Open Thinkering


Tag: web literacy standard

The Ontology of the Web (Or, Why I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Learning Standards) [DMLcentral]

My latest post for DMLcentral is now up.

Entitled The Ontology of the Web (Or, Why I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Learning Standards), I manage to cram in references to Clay Shirky, William James, Plato, and John Dewey into just over a thousand words.

At the beginning of 2013 the Mozilla Foundation announced its intention to work with the community to create a new learning standard for Web Literacy. I’m delighted to say that we’re well on course to release v1.0 of that standard at the Mozilla Festival in London at the end of October. In this post I want to give an overview of how I went from being initially skeptical to an enthusiastic project lead โ€“ all because of something I learned about ontology from Clay Shirky.

You can read the post in full here.

My next 100 days at Mozilla

Last May when I was just about to start working at Mozilla, Nick Dennis gave me some great advice. He said that I should thrash out with my line manager what I should focus on during my first 100 days, defining what ‘success’ looked like at the end of that period.


For whatever reason, I didn’t take Nick’s advice and, indeed, felt a bit lost at sea by Christmas. That’s not anyone’s fault, particularly, it’s just that I was used to working in an institutional environment (schools/universities) and Mozilla’s, wellโ€ฆ different.


So I thought I’d take the opportunity when changing teams within Mozilla to belatedly take Nick’s advice and discuss with my new line manager Chris Lawrence what I should be doing from now until Christmas. Admittedly, that’s a little over 100 days, but it’s close enough. Here’s what we came up with – and what that includes, in no particular order:

1. Release the Web Literacy Standard v1.0 at MozFest

  • Work with Michelle Thorne to encourage session leaders to tag their sessions with skills and competencies from the Standard.
  • Work with Laura Hilliger on relevant session proposals relating to the Standard
  • Propose a facilitated version of the community work from calls.

2. Transfer the Web Literacy Standard to

  • Work with the Webmaker team to integrate the Standard across
  • Liaise with Chris Appleton on the design work around the Standard.

3. Prepare for a Web Literacy Standard alignment contest

  • Aim for January 2014 and announce at MozFest.
  • Work with organisations who are interested in aligning before then.
  • Find people to judge competition.
  • Work with MozLegal and other people who will be able to help (like Chloe Varelidi)

4. Dive into Mentor Team-related stuff

  • Focus on breaking silos and making links with other teams.
  • Be a thought leaders post-Mozilla Summit for ‘One Mozilla’.
  • Work with the Mentor Team to bring Open Badges into their projects.

5. Set up a cross-Mozilla Foundation community working group

  • Focus on sharing good practices.
  • Systematise internal and external-facing processes.
  • Potentially take over running of the weekly Webmaker call.

Obviously, there’s other things that are assumed (like building up a collection of animated GIFs and deploying them appropriately) and other things that will emerge but, for now, I think that’s a great starting point!

Main image CC BY quapan

Transitioning into a new role at Mozilla

TL;DR version: My ‘home’ at Mozilla is moving from the Open Badges team to the Mentor team. In reality it’s a kind of floating role that spans several different teams and focuses on using the Web Literacy Standard as ‘glue’.

I joined the Mozilla Foundation as Badges & Skills Lead 14 months ago. I’ve never really had a job description as such but, from the start, the plan was for me to work within (what was then) the Learning Team as an Open Badges evangelist/advocate in Europe. And, while I wasn’t doing that, I was working on a Web Literacies framework to underpin Mozilla’s Webmaker programme. I ended up writing this white paper.

With the help of a burgeoning community, we pivoted the Web Literacies framework I came up with into a Web Literacy Standard. Excitingly, it’s gaining some traction – and should gain even more when we launch v1.0 at the Mozilla Festival in October.

I’m delighted that Open Badges has become wildly successful; it seems not a day goes by without another big announcement with a big name backing it or an organisation aligning with it. I think that’s for all of the reasons that drew me to the project back in 2011 before I joined Mozilla.

The world doesn’t really need me out there all the time telling it how awesome badges are. There’s plenty of people doing that on Mozilla’s behalf. I’m not giving up my Open Badges evangelism completely* but I’ll be focusing more on the Web Literacy Standard. Given that we’re looking for people to align with the standard using Open Badges, there’s no escape in any case. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We’ve got broadly three teams within the Mozilla Foundation:

  • Mentor team – work with educators to focus on teaching and learning the Web
  • Open Badges team – build, maintain and work with organisations integrating with the Open Badges Infrastructure
  • Webmaker team – build products like Thimble and Popcorn Maker

I’ll be floating across all three using the Web Literacy Standard as the glue to bind together the teams. I’d like to thank Carla Casilli who’s worked with me over the last few months on the Web Literacy Standard. I’ll be reporting to Chris Lawrence now instead of Erin Knight.

So to a great extent, it’s as you were. However, if I look at bit confused at any point when you meet me you’ll now know why: I’m getting to grips with a slightly different role that will shift my landscape and day-to-day interactions a bit. ๐Ÿ™‚

* We’ve got a couple of new members of the Open Badges team, including Meg Cole-Karagoy (marketing), An-Me Chung (partnerships) and Jade Forester (global liaison).

Web Literacy Standard RFC

As project lead, I’m delighted to announce that Mozilla launched the latest iteration of our Web Literacy Standard work. It’s a process that has been heavily community-focused and one that I’ve greatly enjoyed. This is now a formal Request For Comments (RFC) following the publication of this announcement on the Mozilla Webmaker blog.

Once you’ve checked outย this landing page and explored the resources then please give feedback via this form.

We now have descriptors for each competency and both descriptors and examples for the skills underpinning the competencies. See below for the competency level grid.

Web Literacy Standard RFC release

You may also want to:

A quick look back at my first year at Mozilla

This time last year I joined the Mozilla Foundation‘s Learning team. I’d already spent a year as part of the Open Badges community so, in a way, it feels like I’ve been working for Mozilla for twice as long as I actually have been! The Learning team has been reorganised (twice!) so I’m now on the Badges Team v2.0. Things certainly don’t move slowly in the tech world.

Dog in car in space

Initially, I planned for this post to include an epic infographic showing all of the places I’ve been, the people I’ve talked to, and so on. But that task would take a whole day of my time – and that’s time I haven’t got! Working at Mozilla is exciting, but busy. Suffice to say that I’ve attended 53 events in the 52 weeks I’ve been at Mozilla and I’ve usually been speaking at or running workshops at them. When you factor in Christmas shutdown at PTO (a.k.a. holiday) then that’s pretty impressive/scary.

I’ve been many places this past year evangelising Mozilla’s mission and, in particular, the Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI). I’ve been to Canada (twice), several places in the US, the Netherlands (twice), Belgium, Portugal, Ireland, all over the UK… the list goes on. That sounds great but, as any business traveller will tell you, you don’t usually get to do the touristy things; most of what you see is the inside of airports, hotels, planes, trains and automobiles. Having said that, it beats sitting at the same desk day-in, day-out. ๐Ÿ˜‰


I’m often asked what it’s like to work for Mozilla. As people ask that question their eyes often light up as if it’s a magic wonderland. It’s not unicorns and rainbows all the time and I certainly recognise the ‘inability to switch off’ problem that Rob Hawkes mentioned in his post upon leaving Mozilla. In that post he talked about stress and burnout as well. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) I experienced stress, burnout and working crazy hours as a teacher and senior leader while still in my 20’s. That means both I and my family are well-equipped to spot and deal with the tell-tale signs of stress. I know when to rest and how to look after myself these days.

But working at Mozilla is, if not a magic wonderland, certainly different and pretty awesome. I’ve never experienced such freedom and devolved responsibility as I do here. Nor have I ever worked with people who are so talented, motivated and great at communicating using technology. It’s also wonderful knowing that you’re playing a part in making a difference on a global scale. Especially with the work that I’m involved in around Open Badges and the Web Literacy Standard I feel like this is stuff that could significantly improve the educational and career opportunities of the next generation. Given that’s my children’s generation, it makes me proud to work for a global non-profit where doing good is part of our code.

Hula-hooping bear

By this time next July I’m aiming for Open Badges will be a ‘household name’ in both North American and Europe, for us to be iterating on v1.0 of the Web Literacy Standard, and for Firefox OS (launched today!) to have gained significant market share for the next billion Web users.

Here’s to another year!

Privacy, the NSA and Web Literacies [DMLcentral]

My latest post for DMLcentral is now up. Entitled Privacy, the NSA and Web Literacies I focus on what we can actually do in the wake of the NSA surveillance revelations. And no, I didn’t choose the accompanying photo. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Read it here:

(in other news, you might like and Mozilla’s work around the Web Literacy Standard)

Weeknote 17/2013

This week I’ve been:

  • Planning and then delivering (with Tim Riches) an Open Badges workshop in Glasgow.
  • Meeting with people representing organisations who want to integrate with the OBI.
  • Hosting this week’s Web Literacy Standard community call.
  • Meeting with colleagues at the Mozilla London office.
  • Launching the first draft of Mozilla’s Web Literacy standard.
  • Teaching kids how to ‘hack’ their school website with X-Ray Goggles at Maker Faire in Newcastle

Next week I’m in London to do some judging for some funding Mozilla’s involved in, but I’ll be taking it a bit easier after travelling the length of the country this week, working an extra day and launching some work!

Weeknote 16/2013

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m at the Mozilla London for the day on Tuesday and Glasgow on Thursday for badge design workshop. Then it’s Maker Faire in Newcastle next weekend! Can’t wait.

Mozilla Web Literacy standard: draft release candidate

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

On Monday it’s the last Web Literacy standard community call before the soft launch of the draft Web Literacy standard on April 26th. If that sounds tentative, it is! We want as much feedback from asย wide a range of people and organisations as possible on the road towards v1.0 at the Mozilla Festival in late October 2013.

Below you’ll find the overview grid, the descriptors for each competency, and a diagram of the ‘stack’ of where this competency grid fits into the whole picture. We’ll have new, much better versions of these diagrams in due course – these are just my mockups!

The descriptors still need some work so that’s what we’ll be focusing in on at Monday’s call.

Web Literacy standard draft release candidate


  • Web Fundamentals – Understanding and using the Web ecosystem
  • Search – Locating information, people and resources
  • Security – Keeping your identity, system and network safe
  • Credibility – Assessing the trustworthiness of online sources of information or activities.


  • Composing for the Web – Composing ‘texts’ using hyperlinks and other affordances of the Web
  • Remixing – Using existing openly-licensed content to create something new or modified.
  • HTML– Understanding HyperText Markup Language, how to read and write the building blocks of the Web, and use it to create digital artifacts
  • CSS – Understanding Cascading Style Sheets, how to read and write them and use them in different ways to style the building blocks of the Web
  • Coding/scripting – Animating and providing services for the Web
  • Design & accessibility – Developing competencies required to build web pages that promote efficient use of content and ease the acquisition of content provided
  • Infrastructure – Understanding the Internet stack and hosting your own data


  • Sharing & Collaborating – Working and playing with others to create value through curating and creating content
  • Community participation – Taking part in online communities taking into account netiquette
  • Privacy – Taking steps to understand and decide how much data to share online
  • Open practices – Championing, creating, and protecting the Open Web

Web Literacy standard - stack

To clarify, in the above diagram:

  • We’re referring to the categories as strands
  • Competencies are groups of skills from the same area
  • The meta-level elements (which we’ll perhaps call literacies) are made up of competencies from different strands

Feedback is very welcome, either here or on the community calls.

Latest version of Web Literacy standard grid (8 April 2013)

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

Just a quick one to ensure the latest version of the Web Literacy standard competency grid is always here on my blog:

Web Literacy grid (8 April 2013)

Comments welcome! If we can agree on this then we need to get cracking with the descriptors for the strands and the competencies. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our calls are now on Mondays at 8am PT / 11am ET / 4pm BST. All welcome! Details on the Mozilla wiki.