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 Drumbeat.org web site

February 16, 2012 § 4 Comments

So long, Drumbeat. Hello, world.

TLDR version of this post:

  • Later this month, we’re going to retire the Drumbeat.org 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 Drumbeat.org, 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. (“make.mozilla.org?” “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 Drumbeat.org, 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 Drumbeat.org 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!

Mozilla DML Science Fair: prepping for blast off

February 6, 2012 § 2 Comments

Mozilla is hosting a giant “Science Fair” at the March 1 “Digital Media and Learning” conference in San Francisco. Our mission: gather folks doing amazing work at the intersection of learning, youth and the web, have them set up 20+ booths and interactive show-and-tell stations, then invite educators, youth and local SF VIPs to all mingle, chat and get their hands dirty.

You can learn more or have a look at how the DML Science Fair is coming together here.

Cool re-usable “open branding” elements for all our events

As Mark wrote last week, we were blown away by the terrific job the Mozilla Japan team did in creating a fun physical presence for the Vision 2012 event. So we want to try and replicate their work for the Science Fair.

Mozilla Japan’s Tetsuya Kosaka was kind enough to send us their original assets, and we’ve simply tweaked the language on them for the event (below). We’re hoping to re-use and re-purpose them at other upcoming events.

I like the way these signs contain clear Mozilla branding, but also open whiteboard space for exhibitors and friends to decorate and put their own stamp on it. Feels very Mozilla — like “open branding.” Plus a lot more versatile and re-usable.

We may eventually update the visual language beyond the “space” theme, but for now it seems great and very “Science Fair-ish.”

We are indebted to the work of Eriko Saito (CNS Inc.) as the creative designer on this project. CNS Inc. is a company Mozilla Japan worked with for planning and executing
the Mozilla Vision 2012 event in Japan. Eriko was in charge of designing key
visuals, and did an amazing job.

Science Fair exhibitor whiteboard

...in six different versions

Plus cool little stand-up elements like these

...in the same six versions

Generic Mozilla whiteboard sign

11 x 17" wayfinder signs

Name badge stickers for presenters

Statement of Work for Printing

  • PDF document outlining specific deliverables, along with rough dimensions and quantities (Feb 2012)

Teaching the fourth ‘R': a fireside chat with Cathy Davidson

January 30, 2012 § 1 Comment

Join us for a virtual “fireside chat” with author Cathy Davidson:
Wednesday, Feb 1  |  9am PST / 12pm EST / 5pm UTC
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.

Webmaking as art, craft and engineering

Cathy has become an increasingly active part of the Mozilla community. She was a driving force at the 2010 Mozilla Festival on “Learning, Freedom and the Web,” and is one of the lead organizers of the “Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition,” run in conjunction with Mozilla’s Open Badges software.

Cathy’s work at Duke University’s “HASTAC” initiative focuses on the intersection between the humanities and technology. Her interdisciplinary approach feels very Mozilla-ish, especially as we continue to reach out to new audiences and spaces:

The 20th century’s division into “two cultures”—with the human, social and artistic disciplines on one side and the scientific and technological on the other—makes no sense in the world of Webcraft.

In fact, algorithmic thinking is so much about process, invention, and customizing that, in some circles, there is still a healthy debate about whether writing code is an art form, a craft, or engineering.  Is it thinking or doing?  Is it writing or making?  Is it theory or practice?  The answer is “all of the above.”

Join us Feb 1

We hope you’ll join Cathy and moderator Mark Surman on Feb 1 to chat about how Mozilla can build on these ideas to create a more web literate planet. See you there.

Buffy slays Twilight: how to make pop-up video mayhem

January 26, 2012 § 3 Comments

Remember those awesome pop-up videos on VH1? Thanks to Mozilla Popcorn, the new HTML5 tool for supercharging web video, the pop-up format is about to get a whole new lease on life.

Exhibit A: this wicked “Buffy the Vampire Slayer vs. Edward from Twilight” remix, created by the mash-up maestro from Rebellious Pixels. Check it out here. Then get started making your own pop-up video here.

“Hacking pop culture”

First posted in its original form in 2009, the “Buffy vs. Edward” remix video has garnered over 4 million views, been subtitled into 30 languages, and received media attention from NPR radio to Vanity Fair (“Buffy Could Kick Edward Cullen’s Precious Sparkly Emo Ass“).

The new Mozilla Popcorn-powered “pop-up” version adds a new interactive layer over top, with added annotations, commentary, and tips on protecting yourself from real-life stalkers.

The video’s creator, “pop culture hacker” Jonathan McIntosh, says the remix is all about hacking gender roles and Hollywood cultural coding — a theme he’s explored in other projects like the hilarious “Gendered Advertising Remixer,” now also available in HTML5 format.

Create your own pop-up video with Mozilla Popcorn

Want to add annotations and pop-ups to your own videos? Popcorn Maker is designed to make the power of Mozilla Popcorn more accessible to non-developers and mere mortals. Popcorn Maker’s “pop-up video” template makes it (fairly) easy for you to add annotations and context to just about any video on the web.

The software is still in early alpha version, so there’s still lots of rough edges. But you can check it out and get started now. Just pick “Pop Video” from the “Choose a Template” menu.  Or have a look at the Popcorn Maker user manual here.

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