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


Scouting for URLs

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’d been invited by fellow Mozilla Webmaker Mentor and first lady of EPIK, Dorine Flies, to help out at the Maker Party she’d organised for the Kent Scouts International Jamboree 2013. Number One Son Joe and I headed southwards to the garden of England the night before in readiness to rise at cockle-doodle-doo-o’clock on Friday morning. Wearing our pure white Mozilla Webmaker t-shirts, Dorine, Joe and I aided by members of Team EPIK set up shop in a hanger size tent with 20 laptops donated for the occasion by those lovely people from Toshiba.

Our Maker Party was led by Explorer Scout and boy genius Mozillian William Duyck, who conducted the assembled Scouts and Guides through introductions, warm up games and paper prototyping before they got down to the serious business of having fun, making movies of their Jamboree week using Popcorn Maker. Joe busied himself with his own project, while I, and several other Mozilla Mentors Dorine had trained weeks earlier, hovered helping out with questions and technical support. Also on hand was Mozillian Melissa Romaine (who organised the launch of Make Things, Do Stuff a brilliant initiative between Mozilla, Nesta and the Nominet Trust that I mentioned here).

Despite the overheated wifi dying and regenerating more times than Dr Who, (it was baking hot inside, which is why we held some other non-tech sessions outside) the Scouts/Guides were able to finish their creations and save them to their respective Webmaker pages. It was fantastic seeing our new Webmakers creating with Mozilla’s online tools, tools they’d only got to grips with earlier that day.

A big thank you to Dorine for organising this event and inviting me to help out. Although maybe next time we should do it somewhere cooler, like maybe the surface of the Sun?

Tags: mozilla, makerparty, teachtheweb


#teachtheweb: the mooc ends, the fun begins

Mozilla Webmaker Mentor badge

The nine-week Mozilla #teachtheweb mooc I’ve been on finished last week and I can now celebrate achieving my Mozilla Webmaker Mentor status (and with a cool badge to prove it too, above). As ever, I’ve been slow delivering my last two makes (projects) as the past two weeks have been really crazy at home/work, (I know, excuses, excuses) but they look like this…

For week eight’s Make It Real we were asked to invite people we care about to explore the web with us. This is something I’d kind of done for week seven, as I’d playtested my Webmaker class ideas with my family. So instead, I will be making my first contribution to the global 2013 Maker Party that runs from June 15 to September 15, by volunteering to #teachtheweb at the Kent International Jamboree 2013 summer camp with fellow Webmaker Mentor Dorine Flies.

Week nine’s make #teachtheweb #4life asked for a portfolio of makes and posts to apply for the Webmaker Mentor badge. As I have already earned mine, I have instead joined the Making Learning Connected (#clmooc) to learn more about Connected Learning. I will remain active in the Mozilla Webmakers G+ community, where I’ll keep contributing and sharing my #teachtheweb activities. I have a Webmaker session planned in September with my son’s scout troop and my next step is to approach local libraries to see if they might be interested in allowing me to run Webmaker sessions on their premises.

My #teachtheweb #4life starts here…

Tags: teachtheweb, mozilla


#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


#teachtheweb, week four: Turning kids into coders


Last week I had to leave my fellow Moz-keteers behind and swashbuckle alone to ponder on the theme of add the web to anything. Hacking a Thimble template created by the Mozilla Webmaker team I made this page listing the learning goals and web literacy skills I’d like to teach. I did find it a bit daunting collecting my thoughts and listing the ways I might teach young people to create for the web – especially when there are so many other, more experienced voices on this #teachtheweb mooc who have articulated their goals far more comprehensively than myself (such as Margaret Powers’ brilliant Helping Others Hack Learning (and Coding). However, #teachtheweb has a really supportive G+ community and I’ve already had plenty of great feedback and support from community members, including Margaret Powers herself.

On a separate note, I was also flattered to see that not only were two my ‘makes’ featured on this weeks Webmaker blog, but that my Webmaker introduction was featured on this week’s Teach The Web page. Wow!

It’s really inspiring how the world is now waking up to educating the web makers of the future and #teachtheweb is a great movement to be involved with – if you’re interested, just visit the #teachtheweb get started page.

Tags: teachtheweb, mozilla


#teachtheweb, week three: The Three Moz-keteers

As part of this week’s theme of the open web, I had to create a make with other budding Mozilla mentors on the #teachtheweb MOOC (Mozilla/Massive Open Online Course) to communicate what the open web meant to me. I ‘reached out’ for collaborators and wondered if anyone was crazy enough to work with me. Well, crazy or not, the request was met by Pekka Ollikainen of Finland and Karen Young from Canada. We three Moz-keteers planned on making an animation to illustrate our thoughts on the open web. We discussed what it meant to be open and how openness, collaboration and iteration have contributed to the snowballing success of the web. Karen had some other thoughts on the open web which you can read here.

After getting together on Wednesday, we set ourselves a deadline of the weekend to put forward ideas. Pekka contributed an animated gif about the perils of a closed web and how an open web is better; Karen sent over colour sketches illustrating how unexpected collaboration creates new ideas, and how sharing spreads this further and I made a typographic idea illustrating that the web has many faces, is constantly evolving and that it is open for everyone. Ideally, we wanted to put something together in Popcorn Maker, but we were running out of time to post something for Tuesday’s deadline, so we amalgamated all of our thoughts as they nicely dovetailed and I put together a little animated gif which you can see here (we are going to look at re-making this in Popcorn Maker and adding sound). It was really great collaborating in this way with people I’d only just met, working across three different timezones. Thank you, Karen and Pekka!

Tags: teachtheweb, mozilla


#teachtheweb – week two

Phew! I only just managed to hand in week two’s Teach the Web project, the day before this week’s began. As I mentioned in my last post, we were asked to take a fellow budding Mozilla Mentor’s Make (project) from week one and remix it. I chose Matt Jukes’ 5pointz Popcorn Maker movie and remixed it with a new sound track (Unorthodox by Joey Bada$$). I really enjoyed playing with Popcorn Maker, it’s an ingenious, simple time-line based editing tool built in HTML, CSS and Javascript. Over the weekend, I spent a couple of hours playing with it, and added some animated type to the beginning of Alfred Dunhill’s interview with John Hurt. You can see what I did here – I only animated his first sentence before my study time ran out, but I was really impressed with Popcorn Maker’s tools that allowed me to do this. As well as editing the timeline and adding your own media (video, music, pictures) it also allows you to add pop-up text, Google Maps, Twitter feeds and Wikipedia pages. Why not have a play yourself?

This week’s #teachtheweb theme is the open web – we have to create a Make about why being open is important to us and collaborate with a fellow Mozilla Mentor. So, if you’ll excuse me me, I have to go make myself presentable and find myself a fellow Mentor crazy enough to work with me…

Tags: teachtheweb, mozilla


#teachtheweb – week one

Steve Kirkendall's #teachtheweb week one project, a remix of Apple UK's home page.

For the first week of Mozilla’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Teach the Web, we fledgling Mozilla Mentors were asked to create an introduction to our fellow Mentors using one of Mozilla’s online web mash-up tools. Participants could choose to create in either Popcorn Maker, Thimble or X-Ray Goggles. I chose to remix Apple UK‘s home page with X-Ray Goggles (see above), which was great fun and garnered a few positive comments from the Mozilla Webmakers G+ community which was nice. You can see the real thing here.

The theme for this week was Making as Learning – Mozilla believe making and learning is a social activity, so we’re exploring how group activity shapes the creative process. This is based on the Connected Learning model – networks of organisations and individuals using technology to share knowledge and learning – a brilliant exploitation of social media if ever there was one. Read more about Connected Learning here.

Next week, Connected Learning in Practice – watch this space!

Tags: teachtheweb, mozilla


I've decided to #teachtheweb

Over the last few years if I haven’t been working, sleeping or (recently) running, then I’ve had my nose in various books about web design, trying to keep on top of things like HTML, CSS, Javascript and other languages designed to build the web. I’ve tried several of the online coding tutorial sites such as treehouse, Tuts+ Premium, Code School and Codecademy. I would never describe myself as a nerd, techie or even a geek, but coding for the web really means a lot to me.

When I heard about Mozilla‘s initiative to spread digital literacy with their Teach the Web programme, I wanted to join in. I have always wanted to get involved with things like the brilliant Code Club but felt too insecure of my coding abilities to contribute. With Teach the Web, you take advantage of a peer driven, worldwide Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) designed for all ages and abilities to give you everything you need to spread the word. All you need is a laptop, an internet connection, a G+ account and a desire to inspire. So, I’ve signed up to become a Webmaker Mentor and over the next few weeks, I’ll be playing with Mozilla’s web making tools, creating my own teaching materials and using my son as a guinea pig to test my teaching methods.

Tags: teachtheweb, mozilla