Monthly Archives: March 2012

What are we working on? HTML5 power tools. Webmaker branding. Youth teaching youth. StoryThing. Summer Code Party.

Last week's Mozilla Popcorn learning lab in London

Mozilla Webmaker weekly update for Mar 29, 2012

Audrey Watters: tools for teaching the web to the world

Each week, great guest speakers join our Mozilla Webmaker community calls for your questions, rabble-rousing and debate.

Audrey Watters is a prolific education technology writer, researcher and “recovering academic.” She recently undertook a research project for Mozilla, aimed at answering:

What’s the best way to teach web-building to anyone? For example, should Mozilla develop a tool to help the world learn HTML5?

Designing a “Mozilla Webmaker” brand

Have a look at Chris Appleton‘s early Mozilla “webmaker” branding concepts. These will inform the design our upcoming Webmaker web site, plus get us thinking about the overarching brand promise and story. Chris is looking for feedback around questions like:

  • Does this align with our motivations and what we’re working towards?
  • Are these the pillars that best tell our story? What’s missing? 
  • How do you express these concepts in your own work? Share examples!

Youth teaching youth the web

Meet Zainab, a new Mozilla Youth Ambassador. Zainab is a high school sophomore in New York, where she serves on the school’s MOUSE Squad — a student-led tech support team that’s building digital literacy skills.

Zainab’s understanding of the web began was transformed through a Hackasaurus workshop led by Hive Learning Network in New York. Now, as a Mozilla Youth Ambassador, she’ll be taking what she’s learned to facilitate Hack Jams with her peers at after-school programs.

“StoryThing:” learn HTML by instantly webifying anything

What is StoryThing? It’s a new webmaking prototype designed to take something you care about — like a story or blog post you wrote — and instantly “webify” it. All through a simple ‘learn as you create’ text editing tool and instructional overlay that teaches you how to mark up text in an easy to understand two column interface.

Get ready for Mozilla’s Summer Code Party

We’ve been telling you about our plans for a big summer campaign — and now it has a name: the Mozilla Summer Code Party.

Next week…

Add your agenda items here. On deck so far:

  • Guest Speakers: Design for America
  • Cole Gillespie’s new “Call Me demo:” Twilio + Mozilla Popcorn
  • Popcorn Learning Lab in London Report Back (Brett Gaylor)
  • New Popcorn-powered “collusion browsing session” demo (Atul)
  • Localization: How do we do it better?

Can Mozilla make tools that teach the web to the world?

Each week, mind-blowing guest speakers join our Mozilla Webmaker Community calls for your questions, rabble-rousing and debate.

Audrey Watters is a prolific education technology writer, researcher and “recovering academic.” She recently kicked off a fascinating research project for Mozilla, aimed at answering:

What’s the best way to teach web-building to anyone? For example, should Mozilla develop a tool to help the world learn HTML5?

Audrey has been asking educators and ed tech developers what they think Mozilla’s role should be, at an educational, philosophical and technological level.

Without exception, everyone I talked to identified a dire need to improve web literacy. Whether it was elementary school teachers, college professors, hobbyists or entrepreneurs, everyone talked about a huge gap in our collective knowledge base around how the web works…. There’s still this sense of the internet as a series of tubes, and the web as a series of documents you can deliver through those tubes. –Audrey Watters

Some key questions and takeaways from the discussion:

  • Learners want to solve real problems and make real stuff. Not feel like beginners/outsiders.
  • There’s a lot of resistance to building a tool that’s de-contextualized or separate from the “real” web.
  • Learners need to make something quickly. With a takeaway that’s personally meaningful to them.


  • What do we really need to build? A community or a curriculum? A product or a process?
  • How can we learn from the successful past examples? Hypercard was arguably one of the most popular, user-oriented entry-level programming tools ever — even though real programmers hated it. Hobbyists and amateurs liked it. The professionals didn’t.

Mozilla’s David Ascher dug into the Hypercard analogy:

What made Hypercard powerful is that normal people were able to use it build really useful things…. The holy grail is something that doesn’t require people to learn the entire stack that “real developers” use, but at the same time, has real utility on a day to day basis. –David Ascher

MIT's "Scratch"

Mark Surman tried to tease out the balance of giving learners access to “real” code — not toys — while still lowering the barriers to entry, providing scaffolding, or useful constraints that help you to make something meaningful quickly:

The difference between then and today is: we now have a nearly universal platform people can use to consume, create and build: the web. We want to make tools that help people make stuff on the web. They may be scaffolded or supported, but what comes out is still the web.

This is the difference between what we’re trying to build versus Hypercard, Scratch, etc. There may be constraints that make it easier, but what comes out is still “real” code, the real web. –Mark Surman

Stay tuned for some further upcoming fireside chats with Audrey. In the mean time:

What are we working on? Connected Learning. Meet the Webmakers. Etherpop.

Mozilla Webmaker weekly update for Mar 22, 2012

Guest speaker: Mimi Ito on connected learning and webmaking

Each week in our Webmaker Community calls, we’re inviting guest speakers to blow our minds. This week it was Mimi Ito, researcher, author, and one of the world’s leading thinkers in how youth learn and express themselves through technology. Mimi talked about “connected learning” as a 21st model for education, and how it might inform some of Mozilla’s own work in education and webmaking.

New video series: meet the webmakers

“We are going to get to develop new technology that’s never been seen before.”

As we gear up for the launch of our new brand and web site, we’re working with the good folks at Thought Bubble — the animators behind “the Mozilla Story” — to produce a series of short videos starring the four major communities we serve:

  • youth
  • journalists
  • film-makers
  • educators

Here’s a sneak preview of some of the video they shot with youth last week in the Mozilla Toronto office.

Girls Learning code: what did we learn? How do we scale up?

Last week we told you about the “Girls Learning Code” camp in the Mozilla Toronto office. Here’s a report-back on what they made and what we learned from the process. There’s huge interest in bringing the camp back this summer — stay tuned for more. In the mean time, here’s some helpful resources:

Each team made their own web site using Mozilla Hackasaurus and others tools:

Team Action Script: Second Chance
Team C Sharp: Leave Animals Alone (L.A.A.)
Team Java: Sexual Rights Association
Team Onyx: MIVIJ International
Team Opal: Community Development

 Etherpad + Mozilla Popcorn = Etherpop

What if you could edit and annotate video as easily as editing text in an etherpad? Kate Hudson, creator of the awesome Popcorn Shakespeare demo, is exploring how to do just that with her new “EtherPop” demo. Paste in any video URL and add annotations and notes using Etherpad. Several people can collaborate simultaneously, too. Cool huh?

Kate is coming on board as an intern to work at Mozilla this summer — beginning April 1. So look for more great Popcorn work to come.

Mozilla Hackasaurus learning challenges + new Mozilla Badges

These new challenges and quests are designed to:

They’re all in early stages and seeking feedback. Let Laura know what you think.

Hackasaurus in action: Chicago

This video from Chicago’s Malcolm Williams at a mini hack-jam is a great example of Hackasaurus in action. Malcolm is a gamifcation expert and has an encyclopedic knowledge of superheroes. We especially like how he:

  • Uses a simple metaphor to explain how the Goggles work.
  • Adds drama and a simple superhero flair to the experience.
  • Shows off his own interest-driven hack.

Mozilla Learning Group: this is how we do

We’re constantly trying to get better at publicly roadmapping our work.  Here’s a post and wiki from Mozilla’s Erin Knight on…

What should every techie know about education?