Tag Archives: Thimble

New hackable teaching kit prototypes for Webmaker

TLDR version of this post: we have new Thimble prototypes for creating your own hackable teaching kits. Please help test and make them better by sharing feedback through #teachtheweb or by filing a handy feedback ticket here.

In Mark Surman’s recent post about where Webmaker.org is headed, he lays out five key priorities for “Webmaker 2.0

  1. Rebooting the brand to focus on makers of all ages
  2. Building a gallery to show all the awesome makes
  3. Creating a Make API so anyone can make a gallery
  4. Deepening learning with challenges + badges
  5. Making it easy to create hackable teaching kits with Thimble

This post is about that fifth element: making it easy to create hackable teaching kits with Thimble. Laura Hilliger, Julia Vallera and the mentor team have created new prototypes toward making this possible — and also updated their thinking and content strategy for hackable teaching kits on webmaker.org going forward. This post shares the prototypes and summarizes the new thinking.

Kit prototype

How do hackable kits work?

We want to make it easy for anyone to create their own teaching guides and lesson plans for teaching digital literacy, webmaking or any content relevant to mentors and learners. To that end, we’ve created a set of new prototypes in Thimble. The templates are built around three key teaching elements:

  • your learning goals. What are you trying to teach? What will people learn?
  • your learning activities. What activities, projects or hands-on making are you going to do?
  • additional resources. Cheat-sheets, handy reference guides, further reading, etc.
  • tying it all together. A complete kit then ties all these elements together into one handy link.

Kit prototype -- edit

New Thimble prototypes

Try them out now. Clicking on a template below will open the Thimble editing window, where you edit the content on the left and see how it will look when published on the right.

The templates can also make it easy for people to create multi-page teaching guides. Check out these two examples:

profile page

What’s the goal?

These prototypes are just a small first step. By eventually making it easy to display what mentors are creating through a gallery, and surfacing these community-generated resources onto webmaker.org/teach, we can:

  • showcase what others are doing. See how other educators and mentors around the world are teaching and making. Sharing great activities and lesson plans.
  • enable easier remix and localization. You can just hit the “edit” or “remix” button in Thimble to immediately start translating, moving stuff around, adding your own images and links, etc. When you’re done, you can just hit “publish” and publish to a new, easily shareable URL for what you made.
  • make it easy for people to work their own way. The beauty of working in Thimble and simple editable HTML and CSS is that people can create and share however they want. Your Thimble make could follow our existing template — or you could hack it to include whatever you want: a link to your own blog post or web site, article, third-party resources, etc.

We know not everyone likes to edit HTML — and we’re working on alternate workflow for that, like Mentor Mob.  This is just a small first step.

Building Webmaker 2.0

What’s our content strategy for these hackable kits going forward?

  1. Move to a “make-based architecture.” Up to now, our teaching resources / “Hacktivity Kits” have been their own separate content type. Moving forward, we imagine kits and educational content to be just another “make,” like any other — tagged so that mentors and educators can easily find them.
  2. Simplify our nomenclature and terms. We’re no longer referring to these teaching guides as “Hacktivity Kits” or “Hacktivities” — we’re going to simplify and streamline our nomenclature, using terms that are already familiar to people and easier to localize. (More on that soon.)
  3. Test and refine these Thimble templates in our MOOC. Through the launch of our new open online course, we’ll be in close touch with hundreds of educators, techies and mentors that can help us test, refine and create their own content. This will be made easier by new “save” functionality in Thimble — so our target is to have an early alpha version of this feature ready to test by May 23.

“Everything is a make”

They key design principle here is that, going forward for Webmaker.org, everything is a “make” – and it will soon become dramatically easier to see and remix what other people are making with Webmaker tools like Thimble and Popcorn.

The NYT -- Common Core
Can we flow great content like this into our these new prototype templates?

 How to get involved

Introducing the 2012 Mozilla Festival: making, freedom and the web

Cross-posted from the Mozilla blog.

Join us for three days of inspired making, learning and celebration in London. Today we’re extremely proud to launch the new 2012 Mozilla Festival web site — and invite you to join us November 9-11 in London, UK.

We want everyone to tap the full creative power of the web. The Mozilla Festival is a magnet for people interested in learning about — and playing with — the web’s future.” –Mark Surman, Executive Director, Mozilla

Gathering educators, youth, coders, gamers, media-makers and you

This year’s Mozilla Festival will gather more than 800 passionate people with diverse backgrounds and skill-sets. The goal: push the frontiers of the open web, learn together, and make things that can change the world.

Coders, designers, journalists and educators will join with filmmakers, gamers, makers and youth from more than 40 different countries. Together they’ll participate in a series of design challenges, learning labs and fireside chats spread across four floors of the Ravensbourne design and media campus in East London.

Unlike traditional conferences, the emphasis at the Mozilla Festival is on hands-on making and collaboration — rather than passive consumption or listening to other people talk. It’s “more hack, less yack.” And a big tent for everyone — including partners, local communities and you — who shares Mozilla’s vision for a more open, web literate world.

Technology is at the point where learners don’t just use the tools, but make the tools. This happens at places like the Mozilla Festival, where geeks and practitioners get together.” Joi Ito, Mozilla Foundation Board Member, Director of MIT Media Lab

This year’s key themes:

Get involved

Update on deleted Thimble pages

The short version: A server error caused some Thimble web pages created between July 23 and Aug 20 to be accidentally deleted. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, these pages cannot be recovered. We sincerely apologize for the error, and have taken steps to resolve it. New Thimble projects will not be affected. We hope you will continue making and learning with Thimble, and read on for more details.

Why does my Thimble page seem to be missing?

As you know, two months ago the Mozilla Webmaker team was extremely proud to launch an early version of Thimble, our new app that makes it easy for anyone to create and share their own web pages.

For a first release, the app has been incredibly successful — and we’ve  been inspired by the response from our community and all the great stuff people are making with it.

So when some of you started reporting that you were having trouble accessing Thimble projects and noticing broken links, we alerted the Thimble software and database teams and asked them to investigate.

Unfortunately, we confirmed yesterday that a server and maintenance error caused some Thimble pages to be deleted. Despite our best efforts, they will not be recoverable. This means that some users will no longer be able to access projects they created and saved with Thimble. If you’re one of  the users affected by this, we sincerely apologize. We’ve identified the issue that caused the data loss and taken steps to correct it. But we’re extremely sorry that some users won’t be able to recover their projects. We feel awful about it.

What happened?

To make a long story short: a mix of factors (systems error combined with human error) caused us to not have backups of Thimble data from July 23 to Aug 20. We have investigated thoroughly with our database admins, and unfortunately we have confirmed that there is no way to restore the data.

As you know, servers are built by fallible humans, and behind each Thimble URL is a group of well-intentioned people trying to work together. Unfortunately in this case, we made a mistake. And for that we offer a frank mea culpa and commitment to doing better going forward.

Will new Thimble pages be affected by this going forward?

No. We’ve rectified the problem so that this won’t happen again. Thimble is still in the early stages and we still have lots of learning to do. But we have addressed the issues that caused the data loss to minimize the chance of this ever happening again.

Again, please accept our apologies for the error. And feel free to get in touch with us directly about questions or concerns: @OpenMatt or matt at mozillafoundation dot org.