3 days of massive learning in London

October 10, 2011 § 2 Comments

The Mozilla Festival is a way to prototype and demo our thinking about Mozilla and learning. I mention this because, from the outside, it may simply look like a celebration of innovative web media. Which it is. But it is also very much about teaching and building things with the people I call the web makers: people making films, news, games, courses and art on the web.

As I’ve said elsewhere, the emerging Mozilla learning model is a mash up of P2P pedagogy with a lab where people invent new web tech and apps. A tag line I’m playing with is:


Part lab.
Part school.
Part playground.
All about the web.

The Mozilla Festival is all of this packed into 72 hours in London. If you want to understand what Mozilla is building on the learning front, you should come.

The lab piece is at the largest part of the Mozilla Festival. We have over a dozen design challenges lined up, where people will spend between half a day and two days hacking on a specific problem set. What does the UX of a ‘story’ look like when each news event is a mash up of tweets, videos, live blogs and traditional copy? What tools will radio DJs of the future need? How do we extend Popcorn.js so it’s more useful for filmmakers? While these hackfests are clearly about making and inventing, they are also quite necessarily about sharing and improving skills.

The hackfests we did at last year’s Mozilla Festival demonstrated this in spades. For example, we did a two day session with web developers, designers and librarians were we asked: how could we get young people excited about learning HTML? Everyone learned a great deal as they had to grapple with the question from each other’s perspective, and then build something. There was just no choice but to learn. It was built in to the process. Bonus points: the thing they built — now called Hackasurus — is at the core of countless more efforts to use this lab like approach to teaching, especially as a part of the work we’re doing with New Youth Learning Network.

The ‘school’ — or mentoring — piece is also a central part of Mozilla Festival this year. We have build in almost 20 learning labs as part of the London event, ranging from how to use Open Badges to responsive design in HTML5 to a masterclass in web filmmaking. Our partners at New Youth City are also running a ‘pop up learning lab’ where 100 local young people will get to use tech to learn. So, if you have something to teach or have something you want to learn, we’ve carved out a big chunk of the Mozilla Festival for you.

Layered onto all is a Science Fair on the first night of the Mozilla Festival: a show and tell with cool things for web makers. The first ‘made for the browser’ feature length documentary film. Emerging technology that will make HTML5 games easier to create. Tools that make crowdsourcing content easier for working journalists. Plus (literally) 27 more topics. Beyond demoing, the Science Fair is also designed as a jumping off point for learning, helping people find collaborators and mentors from the very first moment of the Festival.

I’m calling all of this out partly to show how it connects into the larger narrative of what I think we should be focusing on next with Drumbeat. But I’m also putting this out as an invitation: if you have something to add to the way Mozilla is thinking about learning, then we want you to get involved. London is a place where we’re prototyping an important aspect of the future of Mozilla. We will need lots of help.

PS. you can register for the Mozilla Festival here.

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