Skill Levels and the Web Literacy Map

Ken Mathews CC by-nc-sa. Kings Advance. Flickr

Busy day yesterday for webmakers and the #teachtheweb movement. We had our first call about the web literacy  map, The Connected Learning Alliance kicked off their #teachtheweb month, and Mark Surman released Mozilla’s three year plan on his blog.

While I will address all three soon I wanted to focus in on our community call.

Yesterday marked the first web literacy call of the New Year (notes are here). I am excited as the call dates no longer fall when I am teaching. As a participant I find working with so many people under such a time constraint invigorating.

Yesterday we had one major agenda item. Should the web literacy map be broken down into beginner, intermediate, and advanced? You can see in this visual history (unsanctioned bit of a fun make I did) of the web literacy map that we used to delineate based on a skill level.


We decided, after much discussion and an informal non-binding vote not build in different levels of the map. Skills and competencies exist on continuim and my “advanced” may be your “beginner”. For example I spent the better part of two days figuring out how to do use CSS to do <div> overlays so I could put one image on top of the other (Thank you to @fourtunfish for his help). For many people on the call, some of the best UX designers in the Mozilla Foundation <div> containters are very basic. For me it was advanced. For my students simply writing the code for a hyperlink is an advanced skill.

Skill levels are both a value judgement and context dependent. Skills are not. You either can or can’t. Though I disagree with my little green friend as everything I make takes a lot of trying.

The Web Literacy Map provides educators and makers with a guide for reading, writing, and participating on the open web. It is descriptive rather than proscriptive. I believe assigning skills levels would make it proscriptive. So what to do?

This is where we left it and will pick up next week.

  • There was talk of using a skill level tree
  • Laura Hillinger’s Learning Pathways tool was suggested as a template
  • There was talk of tagging curriculum, resources, and makes based on skill level.
  • We discussed how many competencies in the map consist of dozens of skills.

The whole call reminded me a alot of skills and strategies debate in reading. Paris et al wrote about a skill being autmoatic and a strategy being a deliberate action involving goal setting. So fluency is a skill fro many 3rd graders but may require many decoding strategies for a six year old.

Same holds true with web literacy. I can fluently type the html code for a hyperlink. My students can not. They need strategies and resources to help. I can not fluently write CSS. Those who have been helping me (h/t to @fourtunfish and @toolness) probably dream in CSS.

So what we need to do is build a collection of curriculum, resources, and most importantly connections. These materials can then be tagged by very specific learning goals.




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