Explore the principles behind Webmaker.

First, a bit of background to set the stage....There are some core ideas that underpin the Mozilla Webmaker “way” of teaching. We’ll sum them up for you in short order..

Making is Learning

We are all makers. We cook, sew, construct, write, play music, tinker, paint, tell stories. We engage in our world through the creation of thousands of artifacts that allow others to understand our outlooks and world views. We express ourselves through creation. We always have. And in all of our making we express ourselves and then we reflect on what we've created. We share our creations with others and we ask for feedback. “Do you like my new recipe?” “What do you think of my painting?”

Throughout our process, we learn. It is through trial and error and the ever important failure that we learn what to do and what not to do. Learning to make something work involves discovery and wonder - it's a spiral of intrinsic motivation; each new understanding unlocks new questions. We improve our skills as we create.

In the Making as Learning Movement, networks like Webmaker, the Hive Learning Networks, Make to Learn, the National Writing Project and many, many more are integrating interested-based, hands on activities into their lesson plans and programming to focus more squarely on each learner's needs and building community in the process. These networks are experimenting with changing the power dynamic between teacher and learner, instead forming networks of peers, and using the idea of mentorship to level up competencies, both in the “learner” as well as the “teacher”.

Connected Learning

Cultural anthropologists and researchers funded by the MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning Initiative released a new learning model called “Connected Learning” in the first quarter of 2012 (“Researchers Introduce New Model of Learning, Connected Learning,” 2012).

This model (see below) is based on a large body of research and includes Connected Learning principles and core values.

the Connected Learning Model

These principles state that education in the modern world needs to be:

  1. Interest-powered - the researchers state that “learners who are interested in what they are learning, achieve higher order learning outcomes.” (“Connected Learning Principles,” n.d.) Organizations that follow the connected learning principles create programming that allows the learner to explore their own interests.

  2. Peer-supported – Connected learning also has an element of socialization as a required function in learning. Allowing learners to interact with each other and teach each other in various forms of group work helps learners make connections not only with the materials they're learning, but with their peers as well. Creating learning spaces where peer to peer learning is encouraged leads to deeper cultural exploration and understanding.

  3. Academically oriented - The third principle proposed by the Connected Learning Model proposes that academic success is an important underpinning for intellectual growth.

There are a variety of networks that seek to put these principles and values into practice. Connected Learning is an innovative way of creating peer groups from different parts of world for the sake of learning & sharing knowledge, so all over the world groups of people and organizations are beginning to use the model to help them design learning opportunities for their local communities.

In practice, it would seem that both hyper-local aspects as well as global connections play an important role in Connected Learning.

Open Web

When we talk about “openness”, there are a variety of things that come to mind. We can view openness i) through the lens of copyright/copyleft, ii) through the technical structures that make a webpage open or not, iii) through the cultural practices the Open Community prides itself on, and so on. The term openness is a confluence of technical, cultural and social definitions that can get meta pretty quickly.

Tenets of Openness

A Mark Surman Doodle

Nevertheless, there are several tenets of openness that apply to the technical implementation as well as the social and cultural usage of the Web:

The first is decentralization. The Open Web is made up of thousands and thousands of independent servers and webpages. The networked computers that make up the Internet are not owned by any single entity. Additionally, webpages are created and maintained by millions of people. Decentralization in the social and cultural space is inherent in the Open Web.

Another tenet is transparency. You can see how any webpage is built, you can copy a webpages code and duplicate and/or remix it to be your own by viewing its source code. Furthermore, the culture of Open is one that transparent about processes, creations and authors. We make media and write posts about our work. We ask questions and allow anyone to feedback on them through commenting and social media. We change things based on what our peers say, and we explain our decisions openly, so that everyone can see not only what we've done, but how and why. We iterate on our ideas based on the feedback we receive from our peers.

With decentralization and transparency comes the tenet of hackability. The Open Web is a structure that makes remix and redistribution easy, and the culture that lives by these tenets takes pride in extending, changing and reforming each other's work. Because we can see how things are built, we can change them and apply new meaning and context atop someone else's ideas. We start to have a conversation through production, and that is something that is supported by and encouraged through the Open Web and Open Culture.

Good vs Bad Theft from Austin Kleon

Ownership and Authorship

A remix creates a derivative work from an original. In the web context, remix is used to imply that a new work is built off an already established base. That “base” work might be a code base, a curriculum base, an image base, a text base, etc.

What's important about ideas and creation in an open context is making sure that credit is given where credit is due. Since we all influence each other, it's important to make note of who influences your work and how.

Let's explore open collaboration together. Below are some ideas on how you might explore the Open Web through making. This short blog post barely scratches the surface of what the Open Web is or why it should be protected. Below are a variety of readings that will help you delve deeper into the idea of “openness” and why it's important.

Where to next?