Webmaker Train the Trainer

Back in March, we kicked off the first in hopefully a series of train-the-trainer (TTT) events for webmaking.

The idea is to run events that train people who go on to train others how to teach the web. We focused on practicing an open and participatory ethos, adapting lesson plans, and facilitating events.

This is a post to share what we did and encourage people in designing their own train-the-trainer events.

How to run a Webmaker Train the Trainer

Our prototype, the Reps Training Days, ran for four days in Athens, Greece with 40 Reps from around the world. The agenda was based on Laura Hilliger’s research and insights on successful TTT program and on Allen Gunn’s participatory event methodology. It was made possible by the amazing Mozilla Greek community.

Our participants were Mozilla Reps, a fantastic ambassador program with some of the most active and thoughtful Mozillians. Reps have been early adopters and innovators with Webmaker. They organized nearly 50 events during last year’s Summer Code Party and are leading the way in developing tools, tutorials, and localization for Webmaker. It seemed like a natural fit to run our first TTT with them.

1. Participate in a Webmaker event

The first day of Training Days was spent observing and participating in a Hive Pop-Up, organized by Hive Athens. This was an opportunity for the participants to experience a webmaker event firsthand, to see the tools and activities in action, to learn about the logistics, and to understand the vibe.

We then circled up to discuss what we saw. Participants shared their reflections on what worked well at the pop-up and what they would change if they did their own.

2. Build the training agenda

Then we opened up the training days properly. While we had topics in mind we wanted to hack on together, it was more important that everyone in the room thought about what they want to learn or discuss. So we had an agenda brainstorm.

To do this: we split into groups for 3 people. On post-it notes, we wrote down topics. 1 topic per post-it and the encouragement to write it as concretely as possible.

Then everyone pasted the notes on the wall. We read them all and then clustered them by themes. This collaborative board formed both critical event documentation as well as agenda fodder for the coming days.

3. Teach someone something

To warm up to the idea of teaching, we then got into pairs. The task: teach someone something in 5 minutes.

One person would go and then switch. Even if you knew what was being taught, you were encouraged to play a good learner, asking good questions and prompting the teacher.

After this exercise, we circled up and discussed what we observed from this experience. For many, it was a great way to think about how to explain something clearly, using metaphors and knowledge building blocks. It helped bring people into a teaching mindset.

4. Make a learner profile

Now that we’ve been thinking about teachers and learners, we made small groups and hacked together a learner’s profile.

This goal of this activity was to think about who our learners are. We used Webmaker tools to make these profiles, which was also a fun, maker-y way to be introduced to these tools. Participants were encouraged to think about real people they want to teach.

5. Hack an event invitation

After we’ve made our learner profiles, we thought about the kind of event we wanted to run. Most of the participants have already organized Webmaker events in the past, so there was already some familiarity with the format.

Nevertheless, it was helpful to hack together an event invitation. The idea was to think about your target learner and to make an invitation that would speak to them. Again, we used Webmaker tools to quickly pull these invitations together on the web.

6. Deep dive into lesson plans

With a learner profile, an event invitation and some familiarity with Webmaker tools, we then introduced the hackable kits. These are remixable lesson plans that help mentors, trainers, etc. to teach the web. The idea is that they are adaptable to different contexts and that people can share new ways of teaching in a shared format.

Participants poked around in the kits and asked questions. We also did some fun icebreakers so they could see the activities in action and get some energy going.

7. Playtest lesson plans

Now came the fun part. We had to plan for a real live event the next day. So participants got into groups of five with one group facilitator.

They had to design a four-hour agenda for local youth. Using three recommended activities from the kits, they adapted the lesson plans. Then they walked through a script for the next day, including having people role-play as learners. It was a lot of fun to see and a great way to prepare for the big day.

8. Put training to practice at a live event

So with some nervousness, we got ready for the live event. About a hundred youth were coming. We split into different rooms, each group of five trainers getting about 20 learners.

While there were the inevitable challenges (the internet is down! one kid won’t listen!), the Reps did a terrific job. They rolled with their scripts, adapting them as they saw what was working. They also taught well in smaller pairs with their learners, sometimes adding new challenges or tools to fit their needs.

It was a beautiful and fun thing to see. All the training the days before paid off: the youth had a lot of fun and so did we.

9. Reflect on event, lessons learned and where from here

We ended the event with a closing circle. We talked about what we saw that day, what worked well, what didn’t. We each shared one thing we appreciated about the experience, and what we’re excited about doing next.

With that, we headed out into the city to enjoy the day and the rest of our time together.

10. Go forth and teach!

Each participant left the Training Days with a local plan. It was a short list of possible collaborators in their hometown, a date for a small team huddle to bring those people together, and then a date for a larger Webmaker event to organize with their new collaborators.

We also started interest groups in topics like localization and offline tools. And now, a few months later, the participants from Training Days are now “Webmaker Super Mentors”, mentoring people in an online course to learn how to teach the web.

In the coming months, we hope to keep remixing and improving these agendas, as well as work with people who are interested in TTT in their own cities or communities.

Let us know if you’d like to get involved! #teachtheweb

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