Blog Post

Recap of AWESOME Mozilla Webinar on 4th R: Webmaking as Vital 21st C Skill

We just finished a wonderful conversation, accompanied by chat on the public etherpad tool.  You can find that here:
Or you can read the recap here.   Wonderful!   Mozilla Lizard Wranglers Rock.
Teaching the fourth “r:” webmaking as a vital 21st century skill
A fireside chat with author Cathy Davidson (4-5pm EST)
Feb 16 -- 4 to 5pm EST
For context and details on what we'll be talking about, please see this post:
Teaching the fourth ‘R’: a fireside chat with Cathy Davidson
Help spread the word!
Talking about the 4th "R". Webmaking as 21st century skill. Now with @CathyNDavidson @mozilla  #mozlearning
Speaker #1 - Cathy Davidson
Speaker #2 - Michelle Levesque 
Host: Mark Surman
*6 to mute
*7 to unmute
Event hashtag:
#mozlearning (!/search/mozlearning) 
Questions & Comments? 
Please add here:
  • Why should people care? What happens if we ignore the '4th R'?
  • What are two or three key skills that are a part of the '4th R'?
  • Who is doing a good job in this space right now?
  • Where do we have the most work to do?
  • How technical do we want people to become? Is coding what we mean?
  • Cathy: I would love it if every school kid learns code. But they don't have to become professional developers. Learning to code should be an essential skill. I hate worlds where you say the only way you can join is if you have specialized knowledge. You can have rich participation on the web even as a non-coder.
  • Michelle: They should feel comfortable picking up a new skill. Providing with enough info on the code (HTML likely). Having that info empowers them for the rest of their lives. But a formal programming language isn't necessary. One path, but not the only one. 
  • Mark: Do we expect learners to invest as much time on the 4th R as the other 3?
  • Cathy: If we did, we'd be so much better at math. It will change the way we think about the other 3. (citation? I'd like to be able to quote this with educators and administrators)
  • Examples of learning those skills without code?
  • Michelle: Take an abstract problem and teach how to estimate & solve the problem. The values into the question matter less than the formula. These concepts have many tools that support them & they work offline as well. 
  • Alina: As someone who studied Computer Science and mostly Algorithms Design, Programmming and Compilers I can say that the most important is the pseudocode (though in school I never agreed with this)! If you can understand how solve a problem, how to design an algorithm, then to learn a new programming language takes only a few days. 
  • Code: but do we mean html/css? do we mean learning a specific language? (from Jess)
  • Does 'algorithmic thinking' involve what Rheingold calls 'network literacy'?
  • How do we tell if people are learning what we want them to?
  • How do we tell if it's having any impact on their lives?
  • Cathy: We won't learn it by standardized tests. Those are anti-algorithmic thinking. The standards we use are very external. This is why I'm interested in badges. We won't know how to assess this kind of thinking unless we have system that understands this kind of thinking. Algorithmic thinking is diametically opposed to this standards-based thinking.
  • Michelle: Once when people learn that remixing is possible, they learn to appreciate remixing. And they value it. We may not be able to measure how they understand remixing as a concept. But we can see how they value openness, remix, etc. as they understand how it impacts them. 
  • Cathy: Maybe the way we test this thinking is more open-ended than "one solution." 
  • But how do I (overworked administrator trying to allocate resources) see how (or how well) 10K students value openness, remix, etc.? If I'm trying to tell whether approach X or approach Y is working, I can't read 10K essays---at some point, I need to aggregate that information. Need to provide a way for people in existing structures to do that in order to get their help in advancing our agenda.
  • Michelle: Mozilla's approach is to look & work with instructors. In smaller groups, you can see how the concepts take root with your students. 
  • You talked about the importance of citizenship in relationship to the 4th R- would you include an understanding of/ or a call to action around the ideals of the "open web" in this category?
  • Cathy: SOPA/PIPA is a sign that people are invested in this. But there are lots more people who need to be brought into it. You can teach what life would be like without the web. Cathy often assigns students to write about a world they don't have technologically.
  • Michelle: It's more about giving everyone the information & letting people fall on this side of the debate. Less a call to action, but an invitation to see what's happening in the world. 
  • Do we expect/require learners to invest as  much time in the fourth R as they invest in the other three? If so, what  do we think they won't do in order to free up that time?
  • If we are saying that a learner doesnt need to learn a specific technical language, are there different literacies that can be gained from gaming vs. coding? or--- is gaming included in the category of algorithmic thinking
  • Cathy: Yes! We should include them.
  • Michelle: Games have a particular kind of fun. Exploratoy, open world games. Where you can do what you want. You don't have to follow a linear story line. It also provides a motivation. But this doesn't necessarily have to come in the form of video games. But game mechanics can be used.
  • What are concrete steps to get algorithmic teaching into schools today?
  • Cathy: Work with institutions already ready to change. They will lead by example. Find ways we can have wins and celebrate those wins. And talk openly about what didn't work. But it won't happen overnight. 
  • Michelle: Empower the people who are already interested. Like an instructor ready to teach this, a learner wanting to learn more. Active the community. Then widen the arms. "People are more likely to try home plumbing if there's someone in the area that knows about plumbing." If you've got a friend that knows the web, it encourages you. 
  • Yes, how do we get it into the curriculum?  We could not get Ethics in to curriculum.  I teach at a community college - Obama wants Community colleges to get people ready for an Innovative workforce - so there is a wedge there.
  • yes competativeness, Thomas Friedman & Mandelbaum's That Used to Be Us says China, Singapore are our competition now.  FINLAND!
  • Cathy: The for-profit university movement is teaching the 4th R. It's part of it's success. The purpose isn't to teach people how to think, but how to make money for shareholders. It's not a matter of convincing people. Students are going to where this is being offered. It's an instutional challenge to get working on this.
  • Michelle: Mozilla is helping bring these people together, to talk to each other & share experiences. Help find people who've taught this stuff successfully. Target people already on board. It'll help with the people on the fence. 
  • Cathy: Analogy of a garden. Plant & watch it grow. You develop a sense of power and investment. And it rewards you. We need a digital garden. Maybe we need this as a space that's released from testing. A place just to let grow.
  • Gaming: James Gee (AZ state) says you would never think of giving someone a test after they played a game - the game itself is constantly testing you and rewarding you are you achieve
  • Also Dan Pink: motivation= mastery, automy (control) and purpose - games have them
  • A century???  !!!! - we really don't have the time- the world is moving around us too fast- back to Friendman 
  • Our educational system comes from the industrial age. 
  • Measured by metrics external to them
  • The 3 "R"s: Reading, WRiting, ARithmetic
  • The 4th R? 
  • Remix? ^^ (love it)
  • Participation
  • Collaboration
  • Iterative Thinking
  • **Algorithmic Thinking**
  • Teach people. Not only *how* to program. But show what code can do. How you can contribute.
What's more important is your interaction with people. With society. For a democracy.
Algorithmic Thinking is also social. You have to think about how it interacts with others. Includes others.
Working hard to protect democracy. Your life, your friendships, your relationships.
The web is part of us - part of our intellectual life and our social relationships.
Feel powerful enough to shape your future. Just like the other 3 R's. 
People who know basic code should be going into schools and teaching programming to young people - e.g. Scratch. Learning how to 'think in code'.
Give people time off to learn code. As part of your continued learning.
Honor up on skills as part of civic duty. A public service that helps everyone.
Mark: there's a zeitgeist around coding and computer science. Michelle L's been asked to break that down a bit in terms of how to 'attack' that. What do we wish more people knew?
Michelle: Mozilla agrees with what Cathy has been saying. What technical skills do you need to teach someone to be able to participate in the Web? But also, what are the softer skills that make up the Web? (e.g. can't just be uploading Word docs)
Want to turn people from using the web to making the web.
Michelle's break down:
Divide skills into 2 sections(3?)
MIT Media Lab's Scratch curriculum:
  • Technical concepts (CSS, etc.)
  • Web practices (searching, privacy, etc.)
  • Web ethos and values (remixing, collaborative making, etc.)
Media Suggestions:
  • (via Steve) Future of Digital Media | Screen, Interact, Share, Flow, Access, Generate #kevinkelly

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