Saturday, April 28, 2012

JISC webinar on Web Literacy

MichelleL and I gave a presentation on our webmaker / web literacy work through JISC last Friday. 

On webmaking and the Web:

  • We want to help people understand that the Web is like Legos - you can build original things, take things apart or remix them, create and weave stories and narratives around your creations, etc.
  • Part of this is about making learning fun and relevant again, but its more than that. Webmaking skills are important life skills.
  • Why is the Web such an important part of this:
    • The Web is a platform for learning
    • The Web is a model for learning  - transparency, openness, access, collaboration, participation
    • The Web is the thing we can build and learn with
  • Why is webmaking important? I’ve written about this before so check that out for more (also, the Web is about interconnectedness of information and pathways…win!)

Favorite slides (adapted from a Mark Surman presentation):

On The Skills:
  • Mozilla is building learning content, badges and software to scaffold webmaking and learning. But a critical part of that is really understanding or enumerating what webmaking means from a skill perspective. 
  • So after a bunch of research, including interviews, focus groups and first hand experience, we are proposing an initial definition of web literacy. Kudos to MichelleL who drove this work. 
  • We didn’t dive in to all the skills but the parts to highlight are that:
    • There are 25 of them, and only a few of those cover what some may call ‘coding’. This is not about programming, but a general literacy, with a combination of hard and softer skills.
    • The skills are currently grouped in columns reflecting skills needed to: navigate or consume the Web, create lightweight content and contribute on the Web, share and participate, build more advanced things on the Web and protect yourself and your content.
    • Most importantly, this is still in alpha or request for comments form - we definitely want feedback. And we know this will evolve anyway - both because once we are really using this definition, we will learn things that we can feedback into it, but also because the Web itself evolves.

We got some good questions including:
Doesn’t all content eventually become something owned by Google, Facebook or YouTube at this point?
This was an great question with lots of subcurrents so the answer was manyfold as well:
  • Part of this is about teaching people how to control their own content, understand things like ownership and privacy on the Web, be able to make informed decisions about where and how they share their stuff.
  • Part of this is about empowering people to not be confined to CMSs, proprietary technologies or forms for building and sharing things and thus demand more openness.  If we are all demanding more openness and Web technologies, the big companies will follow. We’ve already seen it start to happen with YouTube (from Flash and proprietary technologies only, to supporting WebM and HTML5). We will see more of this.
How do you plan to recognize these skills?
Badges! We are developing a webmaker badge system that will recognize development of these skills, motivate learning and help create pathways for people to become webmakers and level up. 
There are no mention of Web 2.0 tools in your skills. How do you see this fitting in with Web 2.0 tools?
We are not focused on specific tools and technologies, other than some of the basic open Web building blocks like HTML, CSS, JS. We want to teach conceptual and social skills that can then be applied or layered on whenever someone is using one of the millions of Web 2.0 tools/platforms out there like Twitter or Facebook. 
How does this map to computer science requirements / pathways?
We are not focused on making more engineers - we are focused on a more general literacy that can be relevant and important in everyone’s lives. That said, there is some work going on to look at this link. Andrea Forte, from Drexel, is looking at how early webmaking experiences translate to entry level computer science curriculum and requirements. Again, these skills are a big deal across the board. ;)
JISC recorded the session and should be posting [update 4/30] has posted a link next week so check back or watch on the Twitter