible I am using Mozilla’s webmaker badges and supplementing these with my own #EdTech badges.

Make. Hack. Play. Learn

This of course is both our final and first step.

CC BY-NC-ND. Charis Tsevis. Design Walk: Analog VS digital. Flickr
CC BY-NC-ND. Charis Tsevis. Design Walk: Analog VS digital. Flickr

We had a wonderful call today. We have begun the process of finalizing the edits to ship version 1.5.

Listening and learning from everyone who joins the calls always impresses me. Today we returned to the spreadsheet and began to hack away.

We started with Marc Lusser summarizing everyone’s general concern with the Connecting strand. Simply too much overlap and unobservable outcomes. The group decided to hold off on addressing this bug and focused mainly on the Designing for the web competency.

The competencies are now locked in this release. We are now finalizing the skills. In other words We will do our best to make sure skills fall in only one bucket for V 1.5 but won’t change the buckets until V 2.0. So for example in Connecting we will try to make sure the skills are differentiated and observable under each competency.

Turning to Designing for the Web

As a reminder this competency, “designing for the web” was split from accessibility to strengthen the weight of each. The design element of the map always felt inadequate, and if the web will be open to all  it must also be accessible to all. We had scoped accessibility well, but we didn’t get at what design meant.

Doug, Jamie, and I had a wonderful conversation over on the git issue. Then Cassie came in and dropped some deep knowledge on us from a designer’s perspective. Doug summed it up as:

Thanks @cassiemc! Really useful to think through the different types of design. Just to pull them out of your comment, they were:

  • Visual design (graphic design, branding, style, illustration)

  • Interaction design (user interface and sometimes html/css)

  • User experience design (the overall emotional and practical journey through an experience)

As we were revising the designing for the web competency today I kept those words and LRA feedback about aesthetics in my thoughts.

I think we got close on the competency:

Designing for the Web

Enhancing visual aesthetics and user experiences

  • Using CSS properties to change the style and layout of a Web page
  • Demonstrating the difference between inline, embedded and external CSS
  • Improving user experiences through feedback and iteration
  • Creating device-agnostic web resources

To test this theory out I decided to go apply the skills to the work of a design team. I went and found Cassie’s great blog posts on her teams irl meetings. I then read her reflections and tried to annotate the post using the skills and looking for holes.

An unknown is where should interaction design live? We left it out of designing for the web because it is in the definition of the competency of coding/scripting: creating interactive experience on the web. Should interaction move under design? Is it the wrong modifier for experiences under coding?

Much of Cassie’s post stressed the importance of user testing in the design process. I think we captured that well:

I do wonder if we are only improving for user experience. There is so much more we can improve upon through feedback and iteration. Maybe user feedback is only one type?

Maybe iteration should be separated out into it’s own skill. That is one thing we did not capture. When you watch the slide show Cassie posted you see iterative design in situ. Do we need a skill to speak to this process?

We also revised the screen size, mobile vs desktop skill. Looking at what the team is cooking up I think we wrote a skill to match

I didn’t annotate for the first two skills about CSS but they are all over the pictures and the aesthetic last step. It’s interesting that such talented artist consider this their last step. When you watch the slide show you see design influencing every step of the way.

Looking Forward to Connecting

One of the major take aways from the last two weeks of calls was the need to address the Connecting Strand (which is why I threw out a click-baitish title last week). There is just too much overlap in the skills and ill-defined competencies. Plus we don’t get at the knowledge work teams do. Read through Cassie’s blog. We are missing something fundemental, though I do not know what it is or how to boil it down.  We are going to hold off expending any mental capital on this until after v 1.5 ships. When we get there, though, I want to watch the spaces where Mozilla builds, learns, and leads in the open.

Exploring the competencies in the wild allows us to test the validity of the skills we try to identify.



CC BY-SA. Ewa Rozkosz. (2011). Knowledge Sharing. Flickr
CC BY-SA. Ewa Rozkosz. (2011). Knowledge Sharing. Flickr

The web isn’t just for knowledge. The web is knowledge. It is a cognitive tool engrained into our literacy practices. It  does our thinking work with us, and as a tool of and for knowledge the web works best when it is open.

So I am not against the competencies of open practices in the web literacy map I just believe the values and philosophies should be elevated across the entire landscape rather than be a hill of skills and competencies to climb.

This belief began in a discussion with Doug and Ian on the mega-uber-google additional superlatives for me please-spreadsheet. The goal, as noted in the Git issue, was  to look for inconsitencies and redundancies.
screenshot of Comment.
Screenshot of Comment

Screenshot of Comment
I have long agreed with Doug that we need to revise the accepted definition of Web Literacy to the skills and competencies for reading, writing and participating on the open web.” 

This is especially true as we see commercial products be conflated to the web. I believe such a definition speaks to almost, if not all, of every principle in the Mozilla Manifesto.

If we added open to the top-level theoretical definition of web literacy then it should be operationalized across all three strands and not just in one competency.

What I would propose if the definition of web literacy is revised:

  • Change the name of the Open Practices Competency to Co-Creating Knowledge (or Open Knowledge or Insert better term)
  • We would include the following skills
    • Combining information from multiple online sources
    • Combing information across multiple modes.
    • Understanding and using openly licensed resources.
    • Making web resources available using an open license.
    • Contributing to Open Source Projects.
  • We would have to do an explicit check to make sure open as a value is represented in the three strands of the map.

What this accomplishes:

  • Removes much of the redundancy between remixing and open-practice
  • Improves the validity of the synthesis skills. They do not belong under searching. Combining sources to make new knowledge is complicated stuff.
  • Acknowledges the role of domain and academic knowledge.

Competencies without knowledge are nothing. They are an empty skills checklist. What is a mentor but someone who walks webmakers through knowledge pathways using the map as a guide?