School of Webcraft Update – Study Groups, Badges and Derbys! Oh My!


School of Webcraft has a new home!

As part of the P2PU community, the School of Webcraft made the transition to our new, custom built Lernanta platform last weekend. Hooray!

From all of us here at School of Webcraft we’d like to thank P2PU’s Technical Lead, Zuzel and our amazing team of volunteer contributors for all their hard work so far. We’re looking forward to all the great new features to come!

Got an idea of how to make the School of Webcraft’s new pages rock?
Let us know your ideas in the Webcraft discussion list!

Join, Branch, or Create a New Group

So far, over 25 groups and courses have been setup on the new School of Webcraft site and range from learners asking for help as they program for the first time, through to more formal courses and structured study groups:

Remember, the content for all groups on P2PU are always open to explore, even if you’re not a participant and the group is already full. If you really like what a group is learning, you can make your own version of it, invite participants and create your own versions of existing tasks to work through together.

To find out more about creating groups and making your own branch of an existing group, watch this screencast on Creating a Study Group at P2PU.

Help review our upcoming School of Webcraft badges

Along with the Mozilla Open Badges project we’re working on the 2nd phase in our pilot phase of web developer badges. Erin, our badge lead has written up the draft badge criteria and now we need you to review them.

To give feedback on the draft criteria for badges on HTML, CSS, Popcorn.js, HTML5 and CSS3 visit Erin’s blog post.

Learn cool new web technologies and enter the MDN Dev Derby!

MDN is the codename of our friends over at Mozilla Developers Network.

  • MDN run the Hacks blog featuring cool things built with Mozilla Firefox and the open web.
  • They curate the Mozilla Docs Centre: one of the best technical resources for Web Developers ever.
  • And now, every month they’re running the Dev Derby – a web demo competition!

In July the Dev Derby is focused on HTML5 . MDN curated great resources about the new video features which would be perfect as the basis for a School of Webcraft study group. We’d love to see some School of Webcraft participants get their demos featured in July’s derby!

To get started learning and preparing your HTML5 demo for a chance to win some pretty wicked prizes from MDN, create a study group. Remember to check out MDN for the documentation and learning resources you’ll need for your group.

Get Involved

There are lots of great ways to get involved with School of Webcraft and help build our community of web developers.

  • Start a learning project at School of Webcraft
    It’s easy, just create a P2PU account and follow the prompts.
  • Got a question about School of Webcraft?
    Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Join the Webcraft Discussion List
    To participate in ongoing discussions about the project, sign-up here.
  • Dying to just hack?
    Learn more at the Contributing to Lernanta group.
    Submit a bug on the tracker
    Contribute to the code at Github

Do you have some exciting news, or a request for help we should be sharing in our Webcraft updates? Don’t keep it a secret, let us know!

This (and all P2PU mailings) are licensed under CC BY-SA. Please feel free to translate it and share it with your friends!

What Projects Can You Setup in School of Webcraft?


If you’ve been keeping up to date with School of Webcraft and the P2PU learning community that Webcraft is a part of – you’ll have noticed a lot of changes.

Not only is P2PU developing a new website that looks better and makes it easier to learn with others, we’ve also referring to different ways of learning together beyond courses and study groups.

  • We want School of Webcraft participants to learn, teach, share and improve their web development skills in whichever format they feel is best.
  • We’re giving you the flexibility to organise a project that appropriate to your skills, interest and schedule.
  • Perhaps you’d like to organise a master class, a how-to or make an orientation for open source contributors?
New options when creating groups and projects at P2PU

Create a "How To..." at School of Webcraft

Here are some ideas for how to learn together at School of Webcraft:


In courses one or more primary organisers, usually with more content knowledge, guide participants through a series of defined course tasks over a specific time-frame (eg. 6 weeks).

  • Require a committed group of participants who will help each other learn
  • A great way to reuse existing web development courses such as the WaSP Interact Curriculum
  • Work through a course plan with a clear, scheduled end-point.
  • Courses may be copied and re-run by either the same or different organisers.

Create a course if you want to improve your skills and can commit the time to develop and run it.

Study Groups

School of Webcraft study groups are less formal and are organised and co-facilitated by a large number of participants who want to learn about a similar topic (eg. HTML5) and who wish to help each other learn.

  • Tasks are created and improved by the study group.
  • There may be a recommended learning plan but participants are free to pick and choose the order of activity.
  • Study groups have no designated end date.
  • Study groups may endure for a long time and be organised by many different people over their life cycle.

Create a study group if you want to find out more about a topic, but need other people to help you find your way.

Master Class

A Webcraft master class is an excellent way for a web development expert to teach experienced developers about advanced techniques but to limit it to a shorter time frame (eg. 2 x 3 hour sessions) than that required in a course.

  • Organise webinar style content and discussions,
  • Participants critique and review each others’ work.
  • Invite an expert to present to the School of Webcraft community.

Create a master class as a way to share expert knowledge with experienced developers.

Guided Tutorial or How To…

The task feature of the new P2PU makes it a perfect environment for explaining how to work through a process in a series of steps.

  • Create a how to that explores setting up a development environment (eg. Django)
  • Explain a complicated tutorial made up of many different elements and to invite discussion around each of the steps.
  • A useful how-to would be reusable by many other School of Webcraft learners.

Create a guided tutorial or “how to…” if you want to make a difficult process easier to understand.

Introduce An Open Source Project

One of the best ways for web developers to improve their skills is to participate in an free software or open source project, but there are often a lot of things for new participants to learn.

  • Explain how to set up a development environment
  • Define commit and ownership policies
  • Present project coding standards and long term goals.

School of Webcraft already supports P2PU’s own Introduction to Contributing to Lernanta group and  has an Introduction to Universal Subtitles group planned.  We’d love to support more open source projects and provide our learners with practical skills.

Create an open source introduction if you want to increase useful participation in your project and want to help people develop their practical skills.

Got something to learn?

Can you think of any other ways you could learn about web development using P2PU’s great new platform? Let us know in the comments – or show us what you mean and start your project now!

School of Webcraft Update May 24th 2011


Twice a month we bring you updates on School of Webcraft, Mozilla‘s free web-development training community organised in partnership with Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU). We also use this update to let you know about the great new features that have been released in P2PU’s new site.

School of Webcraft's new home at P2PU
School of Webcraft’s new home at P2PU!

If you can’t find a study group or course that suits your needs, get involved and create your own! Our community of passionate web developers is here to help you with advice about resources and useful tasks to learn your topic.

New P2PU Feature – “Branch” from an existing course or study group.

P2PU is almost ready for the final transition to its custom-developed Lernanta platform.  The P2PU Dev community has been updating content and adding features to make this transition easier for all learners.

Screenshot - hot to Import a past School of Wecraft Course
Import a past School of Webcraft Course

2nd Phase of the School of Webcraft Badge Pilot

Together with P2PU, Mozilla is working on Open Badges, a framework that tracks your learning achievements.  Our first focus for this new technology is providing peer-assessed badges for Web Developers.

Group Spotlight – HTML and CSS from the Beginning

Jamie Curle’s running a great course about HTML and CSS from the Beginning. He’s writing HTML in his greenhouse and making ordered lists of meat.

Next week we’ll be interviewing Jamie to learn more about his reasons for getting involved with School of Webcraft and to find out his tips for organising an exciting project.

If you know of some exciting School of Webcraft news we should be reporting – let us know!

Need advice? Want to get the most out of School of Webcraft and P2pU?

Take a look at the Help Desk group on the new site for answers to any questions you may have about participating in P2PU, and regular updates about the new site’s features.

Get Involved

There are lots of great ways to get involved with School of Webcraft and help build our community of web developers.

  • Start a learning project at School of Webcraft
    It’s easy, just create a P2PU account and follow the prompts.
  • Got a question about School of Webcraft?
    Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Join the Webcraft Discussion List
    To participate in ongoing discussions about the project, sign-up here.

  • Dying to just hack?
    Learn more at the Contributing to Lernanta group.
    Submit a bug on the trackerContribute to the code at Github

This (and all P2PU mailings) are licensed under CC BY-SA. Please feel free to translate it and share it with your friends!

The Missing Slide: Why You Should Participate in School of Webcraft


I presented School of Webcraft and P2PU at Liwoli 2011 (Linux Wochen Linz) here in Linz last weekend. Working on this project has given me so many chances to improve my public speaking* which is something that I’m trying to develop further. At the end of every presentation I try to incorporate the feedback and improve on my slides.

Liwoli sticker - logo by Silke Müller

Liwoli sticker - logo by Silke Müller

I learnt that being seated while giving a presentation is really difficult and that presenting using Mac OS X at a event about Radical Openness is inevitably going to raise eyebrows. Once again I’m thinking again about switching to using Ubuntu or another Linux distribution.

However, the most important of the questions that arose at the end of Saturday’s presentation was “This is great, but why should I get involved?” Both Uschi and Marloes asked this question, almost at the same time and with great vigour – which prompted me to look at my slides and ask ‘Why don’t I have a “Why You Should Get Involved” slide’?

So here are three reasons why you should get involved with School of Webcraft. Can you suggest any more?

  1. You’re a web developer who needs to keep current with new technologies.
    • We offer learning on demand.
    • School of Webcraft is driven by learners like you, so the topics you can learn with us are up to date. If you’re such an early adopter you can’t find a course or study group to suit your needs, you can easily create one and help others get up to speed.
    • School of Webcraft is developed in partnership with Mozilla Foundation, the organisation behind the Firefox web browser. That means we can ask for expert advice from the great people who are working on the future of the web, including projects such as open video and advanced identity management.
  2. You use the web every day, now you want to find out how to build it yourself.
    • We’re a community of people learning how to build the web.
    • School of Webcraft is a safe place to learn how the web works, and our community is there to help you find the resources you need. You’ll be cooperating with other beginners which means that everyone is going through similar challenges at the same time and can help each other learn.
    • We want to support web developers as they further their careers with open web technologies, but we  want to help everyone else learn to build the web too, whether they’re a teacher, a scientist or an artist. If you want to learn how to make web sites, look for a beginners topic you want to join or create your own.
  3. You’re a guru in web development who wants to share that knowledge with others.
    • We learn using open and free learning resources. 
    • School of Webcraft follows P2PU’s model of bringing learners together around freely available learning resources. If you’ve got existing blog posts, slides, tutorials or screencasts that would be useful to learners we’d love to hear about them. You can offer your advice on the Webcraft discussion list or if you see an existing course you’d like to help, please contact the organisers.

I’m primarily focussing on the types of people we want to connect to when doing presentations, and haven’t elaborated on the other benefits of involvement, such as free, open or meeting people interested in the same things. I’d love for your ideas of other ways we can explain to people why they should get involved with School of Webcraft.

*#77 of the 100 things I want to learn more about

Blogging and Writing For The Web: Meeting Notes (May 13th)


I just helped facilitate the first synchronous meeting for the Blogging and Writing For The Web (B&W4TW) study group, and I think it went really well, great in fact.  I previously organised a basic web development course at P2PU, but until recently had no opportunity to organise a non-Webcraft project. This is a great opportunity to learn something new, improve my existing skills and to put some ideas about collaborative online learning into practice.

Blogging and Writing for the Web Study Group activity wall showing comments from group members

Study Group Activity Wall

I started the group at P2PU following a twitter conversation with Laura and Alina.  I wanted to improve my blogging in general and also want to feel more confident about my professional online writing skills within the School of Webcraft project.

Are we forming a study group or a support group?

One of the interesting things that came out of the meeting today was the feeling that B&W4TW acts not only as a study group where we improve our skills, but it also acts as a support group for people who, as Lynn described it, are “sole practitioners“.

We identified that we wanted to create an ongoing group that will continue to give value to participants even if the founding members feel confident enough to “graduate” and leave the group. Blackstar mentioned that as blogging is an online process where you can always improve, it’s difficult to identify what the conditions of study group completion would be.

Hacking Open Space Techniques and Bringing Them to the “Web”

This meeting allowed me to run an online hack of a facilitation technique that I’ve experienced in several open-space style events and which Etherpad seemed suited for.

Participants are invited to brainstorm the topics they wish to talk about (within the framing of the meeting), write it on post-it notes (1 idea per post-it!) and then their notes are shared on a large wall. The second stage of the process invites participants to sort through the ideas, find common themes and create category titles for the groupings, thereby identifying common interests across the group.

Is there a name for this technique? Leave a comment and any relevant links please!

This blogging study group meeting seemed the perfect place to test these ideas out. We met using the live chat tool Voxli and kept notes in Etherpad. We could identify common goals and issues we wanted to work through with the group and then use these shared issues as a way of identifying tasks that we can respond to within the P2PU Study Group. We spent about 5 minutes identifying our personal goals, another 5 minutes sorting them out and then spent 10 minutes or so working on tasks for the major categories we identified.

I made a screencast of the process in Etherpad – please excuse the demo watermark!

5 people participated in this process and it worked quite well. Working with a larger group would be difficult and one way I’d consider hacking the process would be to invite only 2 or 3 people to sort the ideas into groups. In a physical space it’s possible to talk with each other in the sorting process and to collaborate on group names – this is much harder to do online.

In general though, I think that this is a very valuable exercise for P2PU learning groups to work through at the beginning of their life-cycle. It identifies shared learning goals and gives everyone a part to play in the development of the group.

What we ended up with

We’re planning to meet again next Friday at the same time and next week someone else will take the role of primary facilitator.  We also recognised that the meeting time was difficult for those outside of Europe and East-Coast USA and encouraged members out of these time-zones to setup their own meetings if possible. We identified a list of key areas to work on in the group and have started creating tasks based on work we did in the meeting.

If you’re interested in participating in the Blogging and Writing For The Web study group, we’d love to have you join in! It’s easy, just create a P2PU account and sign-up to the group!

Shaping the Crowd – Subnet Talk


The lovely people at Subnet posted the video of the talk I gave in Salzburg at the end of March on “shaping the crowd” and open-learning and identity.

subnetTALK: Pippa Buchanan – shaping the crowd from subnetTALK on Vimeo.

I mention P2PU and School of Webcraft a little bit within the context of new places for learning, but primarily this talk is about how we can take control of our own learning by sharing and being open and reflects on my own experiences with the DIY Masters project.

Slides for the talk are available at Slideshare.

School of Webcraft Update – May 10th 2011

  • Want to learn open standards-based web development?
  • Interested in becoming a web developer, want to update existing skills or want to create webpages as a hobby?
  • Learn what you need to know at School of Webcraft,  a project developed in partnership by Mozilla Foundation and P2PU!

Check out our home page to learn about the project and see the study groups and courses on offer.

Can’t find a group that suits your needs?

If you can’t find a group you’d like to join, it’s easy –  create your own!
Don’t feel worried, the School of Webcraft community and the P2PU team are here to help! We’ll give you advice on finding learning materials, creating course plansand show you how to facilitate and promote your group. We’ll also put you in contact with people who can help you build your group.

The Open Web: Identity is the Platform.

The Open Web: Identity is the Platform. / Matthew Burpee / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

New groups created – can you help develop them?

There are some great new topics under development on the new site. These groups still need tasks, resources and learning plans outlined before they can be opened for sign-up.  If you’d like to help get these groups get ready, please contact the group’s organiser.

  • Federated Social Web
    • Focus on various protocols used to implement federation functionality for social networking
  • Introduction to PHP
    • Discover and explore server programming with the PHP scripting language
  • Introduction to Django
    • Learn the Django web framework for Python
  • Javascript Basics (Working Group)
    • We want to build the best Javascript Basics course. Do you know someone who can help?
    • So far there have been a lot of great Javascript related courses within School of Webcraft, but we want to collaboratively build a group that is the best resource possible.
  • Web Skills for Artists 101
    • Collaborate online with a Portland-based class learning how to think creatively about internet development.  This class is intended for those unfamiliar with the technical territory.

Groups Currently Open For Sign-Up

You can still sign-up to participate in these groups. You can also offer your assistanceto organise and improve a group.

Latest P2PU Platform Release – Lernanta r0.5

The fortnightly release of features for the new P2PU platform has just come out.

Create a study group

It’s easy, just create a P2PU account and follow the prompts.

Got a question about School of Webcraft?

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Join the Webcraft Discussion List

To participate in ongoing discussions about the project, sign-up here.

Sign up for announcements

To receive regular announcements about School of Webcraft, sign-up here.