Literacies

by Doug Belshaw

Dr. Doug Belshaw consults around digital literacies, Open Badges, and educational technology.

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Is grunt ‘n’ click getting in the way of web literacy?

I’ve just listening to a fascinating episode of the 99% Invisible podcast. It’s Episode 149: Of Mice and Men and its subject is my much-more-talented namesake Doug Englebart.

Cat and cursor

The episode covered The Mother of All Demos, after which Steve Jobs took some of Englebart’s ideas and ran with them. However, instead of the three-buttoned mouse and ‘keyset’ originally envisioned, we got the single-button Apple mouse. The MacBook Pro I’m typing on this retains this legacy: if I want to ‘right-click’ I have to hold down the Option key.

Christina Englebart explained her father believed that simplicity only gets you so far. We may be in an age where toddlers can intuitively use iPads and smartphones but a relentless focus on this has led to a ceiling on the average user’s technical skills. The analogy used was the difference between a tricycle and a bicycle. Anyone can immediately get on a

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Considerations when creating a Privacy badge pathway

Between June and October 2014 I chaired the Badge Alliance working group for Digital and Web Literacies. This was an obvious fit for me, having previously been on the Open Badges team at Mozilla, and currently being Web Literacy Lead.

Running

We used a Google Group to organise our meetings. Our Badge Alliance liaison was my former colleague Carla Casilli. The group contained 208 people, although only around 10% of that number were active at any given time.

The deliverable we decided upon was a document detailing considerations individuals/organisations should take into account when creating a Privacy badge pathway.

Access the document here

We used Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map as a starting point for this work, mainly because many of us had been part of the conversations that led to the creation of it. Our discussions moved from monthly, to fortnightly, to weekly. They were wide-ranging and

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Ontology, mentorship and web literacy

This week’s Web Literacy Map community call was fascinating. They’re usually pretty interesting, but today’s was particularly good. I’m always humbled by the brainpower that comes together and concentrates on something I spend a good chunk of my life thinking about!

Brain

I’ll post an overview of the entire call in on the Web Literacy blog tomorrow but I wanted to just quickly zoom out and focus on things that Marc Lesser and Jess Klein were discussing during the call. Others mentioned really useful stuff too, but I don’t want to turn this into an epic post!


 Marc

Marc reminded us of Clay Shirky’s post entitled Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags. It’s a great read but the point Marc wanted to extract is that pre-defined ontologies (i.e. ways of classifying things) are kind of outdated now we have the Internet:

No filesystem

In the Web 2.0 era (only 10 years ago!) this was called a f

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How we’re building v1.5 of Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map in Q1 2015

The Web Literacy Map constitutes the skills and competencies required to read, write and participate on the web. It currently stands at version 1.1 and you can see a more graphical overview of the competency layer in the Webmaker resources section.

Minecraft building

In Q1 2015 (January-March) we’ll be working with the community to update the Web Literacy Map to version 1.5. This is the result of a consultation process that initially aimed at a v2.0 but was re-scoped following community input. Find out more about the interviews, survey and calls that were part of that arc on the Mozilla wiki or in this tumblr post.

Some of what we’ll be discussing and working on has already been scoped out, while some will be emergent. We’ll definitely be focusing the following:

  • Reviewing the existing skills and competencies (i.e. names/descriptors)
  • Linking to the Mozilla manifesto (where appropriate)
  • Decide

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Bittorrent’s Project Maelstrom is ‘Firecloud’ on steroids

Earlier this week, BitTorrent, Inc. announced Project Maelstrom. The idea is to apply the bittorrent technologies and approaches to more of the web.

Project Maelstrom

Note: if you can’t read the text in the image, it says: “This is a webpage powered by 397 people + You. Not a central server.” So. Much. Win.

The blog post announcing the project doesn’t have lots of details, but a follow-up PC World article includes an interview with a couple of the people behind it.

I think the key thing comes in this response from product manager Rob Velasquez:

We support normal web browsing via HTTP/S. We only add the additional support of being able to browse the distributed web via torrents

This excites me for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve thought on-and-off for years about how to build a website that’s untakedownable. I’ve explored DNS based on the technology powering Bitcoin, experimented with the

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Feedback on the Web Literacy Map from the LRA conference

Last week, leaving midway through the Mozilla coincidental workweek, I headed to Florida for the Literacy Research Association conference. Mozilla was invited by contributor Ian O'Byrne to lead a session on Web Literacy Map v1.1 and our plans for v2.0.

Rainbow

You can find what I talked about in this post: Toward The Development of a Web Literacy Map: Exploring, Building, and Connecting Online.

We received some great feedback from the following discussants:

  • Richard Beach, University of Minnesota
  • Amy Stornaiuolo, University of Pennsylvania
  • Bridget Dalton, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Colin Harrison, University of Nottingham

It was difficult to capture it all, so I’m just going to list my takeaways. Special thanks to Amy who sent me her notes!


 What’s the theory of learning driving the Web Literacy Map?

We talk about Mozilla’s approach to learning in the Webmaker

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[IDEA] Webmaker Clubs: three legs to the stool

Yesterday, during the Mozilla work week, some comments made by my colleagues made me think about Webmaker Clubs using a new metaphor. I tested it out in a few conversations and it didn’t get shot down, so I’m recording it here to come back to.

Three legs to the Webmaker Clubs stool?

I thought about there being ‘three legs to the stool’ for Webmaker Clubs (name TBC):

  • Web literacy
  • Facilitation
  • Pedagogy/ethos

The Web Literacy Map (currently v1.1 but soon v2.0) provides the basis for curriculum and learning pathways. We can build off this in a fairly straightforward way - and in fact Laura Hilliger has begun to do just that.

What I feel we need is some kind of ‘map’ for the other two legs of the stool. What what this look like for facilitation skills? What about for pedagogy/ethos?

I was asked for clarity on pedagogy/ethos. It probably needs a better name, but all I mean here are the approaches to teaching and learning

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A Brief History of Web Literacy and its Future Potential [DMLcentral]

Further to an earlier post on the history of web literacy, I’ve just had an article published at DMLcentral. Entitled A Brief History of Web Literacy and its Future Potential, it weighs in at over 3,000 words – so you might want to sit down with a cup of coffee before starting to read it!

A Brief History of Web Literacy and its Future Potential

After doing some additional research on top of that I did for my thesis, I’ve identified five ‘eras’ of web literacy:

  • 1993-1997: The Information Superhighway
  • 1999-2002: The Wild West
  • 2003-2007: The Web 2.0 era
  • 2008-2012: The Era of the App
  • 2013+: The Post-Snowden era

As I say in the article:

It’s worth noting that what follows is partial, incomplete, focused on the developed, western world, and only a first attempt. I’d be very grateful for comment, pushback, and pointers to other work in this area.

Click here to read the article in full at DMLcentral


Questions? Comments? Please add them to

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Toward The Development of a Web Literacy Map: Exploring, Building, and Connecting Online

LRA slides

I’m presenting at the Literacy Research Association conference next Friday. I got some useful feedback after my previous post so this is pretty much the version I’m going to present. The slides are above (modern web browser with fast JavaScript performance required!)

 Introduction

Hi everyone, and thanks to Ian for the introduction. I’m really glad to be here - it’s my first time in Florida and, although I’ll only be here for about 46 hours, I plan to make full use of the amount of sunshine. I come from the frozen wastelands of northern England where most of us have skin like ‘Gollum’ from Lord of the Rings. Portland, Oregon - where I’ve just come from a Mozilla work week - was actually colder than where I live!

But, seriously, I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you about something that’s really important to the Mozilla community - web literacy. It’s a topic I don’t think

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On the denotative nature of programming

This is just a quick post almost as a placeholder for further thinking. I was listening to the latest episode of Spark! on CBC Radio about Cracking the code of beauty to find the beauty of code. Vikram Chandra is a fiction author as well as a programmer and was talking about the difference between the two mediums.

It’s definitely worth a listen [MP3]

The thing that struck me was the (perhaps obvious) insight that when writing code you have to be as denotative as possible. That is to say ambiguity is a bad thing leading to imprecision, bugs, and hard-to-read code. That’s not the case with fiction, which relies on connotation.

This reminded me of a paper I wrote a couple of years ago with my thesis supervisor about a ‘continuum of ambiguity’. In it, we talk about the overlap between the denotative and connotative aspects of a word, term, or phrase being the space in which ambiguity

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