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Towards a Web Literacy standard: (4) How?

Update: For the latest information on the Web Literacy standard work, head to http://mzl.la/weblitstd


TL;DR version:  Mozilla is working with the community to define a new learning standard for Web Literacy. We’ve got a starting point that we can point people towards. This is something we’ll ask if people feel they can align with. From there we’ll start mapping what’s out there and start charting learning pathways. This is only the beginning! More at: http://mzl.la/weblitstd


Posts in this series:

  1. Introduction
  2. What? Why?
  3. Who?
  4. How?

This post may be seen as slightly premature as we haven’t yet had the kick-off online gathering (tomorrow!) However, I want to give a quick overview of what we at Mozilla believe will be the first steps on the road towards engaging the community towards a proposed new, open learning standard for Web Literacy.

I don’t know if I can make this sort of explanation in a hurry because, as always, when this general substance is discussed, the talk can’t be in general terms but has to vary according to the relationship between one individual and the others, so it amounts practically to beginning all over again at the beginning.

(Italo Calvino, ‘Time and the Hunter’)

As an educator I know that learning is a subjective, messy experience. So why do we need a ‘standard’ for Web Literacy? Isn’t this kind of thing, well, unquantifiable? Wouldn’t a framework limit people’s creativity? What we’re trying to do here isn’t to constrain but to liberate – to allow learners to choose their own pathways and playlists while they level up in their web skills. It should also greatly help teachers, mentors and those creating Web-focused learning resources to see how their work fits into a bigger picture.

A framework for Web Literacy is always going to be what I’d term a ‘convenient hypocrisy’. There’s so many different things we could include – and so many ways of learning it – that a truly comprehensive framework would be impossible to represent. We’re limited to two, or at best three, dimensions when representing a learning standard for Web Literacy!

So how are we going to be about crafting this standard from the amorphous, sometimes confusing and ever-changing Web? Well, we start with the fundamentals. Michelle Levesque, who started off this work talked to a some smart people who influenced this work – and I’ve continued that. Everyone has their own context and way of viewing the Web, making an absolutely-objective-for-all-time framework impossible. What we do hope is possible is that people feel the Web Literacy standard is close enough to what they believe to be able to align with it.

This is how I see the work around a new, open Web Literacy standard playing out in the short term:

  1. Interested people attend the kick-off online gathering and  join the Google Group for further discussion
  2. A working group made up of community representatives hammers out the first version of a Web Literacy standard framework
  3. Consultation period begins
  4. Organisations and individuals start aligning (badged) learning activities with the Web Literacy standard
  5. Further discussion with the community

In terms of how the ‘alignment’ I’ve spoken of will work in practice, there’s going to be a new metadata field added to the Open Badges specification. Just as, for example, the Common Core State Standards Initiative in the US has a unique URL for each part of their framework (example), so too could the Web Literacy standard framework. Including this information will, of course, be done on a voluntary basis. Doing so would mean that we may be able to build a ‘dashboard’ to enable learners to find out where they can find activities to level-up in their Web skills. Of course, we don’t want to be anything like as prescriptive as the Common Core.

Do people have to issue Open Badges to align with the Web Literacy standard? No! But we hope that doing so will be of value to both them and to learners. A lot of this is up for grabs. But I find that really exciting! A Web Literacy standard can useful in and of itself, but also to have a number of potential spin-off benefits. I, for example, am really interested in how we can find a way to do online peer assessment (including peer critique and peer validation) in an open, rigorous and meaningful way.

Will you join us in creating a new learning standard for Web Literacy? One that provides learners with multiple, interest-based pathways? We hope so! :-)

Image CC BY ivanpw

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