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Open Web Leadership

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about an organizing structure for future (and current) Teach Like Mozilla content and curriculum. This stream of curriculum is aimed at helping leaders gain the competencies and skills needed for teaching, organizing and sustaining learning for the web. We’ve been short-handing this work “Open Fluency” after I wrote a post about the initial thinking.

Last week, in our biweekly community call, we talked about the vision for our call. In brief, we want to:

“Work together to define leadership competencies and skills, as well as provide ideas and support to our various research initiatives.”

We decided to change the naming of this work to “Open Web Leadership”, with a caveat that we might find a better name sometime in the future. We discussed leadership in the Mozilla context and took some notes on what we view as “leadership” in our community. We talked about the types of leadership we’ve seen within the community, noted that we’ve seen all sorts, and, in particular, had a lengthy conversation about people confusing management with leadership.

We decided that as leaders in the Mozilla Community, we want to be collaborative, effective, supported, compassionate for people’s real life situations. We want to inspire inquiry and exploration and ensure that our community can make independent decisions and take ownership. We want to be welcoming and encouraging, and we are especially interested in making sure that as leaders, we encourage new leaders to come forward, grow and participate.

I believe it was Greg who wrote in the call etherpad:

“Open Web Leaders engage in collaborative design while serving as a resource to others as we create supportive learning spaces that merge multiple networks, communities, and goals.”

Next, we discussed what people need to feel ownership and agency here in the Mozilla community. People expressed some love for the type of group work we’re doing with Open Web Leadership, pointing out that working groups who make decisions together fuels their own participation. It was pointed out that the chaos of the Mozilla universe should be a forcing function for creating on-boarding materials for getting involved, and that a good leader:

“Makes sure everyone “owns” the project”

There’s a lot in that statement. Giving ownership and agency to your fellow community members requires open and honest communication, not one time but constantly. No matter how much we SAY it, our actions (or lack of action) color how people view the work (as well as each other).

After talking about leadership, we added the progressive “ing” form to the verbs we’re using to designate each Open Web Leadership strand. I think this was a good approach as to me it signifies that understanding, modeling and uniting to TeachTheWeb are ongoing and participatory practices. Or, said another way, lifelong learning FTW! Our current strands are:

  • Understanding Participatory Learning (what you need to know)
  • Modeling Processes and Content (how you wield what you know)
  • Uniting Locally and Globally (why you wield what you know)

We established a need for short, one line descriptors on each strand, and decided that the competency “Open Thinking” is actually a part of “Open Practices”. We’ll refine and further develop this in future calls!

As always, you’re invited to participate. There are tons of thought provoking Github issues you can dive into (coding skills NOT required), and your feedback, advice, ideas and criticisms are all welcome.

Online communities making a big impact on creative practice

So, I went with Jonathan Worth to Lincoln University on Monday to speak to academic staff and students about open and connected photography courses.

Something that budding creative practitioners have to tackle is getting work seen above all others. Now in photography, in an age which is image rich, standing out and having an audience for your work can be extremely challenging. I have a unique perspective of both being a student of an open photography class and also recreating one. But what I wanted to highlight particularly to the students in the room was that their work could get noticed and using appropriate online networks their careers could really benefit.

I often wonder whether I really can speak as an average joe considering my most successful project was about an established photographer (George Rodger) whom played a significant role in the history of photojournalism. However, just yards from reaching the university, I had received a voice message from the BBC who wanted to talk to me about another project I had done- about Coventry and UK cinemas.

Now, this project is not going to feature in BJP, but it is important to local history and despite Coventry having a rich cultural history in cinema, there is not much of it online. Being one of few to discuss this topic in an online space meant that I had to be credible in what I was sharing.

I asked how the BBC found my work and they said that it was through Google search. One of the things that I claimed to be extremely important about digtiising archives was that they were findable. This is exactly the same for your work; because everything you do online is archived. I can’t remember who, but in a #dmlcommons discussion it was said that the blog is like an external brain; somewhere that you can put your thoughts, categorise them and archive- but these thoughts are only a search or a couple of clicks away (neat right?).

These thoughts, findings and conclusions are not just available to you (unless you want them to) but also to others, letting them into your work. This should be seen as a huge asset to creative practitioners, educators and students.

Resiliency Factors in Online Learning

The role of resiliency in learning technology is pertinent. What factors would influence resiliency in online learning?

Resiliency is defined as the means to overcome or bounce back from stress or trauma. Because of various dynamics the human response can range from intense drama to persistent stress or mild depression.  In this context, we are looking at resiliency dynamics in the perseverance or accomplishment in a successful online learning experience. 

In looking at the characteristics for resiliency, Southwick indicates ten resilience factors that can be considered coping strategies when confronted with stress. Realistic optimism, facing fear, moral compass, religion and spirituality, social support, resilient role models, physical fitness, brain fitness, cognitive and emotional flexibility and meaning and purpose. Of these, social support and meaning and support are appropriate to the role of learning technology. 

When we think of social support in online learning, discussion boards are perhaps the most prevalent form of social support. What types of support are beneficial in an online learning experience to assist with satisfaction and completion of a course? Social support has been defined as “the exchange of verbal and nonverbal messages conveying emotion, information, or referral, to help reduce one’s uncertainty or stress” (Walther & Boyd, 2002, p. 154)

In a study of nursing students (Munich), participants reported that four supports: informational, instrumental, emotional, and affirmational, were essential for them to complete their online course. Social support is thereby nuanced. Beyond the role the educator plays in providing support, feedback, assessment, encouragement, the interplay between participants is also vital for developing relationships that can support resiliency in online learning. In this study, the informal discussion forum provided the most affirmative and and emotional support among the students.  These informal channels can be a way to develop a community of support and assist in resiliency when a student experiences stressor that impact their learning experience.  

Southwick, Steven M.; Charney, Dennis S. (2012-07-23). Resilience (p. 1). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Citation: Munich, K. (2014). Social support for online learning: Perspectives of nursing students. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, 29(2), 1-12. Available online at:

Heading to the commons

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Can you see my feet? That's me on the left in the boots. My foots tapping a little because we're heading to the commons and I'm excited. There is something developing that bridges virtual education, global and local community. It's like a library but different, it has characteristics of a MOOC, it has a buzz of inquiry and intention. It's alive with critical thinking and caring.  In August, I start a graduate program in learning technologies and in searching around for a topic or area to study,  the commons keeps grabbing my attention. Creative Commons, Wikispaces, the Commons mall down the street, libraries, Starbucks, MOOC discussion boards, places where people hangout and share info. A virtual commons where members can share and learn together. I'm interested in the caring part of a virtual community and how educators and facilitators can create a culture of support through a virtual portal. Also, how resiliency plays into keeping people engaged in a virtual program, session, site, workshop.

Does a resilient mindset have a role in engagement in a virtual community? How can we develop a strong participation in the commons?  Is there a way to provide additional pedagogy to those who need a scaffold of extra support?   I'm wondering . . . . 

Open Fluency

Open Fluency

Open Fluency I’ve been thinking about lenses on the Web Literacy Map again. Specifically the “Leadership” component of what we do at Mozilla. In his post, Mark called this piece fuzzy, but I think it will become clearer as we define what “leadership” in the context of Mozilla means, and how we can offer professional development that brings people closer to that definition. What does it mean to be “trained” by Mozilla? Or be part of Mozilla’s educational network? What do the leaders and passionate people in our community have in common? What makes them sustainable?
What do we need to cognitively understand? What behaviors do we need to model? How do we unite with one another locally and globally?
I have some theories on specific competencies a leader needs to be considered “fluent” in open source and participatory learning. I’ve indicated possibilities in the above graphic. The Web Literacy Map Doug Belshaw and the Mozilla community created is extremely relevant in this work, which is why this post is using the word “fluency” – to indicate the relationship between the map and this lens on it. It feels like leadership in our context requires fluency in specific competencies - the highlighted ones on the web literacy map above. There is a lot of content for professional development around teaching Web Literacy. I’m working on collecting resources for an upcoming conceptual and complete remix of what was Webmaker Training (and before that the original Teach the Web MOOC). Last week in a team call, we talked about my first attempt to use blunt force in getting the Web Literacy Map to cover skills and competencies I think are part of the “Teach Like Mozilla” offering at Mozilla. I made the below graphic, trying to work out the stuff in my brain (it helps me think when I can SEE things), and I immediately knew I was forcing a square peg into a round hole. I’m including it so you can see the evolution of the thinking behind the above graphic: Open Fluency I’d love to hear thoughts on this approach to placing a lens on the Web Literacy Map. Please ask questions, push back, give feedback to this thinking-in-progress.

My Planning Process

Constant Iteration

My method of planning is very much based off a constant iteration process. I’ve been teaching delivering classes for 20 years now in mostly the same location so I have the luxury of those experiences (and contact with colleagues) to pull from.

So I iterate each semester. I use what worked the past semester and throw out (or re-tool) what did not. Each end of semester whether summer or Christmas is a reflecting time for me.

Pick One (or two) Changes

This picture has nothing to do with planning, I just love the bunny. Original @ Flickr

I often make a large change each year and sometimes even each semester. Last January I switched to full-on flipped master (see post here),  and this year I made a massive switch to fully open content in the style of a #connectedCourse (see blog post here).

Learn from Others

I am the teacher #facilitatorOfLearningExperiences that I am from working and talking with so many colleagues in my institution as well as the large internet (thank you Twitter). The time I spend on networking with other teachers is more important than time spent looking for yet-another-assignment.

Find people that interest you or that will at least listen and answer your questions on teaching. Don’t be shy, get out there and blog/tweet/network.

How do you Plan?

Your turn, what is your planning process?

Transparent Blogging

This week’s #dmlcommons welcomed the blog sisters – high five ladies! I sometimes wonder what I must look like when I’m sat smiling and nodding at my computer because when I caught up with the Hangout on Air, it just solidified everything I thought I knew about why I blog.

I’ve moved from (in 8 years) from writing on a personal level, to writing about notes, research and project development in photography to not blogging at all. To worrying about my lack of blogging, to reading about blogging, to watching videos about blogging, to then starting to want to blog again. HOORAY. KateGreen28 is back!

I’m kinda gutted that I haven’t blogged all the much at all about developing Phonar Nation classes for 8-11 year olds. Because I look at what I did and have forgotten a lot of the challenges I had to overcome and why. This isn’t just for my benefit, but it would also benefit the growing Phonar Nation community so that some of the answers are already out there.

There is also so much to be said for ‘being transparent’ online which is something I have learnt and grown to love (thanks to Dan Gillmor). I think that showing your work and thought process not only opens bloggers up to get advice and help, but it is a frank and honest display of motivation. I think that says a lot about a person and makes them more trustworthy- as long as they are a actually discussing something with integrity (obviously).

Picture: CC-BY-NC Wonderlane