Mozilla Academy Strategy Update

Mark Surman

One of MoFo’s main goals for 2015 is to come up with an ambitious learning and community strategy. The codename for this is ‘Mozilla Academy’. As a way to get the process rolling, I wrote a long post in March outlining what we might include in that strategy. Since then, I’ve been putting together a team to dig into the strategy work formally.

This post is an update on that process in FAQ form. More substance and meat is coming in future posts. Also, there is lots of info on the wiki.

Q1. What are we trying to do?

Our main goal is alignment: to get everyone working on Mozilla’s learning and leadership development programs pointed in the same direction. The three main places we need to align are:

  1. Purpose: help people learn and hone the ability to read | write | participate.
  2. Process: people learn and improve by making things (in a community of like-minded peers).
  3. Poetry: tie back to ‘web = public resource’ narrative. Strong Mozilla brand.

At the end of the year, we will have a unified strategy that connects Mozilla’s learning and leadership development offerings (Webmaker, Hive, Open News, etc.). Right now, we do good work in these areas, but they’re a bit fragmented. We need to fix that by creating a coherent story and common approaches that will increase the impact these programs can have on the world.

Q2. What is ‘Mozilla Academy’?

That’s what we’re trying to figure out. At the very least, Mozilla Academy will be a clearly packaged and branded harmonization of Mozilla’s learning and leadership programs. People will be able to clearly understand what we’re doing and which parts are for them. Mozilla Academy may also include a common set of web literacy skills, curriculum format and learning approaches that we use across programs. We are also reviewing the possibility of a shared set of credentials or roles for people participating in Mozilla Academy.

Q3. Who is ‘Mozilla Academy’ for?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve started to look at who we’re trying to serve with our existing programs (blog post on this soon). Using the ‘scale vs depth’ graph in the Mozilla Learning plan as a framework, we see three main audiences:

  • 1.4 billion Facebook users. Or, whatever metric you use to count active people on the internet. We can reach some percentage of these people with software or marketing that invite people to ‘read | write | participate’. We probably won’t get them to want to ‘learn’ in an explicit way. They will learn by doing. Which is fine. Webmaker and SmartOn currently focus on this group.
  • People who actively want to grow their web literacy and skills. These are people interested enough in skills or technology or Mozilla that they will choose to participate in an explicit learning activity. They include everyone from young people in afterschool programs to web developers who might be interested in taking a course with Mozilla. Mozilla Clubs, Hive and MDN’s nascent learning program currently focus on this group.
  • People who want to hone their skills *and* have an impact on the world. These are people who already understand the web and technology at some level, but want to get better. They are also interested in doing something good for the web, the world or both. They include everyone from an educator wanting to create digital curriculum to a developer who wants to make the world of news or science better. Hive, ReMo and our community-based fellowships currently serve these people.

A big part of the strategy process is getting clear on these audiences. From there we can start to ask questions like: who can Mozilla best serve?; where can we have the most impact?; can people in one group serve or support people in another? Once we have the answers to these questions we can decide where to place our biggest bets (we need to do this!). And we can start raising more money to support our ambitious plans.

Q4. What is a ‘strategy’ useful for?

We want to accomplish a few things as a result of this process. A. A way to clearly communicate the ‘what and why’ of Mozilla’s learning and leadership efforts. B. A framework for designing new programs, adjusting program designs and fundraising for program growth. C. Common approaches and platforms we can use across programs. These things are important if we want Mozilla to stay in learning and leadership for the long haul, which we do.

Q5. What do you mean by ‘common approaches’?

There are a number of places where we do similar work in different ways. For example, Mozilla Clubs, Hive, Mozilla Developer Network, Open News and Mozilla Science Lab are all working on curriculum but do not yet have a shared curriculum model or repository. Similarly, Mozilla runs four fellowship programs but does not have a shared definition of a ‘Mozilla Fellow’. Common approaches could help here.

Q6. Are you developing a new program for Mozilla?

That’s not our goal. We like most of the work we’re doing now. As outlined in the 2015 Mozilla Learning Plan, our aim is to keep building on the strongest elements of our work and then connect these elements where it makes sense. We may modify, add or cut program elements in the future, but that’s not our main focus.

Q7. Are you set on the ‘Mozilla Academy’ name?

It’s pretty unlikely that we will use that name. Many people hate it. However, we needed a moniker to use during the strategy process. For better or for worse, that’s the one we chose.

Q8. What’s the timing for all of this?

We will have a basic alignment framework around ‘purpose, process and poetry’ by the end of June. We’ll work with the team at the Mozilla All Hands in Whistler. We will develop specific program designs, engage in a  broad conversation and run experiments. By October, we will have an updated version of the Mozilla Learning plan, which will lay out our work for 2016+.

As indicated above, the aim of this post is to give a process update. There is much more info on the process, who’s running it and what all the pieces are in the Mozilla Learning strategy wiki FAQ. The wiki also has info on how to get involved. If you have additional questions, ask them here. I’ll respond to the comments and also add my answers to the wiki.

In terms of substance, I’m planning a number of posts in coming weeks on topics like the essence of web literacy, who our audiences are and how we think about learning. People leading Mozilla Academy working groups will also be posting on substantive topics like our evolving thinking around the web literacy map and fellows programs. And, of course, the wiki will be growing with substantive strategy documents covering many of the topics above.

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Maker Party is Right Around the Corner: July 15 – July 31!

Amira Dhalla

Maker Party 2015 is less than two months away! The party starts on July 15 and runs to July 31. Each day, makers, mentors, and learners across the world will celebrate making and teaching by running events to create awesome things on the open Web.

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In 2014, Maker Party brought together almost 130,000 people who hosted more than 2,500 hands-on, community-run events across 86 countries. And they built some 44,000 projects — fun, funky, and useful apps, web pages, and games that made the Web a more exciting place. There were apps that allowed us to save kittens with code, and games that let us remix Pharrell Williams’ best dance moves.

We’re looking forward to doing the same thing this year: empowering people around the globe to become online inventors. We’ll share compelling, fun activities that allow participants of all skill levels to become creators of the Web. It will be 17 days of making, remixing, and sharing.

There’s more good news. When our two-week celebration winds down on July 31, we’ll keep the creativity and momentum rolling. July 31 will be the start of something equally inspiring: Mozilla Clubs, a new way for makers and mentors to get together regularly and make a difference. Mozilla Clubs can meet anywhere — a classroom, a library, a coffee shop, a living room. Members will teach and build the open Web together.

The Mozilla Club Curriculum helps people think critically about what they read on the Web, remix and write their own digital content, and participate online as citizens. You can learn to effectively research and search online by reading about the dreaded Kraken; understand web mechanics and how the Internet works by playing “Ping Kong”; and unpack the basics of coding with HTML puzzle boxes. Other activities teach open source principles, community participation, and how to remix content.

Help us get started now! First, head to https://teach.mozilla.org/events/resources/. We have resources to help make your party perfect. Whether it’s just you and a friend or a classroom of more than 50 makers, we can help from start to finish.

Next, spread the word. The more people participating, the better the party. Share this tweet with your friends and followers:

“Get ready to make cool stuff on the Web with @Mozilla’s global #MakerParty this July. Learn more: http://mzl.la/1PINLyT.”

And tell us all about your ideas and suggestions by tweeting @mozilla or by emailing makerparty@mozilla.org.

Mozilla Clubs will allow you to sustain the excitement and creativity of Maker Party events. But we need the help of educators, inventors and curious learners. So remember: start tweeting, start planning your event, and start thinking about forming your own Club. And start making.

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What’s next for Thimble?

Hannah Kane

Last week we announced that Thimble will soon be moving over to our new site for people who teach the web, teach.mozilla.org. We also shared that Professor David Humphrey and a team of students from Seneca College have been working to make Thimble an even more powerful teaching, learning, and development tool.

We wanted to follow up with more specifics about what you can expect from the new Thimble:

  • Over the next few months, we’re focusing on making Thimble an even more useful tool, both for beginners and professionals. Thimble has always been well suited for new makers, and we are going to keep that focus. However, we’re also going to allow the user to turn on more powerful features as they learn new skills, and have Thimble grow to match their teaching and learning needs. Our goal is to make sure that Thimble can continue to serve users, no matter what level they are at in their web making experience.
  • We’re also focusing on making Thimble a powerful tool for teaching others how to be creators of the Web. Imagine improved tutorials, error messages that serve as learning opportunities, and an environment that can be enhanced as you learn with more advanced extensions.
  • We also want to improve the user experience and functionality. Though the roadmap is a work-in-progress, we’re already thinking about integration with Dropbox, collaborative editing, and improved image handling. The Selfie feature is an example:

How are we doing this? Thimble is going to integrate Brackets.

Brackets is a lightweight, powerful, open source code editor for the Web. While it was originally designed to run on the desktop as a native application, the Seneca College team has been working to integrate Brackets into the Web and Thimble (code name “Bramble” for “Brackets in Thimble”). Soon you’ll see improvements like these:

  • multiple-file support (for more complex web sites, apps with files and folders)
  • smarter live preview, with highlighting, desktop and mobile modes, and more
  • image preview on URL hover
  • inline editors for JavaScript, CSS, and colors
  • autocomplete for everything
  • auto-closing tags and strings
  • real-time JavaScript analysis, with intellisense style suggestions
  • extensions, and so much more

In the meantime, you can:

p.s. If you’re interested in being a user tester for new Thimble features, please email hannah@mozillafoundation.org.

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What’s next for Webmaker tools

Mozilla Webmaker

Thanks to our devoted community, Webmaker has grown substantially over the years. And with growth often comes change.

Our resources for making and teaching the Web are evolving. Mozilla Learning set out in 2015 to greatly improve both our educational tools and programs, and reach even more learners across the globe. This means giving each learner the ability to flourish independently. By granting our tools and community programs separate space, names, and attention, we can ensure they become even more potent resources for teaching Web literacy and improving the open Web.

On the learning programs front: we’ve recently launched teach.mozilla.org, our new home for those interested in teaching the Web. Here, educators and activists can find teaching activities, guidelines for hosting events, and information on Mozilla Clubs, our new initiative focused on teaching Web literacy to small groups of learners that meet regularly in classrooms, libraries, coffee shops, and anywhere else. The new site is still evolving and you can expect more activities, resources, and tools to be added over the next few months.

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On the learning tools front: this June, the new Webmaker will emerge from beta. The app is a free, open source tool that will allow users to create custom Web content easily and quickly, no coding required. Webmaker is practical, fun, and a key building block for teaching and improving Web literacy. It’s also a tool for empowering individuals and strengthening the open Web: the app’s functionality and scope were informed by our months of research across the globe.

webmaker

The launch of the new Webmaker means we’ll be making changes to the current suite of Webmaker tools: X-Ray Goggles, Thimble, Appmaker, and Popcorn Maker. These tools have been critical to so many of our mentors around the world, and we’re devoted to continuing their legacy through our new educational resources. And as always, we’ll work with the community to ensure this evolution is as smooth as possible.

Below are our plans for updating the existing Webmaker tools. To receive ongoing news about this process, check this space or email us directly at info@webmaker.org.

Can I continue remixing web pages using X-Ray Goggles?
X-Ray Goggles is one of our most popular and useful tools for teaching the Web — it’s been a major hit at Maker Party events and other workshops and programs around the world, and was developed out of our city learning lab, Hive NYC.  Starting soon, X-Ray Goggles will be available on teach.mozilla.org. Here, users will still be able to install X-Ray Goggles to inspect and remix the code of their favorite web pages. And educators can keep X-Ray Goggles as a core part of their curriculum.

Publishing new makes with X-ray Goggles will still be possible, but as Web standards have changed some pages have protections in place that do not allow for key components to be modified and therefore published. Currently, we recommended that you identify specific pages to confirm that they allow for publishing before building your curriculum around them. We plan on evolving X-ray Goggles to cope with these new Web standards soon.

What’s in store for Thimble?
Expect to see exciting updates to Thimble when it also transitions to teach.mozilla.org later this year. Users can continue to develop their HTML and CSS skills, and teachers and mentors can retain Thimble as a part of their Web literacy curriculum. And don’t worry: users’ current makes and content will continue working in updated Thimble versions.

Professor David Humphrey from Seneca College in Toronto will work with his students to further enhance Thimble’s user experience and functionality, and make it an even better teaching tool. Humphrey is an active developer and longtime educational liaison with the Mozilla Foundation. He’s worked alongside us for years, and plays an ongoing, cardinal role in integrating open source practices with digital education. He’s won accolades for his work with Mozilla.

Can I still build apps with Appmaker?
Appmaker’s chief capability — designing apps and content with an intuitive, Lego-like building system — will be a core function of the new Webmaker. Users who built awesome creations with Appmaker can continue to carry out similar work with the Webmaker app, using more fun and creative tools.

What’s in store for Popcorn Maker?
Beginning on June 19, 2015, you’ll no longer be able to create new Popcorn Maker projects at popcorn.webmaker.org. Links to users’ existing makes will be available long-term in a view-only state.

Popcorn Maker is open source and dear to our hearts. We built Popcorn to push the envelope on what is possible with HTML5 and open video. In that spirit, we’d love to see both that code and community live on and continue to evolve. The code is available in github, and we encourage you to reach out to popcorn@mozilla.com if you’re interested in working with us to chart Popcorn’s future.

What will happen to my makes? Will they continue to work?
Your creations aren’t going anywhere.

In X-Ray Goggles, existing makes will be available long-term and accessible via existing links.

In Thimble, makes will continue to function as always and will be ported over to teach.mozilla.org on June 19, 2015.

In Popcorn Maker, existing makes will be available long-term in a read-only state. These will degrade with the evolution of the web and third-party services like YouTube, and we will no longer invest to maintain their compatibility.

In Appmaker, existing makes will be available for the next year in a read-only state and accessible via existing links.

In all cases, we strongly recommend you visit the gallery today and jot down the URLs of your favorite creations. We will also index existing Webmaker users’ makes and make those available to all users.

What will happen to my Webmaker profile?
Your existing Webmaker login will continue to work and allow you to access both the new Webmaker tool and teach.mozilla.org. When logging into these sites for the first time after this transition you may be prompted to create a new password.

What will happen to the existing webmaker.org website?
Webmaker.org will be the home for the new Webmaker tool beginning June 19.

Will the new Webmaker app be free and open source, like the current tools?
Yes and yes!

Who can I contact with questions?
We’d love to hear your questions, comments, and concerns as we improve our resources for teaching and building the Web. You can direct your messages to @webmaker on Twitter, or by email. For information on learning programs and the new teach.mozilla.org website email us here.

What happens now?
Start by visiting the gallery and saving links to your favorite makes. Then, head to teach.mozilla.org to explore our new learning communities resources.

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Understanding Web Literacy within the Web Journey

Laura de Reynal

Since 2012, pioneering educators and web activists have been reflecting and developing answers to the question, “What is web literacy?”

These conversations have shaped our Web Literacy Map, a guiding document that outlines the skills and competencies that are essential to reading, writing, and participating on the Web.

Just the other week, we wrapped up improvements to the Web Literacy Map, proudly unveiling version 1.5. Thank you to all who contributed to that discussion, and to Doug Belshaw for facilitating it.

We believe being web literate is not just knowing how to code in HTML, CSS, and Javascript. These are great tools, but they’re only one aspect of being a Web creator and citizen. Therefore, the updated Web Literacy Map includes competencies like privacy, remixing, and collaboration.

As we design and test offerings to foster web literacy, we are also determining how these skills fit into a larger web journey. Prompted by user research in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, and beyond, we’re asking: What skill levels and attitudes encourage people to learn more about web literacy? And how can one wield the Web after learning its fundamentals?

Mozilla believes this is an important question to reflect on in the open. With this blog post, we’d like to start a series of discussions, and warmly invite you to think this through with us.

What is the Web Journey ?

As we talked to 356 people in four different countries (India, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Brazil) over the past six months, we learned how people perceive and use the Web in their daily lives. Our research teams identified common patterns, and we gathered them into one framework called “The Web Journey.”

The Web Journey

    This framework outlines five stages of engagement with the Web:

  • Unaware: Have never heard of the Web, and have no idea what it is (for example, these smartphone owners in Bangladesh)
  • No use: Are aware of the existence of the Web, but do not use it, either by rejection (“the Web is not for me, women don’t go online”), Inability (“I can’t afford data”), or perceived inability (“The Web is only for businessmen”)
  • Basic use: Are online, and are stuck in the “social media bubble,” unaware of what else is possible (Internet = Facebook). These users have little understanding of the Web, and don’t leverage its full range of possibilities
  • Leverage: Are able to seize the opportunities the Web has to offer to improve their quality of life (to find jobs, to learn, or to grow their business)
  • Creation: From the tinkerer to the web developer, creators understand how to build the Web and are able to make it their own

Internet = Facebook

You can read the full details of the Web Journey, with constraints and triggers, in the Webmaker Field Research Report from India.

Why do the Web Literacy Map and the Web Journey fit together?

While the Web Literacy Map explores the skills needed, the Web Journey describes various stages of engagement with the Web. It appears certain skills may be more necessary for some stages of the Web Journey. For example: Is there a list of skills that people need to acquire to move from “Basic use” to “Leverage”?

As we continue to research digital literacy in Chicago and London (April – May 2015), we’ll seek to understand how to couple skills listed in the Web Literacy Map with steps of engagement outlined in the Web Journey. Bridging the two can help us empower Mozilla Clubs all around the world.

What are the discussion questions ?

To kick off the conversation, consider the following:

  1. Literacy isn’t an on/off state. It’s more a continuum, and there are many learning pathways. How can this nuance be illustrated and made more intuitive?
  2. How can we leverage the personal motivators highlighted along the Web Journey to propose interest-driven learning pathways?
  3. Millions of people think Facebook is the Internet. How can the Web Literacy Map be a guide for these learners to know more and do more with the Web?
  4. As web literacy skills and competencies increase throughout a learner’s journey, and as people participate in web cultures, particular attitudes emerge and evolve. What are those nuances of web culture? How might we determine a “fluency” in the Web?
  5. How does the journey continue after someone has learned the fundamentals of the Web? How can they begin to participate in their community and share that knowledge forward? How can mentorship, and eventually leadership, be a more explicit part of a web journey? How do confidence and ability to teach others become part of the web journey?

 

 

 

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Learning Through Making: The Best Kind of Education

Chris Lawrence

Learning scientists and educational philosophers have long understood that when we learn with the combination of our hands and our minds, we see the best results. In the realm of science, this process is called “inquiry” — it encourages curious learners and scientific  researchers alike to interact with the natural world to better understand it. In the social sciences, this hands-on learner approach is through role-play and participating in the real world, exemplified by Model UN student governments. Learners are encouraged to participate in the very organizations they’re learning about.

It’s not a new idea: American philosopher John Dewey was a major advocate of learning-through-doing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Still, the idea has struggled to gain a substantial foothold in our current systems of teaching and learning.

Digital literacy — the ability to participate and create online — is fast becoming a skill equally as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. Having the know-how to create online can empower individuals around the globe, no matter their geography or traditional educational background. Digital literacy creates unprecedented social and economic opportunities. We have a chance to advance the learning-by-doing approach through the spread of digital literacy.

At Mozilla, we’re dedicated to coupling our digital literacy programs with a “make first” approach that would make John Dewey grin. We don’t think the Web should be taught traditionally, with textbooks and a blackboard. The “sage on the stage” approach is directly oppositional to the distributed and participatory nature of the Web we champion. Instead, learners should start by doing what they eventually intend to master: building apps, remixing content, creating web pages, and more. This “make first” approach has always guided Mozilla’s Learning Networks, a collection of Hives, Clubs, and annual celebrations like Maker Party and MozFest.

Our Hive networks and communities — soon to reach a total of 16 — mix a “make first” philosophy with a deep focus on collaboration. As a result, learners in the U.S., India, Canada, and beyond have created amazing stuff, like apps and tools that can protect the environment, make audio engineering simple, and teach robots to sing. Hive educators and mentors understand that the best teachers empower their students by modeling and fostering creativity. As a result, Hive learners aren’t just taking in information — they’re also creating amazing things.

Our Mozilla Clubs, which will formally launch after this July’s two-week Maker Party, follow the same philosophy. Empowered by an interactive curriculum, Club participants will learn the basics of coding, animation, user privacy, and more. The Clubs’ flexible structure allows “make first,” collaborative learning to take place anytime, anywhere.

This “make first” philosophy also helps to motivate students. When learners reach a frustration point — that is, when a lack of knowledge becomes a blocker to their pursuits — they have an intrinsic motivation to push forward by learning new things. “Make first” allows them to do just this.

Further, a “make first” approach is critical to more than just education — it ensures we’re creating a populace ready for the future. With Mozilla’s Learning Network projects, we can empower entire cohorts of teachers and learners and seed innovation with incredible potential.

We hope you’ll join us in teaching through making. To get involved, share your ideas and projects using the hashtag #TeachTheWeb. You can also tune in to our Teach The Web podcast, or share your story with us.

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Webmaker in Q1: What did we do? What’s next?

Matt Thompson

This week, we’re stepping back to do some quarterly reflection. This post includes a slide presentation, analysis and interview with Mozilla’s Andrew Sliwinski on what we’ve achieved so far this year — and a look ahead to our goals and work in Q2. It includes challenges we’re facing, areas where we need your help, and some strategy questions we’d like to get your perspective on. Please add comments to this post — or join the discussion on #webmaker. Continue reading …

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A Make-First Approach in Kenya, and Around the World

Webmaker

Gilbert Were Odero is a “Maker.”

For some, that title might require an explanation. For Gilbert, it’s perfectly clear: He creates on the Web, but also serves as an educator and mentor for others. “Making” is a way to actively participate on the Web, to boost web literacy, and to unlock social and economic opportunities.

Earlier this year, Gilbert — a 19-year-old Firefox Student Ambassador and resident of Mombasa, Kenya — launched Mombasa’s MozTour 2015 with fellow Mozillian Alifiya Ganijee. The MozTour visits high schools and universities across southern Kenya, teaching students the power of the open Web using Mozilla’s Webmaker tools. These tools allow users to build simple apps, remix audio and video and learn the basics of coding. The MozTour also spreads the word about their growing Hive Mombasa Learning Community, which brings together local educators and organizations to share digital skills across schools, libraries and community centers.

Photos from MozTour 2015

Photos from MozTour 2015

The MozTour is centered on making. When Gilbert, Alifiya and others visit a school, students are divided into groups of five to 10. Each group is introduced to the Webmaker tool, and then asked to develop a new “make.” Users can create content from scratch or remix an existing make. After one hour, each group presents their invention. The Firefox Student Ambassadors vote on the most creative make, and the winning group is awarded a prize.

“The success story is that many students come up with great ideas and makes,” Gilbert says. “The passion of learning the Web grows from each place we go.”

Gilbert himself has created a range of makes, from interactive postcards to graphic designs.

Already, the MozTour 2015 has visited eight locations: Gilbert and his team have stopped by Sheik Khalifa High School and Aga Khan High School in Mombasa, Ammarcom Institute, Jomo Kenyatta University and several other schools. And they’re still going.

Photos from MozTour 2015

Photos from MozTour 2015

Gilbert and MozTour exemplify Mozilla’s approach to learning: Make First. When students are able to learn the Web by building it, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. We support our Make First approach across our Learning Networks: From our Hives in Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh and Toronto to our Maker Party events on six continents, participants are encouraged to roll up their sleeves and create. But it doesn’t stop there: Every make can be shared, improved and rebuilt.

Later this year, Mozilla will unveil a new, more powerful Webmaker tool that will allow mobile users around the world to become makers — all that’s required is internet access and a smartphone (it will also be available on desktops). Currently in beta, the Webmaker mobile app will help billions of individuals just now coming online to experience the potential of a truly open, inclusive Web.

The Webmaker tool complements Mozilla’s Learning Network, a collection of digital mentors and educators around the globe that teach the web. The Learning Network is made up of Hives and the annual Maker Party — and soon, Mozilla Clubs. Clubs are inspired by events like MozTour: They bring together makers in an informal setting to create, learn and make the Web a better place. Clubs will roll out later this year.

The Webmaker app — coupled with ambassadors like Gilbert — can empower countless individuals to become makers. And even for teachers, there are always opportunities to make and learn more: “[MozTour] has enable me to understand the Web and improve my skills,” Gilbert says.

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