...being the blog of steve kirkendall egomaniac-about-town


#teachtheweb, weeks five, six and seven: it's a family affair

It begins – me hosting my first ever #teachtheweb playtesting kitchen party

I have, until recently, been good about turning in my #teachtheweb Webmaker makes (projects) on time, but a brief bout of man flu and advanced analogue activity dented my usual productivity. But I’ve finally caught up this week – I finished my lesson plan for a Maker Party (week five’s Webmaking as Learning make), so I was then able to ask other Mozilla Webmaker mentors for their feedback (week six’s Peers Working in the Open) before taking their comments on board and hosting a Playtesting Kitchen Party last night at home for week seven’s make. Phew!

Originally, I was going to #teachtheweb to my wife and two teenagers, but as my son is already code savvy (we’ve had various sessions on HTML, CSS and JavaScript as well as X-Ray Goggles and his now-beloved Popcorn Maker) I asked him to be the photographer for the session instead. It was a good call as both Mrs K and my daughter Eve, know nothing of the inner workings of the web, so I had to make sure I was being clear in communicating my lesson as I wasn’t preaching to the converted.

My notes for my #teachtheweb kitchen party

Working from a print out of my lesson plan (something I would try not to do for a real session), I began with a little warm up asking my audience if they knew the difference between the internet and the web – was there a difference? And if the internet was a person, was it a man or a women (unsurprisingly both my wife and daughter thought it would be a woman). And if we could look inside it, what would be making the internet tick? For a real session, I would ask participants to create a drawing illustrating their thoughts, but because I was keeping this session brief, we just discussed it instead, but it still generated some great ideas.

Once we’d imagined what the web might look like and how it might work, I covered the nuts and bolts of web page construction with a brief explanation of HTML, CSS and Javascript using the analogies featured in this Webmaker presentation (HTML as the web page’s skeleton, Javascript as the muscles and CSS as the skin and clothing) and how this translates into displaying a web page in a browser. Mrs K found this analogy really useful in explaining the web making trinity. This flowed nicely into introducing them to X-Ray Goggles to investigate said nuts and bolts and they were amazed at how they were able to hack a web page and change all the navigation titles into slightly rude words.

Karen at my #teachtheweb kitchen party

Speaking loudly to cover up their laughter at the havoc they’d wreaked on the Debenhams home page, I wrapped up the session by asking if they were surprised by the difference between how they imagined the web might work as opposed to how it actually did, if they now understood the part HTML, CSS and Javascript played and if they felt confident hacking web pages using Mozilla’s Webmaker tools. I was really pleased that they both did ‘get it’ and that they’d learnt a few things. Obviously, my session was a slightly rough around the edges, but I got some good feedback from my participants during it as to how I might improve it (like having some prepared elements ready for our slight detour into Thimble). So, a brush up and a polish then maybe another fuller Kitchen Party at home with more people (perhaps my teenagers’ friends as suggested by fellow Webmaker mentor Dorine Flies) before I take my lesson out into the wide world and #teachtheweb for real.

Gratitude Dept: Many thanks to Mozilla Mentors Michelle Thorne, Heather Angel and the aforementioned Dorine Flies for feeding back on my makes and helping me to improve my lesson plan. And as a result of this week’s endeavours I’ve been awarded my Mozilla Mentor Badge, which made me very happy. My next make is this week’s Make it Real where you #teachtheweb to people you care about, which, I guess, you could say I’ve done here. But I want to to make it real properly with either an expanded Kitchen Party or maybe holding a session somewhere in my community. I’ve approached my son’s Scout troop to see if they would be interested in a Maker Party with Popcorn Maker and they were. However, that won’t be until September, so I will try to run something else sooner.

Tags: teachtheweb, mozilla


Make Things Do Stuff

Make Things Do Stuff logo

Last week, I came across a story on the Mozilla Webmakers G+ community posted by Chris Lawrence detailing Kat Brybrooke and Dorine Flies experience of running a Webmaker station at the Make Things Do Stuff launch. After reading Kat’s great post, I scooted over to the Make Things Do Stuff website and promptly had my mind blown.

Make Things Do Stuff is part of the growing global movement of organisations like Mozilla Webmakers, who want to inspire young people to move from being web consumers to web creators. They want to make young people’s desire to learn to code a reality and, in their words, to “mobilise the next generation of digital makers”. They’ve partnered not only with Mozilla, Nesta and Nominet Trust, but other influential digital educators and enablers such as Codecademy, O’Reilly and Facebook (they have the blessing of Chancellor George Osbourne too, as evidenced by his attendance at the Make Things Do Stuff launch). These partners share the Make Things Do Stuff values of understanding digital technologies, learning through making and working in a open and collaborative way. They believe these skills should be spread across all sections of life, not just for web or budding web developers, but teachers, doctors, lawyers, civil servants, journalists, filmmakers, musicians and artists – only a society that can talk to technology can help to create an amazing future for everyone.

Their website is full of really clever, simple learning resources of their own as well as other great resources donated by Mozilla, Codecademy, Decoded, Udemy and Code School. As a graphic designer and part time front end developer, I was smitten not only by this plethora of great content, but also their fun, colourful graphics with their cheeky CSS animations.

Make Things Do Stuff are after more organisations and individuals to mentor and advocate their mission – interested? Why not say hello and get involved.

Illustration of people from Make Things Do Stuff website

PS. I did and not because one of their characters looked a bit like me (above, second right).

All images ©2013 Make Things Do Stuff.

Tags: mozilla, makethingsdostuff