Open Thinkering


Tag: event

We’re running a webinar next week on badges, and you’re invited

Update: you can now view an edited version of the YouTube Live stream via the We Are Open YouTube channel.

When I was over in Los Angeles earlier this year, I met some great people who seemed to share similar interests to our gang at We Are Open Co-op. Lo and behold, it turns out that Steve Regur and Amy McCammon are co-founders of Educators Co-op. We, of course, started planning how we could work together (in accordance with Principle 6), and continued the conversation at the Mozilla Festival a few weeks ago.

The upshot is that we’re going to get started on our co-operative journey  by running an introductory webinar on Open Badges next Tuesday at 4pm UTC. The link to point people towards is I’ll be facilitating the conversation which will begin with the Bluffer’s Guide to Open Badges slide deck we used at MozFest.

We’ve set a low-bar target of 10 participants for this initial collaboration, but are, of course, expecting more will turn up. Future webinars will move from discussing the basics of badges to more advanced topics, including including how to join our co-operatives, scaffolding digital skills, and more!

Click here to sign up for the webinar

PS This is the perfect link to forward to your colleagues with whom you’ve been wanting to have that conversation about badges. Why not come along together?

Towards a learning standard for Web Literacy: (1) Introduction.

Update: For the latest information on the Web Literacy standard work, head to

TL;DR version: Mozilla wants to work with the community to create a new learning standard around Web Literacy. There’s an online gathering to kick-off work in this area at 11am EST on Thursday 7th February 2013 to which everyone’s invited.

Posts in this series:

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

I’m delighted to announce that Mozilla intends to work with the community on defining a learning standard for web literacy.* This builds on the work that Michelle Levesque started, and I have continued, since joining the Mozilla Foundation in July 2012. It’s part of our wider mission to create a generation of Webmakers.

Anyone interested in helping define and maintain the standard is invited to a kick-off online gathering on Thursday 7th February 2013 at 11am EST (what time is that for me?). There’s no need to book, but signing up via either Eventbrite (below) means you’ll get reminders and be able to add it to your calendar. It’s also listed on Lanyrd.

Sign up here

From the overview wiki page:

The Mozilla Foundation has a vision of a web literate planet. We’ve built some tools to help with this and now we’re asking the question: What are the skills, competencies and literacies necessary to read, write and participate in the Web – now and in the future? We’ve already started the thinking but we want to go further and develop a web literacy standard that we can all align with and teach to. And we need your help.

We want to reach people at web scale, and that means lots of different individuals and organizations teaching various skills and competencies – many of you are doing this already – but we need a way for it to roll up to something bigger.

We need a way to ensure we’re teaching the right things, to connect various options and help learners discover pathways, and of course, to find ways for us all to track our impact. That’s where the standard comes in – we can build consensus around the overall learning map and then each chart our course against it. So, let’s develop the standard and do this together.

We’re convening an online gathering to kick-start work towards a learning standard for web literacy and build upon the work we’ve done so far in this area (and with badges). Be sure to to discuss where we want to go and find out ways for you or your organization to get involved. Make a point to get involved; we’re counting on you!

There’s a new Google Group for discussion/debate which you should introduce yourself to ASAP and the hashtag to use on social networks is #weblitstd. Note that takes you to an overview page on the Mozilla wiki which should always have the latest information from Mozilla and the community in this new area.

Please do join us for the kick-off meeting, we’re excited! :-)

*You’ll notice that I’m using ‘literacy’ in the singular form here. This is for mainly for communication purposes as we’ve found that talking about ‘literacies’ straight off the bat tends to confuse people. The substance of what I’ve been working on remains the same!

Image CC BY-NC-SA Daniel*1977


Yesterday I emailed some people who I thought would be interested in the Mozilla Festival. But then I realised, pretty much everyone who reads my blog would be (or should be!) interested in it.

Seeking Educators Who Get the Web: Let’s work together at MozFest!

If you’re an educator, instructor or student working at the intersection of learning and the web, Mozilla wants to work with you at MozFest. Education and digital literacy are a key focus of this year’s Mozilla Festival in London, Nov 9 – 11.

The goal: unlock the full educational potential of the web, help learners move from digital consumption to digital creation, and grow a global movement for teaching web literacy to the world. You can learn more or register at

Key sessions and themes for educators:

What are we inviting you to do?

1) Bring your expertise, curriculum and content

  • Contribute your educational expertise to MozFest themes like badges, mobile, coding for kids, hackable games and digital literacy.
  • Bring your existing digital literacy projects, curriculum and content. Connect with colleagues and  leaders to refine your project, further your educational goals, and  share resources.

2) Bring students and youth

  • This year’s Festival includes an entire theme of sessions and activities just for youth, including a game arcade and content from Hive NYC, WYNC’s Radio Rookies, DigitalMe, O2 Think Big, Global Action Project and more.

3) Help build Webmaker tools and resources

  • Collaborate with Mozilla. We want to build a “big tent” of like-minded edudcators to teach the world the web.
  • Learn more about and help shape the future of Webmaker tools, projects and curriculum.

How do I get involved?

You can register here now:

There are also complimentary tickets to the Festival available for educators or instructors who:

  • bring youth or students with them
  • bring specific ideas, projects or lessons they want to share and work on at MozFest
  • volunteer to run mini-sessions at the Festival
  • spread the word about the Festival and Webmaker to your networks
  • volunteer to act as a youth manager for a few hours

Interested? Get in touch here:

I’m looking forward to seeing you at MozFest! 🙂

TeachMeet Mozilla Webmaker Edition: 6 October 2012

Next Saturday I’m organising an event down at the Mozilla London office with some teachers, educators and parents interested in sharing what they’re up to. You should join us if you can.

There’s no need to be a web ninja. If you’re at all interested in educational technology and how the web can be used in education, then please do come along!

Date: Saturday 6 October 2012

Time: 1pm – 4pm

Location: Mozilla office, Leicester Square, London


Questions? Ask away in the comments. 🙂

Announcing TeachMeet Mozilla Webmaker Edition 2012 [EVENT]

TeachMeet Mozilla Webmaker Edition 2012

I’m organising a TeachMeet in the Mozilla London Office’s co-working space between 1pm and 4pm on Saturday 6th October 2012.

>>> Click here for more details <<<

The hashtag is #TMmozLDN12 and the shortened URL is

It would be great if you could share it with your networks – or better yet, come yourself! 🙂

Join me at #MozParty Newcastle on 21st July 2012! [EVENT]

MozParty Newcastle

The Mozilla Foundation launched a Summer Code Party this weekend with events happening around the world over the next couple of months. These events can be hosted by anyone and are about introducing (young) people to the building blocks of the Web.

I’m delighted to be hosting a ‘kitchen table’ event for up to 40 people (including some kind volunteers) at the Centre for Life in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (England) on Saturday, 21st July 2012 between 1pm and 4pm (BST).

If you’re nearby and can bring someone along, please do! It’s free and you can sign up below.

Long URL:

Short URL:

Questions? Ask away in the comments below. 🙂

Innovation in education: what I’ll be talking about at the Guardian event today. (#IIE2011)

Guardian Innovation in Education

I’m in London today at the Guardian Innovation in Education event (hashtag #IIE2011). Not only will it be the first time I’ve been on a keynote panel but I’ll also be chairing a session for the first time. Happy days.

The following are those currently listed as joining me on the keynote panel (which has been shuffled more often that a Tory Cabinet):

I’ll be given a couple of minutes to outline my position on innovation and, bizarrely, learning styles. The latter is a non-starter as far as I’m concerned given my experience in the classroom and this devastating critique on YouTube by Prof. Daniel Willingham. But innovation? I’ve definitely got a couple of things to say about that.

1. Innovation is predicated upon standardisation

Homogeneity in ecological terms, refers to a reduction in biodiversity. I think it’s important to make it clear at the outset that’s not what I mean when I’m talking about standardisation. What I mean by standardisation is a common, negotiated base upon which something can be constructed. This base could be a technology, it could be a set of practices, a calendar, defined workflows or communications channels.

Something I would change if I could go back and re-teach my early career would be the way that I approached innovation. In my current position at JISC infoNet and in my previous role as Director of e-Learning I’ve seen just how important the social negotiation and co-construction of a common baseline is. To mix metaphors, it’s about getting people on the same page and facing the same direction. Too often in my early career I went full-tilt in a different direction to others, thinking to myself that I could bring others onboard I’d reached ‘version 1.0’. Now I realise the importance of bringing in people much earlier than that.

Whilst it is may be possible to enforce standardisation in a top-down manner, effective leaders know that this is unlikely to encourage buy-in. As I argued in Chapter 10 of my thesis on digital literacies the process is at least as important as the outcome. Conversation and iteration is important because the very nature of innovation means that you don’t know necessarily know what’s going to happen next. As Woodrow Wilson famously stated, “I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow”.

Douglas Adams was being flippant when he called for “rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty” but, when it comes to innovation, demarcating such areas can be productive. Be focused. If, for example, your organisation is focusing upon methods of communication, getting sidetracked by existing problems (such as software incompatibilities) or irrelevancies (the staff dress code) is likely to be unhelpful. Get things right one at a time building towards a bigger picture. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

2. Sustaining and embedding innovation

In JISC’s Sustaining and Embedding Innovations: a good practice guide, Peter Chatterton defines three broad stages of innovation:

  1. Invention (generation of new ideas)
  2. Early Innovation (practical implementation of new inventions, usually in specific areas)
  3. Systemic Innovation (organisation or institution-wide adoption of inventions)

As colleague Andrew Stewart and I argued at the Future of Technology of Education conference the problem is that we get stuck at the second step. The reason for this is twofold, I believe.

Firstly, we’ve outsourced technological invention to the market. This means that early innovation (usually) involves taking something not designed explicitly with education in mind and finding way of using it for pedagogical purposes. By the time we’ve done that, of course, the market moved on and the process begins all over again. We’re like dogs chasing shiny cars.

The second reason, however, is due to education being a political football. Every year a raft of changes are enforced upon educational institutions, and schools in particular. Somtimes (and I’m looking at you, Michael Gove, with the English Baccalaureate) such changes are even made half-way through a school year! As a result, systemic innovation and ownership of the change process by overworked, underpaid staff is extremely difficult to achieve, even if they believe in the changes proposed. Some schools, such as Cramlington Learning Village manage focused, systemic change but these are few and far between.


Innovation is a tricky beast. You’re never quite sure when or where the next great idea will come from. There are, however, some ways to tame the monster. Here’s my three suggestions:

  • Focus on workflows: huge efficiencies can be gained by socially-negotiating these and using them as a standardised basis. In one school I used to work at, these were posted in every classroom for sanctions, rewards, book marking, everything. Review these often so they don’t become burdensome when the contexts change due to wider environmental factors.
  • Take a step back: as someone (hilariously) mentioned at a JISC programme startup meeting this week, “the early bird may get the worm, but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.” Make sure that everyone knows what they are there for. Have a discussion about the purpose(s) of education, if necessary.
  • Get everyone involved: when I say that you don’t know where the next transformational idea may come from, I’m serious. Get as many different angles on the problem as possible. And even when things are going well, have channels and methods of communication that allow people to make leftfield suggestions without being ridiculed.

What are YOUR thoughts on innovation in education?

Reflecting on yesterday’s Purpos/ed Summit for Instigators (#purposedpsi)

Doug Belshaw at #purposedpsiIf you take away my wedding day, the birth of my two children and that time in 1998 when my football team beat local rivals to win 4-0 in the cup final replay, yesterday was one of the best days of my life.

Why? It marked a turning point, really. Up until my 30th year, I’ve seen myself as an ‘ideas person’, as somebody who sparks things off. The trouble is, most of the rest of the people in the world see themselves in that vein. So things never get started or are left unfinished. It’s time to be the change I want to see in the world – from start to finish.

Yesterday I helped organise the Purpos/ed Summit for Instigators. It’s the first time I’ve organised an event and, from the feedback both at the event and online, it went very well.

Over 50 people gave up a sunny Saturday afternoon to come and debate the purpose(s) of education as well as planning how to open out the conversation. They were absolutely awesome and I’m looking forward to what they go away and do as a result. It’s the first of many events!

I’m indebted to my co-kickstarter Andy Stewart for being utterly dependable, to Josie Fraser for chairing the event so effortlessly and effectively, and to Steve Boneham for capturing the audio, Leon Cych for sorting out the live video stream, and Maglio Viracca for the photography. Thank you!

If you want to catch some of the archived video stream, head over to our UStream channel (scroll down to ‘Recent Videos’)

Image CC BY-NC-SA Learn4Life