Teach the Web Constructive Criticism: Web Literacy Skills Proposal

This week, at the Teach the Web MOOC, we are being asked to consider the ways that we can offer constructive feedback and criticism to the ideas of others, in a way that is truthful but also positive. Given how much we discern meaning from face-to-face contact with others, technology at once makes criticism easier and more difficult. One of the suggestions is that we take a look at the developing Web Literacy Skills document that a team associated with Mozilla is working on, and offer up some feedback on how it looks, how it might work, and what strengths and weaknesses we notice about it.

I decided to use Thinglink to layer in some comments on top of the competency grid (a visual representation of the ideas being generated), in hopes of using technology to offer feedback in a meaningful way.

Check out my Thinglink Critique

And here it is, embedded. Just hover over the image and find points where I have added notes.

Peace (in the feedback),



Letting the Poem Go: A Collaborative Writing Experiment with Teach the Web

poem playback
Writers often hoard ideas, right? We huddle with our screens, our pens, our ink and paper, and use our mind as a net to gather ideas and make sense of them. I do that. But I am also intrigued by the collaborative nature of online spaces and how we might open up our own ideas to others and let our stories and poems go, and see where they end up.

This week, I used a tip from the Teach the Web MOOC to use Edit Pad, and I started a poem, which I then tossed into the world with an invitation for others to add, remix, delete, and do what they would with my words. You never know who might be up for such a challenge, but luckily for me, I had Ian, Chad, Hayfa and Laura willing to jump into the mix.

collab poem

And wow …. it was pretty cool. Not only did they add words, they added a music soundtrack, a background image, different kinds of fonts … as well as their own lines of poetry. You might think it would be cool to watch that collaborative process unfold, right? Well, with Edit Pad, you can. This open source html editor/notebook comes with a “time slider” so that you can watch the document grow from start to finish. I found it mesmerizing, particularly as my words truly did become fence posts for the others to build around.

Or maybe we need another analogy. Maybe my words were stars, and Chad, Ian, Hayfa and Laura built a galaxy around me. I like that much better.

See the final poem

View the edit mode of the poem (go ahead — add some more)

Thank you to Laura and Chad and Hayfa and Ian for being writers with me.

Peace (in the poem),


Teach the Web: Making a MentorMob around Digital Footprints

This week, at the Teach the Web MOOC, the discussions and activities seem to fall under two categories: there’s the issue of considering privacy issues when using technology and there is the issue of webmaking as learning, and sharing practices. One of the suggested activities is to pull together resources using a site called MentorMob, so I dove in and tried to weave those two issues together in a way that makes sense for me.

The topic I developed was around “digital footprints” and how to help students understand that what they do today reverberates into tomorrow. See what you think:

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

I am not sure I used the full potential of MentorMob yet, as it seems like another way to create a trail of sites (I use Jog the Web, which is similar) but I am open to exploring new resources and thinking through some possibilities.

Peace (in the mob),


Teach the Web: Empowering Student Agency and Creativity

Webmaker Project Student Agency Ideas

Over at the Teach the Web MOOC, the task this week (week four) is to create a resource that will push our thinking around the work we have done so far with remixing, creating and more into the realm of education. This is a crucial step forward for those of us playing around with the Mozilla Webmaker tools and others.

As the Teach the Web folks put it:

“Our aim is to continue strengthening this community, sharing experiences and make some hackable, shareable resources that push the boundaries of participatory, collaborative, learner-centric learning.”

The task includes a hackable Thimble activity page that allows you to use a template to build and share a resource of ideas.

Here is Mine, which I called “Not So Secret Agents.”

What I was exploring in this resource is a push to give students and young people more agency in the world of digital media, and thinking about how tools such as XRay Goggles, Thimble, Popcorn Maker might engage them in the work and play of understanding the digital media world. In making not just the web more visible but also the intent of media producers, my hope is that young people become more active participants and creators, instead of passive consumers.

This thinking is valuable to me, not just now with my sixth graders, but also for this summer, when I am slated to teach a digital literacy workshop for five weeks with high school students in a nearby urban center. The program, which the Western Massachusetts Writing Project is a partner to, aims for English Language Learners. My workshop with students will be centered around hacking literacies and video game design, and all this work with Teach the Web is really informing my thinking and helping me put the pieces together for the summer.

This particular activity — the resource I am sharing here — gave me room to frame some of the larger ideas around using technology and digital tools to empower students. That’s an important message for me to remember, and nurture, and build lesson and activities off of.

Peace (in the agency),


Teach the Web: One Comic, Two Comics, Three Comics, Four

Yesterday, I wrote about how I collaborated with three online friends to create a webcomic in Bitstrips for Schools, as part of our activity and exploration with the Teach the Web MOOC. After that post (and in that post), I called on my collaborators to consider “remixing” the comic, as that is an option within Bitstrips. We’ve been doing a lot of remixing as part of Teach the Web and so, remixing our comic seemed like a natural progression forward.

So, here is the progression of comics. First, you have the original that all four of us made together. (Note: if you are reading this in RSS, you may not see the comic. It is a flash comic browser, I invite you to venture to my blog to see the comics unfold frame by frame in the embedded flash format).

Second, I took that and remixed it, adding a side panel with some commentary.

Then, Margaret took my remix, and remixed it another time.

Chad went off in another direction, remixing the content of the original comic more than the comic itself. I love the variations.

Peace (in the remixing),


Collaboration on a Webcomic: Hack the Web

(you might want to use the full-screen option)

This week’s suggested activity with the Teach the Web MOOC is to find collaborators and try your hand at a collaboration. I put out a call for folks to join me in a Bitstrips activity, and three fellow MOOCers (Chad, Margaret, Hayfa) jumped in. What we worked on together in a Bitstrips for Schools space that I set up was a webcomic poking fun at “How to Hack the Web.” In Bitstrips, you can start a comic, and then pass it along to someone else in the space. So, I began the first panel, and then shipped it off to Chad, and then we shipped it off to Margaret, and then we shipped it off to Hayfa. I then got the comic back and added the last two panels, and boom … it was done.

Which is not to say there weren’t some challenges. The comic got lost in Bitstrips for a spell, and I had to dig around our accounts to find it and keep it on track. I also was using Google Plus to let my partners know when the comic was coming their way, but those hurdles ended up being minor, and within two days, our collaboration was published and in the Teach the Web sharing spaces.

There are a few things I like about this kind of activity:

  • The activity forced us to think about collaboration. The past few weeks, we’ve sort of been working on our own, even if we were remixing other people’s work. Here, though, it was a real collaboration. I had to wait for my partners to find time to get my updates and work on their panel. (Yeah, I find myself impatient as a collaborator at times because projects take over my head … that’s another comic for another time.)
  • I like how we used humor to make  a point about the rate of change with technology and learning.
  • I like that we used comics for our collaboration – the visual literacy ideas. When Chad took the idea onto a “train,” I wondered where it might go, and then Margaret kept the train motif going, as did Hayfa. I suppose we could have to pursued that metaphor a bit further, but we didn’t, and maybe we didn’t have to, either.
  • I remembered that there is a “remix” option in the comic site, so any of us could go back and remix our collaborative comic and make something new. I wonder if they will give it a try …. (hint)
  • In the last panel, I wanted to make sure I credited all of us, and then I found myself putting words into the mouths of my collaborators. I know Chad well, but I don’t know Margaret or Hayfa, so I was holding back a bit because I didn’t want to offend anyone, you know?
  • We received some nice feedback in the Teach the Web community, which validated our collaboration. That’s always nice.

Peace (in the frames),

PS — I embedded a flash version of the comic above, but here is the full comic, too.
Hack the Web Comic


Taking Up the Stopmotion Motion Remix Offer (from a Kindergarten Class)

I’ve had remix on my mind the past week, as part of the Teach the Web MOOC (now in its third week), and I came across this blog post by Kindergarten teacher Ben Sheridan, who writes about doing stopmotion movies with his students. The post is a nice example of reflective sharing, and then Sheridan tells his readers (the world) that some students created a video and they want to invite others to remix it and add narration. The class published the video, without audio, and Sheridan explained:

“We talked it over when we were done shooting and decided to share it out without adding any audio. They would like other classes to add their own audio and share it back with us. They want to see how many versions of the movie can be made. We even talked about having people remix the video as well but that may be a bit of a stretch. We’ll see if any one take that approach.” — Ben Sheridan

How can one resist that challenge and it occurred to me that using Popcorn Maker might be the way to go, since I could just borrow the video from Vimeo, and layer in some audio and other things. So, I did, using their Star Wars theme and twisting it around a bit to create a story of a cupcake thief (figuring the kindergarten kids would get a kick out of that). I then wrote a letter to the class at the blog, sharing my remix and encouraging them to be creative.

What I noticed as I was remixing was the “invisible audience” of Sheridan’s classroom. I wanted to amuse them and also respect the work that they had done. It was an honor that they bestowed on us to use their work for new purposes, and even as I was re-imagining the story (thinking, too, of the story they were probably thinking as they created their video), it felt less like theft and more like appreciation. And I guess that is the goal of most remix efforts — celebrating the original even as you try to move it in a new direction. In my mind, it would not have made sense to record an audio track that matched exactly what they had in mind when filming. I felt the need to move the remix in an unexpected direction, and by doing that, I was empowered to be creative in my efforts. That’s been the real lesson around remixing, I think.
Cupcake Thief Remix

Go view the Star Wars Cupcake Thief remix

How about you? You want to try a remix of their video? Either go to Ben’s post or use their video down below to remix your own story. You don’t have to use Popcorn Maker, as I did, but you can. If you do, be sure to share the link and remix with the class, and I’d love to see it, too. (You can even use the remix button my Popcorn project, if that helps).

Peace (in the remix),



Screencast Tutorial: Making a Popcorn Maker Video

A friend and colleague, Gail P., had asked in the Teach the Web MOOC if folks would create video tutorials on how they are using the webmaker tools. I decided to take her up on the challenge with Popcorn Maker, and made this. I realized afterwards that the audio is low and tried my best to boost it up. Sorry about that!

Here is the Popcorn video that I made during the session for Gail, which builds off the Digital Is animation that I shared yesterday.

Check out the Digital Is Popcorn Video

Peace (in the sharing),


Climbing the Architecture of a Website

One of the wonderful things about being part of a community in the midst of exploration is that folks share out all sorts of cool ideas, and then those ideas spark other ideas. The other day, I wrote about how Michelle in the Teach the Web MOOC explained how to use a view setting in Firefox to see a 3D image image of websites. My friend, Chad, then used a screenshot and added some art to the image:

He also suggested we think of ways to make art with the 3D modeling, which led to me think about making an animated video with Pivot Stickfigure, in which the character “climbs” up the architecture of a website. Instead of my own blog, I used the National Writing Project’s Digital Is site.

I’d love to see what other people might do. Is that a challenge? Sort of.

Peace (along the mountains of data),



Considering A Culture of Remix

I’ve been trying to think about the act of “remixing” this week, mostly as a result of the activities over at the Teach the Web MOOC. My friend, Chad, shared this fantastic Ignite Talk video from Nishant Shah, who delves into the validation of remixing and how the act of remixing balances the art of creation, recreation and authenticity of the original work even while creating something new. Over at the MOOC, folks have been taking each other’s work and remixing it in different ways, so Nishant Shah’s presentation resonated with me.

I’m still struck by the question of whether most folks who publish original content are OK with remixing of their work by others. I’m not losing sleep over it or anything but still … the easy ability to take someone’s video or music or art, and recast it (either in a positive or negative light) with technology hints at the larger question of “ownership” in the digital age.  Do we assume that anything we publish online is fair game for remix? It’s a fascinating topic, I think. (I am sure that somewhere, lawyers are getting paid a few thousand dollars an hour to argue about it).

See what Chad did to me, for example. I found it amusing, and insightful, but I admit to wondering when I first clicked the play button: what’s he done with my words and video and twitter feed? What if, instead of using my own blog post words, he put a political diatribe in there, against my political views (such as advocating federal support for the NRA or something)? What if the words coming out of my mouth were not my own? In that case, instead of being amused by the remix, I’d be angry at what he had done. But so what? The remix would have been published, distributed and out of my control at that point. Would my only recourse be another remix? (or hiring one of those lawyers?)

But I do know that I have students who do mash-ups of videos, and remix music that they like, and they don’t even think about ownership issues when doing so. They are only thinking that they want to remake the original of something into something new. THAT is the remix thought process for a lot of young people.

Peace (in the mixing),