Building an Academy

Mark Surman


Last December in Portland, I said that Mozilla needs a more ambitious stance on how we teach the web. My argument: the web is at an open vs. closed crossroads, and helping people build know-how and agency is key if we want to take the open path. I began talking about Mozilla needing to do something in ‘learning’ in ways that can have the scale and impact of Firefox if we want this to happen.


The question is: what does this look like? We’ve begun talking about developing a common approach and brand for all our learning efforts: something like Mozilla University or Mozilla Academy. And we have a Mozilla Learning plan in place this year to advance our work on Webmaker products, Mozilla Clubs (aka Maker Party all year round), and other key building blocks. But we still don’t have a crisp and concrete vision for what all this might add up to. The idea of a global university or academy begins to get us there.

My task this quarter is to take a first cut at this vision — a consolidated approach for Mozilla’s efforts in learning. My plan is to start a set of conversations that get people involved in this process. The first step is to start to document the things we already know. That’s what this post is.

What’s the opportunity?

First off, why are we even having this conversation? Here’s what we said in the Mozilla Learning three-year plan:

Within 10 years there will be five billion citizens of the web. Mozilla wants all of these people to know what the web can do. What’s possible. We want them to have the agency, tools and know-how they need to unlock the full power of the web. We want them to use the web to make their lives better. We want them to be full citizens of the web.

We wrote this paragraph right before Portland. I’d be interested to hear what people think about it a few months on?

What do we want to build?

The thing is even if we agree that we want everyone to know what the web can do, we may not yet agree on how we get there. My first cut at what we need to build is this:

By 2017, we want to build a Mozilla Academy: a global classroom and lab for the citizens of the web. Part community, part academy, people come to Mozilla to unlock the power of the web for themselves, their organizations and the world.

This language is more opinionated than what’s in the Mozilla Learning plan: it states we want a global classroom and lab. And it suggests a name.

Andrew Sliwinski has pointed out to me that this presupposes we want to engage primarily with people who want to learn. And, that we might move toward our goals in other ways, including using our product and marketing to help people ‘just figure the right things out’ as they use the web. I’d like to see us debate these two paths (and others) as we try to define what it is we need to build. By the way, we also need to debate the name — Mozilla Academy? Mozilla University? Something else?

What do we want people to know?

We’re fairly solid on this part: we want people to know that the web is a platform that belongs to all of us and that we can all use to do nearly anything.

We’ve spent three years developing Mozilla’s web literacy map to describe exactly what we mean by this. It breaks down ‘what we want people know’ into three broad categories:

  • Exploring the web safely and effectively
  • Building things on the web that matter to you and others
  • Participating on the web as a critical, collaborative human

Helping people gain this know-how is partly about practical skills: understanding enough of the technology and mechanics of the web so they can do what they want to do (see below). But it is also about helping people understand that the web is based on a set of values — like sharing information and human expression — that are worth fighting for.

How do we think people learn these things?

Over the last few years, Mozilla and our broader network  of partners have been working on what we might call ‘open source learning’ (my term) or ‘creative learning’ (Mitch Resnick’s term, which is probably better :)). The first principles of this approach include:

  • Learn by making things
  • Make real shit that matters
  • Do it with other people (or at least with others nearby)

There is another element though that should be manifested in our approach to learning, which is something like ‘care about good’ or even ‘care about excellence’ — the idea that people have a sense of what to aspire to and feedback loops that help them know if they are getting there. This is important both for motivation and for actually having the impact on ‘what people know’ that we’re aiming for.

My strong feeling is that this approach needs to be at the heart of all Mozilla’s learning work. It is key to what makes us different than most people who want to teach about the web — and will be key to success in terms of impact and scale. Michelle Thorne did a good post on how we embrace these principles today at Mozilla. We still need to have a conversation about how we apply this approach to everything we do as part of our broader learning effort.

How much do we want people  to know?

Ever since we started talking about learning five years ago, people have asked: are you saying that everyone on the planet should be a web developer? The answer is clearly ‘no’. Different people need — and want — to understand the web at different levels. I think of it like this:

  • Literacy: use the web and create basic things
  • Skill: know how that gets you a better job / makes your life better
  • Craft: expert knowledge that you hone over a lifetime

There is also a piece that includes  ‘leadership’ — a commitment and skill level that has you teaching, helping, guiding or inspiring others. This is a fuzzier piece, but very important and something we will explore more deeply as we develop a Mozilla Academy.

We want a way to engage with people at all of these levels. The good news is that we have the seeds of an approach for each. SmartOn is an experiment by our engagement teams to provide mass scale web literacy in product and using marketing. Mozilla Clubs, Maker Party and our Webmaker Apps offer deeper web literacy and basic skills. MDN and others are think about teaching web developer skills and craft. Our fellowships do the same, although use a lab method rather than teaching. What we need now is a common approach and brand like Mozilla Academy that connects all of these activities and speaks to a variety of audiences.

What do we have?

It’s really worth making this point again: we already have much of what we need to build an ambitious learning offering. Some of the things we have or are building include:

We also have an increasingly good reputation among people who care about and  fund learning, education and empowerment programs. Partners like MacArthur Foundation, UNESCO, the National Writing Project and governments in a bunch of countries. Many of these organizations want to work with us to build — and be a part of — a more ambitious approach teaching people about the web.

What other things are we thinking about?

In addition to the things we have in hand, people across our community are also talking about a whole range of ideas that could fit into something like a Mozilla Academy. Things I’ve heard people talking about include:

  • Basic web literacy for mass market (SmartOn)
  • Web literacy marketing campaigns with operators
  • Making and learning tools in Firefox (MakerFox)
  • MDN developer conference
  • Curriculum combining MDN + Firefox Dev Edition
  • Developer education program based on Seneca model
  • A network of Mozilla alumni who mentor and coach
  • Ways to help people get jobs based on what they’ve learned
  • Ways to help people make money based on what they’ve learned
  • Ways for people to make money teaching and mentoring with Mozilla
  • People teaching in Mozilla spaces on a regular basis
  • Advanced leadership training for our community
  • Full set of badges and credentials

Almost all of these ideas are at a nascent stage. And many of them are extensions or versions of the things we’re already doing, but with an open source learning angle. Nonetheless, the very fact that these conversations are actively happening makes me believe that we have the creativity and ambition we need to build something like a Mozilla Academy.

Who is going to do all this?

There is a set of questions that starts with ‘who is the Mozilla Academy?’ Is it all people who are flag waving, t-shirt donning Mozillians? Or is it a broader group of people loosely connected under the Mozilla banner but doing their own thing?

If you look at the current collection of people working with Mozilla on learning, it’s both. Last year, we had nearly 10,000 contributors working with us on some aspect of this ‘classroom and lab’ concept. Some of these people are Mozilla Reps, Firefox Student Ambassadors and others heavily identified as Mozillians. Others are teachers, librarians, parents, journalists, scientists, activists and others who are inspired by what we’re doing and want to work alongside us. It’s a big tent.

My sense is that this is the same sort of mix we need if we want to grow: we will want a core set of dedicated Mozilla people and a broader set of people working with us in a common way for a common cause. We’ll need a way to connect (and count) all these people: our tools, skills framework and credentials might help. But we don’t need them all to act or do things in exactly the same way. In fact, diversity is likely key to growing the level of scale and impact we want.

Snapping it all together

As I said at the top of this post, we need to boil all this down and snap it into a crisp vision for what Mozilla — and others — will build in the coming years.

My (emerging) plan is to start this with a series of blog posts and online conversations that delve deeper into the topics above. I’m hoping that it won’t just be me blogging — this will work best if others can also riff on what they think are the key questions and opportunities. We did this process as we were defining Webmaker, and it worked well. You can see my summary of that process here.

In addition, I’m going to convene a number of informal roundtables with people who might want to participate and help us build Mozilla Academy. Some of these will happen opportunistically at events like eLearning Africa in Addis and the Open Education Global conference in Banff that are happening over the next couple of months. Others will happen in Mozilla Spaces or in the offices of partner orgs. I’ll write up a facilitation script so other people can organize their own conversations, as well. This will work best if there is a lot of conversation going on.

In addition to blogging, I plan to report out on progress at the Mozilla All-Hands work week in Whistler this June. By then, my hope is that we have a crisp vision that people can debate and get involved in building out. From there, I expect we can start figuring out how to build some of the pieces we’ll need to pull this whole idea together in 2016. If all goes well, we can use MozFest 2015 as a bit of a barn raising to prototype and share out some of these pieces.

Process-wise, we’ll use the Mozilla Learning wiki to track all this. If you write something or are doing an event, post it there. And, if you post in response to my posts, please put a link to the original post so I see the ping back. Twittering #mozacademy is also a good thing to do, at least until we get a different  name.

Join me in building Mozilla Academy. It’s going to be fun. And important.

What we’re working on now

Matt Thompson


What we’re working on this Heartbeat

(March 30 to April 10)

  • Soft launching the new site (including our new log-in system)
  • New “tiles” feature. Creating a unified Webmaker experience across devices (as per these mockups for desktop and mobile).
  • Getting ready to announce the new Open Web Fellows (including: updating the Advocacy site)

But wait there’s more!

Web Literacy Map v1.5

Doug Belshaw


Changes in competencies from v1.1 to v1.5 of Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map

Last week the Mozilla community finished work on updating the Web Literacy Map to v1.5. This will underpin the upcoming sub-section of Webmaker.

We made some small modifications to competencies from Web Literacy Map v1.1 (see graphic above). However, the major work was in clarifying the skills underpinning each competency. The full list can be found below:


Reading the Web


Using software tools to browse the web

  • Accessing the web using the common features of a browser
  • Using hyperlinks to access a range of resources on the web
  • Reading, evaluating, and manipulating URLs
  • Recognizing the common visual cues in web services
  • Exploring browser add-ons and extensions to provide additional functionality

Web Mechanics

Understanding the web ecosystem and Internet stack

  • Using and understanding the differences between URLs, IP addresses and search terms
  • Identifying where data is in the network of devices that makes up the Internet
  • Exporting, moving, and backing up data from web services
  • Explaining the role algorithms play in creating and managing content on the web
  • Creating or modifying an algorithm to serve content from around the web


Locating information, people and resources via the web

  • Developing questions to aid a search
  • Using and revising keywords to make web searches more efficient
  • Evaluating search results to determine if the information is relevant
  • Finding real-time or time-sensitive information using a range of search techniques
  • Discovering information and resources by asking people within social networks


Critically evaluating information found on the web

  • Comparing and contrasting information from a number of sources
  • Making judgments based on technical and design characteristics
  • Discriminating between ‘original’ and derivative web content
  • Identifying and investigating the author or publisher of web resources
  • Evaluating how purpose and perspectives shape web resources


Keeping systems, identities, and content safe

  • Recommending how to avoid online scams and ‘phishing’
  • Managing and maintaining account security
  • Encrypting data and communications using software and add-ons
  • Changing the default behavior of websites, add-ons and extensions to make web browsing more secure


Writing the web

Composing for the web

Creating and curating content for the web

  • Inserting hyperlinks into a web page
  • Identifying and using HTML tags
  • Embedding multimedia content into a web page
  • Creating web resources in ways appropriate to the medium/genre
  • Setting up and controlling a space to publish on the Web


Modifying existing web resources to create something new

  • Identifying remixable content
  • Combining multimedia resources to create something new on the web
  • Shifting context and meaning by creating derivative content
  • Citing and referencing original content

Designing for the web

Enhancing visual aesthetics and user experiences

  • Using CSS properties to change the style and layout of a Web page
  • Demonstrating the difference between inline, embedded and external CSS
  • Improving user experiences through feedback and iteration
  • Creating device-agnostic web resources

Coding / Scripting

Creating interactive experiences on the web

  • Reading and explaining the structure of code
  • Identifying and applying common coding patterns and concepts
  • Adding comments to code for clarification and attribution
  • Applying a script framework
  • Querying a web service using an API


Communicating in a universally-recognisable way

  • Using empathy and awareness to inform the design of web content that is accessible to all users
  • Designing for different cultures which may have different interpretations of design elements
  • Comparing and exploring how different interfaces impact diverse users
  • Improving the accessibility of a web page through the design of its color scheme, structure/hierarchy and markup
  • Comparing and contrasting how different interfaces impact diverse web users


Participating on the web


Providing access to web resources

  • Creating and using a system to distribute web resources to others
  • Contributing and finding content for the benefit of others
  • Creating, curating, and circulating web resources to elicit peer feedback
  • Understanding the needs of audiences in order to make relevant contributions to a community
  • Identifying when it is safe to contribute content in a variety of situations on the web


Creating web resources with others

  • Choosing a Web tool to use for a particular contribution/ collaboration
  • Co-creating Web resources
  • Configuring notifications to keep up-to-date with community spaces and interactions
  • Working towards a shared goal using synchronous and asynchronous tools
  • Developing and communicating a set of shared expectations and outcomes

Community Participation

Getting involved in web communities and understanding their practices

  • Engaging in web communities at varying levels of activity
  • Respecting community norms when expressing opinions in web discussions
  • Making sense of different terminology used within online communities
  • Participating in both synchronous and asynchronous discussions


Examining the consequences of sharing data online

  • Debating privacy as a value and right in a networked world
  • Explaining ways in which unsolicited third parties can track users across the web
  • Controlling (meta)data shared with online services
  • Identifying rights retained and removed through user agreements
  • Managing and shaping online identities

Open Practices

Helping to keep the web democratic and universally accessible

  • Distinguishing between open and closed licensing
  • Making web resources available under an open license
  • Contributing to an Open Source project
  • Advocating for an open web

Celebrating One Year of Gigabit Innovation in Learning, and Looking Ahead

Chris Lawrence


When individuals around the globe are able to make, create, and share online at lightning speed, the open internet becomes an even more powerful tool for learning.

This month, we are celebrating the one-year anniversary of our commitment to a lightning-fast, next generation internet. Last year, Mozilla — alongside the National Science Foundation and US Ignite — launched the Gigabit Community Fund to invest in gigabit technology across the U.S. The $300,000 fund brought programming to Chattanooga, TN and Kansas City, MO, two gigabit-enabled cities where internet access is about 250 times faster than the internet most of us use each day. And the results have been tremendous: Educators, students, and innovators have reinvented classrooms and learning, and created exceptional opportunities.

A Gigabit Community Fund event in Chattanooga, TN. Photo by Jason Oswald

A Gigabit Community Fund event in Chattanooga, TN. Photo by Jason Oswald

In the past year, the Gigabit Community Fund has supported 17 outstanding projects and worked alongside more than 35 local organizations.

In Kansas City, the Fund has enabled high school students in robotics clubs to build Gigabots, internet-enabled robots able to communicate and sing. It has funded Augmented Responder, a specialized system that equips first responders with Google Glass during training exercises. And it has supported the 3D Multi-School Learning initiative, which teaches computer programming and video game design through telepresence technology.

In Chattanooga, the Fund has allowed high school science students to construct a real-time water quality monitoring system known as the Wireless Earth Watchdogs project. It has also given way to Adagio, an app that makes remote audio mixing simple, and devLearn, a mobile coding app for elementary school students.

These successes illustrate why we’re so fiercely committed to supporting gigabit innovation: It can transform cities and schools into learning laboratories and innovation hubs, and give way to powerful new apps and projects. From March 23 to March 27, we’ll be showcasing these successes at the Beyond Today’s Internet: Experiencing a Smart Future event held in Washington, DC and hosted by US Ignite and Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI).

The forum will spotlight what’s possible with next-generation cyberinfrastructure through keynotes, panels, and tutorials. There will also be a range of demos: Attendees can experience amazing gigabit-enabled projects, from tools that predict storm landfalls in North Carolina to systems that grant automobiles in Detroit improved sensing and control. The event will also be forward looking, and allow city leaders, app innovators, and engineers to chart an ambitious course for the future of gigabit connectivity and programming. Experts will discuss how gigabit cyberinfrastructure can further transform the way we work, live, learn, and play.

In the months and years ahead, Mozilla will continue advocating for gigabit infrastructure and supporting innovation across the country. Community-driven innovation must be open to all. If it’s not, we won’t unlock the full power of next-generation infrastructure to advance areas of national priority, like education.

We’re proud to support innovators in gigabit cities, whether they’re enabling specially-trained first responders, singing robots, cleaner water, or tech-savvy elementary school students. This month’s conference is the next step in exponentially increasing the internet’s ability to teach and empower.

Webmaker Field Research Report From India

Laura de Reynal


India - Mumbai

Mozilla is working alongside GSMA to explore how individuals in developing countries use the Web. These users often come online exclusively through their smartphones — and so we’re working to ensure they discover a mobile Web that’s fully open, accessible and invites creativity.

The Webmaker research team spent much of January in India. Our approach was similar to the research we conducted in Bangladesh and Kenya: We studied the way people use their mobile devices and, more broadly, the relationship that Indian people have with the Web. This research will help us perfect our Webmaker mobile app, the independent publishing tool that boosts web literacy and allows users to generate relevant, local content.

India - Research Map

Teenagers, entrepreneurs, housewives, activists, artists, labourers, makers and teachers — we interviewed 112 people from all walks of life, ranging across seven cities, towns and villages in India.

The results of this study, outlined in our recently released report, explore how the Web is used and perceived in a country as complex, vast and culturally-rich as India. The report is structured around the concept of the Web Journey, or the different ways users engage online. This concept first emerged from observations made in Kenya and Bangladesh, and was refined in India. There are five key stages of engagement with the Web:

Unaware: Has never heard of the Web, or has no understanding of what it is.

No Use: Is aware of the existence of the Web, but does not use it.

Basic Use: Is online, mainly for social media.

Leverage: Understands how to use the Web to improve quality of life.

Creation: Is able to read and write the Web.

During our research, we encountered individuals from across this spectrum. We met Vasanthi, who does not go online because she does not see the utility; Suchita, who dreams of mastering programming in Python; Siddique, who stopped blogging because he feels that nobody cares; and many more.

This research is vital to understanding how the Webmaker app can best benefit its users in India. Our findings, and the feedback from our many participants, are the first step in teaching web literacy.  

We would love to hear your feedback or questions. Feel free to reach out to:

Webmaker’s Field Research Reports:

Maker Party 2015: The Evolution of a Year-long Party

Amira Dhalla


The party don’t stop! For 2015 our Learning Networks team decided to take a step back to evaluate how our annual Maker Party could bridge the gap between a campaign and year long engagement strategy. In the past we’ve successfully thrown a two or three month campaign that allowed people around the world to celebrate the web with us, but our challenge this year was to truly show how we can go from a short campaign to a year-long party where people, community and partners were able to celebrate at all times. We started by first evaluating what we loved about Maker Party and was a ‘must-keep’ for us, thereafter applying those to our team’s yearly objective of increasing the number of Web Clubs and sustained engagement in cities around the world.

From July 15-July 31, 2015 the campaign will live as you have seen it in previous years, and though our community is encouraged to participate with people around the world at that time, they are also empowered to party in their city at all times of the year. We’ve outlined much of our thinking below but stay tuned for more information on how to join the party.


Maker Party Indonesia  Source:
Maker Party Indonesia


What made Maker Party a success:

  • Mobilized the community. We built momentum for our projects and products that helped mobilize the community.
  • Global action. It was done by people around the world; there was a sense of global success and encouragement.
  • Specified time frame. It has a short time frame with dates that enforced real action at a specific time.
  • People raised their hand. For people and partners that wanted to get involved, it was the first step to doing something that created greater engagement in the future.


What do we keep for the 2015 party:

  • Global action. Continue to have *one* time of year where *all* of our global community is called on to participate — but in a modified way.
  • Two-week kick-off campaign. Use a two-week “kick-off” to identify hot-spot locations. Then focus longer, year-long engagement plans on those places / communities, following the heat.
  • Brand. Keep the Maker Party brand as an event umbrella that can be used as a campaign structure by partners and community members.
  • Clear actions. Quick/fun activities and makes that help ramp up our community to complete future club models.
  • Ongoing local engagement. Create opportunities for designated areas to continue engagement all year long.
  • Tied to Mozilla Hive and Web Clubs. Maker Party activity is directly tied to larger Learning Networks team goals, focused on driving participation in clubs, Hives and engagement channels.


What’s different from previous years:

  • Bridge a one-off campaign with year-round, ongoing strategy.
  • Reduced overhead/operational support by having a single, packaged activity directly tied to Club curriculum.
  • Targeted outreach to teach community and partners instead of broadcast marketing (i.e. snippet)
  • Build a local volunteer apparatus. That we can use to extend relationships and reach in cities / locales. And build local knowledge for smarter localized campaigns.
  • Not tied into product goals. Though we will still leverage the events map as a location mapper, the campaign is not tied to product roadmap and launches.


2015 proposal (aka the plan)

Our community has planned — and some have already prepared — for the 2015 party. They’re starting to organize events, and integrate their community strategies to grow from their 2014 parties. To keep these communities engaged, and stay true to the heart of the party, the proposal is to continue a two-week campaign-styled strategy that serves as a kick-off point to a year-long engagement strategy and introduction to Web Clubs.

The two weeks will continue to build momentum on the ground, support our larger goals of getting city activity started, and up-level the successes of past Maker Parties. The call to action will be to complete a specified activity from the new Mozilla Web Clubs curriculum currently being tested globally. After two weeks, we will encourage participants to keep learning with us by organizing clubs and throwing their own parties throughout the year.

We will work with Club Regional Coordinators to throw week-long Maker Parties in their areas throughout the year to build momentum and generate more clubs. We will also work with appropriate partners and funders that will benefit from short local engagement/event campaigns in a specific area at points in the year.

Engagement Peaks:

  • May-June: buildup to the kick-off campaign. Ask communities and organizations to organize events and activities for the two-week kick-off.
  • July 15-30: global celebration of Maker Party around the world.
  • August: sustained engagement by participants, continuing the party and creating clubs.
  • September-November: Web Club Regional Coordinators organizing Maker Party weeks in local cities. Local clubs kick off campaigns throughout, to build momentum and encourage new clubs.
  • On-going: potential partner or location-specific parties.


Production Plan:

Mozilla Engagement and Learning Networks team prepare marketing and action plan around two week kickoff campaign.

  • Update to existing Maker Party materials. Phasing out and rolling into new [launching in April]
  • Packaging a single web literacy activity to be used, as well as optional lo-fi mobile activity
  • Create master messaging plan for the campaign
  • Content strategy for mailing lists, community channels and email engagement to our existing lists/community members
  • Tweaking images and design assets that can be transferable across site, communications and social
  • Targeted promotion in email, social, blog, Webmaker website(s), community channels and via select partners.
  • Strategic PR plan to use MP as an earned media platform for establishing thought leadership in global digital literacy movement and raise visibility around Web Clubs.
  • Content to post on outside networks for partners, community and networks to share
  • Collaborate with other teams across Mozilla to share communications through larger outlets and through Mozilla properties/teams
  • Ensure Web Clubs Module 1 and Mobile Module are ready for greater consumption

Plan for post-MP kick-off and year-round activity

  • Zero-in on local areas with heat.  Encourage sustained engagement through the year with Web Clubs.
  • Messaging and marketing outreach. For those that throw parties after the two-week kick-off, to level-up their event into a Mozilla Web Club. Identify specific times of year for engagement and marketing support that make sense in that city or locale.
  • Gather data from participants into funnel. Leverage for Web Clubs communications and other engagement throughout the year.
  • On-going work with partners and funders. To throw MP events in designated areas as ways to engage local community
  • Regional Coordinators throw week-long Maker Party events in their regions through Q3/Q4 to build momentum and create more Web Clubs
  • On-going channel and event support, with emphasis on club specific activity

Reflections on Mobile World Congress: The Power of an Open Mobile Web

Mark Surman



The mobile Web is experiencing a watershed moment: over the next few years, billions of first-time users will come online exclusively through their smartphones. Mozilla believes it’s critically important these users find a mobile Web that’s open and invites creativity.

This was our rallying cry last week at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, where mobile technology leaders from around the globe discussed the industry’s future. It was encouraging to hear our rallying cry echoed by others: the GSMA, for example, dedicated significant time and floor space to promoting digital inclusivity.

As a first-timer to MWC, I was really proud of how Mozilla showed up. We unveiled a partnership with French mobile provider Orange, which can equip millions of users across 13 African countries with a Firefox OS smartphone and six months of data and voice service — for just $40. We announced a simple smartphone for first-time users that we’ll release with Verizon in the U.S. next year. And we debuted the beta Webmaker app, a free, open source publishing tool that makes creating local content simple.

Personally, I participated in two panels: One on digital inclusion and one on the power of connected citizens in crisis situations. These sessions gave us a chance to double down on our stance that access alone isn’t the answer — it’s only the first step.

While I disagree with many of their tactics, I was happy to see people like throwing out a vision for connecting everyone on the planet. But they are really missing the boat on literacy, skills and creativity. Most people will get connected at some point over the next 10 years; the real risk is people not getting the know-how they need to truly unlock the potential of the internet and make their lives better. We were able to effectively get that message across at MWC.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 2.32.27 PM

One of the highlights from the panel discussions was meeting Kartik Sheth from Airtel of India. He talked about Airtel’s onboarding program, which introduces people to the internet by focusing on specific content they really want (a Bollywood music video, for example). Then, they educate users about what services the internet offers and what data costs through that process (e.g. introducing people to YouTube and helping them understand that watching a music video doesn’t cost that much in data). This may sound simple, but it’s actually the kind of “ambient web literacy” that we really need to be thinking about. It has the potential not only to give people very basic internet knowledge, but also to help us avoid what I’m starting to call “the Facebook Effect.”

Of course, Mozilla is committed to web literacy at a much deeper level than just basic onboarding. We spent a good deal of time talking with people at MWC about our growing Learning Networks and Clubs. Our Clubs feature curricula that can be remixed and reimagined, and are held in diverse languages and venues. We met with a ton of people ranging from phone carriers to international agencies aimed at empowering women. And these people expressed interest in helping Mozilla both grow these networks and distribute the Webmaker app.

I left MWC energized by these sort of conversations. Feels like more momentum than ever. If you want to be a part of it, it’s worth checking out This site includes a bunch of the research and partnership opportunities we talked to people about in Barcelona, as well as a link to the Webmaker app beta.

Expanding the Hive Map

Simona Ramkisson


In 2014, Hive Learning Networks went global. We crafted a developmental model that addressed a real demand from individuals and organizations who were interested in bringing Hive to their city. We created an informational hub site that began to lay the framework for local networks becoming globally connected by a shared set of values. We also hosted our first-ever Hive Global meet-up at MozFest, with over 100 attendees from nearly 20 cities around the world.


To achieve these goals this quarter we have been focused on the following:

Getting more clarity  about how we determine when a city moves into the Hive Learning Community phase. Building on the developmental model, we’ve identified a few additional benchmarks by which individuals or teams working together become ready to take on official Hive status. First, they have a team in place to help drive the work forward, and a stated mission that is at once connected to Hive Global but also highly localized, to meet the needs of their community, or to address specific local concerns or opportunities. They may even have a few community partners on-board as collaborators who also help facilitate programs and events. They are meeting with some regularity and are making concerted efforts to seek funding or other means for growing and sustaining their community. In this specific case, we’ve heard that having a presence on the global hub site is an integral asset that lends credibility and marks their connection to a larger effort. 

Bringing Meghan McDermott on-board as Director of Hive City Strategy. She works closely with Mozilla staff and Hive leadership to envision how to sustainably impact current Hive locations as well as to develop strategy to support growing Hive activities in 30 cities by the end of 2015. Explaining her role, she shared that “alignment with municipal policies, the philanthropic community, and other stakeholders who range from colleague networks to community organizers will be key to Hive’s ambitious goals to mobilize more educators, create amazing content and projects, catalyze innovations across cities, and to grow its national presence as a network for new learning.”

Continue reading …

Get To Know the Teach The Web Talks

Lucy Harris


Our goal at the beginning of this year was to support  our incredible community by finding an interesting and accessible way for mentors, and those who share a passion for education and web literacy, to connect and develop their skills.

After speaking to community members, Hive leaders, and partner organizations we decided to create our very own speaker series, inspired by the likes of Ted Talks, where we would invite industry leaders from organizations around the world to share a skill that mentors could take back to their communities to become better makers and teachers of the web.

The Talks

When we launched the Talks in winter 2014 it was really important for us to find topics that would be engaging to individual Webmaker mentors, but also to those working libraries, code clubs, and schools who wanted to grow the skills of their organization; and to find speakers who are inspiring in their work, and in their presentation styles.

When piloting the program, we invited Evan Jones from the Connected Learning Alliance to present on the basics of building an online community (watch here). Since then we also celebrated Data Privacy Day with Mozilla’s Director of Privacy, Stacy Martin, who discussed being smart about privacy and how to teach privacy in your community (watch here).

The pilot Teach The Web Talk with Evan Jones

The pilot Teach The Web Talk with Evan Jones

We’re quickly learning what’s working (and isn’t working) for our audience. For example, we’ve moved from an online hangout with a formal presentation to an interview style talk which allows for much more engagement during the talks. Our priorities are making the talks interesting, accessible and valuable and we’re continuing to experiment and improve those aspects moving forward.

You can now listen to and subscribe to the Teach The Web Podcast!

You can now listen to and subscribe to the Teach The Web Podcast!

Of course, we also learned that many individuals tune into the talks after the fact to watch the recordings. For their easy digest, we introduced the Teach The Web Podcast which is an edited, storied version of the live talks which you can listen to and subscribe to here.


The next Teach The Web Talk is February 26th where we will be talking to Angela Popplewell, and JP Pullos from 100cameras about how you can use photography to share the story of your event. This talk will focus on helping our community improve their photography skills to tell the best story and deliver the best pictures. You can find more details on how to attend the live talk at

Feel free to share your questions for 100cameras with us on Twitter using #TeachTheWeb or  Discourse and listen to the Podcast version which will be released in the first week of March at

In the next few months we are excited to continue to experiment with the format and to explore new topics with new speakers and would love to hear your ideas about topics  or people you would like to see on the talks in the future. Please email us at