Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Open Badges Values

We’ve been doing some strategy and planning work for Open Badges and the general badging work, and one thing that became clear was that we have some implicit values and principles that we have carried and/or want to carry with us into the future work.

We decided to write them down and turns out, that process alone was valuable for our strategy work. They have already been useful as a guide on our strategy and a litmus test for possible directions or opportunities. And that’s after just throwing them up on the fly. We want feedback and thoughts so that we can refine and agree on these, and in the process, set a direction that we can all work towards together.

Open Badges Values / Principles:

  • Empower the learner. The end game is about helping learners improve their lives, get credit for what they do, and give them the data/ammunition necessary to do the things that they want to do. There are other ways we’ve talked about this - redefining learning, rethinking accreditation, but ultimately its about putting the learner in the driver’s seat.
  • Agency. This is similar to the above and is specifically about control. The learner should control their data. They should control the interactions around that data. They should be able to collect and share any badges they want, even “smaller” or social ones that might mean something to them. They should decide who sees badges or what stories they want to tell about themselves (through the badges). 
  • Open. This is a loaded word, but its important in every meaning of the word. Badges should remain open in that anyone should be able to issue them. Many ask to restrict what can be badged so that its easier to establish equivalencies but that means we are restricting the possibilities for learners. The onus is on us to figure out how to make sense of that data. There should also be tools to support badging that are free and open source. As mentioned before, no proprietary or closed system should control the badges, the learner should. Open, open, open.
  • Interoperable. A single badge might carry some value in some contexts, but a group of badges that tell a more complete story about a learner is so much more powerful. Especially when those badges are earned across experiences. This requires that badges be interoperable. This requires that badges align with the open standard. If we can have consensus at that lower level, then anyone can build tools on top of badges to make them more useable, more shareable, more valuable, etc.
  • Distributed. We are working towards a more distributed ecosystem of recognition. That means each touchpoint in the ecosystem should be distributed - issuing, validating/endorsing, sharing, using badges, etc. Badges should be and go where the user is, and the badge information and value should follow. 
  • Credible. We think badges can be the real deal - can lead to real results like jobs and credit and advancement. We need to continually think about what gets badges to these standards without squelching the other features of badges. I have some thoughts on that here.
  • Flexible/Innovative. (or “Weird.”) At the same time, we need to “keep digital badges weird”. We shouldn’t force all badges to be a one level or for one particular goal, we should build tools and frameworks to allow for innovative uses for badges.
  • Community-driven. The community is gold. We can’t do this alone, you can’t do this alone. We are stronger together and a community that shares resources and findings, vets ideas and builds this stuff together is the community that wins. Our community is the lifeblood of the badges work and we need to codesign our future together. (*hugs!*)
  • Something we are proud of. We are those feel-goody people that want to be proud of what we do. This means both not being evil, and also producing high quality stuff. On the former, I think we’re doing pretty well already but there is real risk of closed solutions segmenting or threatening the ecosystem and we should fight against this. On the latter, from the conceptual framework and the whitepapers, to the software and technical framework, to the toolkits and implementations, we want to walk away proud. There is a lot that we are proud of but turns out that this is pretty challenging to do all the time when there are so many moving pieces. But its a standard that we should all hold ourselves to and find ways to get there together. 

What are we actively working against?

This list looks like the opposites of all of the above, but a few highlights:

  • Data about the learner not for the learner. In our recent offsite, @iamjessklein had a revelation that most, if not all, of the data about learning out there is not for the learner. That’s really broken. 
  • Spy-ware. There’s a surge of attention around scouring the web to determine things about individuals or ‘score’ them, and then selling that information to employers. The individuals probably have no idea that this is happening. There is certainly some value in some cases, like the one in this recent NYT article, where some unsuspecting individual is rewarded for previous work or interaction with a job offer. But in most cases, its just spying and making decisions about people without giving them a chance to have their say. Badges should be all about giving people their say - letting them tell the story that they want to tell, but in an evidence-based, verified way.
  • Replicating accreditation. A centralized system or body for judging or OKing badges would be bad for badges. If we are embracing open and distributed, as I hope we are, we need to find and open and distributed way to build trust and assurance into badges. I’ve written more about this here [referenced above].
  • Closed and siloed. If badges do not meet the open standard or are stored in a system that is closed, we lose the real power of the ecosystem. To empower the learners, we need to let them have access to the broader ecosystem, craft their own pathways and write their own stories without predetermining the set they can work from or the constraints they are under.

We have a real opportunity for change and impact with the badges work, but we feel that the values/principles are important pieces for realizing that opportunity. As you can see from the list above, these principles do not define the solutions - there are still a lot of things to answer or figure out, but knowing the guiding principles can in some cases make those answers easy or keep us on course as we start to tackle them.

I’m sure the list is too long - maybe 3-5 is the magic number. Let us know what you think. Comment below or join us on the community call tomorrow to dig in.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Webmaker Badges Roadmap

It’s roadmappin’ time again, folks. I’ve shifted my focus a bit to zero in on making badges a success and that has two pieces:

  1. Web literacy badges
  2. The Open Badge Infrastructure and wider badge ecosystem

This roadmap covers the web literacy badges plan for the rest of the year. Look for the OBI roadmap to follow shortly.



Objective #1: Build the web literacy standard. 

I’ve written about this before and done a bunch of thinking about it sense. This is a different spin on the work we’ve done so far to define the skills that we think are the core pieces of being web literate, or having those literacies. The goal is to co-create and maintain a learning standard with a bunch of partners - and then for us all to align to that standard and work together toward this common goal of creating a web literate planet. 

We don’t yet know what the ‘product’ for the standard looks like, but we’ll be digging into that more deeply over the next few weeks. If you are interested in learning more, we’re hosting a virtual meeting next Thursday, Feb 7th. Join us!

Objective #2: Build more web literacy badges. 

We rolled out the first set of web literacy badges last November through Webmaker, that covered some basic web competencies like HTML and CSS. Obviously, that is a small slice of our vision of web literacy and we want to expand the badge offering to cover more skills - ultimately to provide learning pathways and badges for all of them. 


Objective #3: Build assessment pathways.

This is the fuzziest of our objectives because we could do it in lots of different ways. Ultimately, we want to give people a way to demonstrate the web skills they have, regardless of where or how they learned them, and get assessed and earn recognition (badges) for those skills. This could manifest as a mechanism for submitting a link to something you built to the Mozilla community to assess and then earning one of our badges. Or it could involve building mini assessments aligned with each competency/skill that you can come back to us to demonstrate your skills, or you could take those assessments and build them into your own curriculum, etc. Lots of things to decide on but lots of exciting potential directions. 

Objective #4: Launch the New Backpack.

This is where the two roadmaps intersect a bit. The Backpack in the Open Badge Infrastructure is a repository and management interface for each badge earner. Right now, they can use their Backpack to collect badges across issuers, create groups and publish them and share out badges. It’s the, as we like to say at Mozilla, minimal viable product of what people could do with their Backpacks. We have lots of ideas of expanding on that to include dashboards, goal setting, discovery of other learning opportunities and finding mentors. We will most likely build this for Webmaker first and then role it into the broader ecosystem solution. 

What Success Looks Like:

These are sort of cheating as far as success metrics go, but its still early and just want to give an idea of what we’d feeling like celebrating:

  • Launch the learning standard for web literacy
  • Have lots of other orgs and people aligning with it
  • Offer learning pathways and badges for all of the competencies/skills 
  • See lots and lots of people earning and sharing these badges

How We Will Get There:

Tons of work to do and here’s how it will roll out over the year:



  • Launch second wave of web lit badges
  • Launch peer assessment
  • Continued standard iteration and partner recruitment


  • Launch larger Mozilla-wide badge system
  • First prototypes of assessment pathways
  • Additional integration in Webmaker


  • Launch full set of web literacy badges
  • Launch assessment pathways
  • Launch Dashboard / New Backpack

Let me know what you think!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013


It’s that time of year again and I’ve been using the MoFoHoHo break to not only chase around a 14 month old and two chocolate labs, but also to reflect on my resolutions for 2013.

1) Set the groundwork (and standard) for a web literate planet.

We often say our work is aimed at ‘creating a web literate planet’, but this is the step before that -  more about evangelizing the idea of web literacy, as well as creating and promoting web literacy as a standard, so that a bunch of people can work towards a web literate planet with us. The end goal is the same, but its a much more collaborative spin on how we get there. And my team’s contribution has been to build the foundations for this work and will pull together a collaborative working group early this year to iterate and build a standard that we can all use.

2) Tip Open Badges.

Open Badges has been steadily building up momentum and this is the year to curve jump or reach the tipping point. This will involve adoption work, to get high value badges and proofs of concept into the ecosystem, as well as consumption work, to see more organizations and institutions accepting and using badges for jobs or credit. We will also significantly improve and expand the Open Badge Infrastructure, as well as surface the information and connections required to make it easier and more effective to issue and use badges.

3) Be strong and kind, as a leader and a mother.

Our fearless leader Mark, has some great resolutions and I have borrowed my last one from him.

This one doesn’t need a lot of context - it’s beautifully eloquent and just dead on. I learned a lot last year about motherhood, leadership and work life balance. I had lots of great times with great people (and a particular baby) and some tough times as well. This year I want to roll all of those lessons and achievements into a more finesseful, confident and zen approach to my life and work. I want to be more present in each moment, carve out the time needed to give my full attention to things, take more time to really connect with people and as Mark said, generally be kind. At the same time, I want to be a rock and stay solidly focused on our growth, progress and goals for this year.

2012 was exhilarating and exhausting. So much change and momentum building. 2013 is a year of digging in and making things great. There is so much potential - I am very excited to do this together.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Open Standard for Web Literacy: A Vision for Webmaker

We’ve been doing a lot of planning and brainstorming and chatting about what Webmaker will look like in 2013. There are lots of good ideas floating around that you can see from a bunch of my colleagues here, here, here and here.

One thing I want to add into the mix is the vision for Webmaker as an open standard for web literacy

That’s a mouthful so let’s work backwards and break that down a bit:

The Web Literacy part…

(Or as Doug reminds me, web literacies)

We’ve been talking for a long time about the skills that we think people need to be a webmaker. To be more producer-minded. To understand and love the Web. To express themselves in a way they can be proud of. To compete in today’s economy. To be an active citizen.

In addition to all of the flashy tools, content and branding we’ve been launching over the last year, we’ve also been doing some considerable ‘underbelly’ work to define the thing we are ultimately after: a generation of web literate people. Doug has been leading a lot of our initial work in this area, which looks something like this in its current iteration:

You can see that there is a mix of ‘hard’ skills like HTML and CSS - very specific skills that people need to know to make things on the web without wysiwygs or forms. But then there are also a lot of the more social or 21st century skills like sharing, collaboration and remixing. 

The Standard part…

I think this is important work for more reasons than just enumerating the things that Mozilla cares about or may provide learning pathways and badges for, but as a definition that we, as in the royal we of the web world, can all get behind and all teach to. One of the issues with the digital literacy work that’s been around for some time, is that there isn’t a commonly agreed upon description of what it actually means from a skill perspective, or when we can draw a line and say, congrats, you are digitally literate! Some of that is beautiful - we want flexibility and room for innovation - but I think there needs to be a core definition that people can build from. I think that’s one thing that Webmaker can offer. You can use our tools if you want, but you can also use your own tools or other options out there - but if we all agree on the basic thing that we’re working towards, we’ve created a web-wide choose your own adventure for learners, with a success story that benefits them and helps us all reach our goals.

The Open part…

This is a loaded word and that’s intentional here. I think in order to be successful, this standard needs to be open in several ways, some of which I’ve already alluded to:

1) Open as in open source:

Mozilla cannot build and maintain this standard alone. In fact, we haven’t been - Michelle and now Doug, have been traveling the world, talking to experts and n00bs and everything in between to get a sense of what skills are important. Lots of people have contributed and we are going to be ensuring that this is even more of a community effort moving forward.

Additionally, this standard needs to be extensible. We should see this as the core and leave room for people to easily hang things off of it (i.e. design skills, game theory, etc.). 

2) Open as in open ecosystem:

Mozilla can’t be the only place you come to learn this stuff. Lots of other people are already teaching people many of these skills and so let’s leverage each other to teach web literacy at web scale. In fact, as you look at that grid above, it’s highly unlikely that any one organization will teach all of those things, so again, it’s together that things become more comprehensive and more powerful.

We also aren’t saying that there are particular ways that people should teach this stuff. We are building some of our own learning pathways which will be very making-forward, but to appeal to everyone, there are a lot of other approaches that should be in the mix (for example, folks like Codecademy, Coder Dojo and Khan Academy), but also including approaches that aren’t even intended to be learning experiences. There is a lot going on through Twitter or Instagram that help people develop web skills like sharing or curating. Again, it will be important to leverage a lot of the work and options that are already out there and find ways to build the learning/recognition layer on top of things people already love to do.

3) Open as in Open Badges:

We are developing a set of badges that are aligned with this definition of web literacy, but again, if Mozilla sites are the only places that you can earn those badges, we’re limiting ourselves, and constraining learners. Recognizing the learning and skill development, and fostering reputation and identity development around web literacy is as huge part of all of this and that necessarily means that we need a solution for a more distributed set of badges. Good news is that our other day job is building and promoting Open Badges, so we have the infrastructure in place, but no one else in that ecosystem is sharing badges across organizations so solving for that will be an important challenge.

What we end up with is a co-designed, shared purpose with a much wider network with much wider reach…and a much higher likelihood of ‘winning’ together.

Lots of work to do on this moving forward - excited to work with all of you on it.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Webmaker Badges Are Here: Get Recognized!

I wrote awhile back about our thinking around the Webmaker Badges. Well that thinking is now a reality, we launched the first set of Webmaker badges at MozFest.

There was a big Mozilla post and fanfare around the launch, so I’ll just let you read that for the high level details, but I wanted to go a level deeper and also highlight some key next steps.

Deeper Dive

Webmaker Badges

Skills + Participation.

As I detailed in my previous post, and as you can sort of see above, the initial badges cover a range of ‘hard’ skills like HTML and CSS, but also a range of participation and contribution activities. We think web literacy is more than just learning how to code or specific technical things, but also about being good active members of communities, etc. The first Webmaker badges are a taste of this.

Starting small.

The badges above represent the first of a much larger set of badges that we plan to release over the next year. We knew we needed to start somewhere and zeroed in on the core skills that we were already covering in Thimble, as well as participation badges aligned with MozFest, but plan to release badges that span more skills, levels and events.

Innovative assessments.

Repeat after me: Badges are not assessment. Badges are the thing you get after you’ve learned something and successfully demonstrated that learning through an assessment. The assessments are incredibly important because they are the ‘evidence’ or meat behind the badges. For the initial Webmaker skill badges, we are using embedded assessment, meaning that we’ve built rules into Thimble that automatically assess as the making is occurring and issue badges accordingly. We love this type of assessment because its built into the making, or the stuff that the learner wanted to do anyway, versus making the learner do some artificial separate assessment like a multiple choice quiz. It works pretty well for things like HTML and CSS.

Smart issuing technology.

We’ve built a pretty awesome tool, currently called Open Badger, that supports badge creation and issuing. It allows someone to define a badge, including assigning a name, image, and all of the metadata behind the badge, generates criteria pages, gives you an API to award badges based on learner behavior on your site and posts/hosts the badge assertion for you. And I’m sure I’m missing a few things. It’s pretty awesome and of course, its open source. We’ll be releasing it early next year for folks to run on their own servers. For now, we are beta testing it as the engine behind the Webmaker Badges.

What’s Next

User experience tweaks.

We watched a bunch of people earning badges at MozFest and while people love the badges, we’ve got some work to do on the UX to make sure that people not only understand the badges, but make the connection back to the learning that occurred. This launch was the MVP so we knew we made some sacrifices on the UX front and the good news is that we learned a lot at the festival and have the right people in place to take the experience to the next level.

More badges.

As I mentioned before, this was just the initial set of badges. Next up, we are working to launch badges in Popcorn Maker, as well as add more badges across the web literacy skills to our arsenal.

More assessment innovation.

We did some pretty cool stuff with the embedded assessment for this launch and we want to do more of that, as well as explore peer and self assessment approaches to provide additional flexibility and robustness to the badges.

Open sourcing.

One of the main goals for 2013 is figuring out how to meet our goal of building a generation of webmakers without getting in the way. There are a lot of other people already doing awesome stuff that teaches various webmaking skills or web literacies and we want to include them or recognize their learning, etc. We don’t know exactly what that means yet but we want to find a way to open up the Webmaker Badges to a much broader set of organizations and learning pathways.

Shout Outs

I’ve been lucky enough to be the one introducing the world to the Webmaker Badges, but the credit really goes to the awesome team, including:

  • Carla Casilli - Chief Brains and Systems Designer of the Webmaker Badges and learning pathways behind them. She’s the big kahuna of Webmaker Badges and she pulls together all the pieces to make it a badge SYSTEM.
  • Chloe Varelidi - Assessment Guru and Badge Mentor (while also driving all of the hackable games work!). She helped define all the initial badges and assessment approaches.
  • Doug Belshaw - His Majesty of Web Literacies and Skills. He owns the definition of the web literacies and skills.
  • Chris McAvoy - Chief Techie Wrangler. He wrangles all of the brilliant geeks (and is in fact a brilliant geek himself) to deliver production grade stuff on schedule.
  • Jess Klein - Aesthetic Sorceress. She wields her magic to make things beautiful, usable and effective for all of Webmaker.
  • Atul Varma - The Innovation Developer, or the Guy-Who-Makes-All-The-Crazy-Ideas-Real-Things, responsible for making the embedded assessment in Thimble a reality, among other things, like, um, Thimble.
  • Brian Brennan - Badges Overlord. But not the evil kind. He is the technical brains behind the Open Badge Infrastructure and built the issuing technology for the Webmaker Badges.
  • Mike Larsson - Finesse Doctor and our go to Fire Fighter. He not only builds mission critical stuff and fixes problems, but adds the finesse on top of everything. 
  • Chris Appleton - Badge Designer Extraordinaire. He not only designed the first School of Webcraft badges way back when, but designed our pretty honeycomb badges for Webmaker.
  • Sunny Lee - Big Picture Advisor. She represents the Open Badges work and helps keep the Webmaker badges work firmly grounded in the wider ecosystem efforts.

Thanks all! You should all get badges for the awesome work! And thanks to the extended team that gave feedback, fixed bugs, promoted the work, etc.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Webmaker at MozFest

So, you may of heard, but there is this awesome festival coming up next week - it’s MozFest in London, and it’s going to be awesome. 

Webmaker will be a big part of MozFest and here’s how:

Building Webmaker Track / Theme

There are a ton of sessions at MozFest this year. You can get a filtered view of the Webmaker-relevant sessions through the Building Webmaker track. And you’ll notice that these aren’t just sessions about Webmaker, but as the name implies, they are chances to get your hands dirty and help us build Webmaker. Whether its creating starter projects, prototyping how to teach javascript (and building out teaching content for all of Webmaker*, for that matter), imagining Webmaker for mobile, or more, you can help us shape the very near future of Webmaker.  

*cross posted from the Hacktivate Learning track

Webmaker Floor

If you head on up to the top floor at Ravensbourne, you’ll find yourself in the mystical place known as the Webmaker Floor. This floor houses almost all* of the Building Webmaker sessions, as well as the Hacktivate Zone, which is where a bunch of really smart people will be figuring out how to teach this stuff and scale our reach.  The Webmaker Floor is also the home to the Webmaker Bar, explained more below, and some fun lounge-y, hang-out-with-the-designers areas as well. We’ll have some ambient hack zones too, like a project idea board where you can put up starter project topics or ideas that you’d like to see, as well as a huge hackable web literacy skills grid that you can post questions and suggestions directly on.

*I should note that there are definitely sessions and activities relevant to Webmaker occurring on the other floors and you should definitely check out all of the floors and tracks. Come visit the top floor for the core set of get-your-hands-dirty-with-Webmaker sessions.

Note: this image is not completely updated - we are still working with the configuration of the teaching studios. But it gives you an idea of all the energy that will be happening at any given time on the Webmaker Floor.

Webmaker Bar

The Webmaker Bar will be the place you go to make awesome stuff during the Festival. We’ll have some programming there to kick start your creative juices, but its mostly about coming and using Thimble, Popcorn Maker, the X-ray Goggles or a tool of your choice to make something and share it. BYOL(aptop) or use some of the computers we’ll have set up there. Check out all of the starter projects to see some ideas on what to make.

The couches next to the Bar will feature some of our designers and product folk at various times across the two days for some one-on-one user testing and deep dive feedback sessions. 

Hope to see you in London!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Introducing Webmaker, the Product

As you all may remember from previous posts and announcements, we launched Webmaker, the Brand, a few months ago and built and released some of the core foundations, like Thimble, PopcornMaker and the initial learning projects. All of this existed under the common branding umbrella, but were still stand alone projects, teams and processes and end user experiences. 

As Mark mentioned in his post, over the last couple of months, we’ve been focusing on Webmaker, the Product, not as a major pivot - we’ve been doing this stuff for almost a year now - but really as a new perspective on our work and honing in on core priorities. We’re doing so for two core reasons:

  1. Experience - we want to develop a Webmaker experience that helps people make things that they want to share and learn web skills in the process. The tool or the mechanics of how things work behind the scenes shouldn’t get in the way of the making and sharing experience. This requires a group of people thinking about the experience from that level, stitching together various tools and sites, creating pathways across projects, etc. At the same time, we need to make sure the tools and projects behind that experience are high quality/robust and remain innovative, so we want to have clear foresight into the roadmaps against the Webmaker goals.
  2. Efficiency - we want to make sure that we’re prioritizing things and allocating resources in a way that supports that experience. But this isn’t just internally, we also want to make participation and contribution as easy and seamless as possible - this needs to be designed and supported as a core part of the product.

With all of this in mind, we spent a few weeks drilling into the details and landed on a crisper definition of what Webmaker (the Product) is, who it’s for and how it’s going to roll out and grow. We need some help in gut checking on this to make sure it feels right and that there aren’t any major gaps:

Why Webmaker?

We want to teach people about the web through the web and real technologies. What better way to understand and fall in love with the web, then realize that you can remix it for your own views and opinions and then share it with your networks? And what if in that process, you learned core skills that helped you not only make more things on the web, but changed your attitude in life from just consumption and acceptance, to production and expression? That’s what we are trying to do here, that’s why Webmaker.

What is Webmaker?

Two elements of Webmaker:

  1. Tools - tools that support remixing, making and sharing on the web, while building learning into the process as well. Thimble, Popcorn Maker and X-ray Goggles for now. Game Maker, Mobile later.  [logos]
  2. Starter Projects - projects, challenges, games and content that sit on top of the tools and guide people in making cool shit and provide instructions and learning objectives as well. On Thimble, starter projects are hackable webpages that have some challenge or project that you complete by editing the HTML and CSS code on the left. In Popcorn, starter projects are thematic videos that you can remix, with some skill development baked into the core content of the video.

Who is Webmaker for?

Two audiences for Webmaker:

  1. primary: webmakers - people with something to say, those who want to express themselves and tinker*
  2. secondary: webmaker makers - i.e. educators - those who want to teach other people this stuff, amplify our cause and our reach. We want to build this community, inspire them to teach webmaking and empower them to not only use our content, but remix it and to contribute back.
*A few important pieces here to unpack:
  • with something to say”: we are targeting the current or future Tumblrs of the world - those people who have an opinion, a sense of humor, a cause, etc. We want to help them make things that they care about and want to share with the world. 
  • tinker”: we’ve decided that for now, our target audience is more amateur and playful. So we want to support someone making a webpage to show their love for Lady Gaga, but not necessarily someone who wants to come make their business webpage. Doesn’t mean that someone couldn’t make their business webpage, but we are not explicitly focusing there. Also has implications for the types of service level agreements, domain registrations, etc. we offer.

How will Webmaker roll?


  • Making + learning foundations (mostly done, in progress)
  • Experience design and connections across tools (MozFest)
  • Contribution foundations (end of 2012)
  • User + social features including gallery, collaboration within the tools, etc. (end of Q1 2013)

MozFest is our first big deliverable for Webmaker, and its a really important one since its the place that we can not only show off our stuff, but more importantly, playtest and user test our stuff and our ideas so that we can come out of it with a solid direction and set of priorities for 2013. Here are some of the core deliverables for MozFest (note, this is the high level view, look for a post from our head of software, Chris, on the technical and more minute details):

  • Experience: ship more unified UX, connecting the Webmaker experience across tools and sites
  • Webmaker Badges: launch badges in Thimble. We see badges as a connector between tools and learning experiences, but also between learners and community members. We are starting with badges and associated assessments within Thimble.
  • Projects: build set of ‘real’ projects like portfolios and other things that people will want to make and share, as well as a plan for testing at MozFest
  • Popcorn: ship PopcornMaker 1.0, the first production version that helps people make awesome Popcorn-ified videos.
  • Instructor Community: ship and test hacktivity kits which help provide some hackable curriculum and scaffolding around our tools and content
  • Contribution: initial plan for localization - where to start, who to enlist for help, etc.
  • Engagement: prototype of community-led QA 
  • Open Badges: ship new Badge Backpack UI - the Mozilla-hosted badge Backpack is part of the Webmaker experience
  • Open News: build Thimble and Popcorn starter projects for journalists
  • Hackable games: prototype hackable games in Thimble

I love this list because you can see how our various projects and programs all start to snap together as part of this Webmaker Product. Still a lot of work to do but its feeling like its moving in a good direction. We would love some feedback and help shaping the next iteration. Key question for now is: Does this make sense to people? What parts are still foggy? Are there any gaps in the narrative?

We are encouraging people to take comments and feedback to the Webmaker list so that the entire community can benefit and respond. I’ll post this to that list as well. 


Monday, August 20, 2012

Webmaker Badges


We’re gonna launch some Webmaker badges at MozFest and some more next year. They will include a variety of badge types and some awesome assessment. Get ready world.

====LRIYW; (Longer, read if you want version)====

We’re building a Mozilla Webmaker badge system - eventually feeding into a larger Mozilla badge system. As I mentioned in my last roadmappin’ post, this is our number one priority from now through MozFest. And it’s WAY more than designing some pretty images, its the skills, assessments, technology, metadata and learning content as well. It’s all underway and here are some of the details, pulled from a presentation I gave on the Webmaker call last Tuesday**.


I think it’s important to explicitly talk about the why or the goals behind the badges. Not only is that important for justifying and explaining why badges are a huge priority for us, but it can also help inform some of our decisions about the types of badges to include, what’s in scope/out of scope, etc.

  • Badges = disrupting a monopoly and putting the control back into the individuals’ hands…it’s what Mozilla does.
  • Defining / driving a Webmaker experience.
    • tying together tools and experiences
    • defining potential learning webmaking pathways
    • defining an architecture of participation and contribution
  • Building fun into the Webmaker experience.
  • Recognizing and tracking learning.
  • Building and formalizing community.
  • Scaling our stuff beyond ourselves.


With those goals in mind, the following is the current set of badges, assessments and tools (types, touchpoints and technology) planned for the first iteration of our badge system.

  • Skill (I can ____, I know ____)
    • mini (I can hyperlink)
    • cumulative (I know HTML Basics)
  • Achievement (I made a _____)
    • mini (I made a webpage)
    • cumulative (I am a webmaker)
  • Participation (I attended an event)
  • Contribution (I hosted an event, I created a project, I added code)




*NOTE: because we are starting with a very small set of explicit ‘hard’ skills, we are awarding the cumulative based on accumulation of the mini badges. Moving forward, we want to expand to a much broader set of skills, including softer skills. We know that moving to a peer assessment model will be very important for adding more review, evidence and mentorship behind the badges. Look for peer review to come early next year. We’ll be asking for your help on designing an effective peer assessment system.







the badges constellations available by the end of this year below.

NOTE: we are still working through the possibilities with Popcorn so there may be another set of skill badges: mini and cumulative reflecting those skills and that learning either in the first iteration or shortly thereafter.


So how are we going to make all of this happen? (answer: very quickly, but more specifically:) 


We are building OpenBadger (OBr), a lightweight badge issuing tool that, despite being lightweight, will do most of the heavy lifting. Specifically, OBr will handle:

  • Badge creation and metadata definition
  • Badge issuing
  • Connection to the OBI

Tool/Site Integrations

In addition, we will be doing some tool and site integration:

  • Building embedded assessments into Thimble and Popcorn
  • Building calls out to OBr within Thimble and Popcorn. For example, when someone clicks publish, issue this badge, etc.


As I mentioned above, we are pushing towards MozFest for an initial release, but we are already thinking about the follow-up releases and where we ultimately want to get to. So the roll out looks something like this (although everything is subject to change and wide open for comments/suggestions). More detail on the follow up releases to come in separate posts.


  • November 9-12 in London - don’t miss it!)
  • All of the above, first iteration of the badge system

March 2013

  • More badges and skills covered
  • Peer assessment 

Summer 2013

  • Levels
  • Pathways (including non-Mozilla options)
  • Dashboard, goal-setting, portfolios


So that’s the current plan. We would love feedback and suggestions on how to improve the first iteration of the badge system, as well as ideas for the follow-up releases. Let us know!


**Full presentation from Tuesday’s call

***Also, see posts from Jess and Chloe for more details.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Weekend of Learning

Last weekend, we launched the Mozilla Summer Code Party with the Global Weekend of Code, which was a resounding success. Over 100 events across over 30 countries, with over 1000 people learning to code. And there are at least 4x as many event scheduled for the rest of the summer. Now that’s a party.

Most of the partiers used our new webmaking tools: Thimble and Popcorn Maker. As I’ve talked about before, we have developed a number of projects and templates that sit on top of these tools and give learners an interest-based access point into some webmaking of their own, and of course, some learning in the process.

My role last week was on the Party Squad, monitoring the social medias and retweeting / posting / sharing all the awesome stuff that came through. It was an inspiring place to be in - just amazing to see all of the webmaking that was occurring. I wanted to reshare a few of the projects here. I know you’ve probably seen them all via our constant stream of blogs, tweets, posts, etc. last weekend but it’s worth taking the time to dig a little deeper to expose the learning that’s actually occurring underneath. 

Sell it!

Source / Built from the HTML Wrangler Project

This one may seem simple at first - it was built from what’s intended to be an entry level project for people that are total newbies to HTML and might be intimidated by a lot of code right away. The project introduces the basic concept of tags and comments, and then some text handling tags like <p>, <h1>, <h2> and linking. So there is actually a lot going on in there. And this maker not only mastered these HTML basics, but also added in text that was relevant and interesting to him/her, so that it became something that s/he made that mattered. And learned some HTML in the process.


Source / Built from the Hack a Map project

This is another entry level one that requires the learner to fix a bunch of issues in the code. The fact that you see the page without big errors or floating <’s means that the maker successfully fixed all the issues. This requires you to understand the concept of open and close tags and other HTML syntax details, and then also introduces you to images and text handling. This particular maker decided to add a video to the page. The caption says “i put up this video cuz i figurd that lots of people would like it”. *smile* Thimble currently requires that videos be handled through iframes (because of security issues with the <video> tag) so this wasn’t a super easy thing to figure out how to do. It’s possible the maker pulled it from another project, but isn’t that the beauty of the Web? Of course, there are design aspects like how to surface the video above the map images, but that wasn’t a core part of this project and the maker was still able to hack it to add his/her own content. 

Bakery Bash

Source / Built from the Bakery Bash project

This project focuses on image handling, and helps makers learn the <img> tag, how to find and use image URLs and how to resize images, all under the theme of creating an invitation list for an awesome party with Loaf Cat. (If you don’t know Loaf Cat, ask the internetz) Makers are also asked to work with hyperlinks and link out to secret guests that will attend as well. This particular maker made this his own by using pics of NBA stars and cartoons (and a tomato?) and linking out to super heroes and characters. S/he even hunted down and edited the intro message to read “Porta Pottys Rock”. Silly? Yes. Legitimate HTML skills and interest-based making? Absolutely.

A New Creature

Source / Built from the London Zoo’s Awesome Animal Builder project

This is one of my favorite projects - it’s by the London Zoo and it asks makers to read about several endangered species and then create their own creature by moving HTML images around, and then wranglin’ text and lists to describe the new creature. There’s a lot on the page too, so you have to get comfortable sorting through the code to find the parts you want to move around and edit. And on top of all the awesome webmaking skills required, there are some great learning opportunities around conservation and biology. You can see here that the features and description of the new animal are pulled together from features of the real animals themselves, so the maker was internalizing those details about the real animals and mashing them together for the new creature.

TMNT Zombies

Source / Built from the Get Off My Lawn! project

This one is worth calling out because it requires some pretty advanced CSS positioning. The game involves using %, em and pixels in CSS to move objects to block zombies that are invading your lawn. Not only did this maker demonstrate positioning skills by moving everything to the bottom right corner, but also hacked the game completely and swapped out the zombie images for images of their own. I think some of the most compelling learning/making that we’ve seen is people that not only complete the challenge, but completely hack the process and page to make it something that they care about. Brilliant.


Source / Built from ??

This one was just awesome. One of the things on the Thimble roadmap is a gallery so that people can share the things they built with other webmakers. Well this particular enterprising maker just used Thimble to build their own gallery highlighting the links out to the projects that their group made. It’s meta and it’s awesome. Maybe they started with a project and made it from there, made they just used the plain ol’ editor. Doesn’t matter how they got there at all, they knew enough or were able to hack together enough to make a page that suited their needs. Did I mention that I love the Web?

Robot Popcorn! (mmmmmm)

Source / Built with the Popcorn Robots template

Popcorn is our awesome web native film hacking initiative/technology/tool set and we just released an early version of Popcorn Maker that let’s makers build stories through video augmented by information that is relevant to them/their story. In this video, the maker adds a map of London and some pictures of their own, as well as some pop-up captions as the story progresses. This template also allows you to add comments that the robots will read in a robot voice. Very fun, but also some heavy duty skills required around video wrangling, open video, procedural storytelling, storytelling in general, information gathering and curating, etc. I particularly love that the maker started with a screen that says “I have no idea what I’m doing” and yet was able to add a bunch of personal touches and hacks to the video. 


So in summary, despite some of the surface simplicity of some of the projects, there is a lot of learning and web literacy behind them. I think we should be pretty proud of that. Of course, we don’t yet know what level of skills people are coming in with, and we hope to build more of that into the experience so that we can truly measure the learning. Anecdotally, we heard lots of people say “I am learning so much” and “I can’t believe I just did that”, and we have some basic survey results that I need to analyze and share soon. But above and beyond that, its hard to say right now how much people learned in a traditional pre/post kind of way…but from my viewpoint, we got 1000+ people engaged in making stuff about things that they care about online, and demonstrating a lot of webmaking skills in the process. I’ll call that a victory.

And with that, I leave you with this:


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mozilla Foundation Launch Codes

We’ve been a little busy here at Mozilla Foundation, as you may have noticed 1) by my radio silence on this blog but more importantly, 2) by the series of huge launches from us. 

Here’s a guide to the awesome projects and initiatives we’ve launched in the last 2 months, with links to find out more or get involved (your very own Mozilla launch codes!):


Public beta of the Open Badge Infrastructure.

The OBI is the core technical ‘plumbing’ to support an ecosystem of badges as alternative credentials for lifelong learning. It’s a mouthful and its awesome. “Public beta” means a publicly available, critical feature complete solution. Over a hundred independent badge issuers are already plugging in. The Open Badges work supports Mozilla’s wider goal of making the Web as awesome as possible and helping people benefit from it. A badge ecosystem supports learning that looks like the Web - open, distributed, customizable, personally navigable - and happens across the Web, by creating a recognition system that can help learners tell a more complete story about their skill set, and in turn, get real results like jobs, credits and other opportunities. Check out my previous entries for more nuance on Open Badges.

Previous post with more info.

Earn your first badge! Set up your Backpack. Launch code


Webmaker Initiative.

Our goal: build a generation of webmakers who have the skills and passion to be makers on the Web and of the Web - instead of just consumers. You’ve heard me and my colleagues talk about this for awhile now, but now its a top level Mozilla initiative - it’s even available in the “tabzilla” - the Mozilla dropdown menu across all Mozilla sites!

Launch code


Mozilla Summer Code Party.

In line with the Webmaker Initiative, we launched our first big push for webmaking - the Mozilla Summer Code Party. It’s a summer-long, planet-wide webmaking and learning party, kicking off with the Weekend of Code where thousands of people will host events, make cool stuff on the Web and learn webmaking skills together in the process. You should definitely party with us - you can host your own event, join one of the hundreds of events other folks are hosting or just do some learning projects on your own or with a few friends. Let’s par-tah!

Party like its summer 2012. Launch code

More info on our wiki

Mozilla Ignite.

What would you do with the Internet of the future? Mozilla Ignite challenges us to come up with app ideas for a 1Gbps network - and there is $500,000 in prize money. It’s Webmaking on a whole new level. Later this year: You can plan to see some learning content from us around some of the awesome technologies and practices relevant to this advanced webmaking.

Launch Code



(Formerly called WebpageMaker) Thimble is our new 2 pane editor tool that helps people make things on the Web and learn HTML, CSS and other webmaking skills in the process. Thimble allows you to write and edit code in the left hand pane and see it immediately rendered in the right hand pane. And we’ve built handy js libraries that capture errors in the code, and leverage Mozilla Developer Network content as helpful hints on all the tags. Coming soon to Thimble: badges and a gallery of published projects as well. The Thimble development team is nothing short of superheroes - our own Avengers - huge kudos to them for creating a kick a$$ tool in a very short amount of time. 

Use the editor. Try out a Thimble project. Launch code

More on thimble from Mark

More on Thimble from Matt on the Mozilla blog


The new website to support the Webmaker initiative and the upcoming Mozilla Summer Cody Party. We are a wiki and etherpad culture so to have a core polished website like this, you know we must mean business. This site will definitely grow to support more of the work we’re doing but you can use it now to find projects (see below), tools like Thimble, and events. Yay Team Ross+Andrew and Team Engagement!

Launch code

Webmaker Learning Projects.

We’ve built a bunch of learning projects to help you find interesting and personally inspiring things to build, while scaffolding the learning and webmaking skill development. All of the projects are one page learning challenges and they come in two flavors: Thimble projects and DIY projects. Thimble projects sit on top of Thimble and are hackable learning challenges that allow you to edit the code in the left pane to complete the challenge, while seeing your changes immediately rendered on the right pane. You can publish and share your creations as well. (And don’t forget to give us some feedback so we can make more and better projects - there’s a survey link in the Publish dropdown). DIY projects are similar, but are learning challenges that use other tools or take you to other sites to build stuff. All the projects are available here.

You’ll notice that there are some projects by Mozilla, but a bunch of projects by other folks like the London Zoo, Tumblr, New York Public Library and P2PU. That’s the idea here - we want to create a movement and we can’t do it alone, so the goal is to have some Mozilla content, and some Mozilla tools but to pull together content and tools from all the other awesome people and organizations that are already teaching webmaking in their own flavors. So you can expect more projects from more folks as we go. And if you have an idea right now, you can submit it here.

You may have noticed that I have a little more to say about this one - that’s because it is near and dear to my heart. My team is brilliant, mindblowingly creative and super productive, so huge applause to them for building and wrangling some pretty cool initial stuff. More on these projects to come in another follow up post b/c I just can’t stop talking about them.

Project Launch Codes

Early Version of PopcornMaker. 

We’re starting to build our platform of making tools with Thimble, which I already talked about and now PopcornMaker which helps you build awesome Popcorn-ified videos. PopcornMaker features a bunch of awesome out-of-the-box templates to guide your work and help you learn about Popcorn and a bunch of webmaking skills in the process.

This is a much anticipated launch - 1.0 is coming later this year but you can play around with an early preview version now. Launch Code

Popcorn Maker


The Weekend of Code.

The kickoff weekend of the Mozilla Summer Code Party. It’s a worldwide party, people, and thousands of people across the globe will be making things and learning skills together this coming weekend. We’re bringing some projects, tools and some friends - you bring some friends of your own, your creativity and maker-y-ness, and some chips and dip.

Get involved! Party with us! Launch Code


Sleep…and more learning, partying and strategizing.

July will bring some well deserved reprieve for my team. We’re pooped. That said, the Summer Code Party will still be going strong, and we’ve got a few strategy sessions to start planning for our next wave of awesomeness. So make sure to give us feedback on your experience with everything over the next few weeks so we can feed that back into our roadmap for the rest of the year.


Open Badger and Alpha Webmaker Badges.

What could make our learning offerings and pathways better? Well, badges of course - a way to get recognition for the skills you develop while making stuff online. So we are building some alpha Webmaking badges that will be aligned with projects and sharing of the things that you make over the summer. And since we need to build the tool to handle the badge creation, badge issuing and connection to the OBI, we’re releasing that to the public as well, as a lightweight badge issuing tool and set of js libraries to make badge issuing easy for you. It’s the next stop on the badge train.

More Info



Mozilla Badge System.

Why stop there? Our ultimate goal is to have learning pathways for all of our webmaking skills - with earnable badges for each skill, as well as levels across the skills. And the broader Mozilla has a bunch of ideas for badges for contribution and engagement as well. So that’s all going to roll up into an awesomely supercharged Mozilla Badge System with interest-based learning and contribution opportunities with job-relevant badges behind them.

More stuff.

I am sure there will be more. We are not ones to sit around idly and the creativity and innovative nature of my awesome colleagues, as well as their uncanny ability to build things at light speed, means I am sure there will be lots of cool stuff before 2012 ends.

*As you can see, there’s been a lot going on, so I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention something else. Let me know and I’ll update as needed.

Way to go all! Celebration