MacArthur Foundation competition winners use Mozilla software to supercharge learning

March 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Cross-posted from the Mozilla Blog

The Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition winners were announced yesterday at the Digital Media and Learning Conference in San Francisco. The winners—awarded grants ranging from $25,000 to $175,000 —will use Mozilla’s new free and open source “Open Badges” software to issue, manage and display digital badges for learning across the Web.

The competition brought together Web developers, designers and technologists with educators, online learning innovators and collaborators that range from NASA, the U.S. Department of Education and the Girl Scouts of America to Intel, Disney-Pixar and Motorola.

The goal: explore how digital badges can provide learners of all ages new ways to gain 21st century skills, harness the full educational power of the Internet, and unlock career and learning opportunities in the real world.

And the winners are…

The Competition was held in collaboration with the Mozilla, and is part of the Digital Media and Learning Competition supported by the MacArthur Foundation and administered by HASTAC. Winners include:

  • NASA’s Robotics and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) System will engage learners in exploring new STEM topics and create digital badges for learners of all ages.
  • The Disney-Pixar Wilderness Explorers badges will engage youth in nature-based explorations, offering ways to learn about and become advocates for wildlife and wild places.
  • The Manufacturing Institute’s National Manufacturing badges will recognize the range of skills and achievements workers need to be competitive in today’s advanced manufacturing workplace.
  • The Young Adult Library Services Association’s Badge Program will help librarians develop the skills they need to meet the needs of 21st century teens.
  • A complete list of all 30 competition winners is available here

Why digital badges for learning?

Learning today happens everywhere and at every age. But its often difficult to get recognition for learning that happens online or outside of school.
“We believe digital badges have the power to unlock the full educational potential of the Web,” said Mark Surman, Executive Director of Mozilla.

“Our goal is to provide a free and open infrastructure that today’s award winners—and any organization or community in the world—can use to easily issue and share badges across the web. This will empower learners to take charge of their online identity and reputation, gathering badges from any site on the Internet, and combining them into a single story about what they know and what they have achieved.”

Learn more about Mozilla Open Badges for learning

Winding down the web site

February 16, 2012 § 5 Comments

So long, Drumbeat. Hello, world.

TLDR version of this post:

  • Later this month, we’re going to retire the web site.
  • This is a function of Mozilla Drumbeat’s success. We’re taking what worked about Drumbeat and shipping it right into Mozilla. With a laser focus on making and learning: creating great software and resources that build a generation of webmakers.
  • If you have an active project or data on, you’ll want to make other plans. The post linked in the comments below by my colleague, Ross Bruniges, has more details and FAQs. Please get in touch if you have questions.
  • We’re still sorting out the new brand and online home for our work going forward. (“” “Mozilla Learning?” “Mozilla U?” something else?) In the mean time, check out our Mozilla Webmakers wiki for details on our projects, community calls, and ways to stay in touch.

Drumbeat was so successful, we’re shutting it down.

About two years ago, the Mozilla Foundation started experimenting with a set of big ideas, using “Mozilla Drumbeat” as an umbrella brand and laboratory. Our thinking:

  • Grow the Mozilla community. In size and diversity.
  • Reach out to new audiences.  People working in other spaces that matter. Like education, journalism, filmmaking, and youth.
  • Collaborate on new projects and software. Lock web developers in a room with these new audiences, shake vigorously, and wait for lightning to strike.
  • Work open. Template and package Mozilla’s uniquely open way of working along the way.
  • Invite the world. Extend that out to anyone who wanted to play.

What worked?

What we’ve proven together over the last two years is:

  • Collaborative innovation really works. Bringing technologists together with innovators in other spaces = win. We brought filmmakers together with developers and got Mozilla Popcorn. We brought educational innovators together with developers and got Mozilla Hackasaurus and Open Badges. Hybrid innovation really works.
  • Focusing on learning, media, and youth makes sense. There’s broad support for these areas, we’re getting traction, and it helps tell a great story about the Mozilla mission. The link between all these areas is empowerment, with the web as a vital public asset for all.
  • The world is hungry for Mozilla maker values. At events like the Mozilla Festival, we’re getting huge enthusiasm for a) bringing together diverse groups, and b) inviting them to make and learn together. “More hack, less yack.” People are tired of “blah blah blah” — they love Mozilla’s hands-on, “let’s build stuff” ethic.

What didn’t?

  • Trying to support a million different projects. By inviting the whole world to set up a project on, we spread ourselves thin and created too much noise to signal (not to mention spam!). And we didn’t provide value to these projects they couldn’t find elsewhere on the web. It was a great starting point, but as users told us in our survey, we need to focus on doing a small number of projects well.
  • Trying to over-engineer Mozilla’s way of working. We thought that creating project pages and activity streams could help  projects get a leg up and go faster. It didn’t. There’s (probably) no magic template or piece of software that helps projects work open. Ultimately, that’s more of a culture and know-how problem than a technology problem.

What’s next?

  • Winding down the Drumbeat brand and web site. Shipping what worked right into the core of Mozilla. Phasing out the Drumbeat brand.
  • Focusing on software and learning for webmakers. That’s the thread that connects our most successful projects. It means delivering great authoring and learning tools (like Mozilla Popcorn, X-Ray Goggles and Open Badges), resources (like an expanded version of our Hacktivity Kit), plus great events and global community. From the yearly Mozilla Festival, to hackfests and learning labs, to mini webmaker meet-ups around the world.
  • Finalizing the best way to brand all this. We’ve been doing a lot of work on this, and hope to have a finalized proposal ready to share soon. The key will be keeping it simple, telegraphic, and part of a larger brand architecture for “One Mozilla.” Please drop  in to one of our weekly community calls if you have ideas or questions.
  • Launch a new web site in Q2. A simple site that helps tell our new story, guiding audiences to the specific pieces they’re looking for. We already have web sites for our various individual projects, so this will be a thin, audience-focused layer that helps bring the pieces together. Ross Bruniges is helping to lead this work — please get in touch here if you’re interested in contributing. Or check our Mozilla Webmakers wiki in the mean time.

What are we working on this week? Roadmaps, Tow Trucks and love bombs

February 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

At the Knight-Mozilla Open News sprint in NYC

Mozilla Webmaker weekly update for Feb 14, 2012

Getting practical on webmakers

This post from Mozilla’s Executive Director Mark Surman ties together the various roadmaps and blog posts now underway, tying them back to our overall goals for the year.

Next steps: getting our roadmaps added to the main Mozilla roadmap wiki.  Plus better participation in the weekly Mozilla All Hands updates.

Mozilla events menu and strategy

Michelle Thorne continues to test and simplify her event menu, working with Ben Simon on how we can create a scalable, self-organized model for events to take over the world. More on Mozilla Webmaker events:

Tow Truck Demo

Simon Wex presented an outstanding demo of “Tow Truck,” an educational HTML/CSS/JavaScript collaborative editor. Check out the prototype screencast. It kinda reminded us of the “hack battle” prototype from November’s Mozilla Festival, which shows Mozilla X-Ray Goggle hacks as movies.

Knight-Mozilla OpenNews news

@OpenNews is now the default Twitter account for the Knight-Mozilla Open News project.

The “Webmaking 101 for Journalists” sprint this week in NYC was a big success. Read all about it in Jess Klein’s week-in-review blog post. Plus more detail here, here and here. The Open News team wants to sponsor journalism hack days with YOU — so let us know what you’re up to here.

Mozilla Popcorn roadmap,  heatmap and upcoming fireside chat

How can Mozilla Popcorn serve as a starting point for deeper webmaking skills? The Popcorn team is looking for feedback on these user stories.

Bobby Richter is also looking for feedback on the developer “heat map” he developed to see where work load falls with each new release of Popcorn. The Popcorn team is also planning a special online fireside chat later this month to discuss their user stories and roadmap  — look for a date and details on that soon.

Mozilla Hive Toronto Pop-up on Saturday

  • Got kids in Toronto? Want them to learn how to hack? Sign them up free here.
  • If you can come and volunteer (even for a few hours), please sign up as a volunteer
  • If you’re coming as a volunteer, please bring a laptop and flipcam or digital camera. On an ongoing basis, we’ll need access to laptops that we can use for more of these Mozilla events. Let us know as a comment here if you have suggestions.

Software Carpentry in 90 seconds

Software Carpentry‘s mission: help scientists be more productive by teaching them basic computing skills. The project is looking for help and ideas in three key areas:

  • 1) Volunteer developers to model their work. We’d like to screencast developers’ desktop as they code and work, so learners can see what they do.
  • 2) What happens after the workshops? Where do participants land after the intro workshop? This is a common challenge across our projects — see Greg’s proposal in this “Stack Underflow” post.
  • 3) Evaluation. How do we demonstrate impact? We need a way to make a case in terms that a prof or lab director relates to.

Africa Open Days

Africa Open Days is an event designed to help in explaining, encouraging and promoting the use of open source tools. It’s the first of its kind in Africa. Check out the wiki and get involved here.

Love bomb blitz

It’s Valentine’s Day. Why not take a moment to send a love bomb to someone you love?

Upcoming events

NEW DATE and TIME: Teaching the fourth ‘R’: a fireside chat with Cathy Davidson

February 10, 2012 § 1 Comment

Technical difficulties last time around forced us to reschedule this event.  Please join us on our new date and time:

A virtual “fireside chat” with author Cathy Davidson:
Thursday, Feb 16 | 1pm PST / 4pm EST
Sign up on Lanyrd here

How do we teach the web?

You’ve heard of “the three ‘R’s:” reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.

But author and noted academic Cathy Davidson says the 21st Century demands a fourth: “algoRithms,” as in the underlying threads and logic that shape our digital lives.

More than just “teaching people how to code,” Cathy sees “algorhtmic thinking” and webmaking as a vital antidote to the passive, assembly line model that still dominates most traditional education.

“Algorithmic thinking:” iterative, process-oriented, constructive

As Cathy argues recently in the Washington Post and in her most recent DML blog post:

We need to reform our learning institutions, concepts, and modes of assessment for our age. Now, anyone with access to the World Wide Web can go far beyond the passive consumer model to contribute content on the Web…. That Do-It-Yourself potential for connected, participatory, improvisational learning requires new skills, what many are calling new “literacies.”

Like other literacies, algorithmic thinking is foundational, “a set of rules that precisely defines a sequence of operations.” She sees it as the opposite of the “bubble-thinking” ingrained through decades of highly standardized, multiple choice tests. “It provides an alternative to fact-based mastery and proposes, instead, iterative, process-oriented, constructive, innovative thinking.”

What is marvelous about algorithmic thinking and Webmaking is that you can actually see abstract thinking transformed into your own customized multimedia stories on the Web, offered to a community, and therefore contributing to the Web. Algorithmic thinking is less about “learning code” than “learning to code.” Code is never finished, it is always in process, something you build on and, in many situations, that you build together with others. Answers aren’t simply “right” guesses among pre-determined choices, but puzzles to be worked over, improved, and adapted for the next situation, the next iteration.

Mozilla’s Michelle Levesque: “Teaching algorithmic thinking”

In her own blog post response to Cathy’s argument, Mozilla’s Michelle Levesque considers how we can put Cathy’s principles into practice here at Mozilla, as we focus on creating tools and resources for a new generation of webmakers. Michelle will join Cathy to discuss how we can all work together to create a more web literate planet. We hope you’ll join us!

This Valentine’s Day, drop a love bomb on someone you love

February 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

Here at Mozilla, we like to drop “love bombs” on our favorite friends and colleagues. To reward great work and show we care.

The good folks at the Mozilla Hackasaurus team have taken it a giant step further. As part of their ongoing mission to make webmaking fun and easy for the planet, they’ve created this lovely “Love Bomb Builder” protototype. Making and sending hand-crafted love bombs has never been simpler! (See Jess Klein’s “On Inspiration and Lovebombs.”)

How does it work?

Simple! Choose a template, say a little about who and why the love bomb is for, then fire away! Your mom, dogwalker or special someone can click on the link you send them for a lovely digital token of your affection — lovingly handcrafted in HTML and CSS. I got one from my wife the other day, and it made me blush.

WARNING: Love Bomb Builder is an early prototype and still a little rough around the edges. May prematurely detonate. May cause blushing and/or spontaneous emotional combustion. No webmakers were harmed in the creation of said love bombs.

Some samples of what your customizable love bomb can look like:

  • Atul’s love bomb to Tim Berners Lee for creating the world wide web.
  • A fist bump for Vint Cerf for thinkin’ up the whole “open Internet” thing.
  • A wrestler mask for Madonna. Cuz she’d look great in one!

So what are you waiting for? Go make one now and send it your geekiest Valentine!

What are we working on this week? Popcorn vision, learning roadmap, OpenBadges re-design + more

February 7, 2012 § 2 Comments

Working open… every week

I’m excited by how our Mozilla Webmaker calls are evolving. Most meetings tend to suck. This one increasingly doesn’t, in large part because we’re committed to sprinting together in etherpad instead of just passively listening to others talk. As our team grows rapidly, we have the dual necessity of both increasing participation and co-ordinating effort, to avoid left-hand vs. right-hand issues. We’ve got a ways to go, but having a look at the etherpad each week provides a decent (albeit blurry) snapshot of what the heck is up.

Notes and audio recording from the Feb 7 call
This post provides a quick summary of what we’re working on right now, as outlined in today’s call.

What’s on our radar this week?

Mozilla Popcorn: Vision & Roadmap

Got a sneak preview at some new slides and roadmap for Mozilla Popcorn today. Outstanding presentation from Ben Moskowtiz, Brett Gaylor and the Popcorn team. Not yet ready for wide sharing — look for a blog post and tweets on this soon.

Mozilla Learning Team Roadmap

What specific skills do we need to teach to create a generation of webmakers? How do we get there?

  • Blog post on Mozilla Learning Roadmap from Erin Knight.
  • Roadmap. With goals broken down by quarter

Re-designing the site

Mozilla’s Open Badges project is going to get a more robust online home. Blog post and preliminary wireframes are here.

Hive Toronto:  Hackjam for youth

Happening in the Mozilla Toronto office February 18th, from 1 pm – 4:30 pm. Heather Payne is working with others to hone the event plan. Registration is here. 54 people already registered so far (24 kids, 16 parents, 14 volunteers). Aiming for 60-75 kids to register total.

Data Journalism Handbook: version 1.0 coming soon

The Data Journalism Handbook was born at November’s Mozilla Festival in London. They’re aiming to have a version 1.0 done by the end of February. Learn more and get involved here. Or re-tweet something like this to help spread the word:

Final call for contributions for the Data Journalism Handbook v 0.1 . Help to finish it by end of Feb! #ddjbook #ddj

How do we make it easier for webmakers to host their own events?

Ben Simon and Michelle Thorne have outlined thinking and proposals in a pair of blog posts. Are these the right features? Are we missing any?

Awesome blog post and visual storytelling on Collusion

Who’s watching the watchers? Don’t miss this inspired post and comic-style explanation of  Collusion.

Shout out to Pat Imlay and Open Attribute

Shout Out to Pat Lockley who continues to update the Open Attribute plugins. It’s attribution made ridiculously simple. Updated plugins for Firefox, Chrome, WordPress, Drupal, Opera.

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