[This post is part of a response to Mark Surman’s “Mozilla as Teacher“. In the first part I suggest that “Mozilla as educator” may be a better framing, in this I discuss just what Mozilla can help people learn.]
Often when Mozilla discusses teaching and education the emphasis is on helping people learn how to code. Restricting the goal to code and helping people make the leap from “user” to “maker” is perhaps a little too wide, there are other aspects of teaching people about the web that Mozilla should explore.
In response to Mark’s post, both David and Laura pointed out the very important role that Mozilla can and should play in educating people about how the internet and the web work. By doing this Mozilla would help people become better “participants” on the web, through which they “take control of their online lives“.
Step 2) Transform Users into Participants
During my time working on School of Webcraft I sometimes wished that the charter we’d written had included “using the web” more, rather than restricting the scope to web development only. Laura and I have discussed how a Web Citizenry project could sit alongside the goals of Webcraft and I think it could have a significant impact. Not everyone wants to be a developer, but whether it’s for work, leisure, study or changing the world, most people want to make better use of the web.
The initial challenge as I see it is not in teaching people how to code, but helping them know enough about the web itself. In doing so we (Mozilla) can help people make critical decisions about how they interact and participate with the services and sites they use all the time.
Step 3) Transform Participants into Coders and Makers
People who learn how to make things on the web already know that the web is not magic. Just as a kid knows they can learn to pull a rabbit out of a hat, engaged participants of the web have an inkling of what happens behind the browser. By knowing the web is not magic but made up of coded instructions, they understand their potential as makers. They want the power to make magic on the web too.
By adding a focus in which Mozilla helps people move away from being passive users of the web and towards more engaged participation, we’re one step closer to helping people change from “user” to “maker”.