Reflections on Maker Party

On September 15 we hit a milestone for the Mozilla Maker Party. With over 1,700 events in 330 cities worldwide, the campaign to make and teach the web had really picked up steam.

As we transition from campaign-mode to an ongoing webmaker party, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on what’s working, the people who are stepping up to teach the web, and what could be next.

What’s Working

Webmaker: The Tool Suite

If you compare the current Webmaker tool suite with what it was like earlier this year–or more radically, what it was like during last year’s Summer Code Party campaignyou’ll be amazed to see how much more interesting and robust the site has become.

The site now has 1 million users, 28K of them registered. 50K things were made since the new site came online. The Webmaker team pushed changes to the site over 400 times, and excitingly, loads of important features were shipped thanks to input from community members using the tools:

  • Localization
  • Javascript in Thimble
  • Improved tutorials
  • Collaboration tools using Together.js
  • and tons of UX fixes to make the experience even better.

In short, the Webmaker team is rocking it.

Hackable Teaching Kits

Here’s another fantastic outcome from the Maker Party: we shipped hackable teaching kits.

A modular curriculum has long been the dream of Laura Hilliger and the mentor team, and with some user-testing and design love, we now have great templates and first wave of adopters using the kits.

These kits will continue to grow and improve, and become especially powerful as they align with the web literacy standard and get mashed up with curriculum from other networks and mentors.

Making as Learning

Since kicking off the year, we’ve been digging into a “making as learning” philosophy:

“Having fun, being creative and collaborating socially is, in the long-game, stickier for learners then replicating “drill and kill” lessons online.”

— Chris Lawrence, Sr. Director of Webmaker Mentor team

We wanted to bake learning into making. This means putting enjoyment, creativity and social connectivity to the forefront of learning about the web. By focusing on interest-driven projects and hands-on maker activities, learners would have more fun and be more likely to stick with it.

And importantly, the same approach works at the mentor level. If people who teach the web have a make-first teaching experience, one that’s driven by collaboration with peers around their own passions, it will be more fun and meaningful for them to keep teaching.

Teach the Web v2: Train the Trainers

As mentioned in the recap about Reps + Webmaker, the train-the-trainer event we ran first in Athens and then online as a MOOC called Teach the Web, have been big engines of Maker Party’s success.

We’re seeing participants who completed these trainings go on to run train-the-trainer programs of their own, from Bangalore to Kampala to Surabaya, Paris and more.

In the coming months, there’s huge potential to mash up the in-person training and online MOOC into a blended learning Teach the Web experience. Together with Laura Hilliger and the mentor team, I’m really looking forward to testing and improving our train-the-trainers program and to rolling it out in new languages with new communities.

Who’s Stepping Up

To understand more who’s stepping and teaching the web, I really recommend reading Mark Surman’s post on “Who wants to teach the web?”.

In it, Mark features 11 kinds of mentors:

  • The curious. People who love the web/technology and are curious how to share this passion with friends and family.
  • Learner-turned-mentor. Someone who enjoyed learning to webmake that they’re lit up about teaching others how to do it.
  • Teacher. A person who’s already teaching and wants to integrate more digital making and web literacy into their lesson plans.
  • Youth IT clubs. Lots of great youth clubs are teaching code and also encouraging youth to become leaders and mentors, too.
  • Youth mentor activator. Passionate and young mentors themselves looking to activate their peers.
  • Partner in crime. Organizations and individuals who team up with mentors to offer skills, spaces, and other resources.
  • Kindred spirits, more broadly. Folks working in similar domains and with aligned values, like openness or making.
  • Super Mentors. An amazing segment of people who care about teaching the web, but also helping other mentors learn to teach.
  • Webmaker country lead. Dedicated Mozillians who think strategically and operationally about Webmaker in their country or region.
  • The elders. Long-time contributors to Mozilla who’ve been critical in bringing Webmaker activities to their region and encouraging their teams.
  • The posse. Community members who are interested in all kinds of things and are willing to help out.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s very helpful in illustrating the range of mentors and their motivations. In the coming weeks, we’ll be working closely with these groups on developing a ladder of engagement, or perhaps more accurately, an ecosystem of engagement.

Next Steps: Mozilla Summit

This weekend, the Mozilla Summit will take place across three cities: Brussels, Toronto and Santa Clara. It’s a perfect moment to meet with Mozillians around the world and to reflect on how our mission is informing what we do today.

I’m especially honored to have helped curate the “Purpose and Strategy” track, heavily informed by Mitchell Baker’s Nature of Mozilla framework.

We developed sessions that look at:

  • The Web We Want
  • Building a Web Literate World
  • What does “Mozillian” mean?
  • Practicing Open
  • What would a million Mozillians do?

The facilitators and track owners put together great participatory sessions on these topics, and the Summit will be an amazing place to dig into what it means to be a Mozillian, how we can involve and empower more people, and excitingly, how teaching the web is central to what we do.

Mozilla Festival

Just a few weeks after the Summit, we’re hosting the Mozilla Festival, Mozilla’s largest public-facing event. 1500 makers and mentors will meet in London for 2.5 days of hacking and teaching the web.

There are 9 themes which explore how to teach and make the web from various perspectives. We’re looking at science, games, journalism, physical objects, mobile, privacy and much more.

More than any Mozfest before, I’m really excited and proud of our Space Wranglers, who curate each track. The federated program committee means that we’re diversifying the curation and expertise of the event.

In particular, the Build and Teach the Web track will examine the above initiatives (Maker Party, the Webmaker tool suite, the trainings, the MOOC, etc.) and together with veteran community members and new contributors, it will synthesize, test and improve the Webmaker program for the coming year.

There’s a lot going on, but a whole lot of it is promising and very fun. Check out some epic photos from Maker Parties around the world:

If you’re curious to plug in, say hi to @webmaker on Twitter or subscribe to our mailing list. You can also just start making and teaching the web right now on webmaker.org. Tell us what you think!

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