Facilitate = Purpose + Mix + Play + Share

As a faciliator, you are designing an event driven by passion, peers and play. So, when putting together an event, we as Webmaker faciltators start with the following principles:

  • Purpose: what's the goal of the event? What should people know by the time they leave?
  • Mix: how can we get people moving around and talking to each other about the topic at hand?
  • Play: how does the next activity bring folks together around their projects of passion?
  • Share: how can we have learners present to each other in reflective share-outs during the event?

Part of being a successful Webmaker mentor, however, is leveling up your teaching skills and working with others across a wide variety of local and global spaces to meet learners where they are. We have cultural understandings of what teaching and learning are supposed to look like, but the open community is actively shifting the dynamics between teachers and learners to create learner-centric experiences.

photo by Doug Belshaw

Wherever you #TeachTheWeb, you want to plan and execute a purposeful event. A successful event might include some - or even a lot - of time for tinkering, but you need to approach the event as something more than an opportunity to tinker. Conversely, you don't want to spend your time talking at people. You need to be clear on what you'll teach, what your users will make, and how your event will empower participants to keep learning and making thereafter.

Webmaker events should be participatory, but this doesn't mean that you set your users loose without support. As a mentor, you should work to find that sweet spot between just-in-time teaching (which is sometimes very structured) and putting people in charge of their own learning. Generally, if you can get your participants moving, talking, and having fun with one another around your event's big ideas before you introduce any particular webmaking tool or technique, you will have helped your learners activate their prior knowledge about webmaking and set their own reasons for learning.

Finally, plan your event to be playful. While our mission is a serious one, the more joy we find in it, the more we'll stick with it and the more people we'll attract to it. Discovery is a delightful process, and agency is empowering. Plan your event so that participants finish with something that reflects their learning, as well as their humor or passion. Try to plan events that leave a lot of room for play, peer-teaching between participants, co-learning with you as you help solve problems, and users' decision-making. If your participants feel like they are at play, they will self-organize their learning to the point that your teaching seems almost magically invisible. They'll leave saying, 'That was awesome!', as they see how you designed the event to maximize their learning and wrap your teaching in their success.

You don't have to reinvent the wheel (maybe just re-shape it a bit) to run a successful and participatory event. There are plenty of great Webmaker teaching kits available that model a progression of participatory activities assembled to #TeachTheWeb. We are each other's teaching and technology mentors, and contributing and remixing teaching activities and kits is one way for us to remain participants in the Webmaker community and mission.

Some sample participatory activities from Webmaker Teaching Kits:

What is Playtesting?

Playtesting is a method of quality control that reveals design flaws, complications, misunderstandings and missed steps. Using the term 'playtest' instead of 'user test' is a way of indicating that quality control can be fun and that webmaking as learning is a good way to surface the playful spirit that learning experiences should have. Playtesting is also a step in co-designing with your audience, as it's a reflective activity for that audience.

In the Mozilla universe, we believe in the idea that co-designing things with the people we're designing them for. It leads to more effective, interesting and appropriate learning opportunities. Instead of trying to perfect our ideas before sharing, we say (a variation of) 'Just ship it!' We put things into the world, allow people to play around with them, and see what happens.

The answer to 'What works best?' is ultimately a question that you and your audience have to work out together. It can be quite scary to playtest half-baked ideas and creations we've never shown our actual audience. However, sharing early and often allows us to gather the valuable perspectives of our own audience. Sometimes, you'll find an audience you didn't mean to find. Sometimes you'll discover that you've missed the mark and have to start again.

Planning and Shipping Events in the Open

When we ship an event or teaching kit, we share it in the open for others to use and remix in teaching and learning the Web. We put our work and ourselves out there to model interest-driven, openly-networked, and production-centered work. Every time we ship, we need to take it as an opportunity to tinker with our approaches, attitudes, and capacities for teaching and learning.

Because each person has a unique perspective that often leads to rethinking concepts, ideas or educational resources, shipping often means that we can work faster. We can integrate new ideas and then test that integration. Then we can rinse and repeat. Useful, constructive feedback drives trust and community; to sustain a community of webmakers, it's important for users to have the ability to gift feedback to authors.

As you share your makes, resources and projects, watch your user's reactions and ask yourself questions about their experience. As them to answer questions too, involve them in your process! Practically speaking, if you don't have a regular meetup or classroom where you're already engaging your audience, playtesting in the real world might seem difficult. It doesn't have to be. A playtesting session can be designed as an informal kitchen table party where you can practice how to #TeachTheWeb. Playtesting your ideas with a group of friends or relatives is a great way to push your thinking to the next level.

The important thing about #TeachTheWeb is to understand how the topics and themes we explore relate to our real worlds and daily lives. Working openly, asking for help and sharing freely will allow us to learn from our successes and failures. We can then improve our resources based on practical experience.

Where to next?