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

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!

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.

Mozilla seeks designers to supercharge learning in digital badges competition

January 5, 2012 § 6 Comments

Design digital badges for NASA, Intel, Disney-Pixar, the U.S. Department of Education and other leading organizations in the “Badges for Learning” competition. Deadline for entries is January 17.

Help the world level up with NASA, the MacArthur Foundation and Mozilla

Mozilla is seeking designers and developers to participate in the $2 million “Badges for Learning” competition. Participants will have the chance to design digital badges for more than 60 different leading organizations, all aimed at providing recognition for learning that happens on the web or outside of school.

Winners will receive funding from the MacArthur Foundation to make their designs a reality, plus the opportunity to collaborate with Mozilla and other leading organizations in education, industry and government.

The goal: supercharge 21st century learning by building a free, open source badge system that helps people around the world use the web to gain new skills and level up in their life and work.

Why digital badges for learning?

The web provides revolutionary new ways for people to learn, but it’s often difficult to get recognition for learning that happens outside of school.

Mozilla’s Open Badges project aims to help solve this problem, providing software that makes it easy for any organization to award digital badges for learning and achievements that happen online, outside the classroom, or just about anywhere.

Organized by the MacArthur Foundation and HASTAC, the “Badges for Learning” competition provides an ideal opportunity to test this software and approach in the wild, gathering leading organizations, designers and technologists to build badge systems together, all using Mozilla’s free and open source Open Badges Infrastructure.

Collaborators in the "Badges for Learning" competition

From robotics and digital literacy to botany and the environment

As part of the competition, more than 60 badges for learning projects are now open for your design and technical ideas on the competition web site. For example:

Design digital "Robotics Badges" for NASA

Who should enter?

Anyone with an interest in design. Graphic designers, web designers, product or industrial designers, educational technologists, digital humanities majors. What’s important at this stage of the competition is visual and conceptual creativity.

All of the badge projects will ultimately plug into Mozilla’s Open Badges Infrastructure, but it’s not necessary to possess the technical chops to implement at this stage.

All you need is to provide some early visual designs, plus a written description of how your badges will help participating organizations meet their requirements. Visual representations can include a video, diagram, screenshots, napkin sketches or anything that helps get your ideas across. (See the competition web site for complete details.)

Design "Wilderness Explorers" badges for Disney-Pixar

How to get involved

  • Choose a badge project from this list on the competition web site. (These are “Stage 1″ winners and collaborators seeking your ideas for the “Stage 2″ design and tech portion of the competition.)
  • Then submit your proposal here, with early visual ideas and a written description of how you’d tackle it.

You’re free to enter as many proposals as you’d like — but act quickly. The deadline for submissions is January 17, 2012. Winners will be announced March 2, 2012. Good luck!

Shakespeare goes social: Mozilla Popcorn in the classroom

December 8, 2011 § 4 Comments

What light through yonder Popcorn-powered window breaks?

What can “social video” do for learning?

The hyper-talented Kate Hudson (co-founder of openjournalism.ca, learning lab shepherd for the Knight-Mozilla project, and a designer on the Mozilla Festival data journalism handbook project) has made an outstanding “Popcorn Shakespeare” demo that highlights the potential of Mozilla Popcorn for learning and education.

I think we’re seeing the birth of a new genre of interactive film — “hyper-video,” “social video,” or pop-up video on steroids — that will revolutionize multimedia in the classroom, and maybe even the lingua franca of learning in general.

Using the web to blend moving images, interaction and context

“Popcorn Shakespeare’s” ingeniously simple user experience: watch video of a Shakespeare performance, then move your mouse away at any point to pause the playback and get help with specific terms or passages you don’t understand. (e.g., “What does ‘Hie thee hither‘ or ‘the golden round‘ mean?”) You can also dig deeper into context or notes from your instructor or peers.

But its more than a glossary tool. You can also navigate the video by clicking directly on portions of the the text (similar to Mark Boas’ work with hyperaudio). Specific terms and passages also get their own URL, so you can skip directly to specific scenes for further study — and begin to “quote” and link to video as easily as you quote text.

Morning Session

Kate Hudson at the Mozilla Festival in London last month

Delivering context and metadata only when you want it

In Tuesday’s weekly Mozilla Web Maker call (which are open to all — please join us), Kate explained that the demo was inspired by seeing other students struggle with the language in Shakespeare’s plays, and the difficulty of looking up every word in a glossary as it occurs in performance. What makes her demo so ingenious is the way she solves this problem with dead simple UX: mouse away and the video stops, mouse back and it seamlessly resumes.

That simple touch helps make the surrounding tools and context timely and relevant, avoiding the “everything but the kitchen sink” problem of many early Mozilla Popcorn demos. Instead of overwhelming viewers with too much information, Popcorn Shakespeare gives you metadata only when you want it.

Turning “lean back” couch potato-ism into “lean forward” learning and interaction

For me, Kate’s demo speaks to the larger potential of social video in the classroom: turning a formerly passive activity (video watching) into an interactive and social experience. This can allow educators to speak the multimedia language that’s native to most learners, while at the same time making it a more engaging, “lean forward” experience than sitting in a darkened room watching some one-way film.

It’s way beyond the educational videos of our youth — transforming video into a canvas for making, learning and playing with moving images and light.

Making your own social video

And of course, the goal is to make it easy for learners to make these social videos themselves, not just consume the work of others. Kate used the more developer-focused and heavy lifting Popcorn.js to produce her Shakespeare demo.  But the more user-friendly “Popcorn Maker” — which just shipped version 0.1 — aims to make it easy for non-developers, filmmakers and youth to make their own social video mash-ups as well, transforming reformed couch potatoes everywhere into web-made movie makers.  “O brave new world, / That has such people in’t!

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