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


#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


Eve ran the Race for Life

Eve Kirkendall running Race For Life 2013 in Norwich

This weekend, the Norfolk Showground turned pink again as over 7,000 ladies of all ages (and their dogs) turned up to raise money for Cancer Research UK’s fight against cancer. I’m proud to say that one of their number was my daughter Eve, who’s been training hard these past ten weeks to get herself ready to run the 10k race, the furthest she’s ever run.

I Race For Life for Grandma, 1943-2013.

Eve was running for her Grandma (my mother-in-law Pat) who died suddenly of a brain tumour last summer. As you’d imagine, it was a very emotional day. Mrs K and I both found ourselves a bit tearful turning up and seeing the word cancer everywhere. It was sobering knowing that everyone who was running had had their lives touched by cancer. However, it was a great atmosphere, helped by the presence of Heart Radio, who hosted warm up sessions and sing-a-longs to get everyone pumped up. Eve did really well, finishing the course in one hour and ten minutes (her time didn’t matter, but now I’m a runner, I get a bit obsessed with race times) and raised £951 for Cancer Research UK. Once across the line we all hugged and cried, a sight common at Race for Life and one you can be quite cynical about until you’re involved raising money for a loved one.

Eve Kirkendall with her Race For Life 2013 medal.

Other highlights included the aforementioned dogs effortlessly running with their owners, the Army cadets at the finish line dancing to Mambo Number Five in unison like something out of a West End musical and the fact that Eve and her boyfriend Bobby, both got photographed for the Heart Radio Race for Life 2013 web page.

Evie, we are all so proud of you – Grandma would have been too.

Tags: running, cancerresearchuk


#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


I ran the Dereham 10

Running Number and medal for the May 2013 Dereham 10 race.

After running the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, I made the rash decision to keep on running. Having discovered, via the medium of black toenails (pictures on request) that I’d run the marathon in the wrong trainers, I decided to buy some new ones. Two weeks ago, after a great lunch with Team K in the Reading Rooms, we walked just a little further up Nelson Street to The Runners Centre where we left with new trainers for me and Number One Son. I also left with a list of upcoming races in our local area. I thought that if I was to continue running, pounding the pavements solo was not a good idea. So, I signed up for both the Dereham 10 (miles) and the Humpty Dumpty 10k. I’d planned on having a ten mile run on Sunday, so the Dereham race was a good fit. However, when Team K arrived at Neatherd High School, the start and finish line for the race, I was quite shocked to be confronted by a sea of serious runners (including Ellie Matthews, one of the fastest runners at Virgin Money). These people not only made me look silly before any running started, but also made me feel completely inadequate as nearly all of them went for a quick spin around the playing field to warm up. I passed this off by explaining that crying and looking like you were about to wet yourself was the usual way that I warmed up. Gulping down my panic and trying to ignore the middle-age gentlemen massaging their bare buttocks in the registration area (hey, it’s a free country), I counted the butterflies in my stomach to pass the time before Team K escorted me onto the main road for the start.

I was right at the back of the field and fiddling around with my iPhone running app when the race started. And no, I don’t recommend starting a race by wrestling an iPhone onto to your arm while trying to look where you’re going at the same time. I started with a group of ladies and was unsure how to pace myself, but I realised, given the competition, that I couldn’t really start as slow as I might have liked. So I left the ladies behind and slowly picked off similar runners one by one to get into the swing of things and to ensure that I didn’t finish last. After a while I met a group of younger women, who after a while I overtook. However, one of them, who looked uncannily like Davina McCall, kept pace with me. Just as I was wondering how I was going to run ahead of her before she left me for dust, she asked if she could run with me. Gasping in the affirmative, we both started chatting about our reasons for running, how we’d both done the London marathon and what a difference running had made to our lives. It was great, we both kept each other paced and she told me our times on her Garmin and congratulated me on my (now) best ever 10k. We kept on like this until two miles from the end when the hill and wind on the final approach caused her to slow. Waving me on, I left her and finished the final stretch on my own. Mrs K suggested I try and beat my ten mile training time of one hour and forty-two minutes, but I beat that by eight minutes. I was really pleased as you’d expect, especially as during the difficult last two miles I developed two really painful blisters. I finished in 191st place out of a field of 216 (Pete Johnson, who sold me my trainers, finished 28th) and Lisa, my pace maker, crossed the line in 193rd place. It was a great experience and my first proper race amongst some serious runners. And next time, I hope to do better.

Tags: running


#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


Kept on running

Cartoon of Steve Kirkendall running wearing shirt with "I Am One"

It’s hard to believe that a year ago today, I took myself off for a three mile run at lunchtime, my first taste of road running since 1986. I couldn’t even run it all in one go and I had to walk part of the way back to work. Since then, I’ve chalked up another 119 runs, covering 682 miles, including a half and full marathon, and miraculously, my body is still ready for more.

Some people have kindly said that my efforts have inspired them to run (if only to get away from me). I can recommend it. Running’s a great way to make you feel good about yourself, it gives you a real sense of achievement and it’s a great anxiety killer. I intend to keep it up until my body says otherwise (famous last words).

Tags: running


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