UX of Parenting

mcverry boys

In designing our parental services I often think about the user experience I provide to my children. Unlike many start-ups the overall health of the network matters more than the individual.

Our user experience is family driven.

Terms of Service Constantly In Flux

All users agree to a non-revokable license of “I own your ass, with all my heart, for time eternal.” The ToS are pretty strict here.

As a network administrator I reserve the right to alter the Terms of Service without notice. We want our users to grow and we will provide a sense of agency across the network but we reserve the right to revoke or change any condition of the system at any time.

Take electronics, for example. I wish I could say I have and enforce lofty standards. We try to say no electronics when you wake up. Another common rule is an equal amount of educational play or board games before electronics. Admins may also enforce the call for social electronics such as the Wii versus tablets.

Yet at other times we need to enforce the STFU protocol in order to complete parental duties. At these moments, which can happen at any time, the rules around electronics maybe altered.

Accessibility for Users is Key


All activities in the system have to be adaptable to the needs of individual users. This causes the resizing of features and tools across the network.

As the admin of three male users varying in both height and age we have to constantly adjust our system to ensure everyone stays happy.This usually means all user engagement sessions have to be inclusive. Accessibility is the heart of UX.

Times do arise when system admins may want to engage with a specific user. This is encouraged but should be taken under caution. Alternative spaces should be provided for other users or a strict NDA should be agreed upon between the system admin and a particular user.

Throttling of Traffic Allowed


There are specific bottlenecks in the system that must be dealt with in order to ensure a pleasant user experience. In order to maintain overall network health we often demand all traffic be treated the same.

There are many places in the house where users are willing to compete for a better position in the stack. Packets pushing for position. Nuetrality has to be enforced at the system level.

To combat this natural tendency among our users we have designated spaces where games, racing, or passing are strictly forbidden.The health of the system matters more than the happiness or competitive drive of any one particular user.

Assigning Clear Roles


Users, in order to have a happy experience benefit from clearly defined roles in the most public of forums.We strive for a democracy by design. We want our users to arrive at the choices that best serve the network.

We do allow some choice in determining roles. Such as a unique UI for toothbrushes. We even allow our users to connect to other networks, and through our very Open API they can bring in pop-culture elements.

Every boy needs a hero. Our mass culture is no different than those in the past. Diego shares much in common with Thor.

While other sysadmins may balk at the commercialization of childhood we posit it comes down to picking your battles. The bathroom, like other common forums in the system is already a frontline of frustration. Yes users can pick a commercial toothbrush but once your role is assigned you must stick to it.

Limiting Choice


In fact limiting choice in public forums improves the UX of parenting. A common mistake we learned early on: offering choice leads to conflicts and down time. When options were baked into the UI we often had to reconfigure our servers in order to complete a user interaction…or worse. Founders spending valuable time settling disputes among users.

For example the small issue of purchasing cups of different colors can lead to great tension among users. They will constantly cycle through the files until they find the color of choice. Furthermore the users decision may change based on the influence of another user. Sometimes users will troll each other and demand they have different colors. Other times they complain to admins that the colors do not match.

Limit choices in spaces where all the users gather.

Offer Mass Storage

There has to be room in your heart for every user. They are each unique and bring a different persona and will require their own pathway through the system.

As admins of the network we often find we need to offer opportunities of mass storage and allow all the users to gather. This often occurs at odd hours of the night.You can see a sudden spike of traffic in the wee hours of the evening and a place designed for two users. This leads to congestions, specifically for the admins. They get overcrowded by your users. Embrace this. Plan for mass storage.


Not every network has the space or means for a king size bed but a group hug or a family walks is a sufficient space. Love isn’t physical. Its an energy that flows through parents and users at any time.

Humanize not Disrupt: Misadventures in 21st Century Skills

What about Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)? She helped create the analytical engine. Commonly recognized as the first computer. She wrote the first algorithm.  Could she not problem solve?

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)

flickr photo shared by Mathematical Association of America under a Creative Commons ( BY-ND ) license

What about Mahatma Ghandi (1869-1948)? He lead India to independence, and fought for civil rights world wide. Could he not communicate?


flickr photo shared by the second fiddle under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

What about George Washington Carver (1860-1943)? He invented crop rotation and changed agriculture forever.Was he not creative?


flickr photo shared by burningbird2013 under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

What about the pre-Clovis cultures of North America (14,000 years ago)? They made hunting weapons and worked together to take down large, now extinct, mammals such as the Mastodon. Could they not collaborate?

American Mastodons

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

What you call 21st century skills I call being human.

Our schools do no need disruption. The need humanity restored.

Building a Connected Classroom

flickr photo shared by opensourceway under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

As I begin to put off assembling my promotion and tenure file I have thought often about the open classroom. This has caused me to reflect on my teaching (really need to get this stuff stuck in a binder not a blog) I realized that my five year journey has lead to a trek across the web. I have tried to bring in principles of connected learning and open practices to my classroom.

In the past this has involved using #GAFE as a Free LMS (before Classroom). The rationale being that most districts, even those iOS based, had become Google Apps For Education. Plus it was all I knew, and easy. A single log on to blogging, RSS (still shedding a tear Reader), collaborative documents, video hosting and live hangouts, Streams on Google+, and content and student portfolios on GSites. It still sounds tempting.

But I made a commitment to try Open Tools. This year, as I try to shove all these bytes into binders (no technology or Web allowed during P&T…..sorry), I wanted to share my workflow.  I primarily use three tools: WordPress, Known, and Hypothesis.



This is the course hub.  The library where you check everything out and find links to the different pathways through the class. I have a shared hosting plan with Reclaim Hosting. I have built a course template so to say so I can easily add new courses as I develop them or port them online. Wordpress powers the web. It can power your class well.

The only real drawback for WordPress has been the constant vigilance required for security. I wanted to use the BadgeOS plug-in. This required  registration to allow the general public to enroll. I used BuddyPress This meant a constant hunt for plug-ins to stop the barrage of spam enrollments. If I am to use BuddyPress again I will not allow for registration but will manually enroll. The thought of even doing that is the reason I probably will not use BadgeOS.


This is our coffee shop. It is where we gather to read. is a social annotation tool. It has fundamentally shifted my teaching. Instead of talking about texts I am talking in texts.

All of the posts are public and licensed for reuse so this makes privacy a bit tricky. So I create a few options for students. First I review the benefits of learning in the open to build a web presence. Then we discuss the use of pseudonyms. Finally I let everyone know that hard copy offline annotations or notes are acceptable. I hear private groups are coming soon.

(Here is a how-to video that shows ways to use within blackboard).



This is our Stream. I don’t need a physical metaphor for our network. It would seem foreign. Known is a blogging and social networking platform. I use it as a place for students to push all of their content. Every student in the class mantains their own place online. I want them to own their own learning rather than do it in the open.  They benefit from both. Our Known stream is where we share our community. It does take cultivation. Streams, just like any “LMS” like space, can devolve into file sharing systems with no iterative feedback between classmates. I am getting there.

Many of my students have chosen Known as their blogging platform. I also provide instructions for Blogger (for folks with Google accounts) and sites. I hope many of my students take their blogs with them. Few rarely do, but students approaching graduation have turned to me with regret, wishing they had built up a web presence (Dear Universities everywhere, building a portfolio and a presence are not the same thing). Known offers great hosting packages for students.

My favorite feature though is the control over privacy. I have always kept my class streams private. Before Known I used Google+, but now I can have a public stream that empowers students to make decisions over their privacy.

On every post students can select whether to make them public or shared with the class. This has helped me as a teacher as well. I give critical writing feedback to my students. They are learning a new genre of blogging while being held to traditional academic standards of writing (plus gifs, lots of gifs). I can use the private post function to give important feedback without hauling the student out on the parade grounds for a dressing down.

The one drawback I have run into is the comment feature. It is off by default, and the way public thinkers, especially women and minorities are treated I understand. Yet this takes a few emails to get everyone to turn on their comments. My other issue is the lack of an RSS feed for comments. It might sound strange but I use the RSS of comments as an assessment tool and a public nudge to support a community of writers.

Next Steps

I need a better RSS feed. This is my personal workflow for class and needs to live side by side the stream. I currently use Feedly Pro so I can include a reader. I like it. I can make my collections public and set up a feed for each class. I can only link to the feed. i can npt embed it yet.

I love what Laura Gibbs has done with InoReader. So I know what I want is possible. I have seen people like Alan Levine build stuff for Connected Courses. My favorite is probably Mozilla’s Planet feed that Atul Varma turned me on to. Now I am way over my head in terms of being able to take the Git Hub repo and do something with it but close to what I want does exist.

Laura has built it. I think I need to follow all of her excellent instructions and try out Inoreader.

I just need to get smarter or wait for someone smarter build the RSS reader for the classroom. In a perfect world it would work like JSTimeline. I have a spreadsheet template. I would add the student name, the rss feed for the blog, and the rss feed for comments (huge chance of human error here). I press a button and out pops out a pretty stream of student writing.  I would want to be able to have a firehose, sort by comments, student, etc.

The right tools are meaningless without community. We need to understand that bringing in open practices and connected learning to web novices requires scaffolding. An acceptance of failure and a constant forking of plans. I have taught with no stream and just RSS, just  stream, and both. The format doesn’t really matter. Our forum does. We need to come together,

I haven’t moved everyone totally out on social networks yet. I have required Twitter chats but I find many are hesitant to try. Instead I try to model the use of social media in my learning and leading. I will see if it catches on. I just don’t feel right mandating someone sign up for social media. I have created private pathways for all three tools and I do the same for social media. I wonder, however, if I should require Twitter,

At least for now I can say I built a class that:

  • uses open source tools
  • allows students to own their own data
  • has privacy options (or I can create a private pathway).

Why Collaborative Inquiry Matters to Future Teachers #EDU106

Inquiry never works better alone. Whether you bury yourself in a book or attend a #hackjam you seek answers with others. As a teacher I find how I participate on the Web influences my personal growth more than what I contribute to my networks.

Thinking... please wait

flickr photo shared by karola riegler photography under a Creative Commons ( BY-ND ) license

Check out this recent conversation started by David Quinn. He asked if I and a few friends had advice to students who were nervous about blogging. Dave noted that there were concerns around privacy and employment.

As a community we explore tips and practices for teaching in open spaces. We discuss and share great teaching activities. Most importantly we collaborate on problems that matter.

I believe teacher preparation programs (all fields really)  have a responsibility to help candidates shape their online presence. The benefits of learning in the open go beyond skills and knowledge acquisition. If schools use job placement as a key metric of success than helping teachers build up a distributed and networked Web presence is central to  our mission.

flickr photo shared by flazingo_photos under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Its simple really.

You have two otherwise equal prospective employees. Candidate one can read, write, and participate on the web. She has a website, demonstrates reflective growth through blogging,  and engages in relevant and current educational topics.

When you Google candidate two you only find private social media silos.

Who would you choose?

Practices and Participatory Learning Environments

Winter Moon, Winter Moon (39, 59, 21) - Moderate

flickr photo shared by ▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓ under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Never been a fan of 21st century skills. I must admit, I even added to the hype; publishing a set of skills using the latest trope of alliterative “C buzzwords” in a white paper and then a special issue on 21st Century Learning. More so, Ian and I have  taken a stab at “measuring” these “soft” skills through research into self-report instruments.

We need to think of 21st Century Skills as practices of pedagogy rather than of performance. Instead of focusing on the learner we need to intentionally design the learning space to cultivate these practices.


The term “21st” century skills is dated. The Internet has seen more birthday candles than the students who walk the halls of our schools. The web outdates many of the teachers as well. We need to prepare students for the future not catch up to the past.

Instead of 21st century skills I think about our networked society. Castells and Cardosa discussed the need for self-programmable learners. So instead of the consonance of constant change, I tried to think about what the “soft skills” (stop calling them soft) people would need to be a self-programmable learner in a networked society.

I settled on: create, communicate, think, lead. I then wanted to start thinking about a map. Actually the thinking about the map started first. It lead me to the four practices found in participatory learning environments.

I was reading an article by Paul Deane on “Rethinking K-12 Writing Assignment” when he discussed competency models as a “detailed map of the skills that should be assessed.”

Dean, P. (2012). The CBAL Competency Model.

The infographic is great. So many layers of meaning in so few words. It also “mapped” writing in a way that I had never really seen before.

I was also, of course thinking about the Web Literacy Map and the working group efforts to release a second version of the Map. If you have been following the developments a series of focus group interviews is being conducted. Reading the questions being asked it seemed many people are trying to answer what are “21st Century Skills” we are trying to teach.

I am beginning to  wonder if that is the right question. Maybe we should be asking, “What practices should our learning spaces require and reinforce?”

Choosing Practices

I settled on these four practices because they are essential to self-programmable learning. I dropped collaborate because learning never occurs alone. We are social animals and I believe in many ways our humanity begins when behavior must conflict with instinct. When we run simulations in our mind, delay gratifications, weigh consequences, and consider others we become human.

I then placed a series of practices in concentric circles. I was intentional in my design hoping the practices grew in scope and impact on society.

I then looked around for the types of choices and practices I would want to see in participatory learning environments.

I lifted the entire Create category from an etherpad published by the Web Literacy Working Group. It is cool stuff. Gets at the whole design thinking thing plus puts a focus on making.

The Communicate practices are a mix from the Dean article and writings about rhetoric, reading, and writing.

The Lead category is something new to me. Garnder Campbell sparked my thinking around leadership and learning. The recent focus on leadership in the Mozilla Learning Networks has also honed my though.

In the Think category I dropped critical. Maybe its my natural aversion to totally useless and unnecessary  modifiers. I find them redundant and repetitive.

Part of it is just plain confusion. If I can think critically when do I think uncritically? When do I use my dumb thinking skills? Instead critical thinking usually refers to a specific subset of processes and practices. Yet these subset of competencies changes if we are talking Spache’s critical reading or the camp that grew from the Frankfurt school and  Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

I went with Think. You can Think Different, but just think.

Levels of Engagement

I then played with the idea that each circle represents some level or characteristic of learning. I tried using two dollar words like enculturation. I attempted to sound like the cool kids by using in words like affinity spaces.

Nothing work. So I tried to settle on simple:



Not sure if this works though. Still I would rather us invest time into ensuring are learning spaces afford the agency for these practices to be built rather than spending time and treasure chasing variance in scores.


Scaling Up and Onboarding in Mozilla Learning Networks

No project or space designed to #teachtheweb could ever exist in stasis. Change is  the only constants on the Web. Well, actually change isn’t the only constant. There is also the mission of Mozilla—the  other fixed variable– as old as browsing itself.

Internet Open

flickr photo shared by balleyne under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

This philosophy of the web– as an open and public space that empowers us  to read, write and participate has drawn many like me to the Mozilla Learning Networks..

I recently came across this infographic from an article entitled Toward a Grammar of Collaboration by Yrjö Engeström, Anu Kajamaa, Päivikki Lahtinen, & Annalisa Sannino. The picture was taken from a Bennet & Sederberg, 2012 piece. When looking at the overall picture I saw a decent metaphor of  the over-arching goal of shifting Mozilla Foundation’s teaching efforts into a more brokered network.


To be honest I haven’t read either paper yet but the image immediately reminded me of a few things:

So I wanted to use the infographic  as a lens to reflect on the evolution of how the webmaker spirit we knew evolved into, and blended  the tools, toys, and teaching of the future.

Mozilla Learning Networks


I first encountered The Mozilla Learning Networks  through an affiliate. Andrea Zellner had thrown together a Hackjam at a National Conference of Teacher’s of English annual meeting. We walked around until we found free wi-fi to try out X-Ray Goggles.

I didn’t do much with the interaction until the coming summer when I  organized a #hackjam as an after hours activity for a conference Ian and I used to run. This over time turned into Ian and I throwing together our first Maker Party events and evangelizing webmaker tools everywhere.

Things were more hacky then. Webmaker and Hackasaurus  were pitched as, “Here are really cool tools: X-ray Goggles, Thimble, Appmaker, and Popcorn, use this cool stuff and see what you can do.” We did and do some amazing stuff with the Webmaker tools.

Now some things are changing. Appmaker and Popcorn will be deprecated.  Thimble is getting an amazing and much needed make over (I am really excited about what I have seen so far). But it isn’t the tools that matter.

It is the network.

As Ani Martinez noted purpose, people, programs, and presence will make the difference. That brings us to the more updated graphic that in my mind demonstrates the evolution of the Mozilla Learning Networks in the last year.



In today’s vision of Mozilla Learning Networks I see the Webmaker App on-boarding folks into self-organizing efforts. Maker Party serves as an organizational bridge between networks that are actively supported beyond the product side.

I see Mozilla Clubs as being a network The Mozilla Foundation helps to enable.  Through curriculum, tools, and assessment we provide the kits. Through leadership and cultivated social media spaces the Mozilla Learning Networks provide more structured activities, spaces and support  with club captains and regional coordinators.

Then there is the bridge that moves to the brokered network that in fact encapsulates the smaller networks. What is this bridge? Not sure, Matt Thompson has recently started a conversation about this level of on-boarding.

The Impact

It was not the goal of webmaker that shifted, but it was the scope and speed to which results were to be achieved. The battle cry, flying chainsaws and all,  has grown exponentially.  This has lead to much larger global effort.

Ben Mozkowitz, Matt Thompson, Michelle Thorne, Mark Surman, and Laura De Renyal have all written or spoken about the mission of serving the next billion to come online. Basically we can not reach this level of impact with self organizing or enabled networks. They would have to brokered networks. The hackjams affiliates used worked in the past but a new scale is needed. One of massive growth.

I do fear there is a fourth box on the left of the picture, a box not as pretty—“directed networks.” We can not strip all degrees of freedom away from learners, mentors, clubs. We have to make sure we do not raise too many barriers to participate. It is hard to square radical participation with only centralized decision making. Stakeholders need to be decision makers and not worker bees.

Up to this point in the history of the Mozilla Learning Networks the community was relied on very heavily for not just being boots on the ground but forming much of the thinking and planning. Over the last few months, due mainly to growth in scale and staff changes, much of the planning had to be top down.

We will need both horizontal and vertical leadership. Overall it has been such a learning experience being a volunteer contributor within the Mozilla Learning Networks  these past few years. I am excited to see what the next few years bring.

Moving to collective action is the only way to help build and protect an open web.





Making on Android for #CLMOOC

I love all the tools I can choose from when I sink into my deskchair and open up my laptop. The possibilities swirl in my mind as I edit videos and images. Yet for most of the world they will turn to the mobile web and mobile apps to spawn their creativity.

That got me thinking about the apps I use as a webmaker on Android. I wanted to share because more and more of learners I work with across the globe use Android as their only computing operating system. Actually in parts of the world over 91% of users have a phone powered by Android.

Then when I played in #rhizo15 and #clmooc I noticed a large proportion of Android users. We all wanted to create an effort to document how we hack and make using our Android devices.

Drawing Cartoons

This is a great animation app for Android. I made a basic video for #clmooc.

I will work on tutorials for all of these later but you get a full range of movements and can quickly make a cartoon. My six year old son put one together in no time. You basically add frame by frame and can move your characters. You can also select multiple backgrounds.

Flip A Clip

This is a great app for making quick gifs. I used it to create a #CLMOOS gif. You basically draw with your finger and then can add frames and trace over what you drew. You then share your files as a gif.


Font Studio

This is a great app for layering images with texts. You get many options. You can use a mask or put words on an image. It is easy to use and very powerful.



Dogtrax is our resident Super artist. Super allows you to quickly do a “madlib” like prompt and add text your images. You can then share it out onto Twitter.

Other Apps

These are other apps I will add to the collection later. I use them all as an Android Maker. The include: Video to Gif, Superphoto, Webmaker, Smart Voice Recorder, and We Video

Playing with @Webmaker Beta.

Yesterday Mozilla dropped Webmaker into the Google Play store. I have played with past versions but the nightlies had to be sideloaded. Today I got to download from the the Play Store and begin my make.

Webmkaer Beta

Webmaker, in its current state is basically another slideshow app, but one I believe is very intuitive. That’s the main point. The old webmaker suite of tools (now included in the Mozilla Learning Networks) focused on learning communities.

Mozilla at MWC 2014

flickr photo shared by mozillaeu under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Webmaker’s new  goal is to take nonusers to users. The team at Mozilla designed Webmaker for villages in Banglesdesh and Kenya where smartphones do not have the latest specs. Ben Moskowitz in a recent post discussed the ladder of users.

The webmaker app focuses on the large segment of non-users to beginning users. This represents significant shift from The Mozilla Foundation’s efforts to #TeachTheWeb. The past suite of webmaker tools focused on learning communities. Webmaker Beta hones in on connecting the classroom of one.

This new segment exists around the globe as the next billion users will come onlin emainly through mobile device. So webmaker beta is easy to use on low powered devices. In fact I gave it to my six year and my four year old on their Moto G and they quickly created a project. Webmaker beta is not feature rich but it is intuitive enough for a toddler.


CC BY Ben Moskowitz.


How Does it Work?

Screenshot_2015-06-17-07-54-14 Screenshot_2015-06-17-07-54-31 Screenshot_2015-06-17-07-54-58 Screenshot_2015-06-17-07-54-50 Screenshot_2015-06-17-07-54-37

The tool is so easy to use you really do not need instruction. Webmaker Beta is based on tiles of pages. You add a page by clicking the plus sign. You can then edit the page by adding a picture, text, or a link to another page. Once you add a picture you can choose your camera gallery or your photo.

My Project

If you want to check out my project first you need to download the app from Google Play. Sharing of projects outside of the app is not yet possible (feature coming soon). Once you install the app you can click on my project.

I created a brief description of Connected Learning. I enjoyed the navigational choices of arranging the pages. I first searched for creative commons images. Not an easy feat on mobile. Flickr’s mobile app does not allow you to sort by license. So I used the creative commons search engine and linked back to Flickr.

I then tried to color coordinate the diferrent values and and principles of connected learning.


Webmaker is very much still in Beta. Many features are sure to come. Some things I quickly missed:

  • Adding an image by url: Downloading images was no problem for me as I had wifi and do not have to worry about data. In emerging enconomies data is a premium. Being able to add images by url may help cut down data costs.
  • Landscape Pages: Webmaker has followed in the footsteps of recent apps that use a portrait aspect ratio. This makes little sense to me. All of the images I found on Flickr were shot with an incompatible ratio. I like to fill pages with images I could not.
  • GIF support: Enough said (though this may have to do with low powered phones in Android One).
  • Layering: If we are to get creative with our projects we will need to be able to make some images full screen, resize others, and layer pics.
  • Move Pages: I wanted to move my pages around to rearrange my navigation.
  • Link to URL: Currently you can only link to other pages in a project. I wanted to link back to my source material and my photos credit pages. Basically I did not properly attribute every picture I used. This would have required typing the license for each picture. This is cumbersome for mobile. What I do is favorite images I use in Flickr and then link back to that folder.


I can not wait to see this project grow. Right now Webmaker Beta is another slide deck, but it is a slide deck with a mission. The design team as created a user experience that requires no real instruction and that can be easily adapted to any language.

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.

I just finished the DMLcommons salon on co-designing our research spaces. I am amazed at the work the teams have done. I also have a long reading list now. Thanks Megan Bang. I hope to use these ideas in my own work and reach out to others so we can co-design a future together.

Rigor Begins with Trust


flickr photo shared by purplejavatroll under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

In her work with Native Communities, Megan Bang, mentioned that new researchers did not begin as ethnographers. Instead they had to visit a community and have lunch with the elders.

From the onset research was not done to a community. It was done for the community with the community.

I want to apply these ideas to my volunteer work with CoderDojoErode. I basically inserted myself into their community. I did not ask. Just set up a server space to see what happens.

What I realized was I was already a part of CoderDojoErode. I have spoken with the club captain and mentors for some time on Twitter. They followed my work and designed their learning spaces without me knowing. The boundaries of communities have expanded.

I do worry about exploiting local communities on the ground. This fear materialized most when I help to launch a fundraising efforts for CoderDojoErode. Successful fundraising takes stories but I am an outsider shaping the stories of others. Many who may not read English. I am also trying to rise funds so the story I tell has an emotional appeal built in. This appeal centered around economic disparities.

In order to protect the children of CoderDojoErode I gave admin rights to all the mentors. They can chane anyword I write. They have veto power over any post I publish.

They own the story. It maybe our community but it its their village.

I did not get involved with CoderDojoErode as a research project. I simply wanted to do good. I realize now I can do better by helping to shape a Formative Design Project.

Distributed Knowledge and Teams

Knowledge Management Cafe

flickr photo shared by Emilie Ogez under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

The researchers in the podcast discussed the difference between action research and DBR. They focused on the idea that PAR may not have the same political motives. The speakers also discussed how par is smaller in both scale and scope. They mentioned how DBR requires distributed knowledge and teams

This is where I need help. I have no team and no funding. I do have IRB for my projects. That’s a plus. I am willing to join other squads or I invite young researchers, graduate students, or others with my passion to #teachtheweb to join me.

Three Ongoing Projects

dream less

flickr photo shared by wageslaves under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

I have three concurrent projects with different threads of formative design weaved through in different ways.


The #WalkMyWorld Project is a social media project in which we share and connect online at Twitter using one hashtag. Groups of learners across the globe are connecting and sharing for 10 weeks using the #WalkMyWorld hashtag.

This is a unique project in the #ccourses spaces. Mainly because it has a global hub but there are on the ground local nodes being run by classroom instructors.

All of our iterations and planning have been done in the open. We were not deliberate from the off-set that it was a DBR project. We just wanted to good and have students learn. We iterate based on these goals.

I was impressed with Chris Hoadley’s work on retrospective analysis in DBR. I am going to push the facilitators to begin the restrospective review of our past iterations.


I have documented my difficulties with #QuestionTheWeb. Basically I was missing the distributed team necessary for the project. I am going to take the idea of getting the community more involved.

I am going to try and relaunch in the fall. By the time I got the curriculum and learning spaces designed and IRB approval SBAC and PARCC testing started. There were no computers available for projects unrelated to testing.

I have started recruiting school districts in Connecticut for on the ground sessions. I will also teach the class in the Open for those who want to join in. If you want to get involved let me know

Mozilla Web Clubs

We have a chance, the distributed expertise, the metrics, and the stories to make the Mozilla Learning Networks the largest worldwide formative research project. I want to fork my own little corner in Connecticut and be deliberate in design.

I am going to start the Elm City Web Club this summer with our GearUP students. I will continue to fork EDU 106 to align it with the Web Literacy Map. I am also reaching out to folks at #Edcampct, #ctedlead, and #ctedchat to try and encourage clubs to start up around Connecticut.

Personally in the Greater New Haven area I am trying to get clubs up and running at different schools and libraries. I keep trying for grants to fund this initiative but I will move forward on the cheap. People matter more.

I want to keep working with the CoderDojoErode but I want to ensure they want to work on co-designing the space together. I am trying to be very intentional of the ethics involved here. I think as long as we stay committed to co-learning and the mission of doing good. It’s all good.