Mozilla Club Leadership Training in Nairobi and Cape Town

As part of our work with UN Women to teach key digital skills to young women we’ve been busy launching Mozilla Clubs in Nairobi and Cape Town and I recently had the opportunity to visit both communities and run a Mozilla Club Leadership Training in each city. Though the experiences were different in each city, both trainings were key to the launch of Mozilla Clubs and development of the club participates. For quick viewing you can see the Cape Town report here and pictures here. As well as the Nairobi report here and pictures here. 



Trip Objectives

As a follow-up to hiring our Regional Coordinators in March and launching Mozilla Clubs for women in Nairobi and Cape Town in April, we set out with the objective of running local trainings in each city in May.

The goals of the trips were to:

  • Kickstart the creation and launch of 10 clubs in each city
  • Visit Clubs and talk to local Club Captains to understand how to better support them
  • Train Club Captains how to teach Web Literacy in engaging and inclusive ways
  • Work with each Regional Coordinator to assess needs and priorities (while doing some team bonding!)
  • Bring together a community to support and encourage the program on the ground
  • Bring local UN Women subsidiaries into the program, as well as other close partners

Local Mozilla Clubs

In Nairobi I was able to visit Mozilla Club Web Titans (case study here) in a local community empowerment center. The club is in the early stages of launching but doing a great job of engaging the young women who attended and taking our popular activities like Craken the Code offline. Unfortunately due to the heavy rain storms in Nairobi the other clubs we wanted to visit were flooded. We did manage to spend a lot of time visiting local co-working and community spaces which allowed us to share the program and bring in additional stakeholders to the work.

In Cape Town we’ve developed a great partnership with the University of Western Cape where 5 of their IT students are facilitating their learning in the classroom with young girls in nearby high schools. We did get to spend a lot of time at The Barn which is a co-working space for technology entrepreneurs and also host to Mozilla Club Lookout Hill (case study here) which is a club focusing on connecting older women who own small businesses and helping them learn what the web can do for their businesses. We also visited COSAT High School where our youngest Club Captain, Asisipho, is running a club for her classmates during their weekly study time (case study here).

Mozilla Clubs in Nairobi

Mozilla Club Leadership Training

In both cities, I designed a schedule for the day-long trainings that would allow attendees to see and understand how to teach Web Literacy components in ways that are engaging, participatory and fun while also understanding what it means to create safe spaces online/offline and how to tackle local issues that were relevant to women in their communities while using the web. The full schedule can be viewed here and includes a facilitation guide that helps support Club Captains, or others, to run similar activities or trainings in the future. Here are reports from both trainings and pictures of all the clubs and trainings:

Read what happened at the Cape Town training here.

And see what happened in the pictures from Cape Town.

Read what happened at the Nairobi training here.

And see what happened in the pictures from Nairobi.

Post-Event Survey

After the training events we sent attendees a survey to gauge their learning and confidence taking the material forward. We learned that,

  • Attendees strongly agreed that they now understand what it means to read, write and participate on the web and how to teach it.
  • They have many new ideas on how they want to change their learning environments (ex. Introduce spectograms, create safer spaces using tips they learned, sitting in circles, using activities that engage their participants).
  • The strongly agreed that they now understand the full scope of issues facing women in their country and have ideas on how to bring them into their clubs (ex. “I’ll use the web to highlight differnt types of women and how they’ve suceeded in life despite their obstacles.” or “I will use the x-ray goggles to remix sites that we can use to create more awareness and generate content that helps victims protect themselves”)
  • On a scale of 1-5, 5 being very effective, all participants ranked the event a 4 or 5. They particularly liked the facilitation, the activities, learning how teaching methods can be fun, understanding how to teach both online and offline, how interactive the event was and the energy that their fellow participants brought to the day/work.
  • They want more training opportunities, more guides and the opportunity to learn from other clubs going forward.

Though this picture is really what makes me smile:

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 9.30.20 AMQuick Reflections

  • The trainings and club visits wildly exceeded my expectations. The value to spending time with the community, Club Captains and Regional Coordinators helps us continue to build a better framework for the program.
  • I really enjoyed bringing in local community members and organizations into the work as it helps us build a network in the city and support systems for those on the ground. It makes me feel like we’re building a movement, rather than just a one-off program.
  • It was great to get closer to the local UN Women subsidiaries and after spending time with Japheth, UN Women in Nairobi, and Anne, UN Women in Cape Town, we’re in a better position to learn how to support their work. With Japheth we are going to work on training programs and resources that can be placed on Empower Women for all of their champions to access. With Anne, we are going to work on Web Literacy curriculum that integrated some of the issues UN Women Cape Town are focused on and share them with the local clubs.
  • The program is growing. After the training, more individuals have asked to join the program and run their own clubs.
  • We will continue to work on case studies and capture the stories of the teachers and learners in the program.


Mapping Community Data (the quick and easy edition)

As someone who has spent years understanding how to take community curated content like media, data and events and share them publicly (re: mapping community videos at My City Lives, events for Maker Party, club locations for Mozilla Clubs), I’ve learned some valuable lessons. Here’s just a few:

  1. A map can be a powerful representation of the scale of your data and the local or global diversity. That being said, it’s actually quite hard as a user to navigate data on a map, find items and get a good grasp of the content.
  2. There is power in the numbers. There’s no doubt that when a community member uploads a video or piece of data there is valuable information the organization receives such as how many people have shared a piece of data, who they are, where they are based and what they did. In the past, this was always the data we would store in the backend or share within the organization but so rarely do we use these numbers in a forward-facing way to motivate community members to continue sharing.
  3. Short and sweet. I’ll keep this short, you want to provide just the right amount of information and not loose people in the details. For every question, media or data being inputted by a community member there should be a reason as to why that piece of information is valuable (to the organization and onlookers).
  4. Easy to navigate and sort. I can’t stress this enough. When it gets hard to find events then people will stop using the product. Make it easy to navigate and allow for sorting functions that help an onlooker get to what they will find interesting quickly.

As the Mozilla Clubs program grows we know there are many clubs running regular events but we didn’t have proper mechanisms to capture what they were doing and show it in a public way. Creating an event reporting system was critical for us to gather event data, reward community members, share stories and show the impact of the global community. After months of scoping a plan to create an event report system, I was quickly reminded how much harder this is than it looks. You can get caught in the weeds of capturing and displaying user data trying too hard to make something visually appealing, or filled with information, or used by a global audience etc.

So when Matthew and Luke, Mozilla design superstars, came to us with an idea to break down the project and create a simple but efficient way to collect data I was weary that they thought it could be that easy. We sat down and identified the minimum number of questions we should ask and the value of the data we would capture. Within two weeks, TWO WEEKS!!!!!, they had a working prototype that we started testing with a couple community members. We did a quick review of our testing and one week later had a completed Mozilla Clubs Event Report system. It was quick, like really quick. And it was filled with features that I loved:

  • It was a Google Form (seriously, how simple and easy is that) for submitting events, which were then moderated by our team. The data is shared with us in a google spreadsheet and the staging site is on github.
  • At the top it shows how many events have been added, how many cities are represented and how many people have attended events. I find it personally encouraging, but I know it will also be motivating to our community members.
  • It’s simple which makes it easy to use but it’s fully branded so feels like it fits within our other products.
  • The searching works great. And as we curate more event reports, we will be adding sorting lists on the side for location, Web Literacy skills etc.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 1.02.36 AM

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 1.02.51 AM

Thanks to Hannah, Matthew, Luke and all of those that helped in this exciting process of creating a lean, quick and effective reporting system that still blows me away. It’s now time to put this into the communities hands.

Embedding Diversity and Inclusion Practices into Your Daily Work

At our last staff meeting we were asked to share practices, projects or initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion in an individual or team’s current work. The list was great benchmark on how to embed diversity and inclusion tools into the work environment so I wanted to share a list of examples as told by Mozilla Foundation employees.

Practices and Ideas

Building inclusion in team meetings by starting and ending with “openings and closings” that allow participants to name what they need from others, what they want to work on, and how each person did. Another idea is doing an “around the horn” moment during a meeting where everyone speaks so that all participants have a chance to make their voice heard.

Introduce Code of Conducts or Ground Rules at the beginning of convening’s and large group gatherings. It’s a great way to set the context, expectations, and identify good/bad behaviours.

Thinking of diversity and inclusion as the missing link in working open. See: Coraline Ada Ehmke’s brilliant writing on this + Audrey Watters’ thoughts too.

Jointly drafting and agreeing upon ground rules, team expectations, decision-making and working through conflict are essential so more than being heard, people act together

Reach out to and engage potential partners outside of the organizations comfort zone that allows us to bring new faces and people into our work, who wouldn’t have been otherwise.

Identify what diversity at events mean to us and how we can purposely work to engage those diverse audiences at events like Mozfest.

Be intentional about clarifying roles & expectations, and reaching out to people for feedback.

Understand how to engage all voices, including those of introverts. See Susan Cain’s Ted Talk about “The Power of Introverts”.

Actively and/or intentionally reach out to invite people to invite them to things (meetings, demos, etc.) instead of a general “everyone’s invited” approach.

“Silent Etherpadding”. Also known as silent working and collectively adding to a document at the same time. It allows for diverse communication and interaction styles to be integrated into a meeting. In this practice you get ideas and perspective from all people.

Incorporating user research and testing as essential steps when building prototypes. It means you challenge your assumptions about what solutions people want, how they’ll use it, etc.


Projects and Tools

Creating job descriptions that show our commitment to diversity as demonstrated in this article featuring Coral Projects ‘nearly flawless job description.’ In the article it talks about using tools like textio that remove unintended biases and clichés.

The Open Web Fellowship recently had 443 from 91 countries. The team enlisted a group of cross-programs reviewers who underwent a blind audition process with the applications where they would review applications without knowing names, genders etc. and list their top submissions.

The Open News team invited a small group of community members to review session proposals for the upcoming SRCCON event. They intentionally built a volunteer group to fill in gaps we might have as a team and help us consider diversity along a lot of axes, not just gender and ethnicity, but also professional background and organization size, for example.

Hive Chicago went through a Request for Proposal strategy project using a Human Centered Design framework: used stakeholder input to frame the design challenges and running over 30 interviews with a diverse spectrum of stakeholders based on inquiry questions (starting with a survey to see if these lines of inquiry are even valuable to other as a check on our understanding) to get unbiased input on best practices, etc. rather than specific suggestions for what we should change.

The Coral Project worked hard for a diversity of voices in the Beyond Comments event last month – and that meant not just in terms of race and gender but also in background and experience. They wanted to make voices that aren’t usually part of the conversations feel welcome – they had activists, community organizers, commenters talking to technologists and newsroom staff, and made a clear code of conduct for the event to make people feel safe. They also made sure to include a diversity of faces and experiences in the personas.

This Code of Conduct exercise developed by the Mozilla Science Lab at the Working Open Workshop helps anyone create a code of conduct that they can use at any event.

Use chat systems that make it easy for all contributors (staff, community, volunteers etc.) to join, even if they are less technical. Mozilla Foundation has implemented Mattermost as a recent tool to allow our chat to be more inclusive.

Using Github to coordinate projects and tasks in the open and encourage a healthy discourse.

Engage in fellowship programs, like Kairos Fellowship, which is a six month on-the-job training program for emerging digital campaigners of color.

Use tools like the happiness packet to appreciate open source contributions.

Developing Digital Skills for Women – UN Women’s Commission on the Status of Women

The below is a exert of a talk I gave at the 2016 UN Women’s Commission on the Status of Women detailing answers to some of these questions: How should we be defining and looking at “digital literacy”? How do we better promote women as creators of content and services, not just consumers of them?  What more can be done to provide women with opportunities to develop advanced ICT skills and pathways that enable them to build enterprise, innovate, and gain employment and become leaders in this sector?


Our work at Mozilla Foundation focuses on local solutions to increase Web Literacy globally. At Mozilla we define Web Literacy as the skills and competencies needed for reading, writing and participating on the web. We have spent many years researching and developing our Web Literacy Map that take users from consumers of the web to participants of the web. Reading the web includes understanding the basics of how the web works, building the web is actually creating for it and participating on the web is understanding how to take the first two sections and have a voice online in a meaningful way on issues that matter to you. All of this is baked into the free and open-sourced curriculum, tools, and best practices we provide for anyone to grab and use.

We work on increasing Web Literacy with thousands of community members from 500+ cities around the world. Our community members are made up of educators and advocates who understand the importance of an open web and the value of teaching it to others. Over the past few years I’ve worked with these community members to run local campaigns and movements to teach the web in their communities and after extensive research, development and co-creation we launched Mozilla Clubs in 2015. Each Mozilla Club meets regularly in-person to learn how to read, write and participate on the Web in an inclusive, engaging way. Today we have 200+ Mozilla Clubs in over 25 countries.

As we grow and develop Mozilla Clubs we’ve been eager to launch Mozilla Clubs for women and girls, as we are aware of the many barriers that women face being equal citizens of the web. At Mozilla we advocate for equal access on the web and nurturing spaces where women can develop key digital skills is something that we care deeply about. That I care deeply about.

In alignment with this work, we’re excited to launch our partnership with UN Women this month, among the many areas of alignment being the development of Mozilla Clubs for Women and Girls in South Africa and Kenya. These clubs are in the early stage of development but like other clubs, the clubs for women and girls will be based on these principles:

  • Teach how to read, write and participate on the Web using inclusive and participatory methods. In the past few months we have created many new open-sourced resources that contain best practices on how to teach women and girls. As well as new curriculum specifically for women and girls that teaches them about issues they care about including privacy basics and combatting cyberbullying.
  • Empower learners through authentic making, reflective learning, and meaningful action with and on the Web. Our pedagogy is often what sets us apart as our workshops are learner focus and often require peer-collaboration away from a computer.
  • Continued so individuals can build upon their learning and leadership skills over time. We know that learning takes time and requires application of both theory and practice.
  • Focus on learning through leadership. We ensure that women are gaining leadership skills, mentoring opportunities, peer-to-peer learning and using these skills and opportunities to extend their influence and build a movement.

We’ve already been working with our project leads and the local community in each country we’ve really been able to identify some of the issues facing women in these areas including lack of access to technology, no safe spaces to learn, few to no role models, lack of peer support and a general feeling that women don’t belong in the technology sector.

In order to address this, we’re working with local teams and the community to develop Mozilla Clubs as a place where women and girls can develop their digital skills in a safe, supportive and comfortable environment. As well as create and advocate for the web they want and to build digital skills for personal agency and empowerment across all facets of women’s lives.

The model supports women and girls as active citizens, in life and online. It positions leadership development, not just technical training, as a central element of the work. And it leverages a grassroots model for teaching digital skills in informal spaces while cultivating and preparing local women leaders.

While our work focuses in Cape Town and Nairobi to start, but we know there is a lot of opportunity to expand into other areas. Recently the founder of Mozilla, Mitchell Baker, who is also speaking at the high level panel this week, traveled to many other African countries and explored areas in which similar programs can further increase access to the web for women and girls and that can be leveraged to create economic empowerment. Especially in refugee camps – where women are often required to spend their days at home – there is potential to teach them digital skills which allow them to make income without leaving their homes and really empower them and their voice in a way they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.

It’s really exciting to start cultivating these programs on the ground with organization, community members and advocates, and creating these pathways for women to step up as leaders in their lives and on the web. As these clubs are just being formed we’re looking to learn and develop them this year.

Working with UN Women to Teach Key Digital Skills to Women

Cross-sharing this blog post I posted today on the Mozilla Learning Blog because I’m so excited to be working on this new project to create local learning circles for women and girls in South Africa and Kenya.


The Internet is most powerful when anyone — regardless of gender or geography — can participate equally. A truly open Web should unlock educational, economic, and civic opportunity for everyone, everywhere.

Motivated by this core belief, Mozilla and UN Women — the United Nations entity devoted to the empowerment of women — are teaming up to teach digital skills to girls and women in Nairobi, Kenya and Cape Town, South Africa. Our goal: to improve the lives of women in Africa by leveraging the power of the open Internet.

Also driving our work is a troubling statistic: While more than 3 billion people are connected online, research indicates there are 200 million fewer women online in developing countries, and 300 million fewer women own a mobile phone. In beginning to change these numbers for the better, we can empower women in their own lives and as digital citizens.

To do this, Mozilla and UN Women will work alongside local educators, organizations and residents to built a network of web literacy clubs that promote peer-to peer-learning, teaching participants how to collaborate with each other and meaningfully participate online. These groups will follow the Mozilla Club model, meeting regularly and in-person. They will draw on a comprehensive curriculum that covers topics like Web navigation; content creation; coding; online rights, privacy and security; and connecting to opportunities linked to women’s leadership, civic participation and economic empowerment. There will also be the development of new curriculum on female-specific web issues, facilitation guides for engaging female-only groups and a mobile app to allow for participation and continued learning by participants across countries in the program. Mozilla will also train on-the-ground leaders to facilitate these clubs.

This pilot program will draw on lessons learned in India, Indonesia and Brazil over the past year as we’ve launched, tested and developed the Mozilla Clubs program to reach 170+ clubs in 25+ countries around the world. Since launch, Mozilla Clubs has seen success in bringing communities together around collaboration, professional development and the open web.

Mozilla community members in Kenya. Photo by Laura de Reynal.

Mozilla community members in Kenya. Photo by Laura de Reynal.

This pilot program will run through the end of 2016, and draw on the existing Mozilla communities of educators, learners, and open Internet advocates in the two regions. While also connecting the work and leaders to the larger Mozilla community, and engaging those in other African countries to start similar endeavours to continue growing the movement.

“Improving digital literacy among women is essential,” says Jennifer Breslin, Lead, Innovation and Technology for Development,  UN Women. “Web literacy can improve everything from personal well-being and education access to civic and political participation. Further, the more women we have participating and creating content online, the more relevant and stronger the open Internet becomes.”

This pilot project is the first in a broader partnership between UN Women and Mozilla to drive a more socially just and inclusive agenda based on a common set of values and vision between the two organizations. It links Mozilla’s leadership in digital literacy, participatory learning, and open practice with UN Women’s global leadership on gender and technology.

To learn more about Mozilla Clubs, visit


Mozilla community members in Kenya. Photo by Laura de Reynal.

Mozilla community members in Kenya. Photo by Laura de Reynal.

I’ve got the jitters

I’ve got a bad cause of the jitters.

Maybe it’s because last week I co-hosted and launched a new monthly webcast with my colleague Chad that focuses on curriculum development which is something I’ve really been testing my skills at recently as an informal educator and facilitator. This webcast involves creating curriculum live which makes it a whole different ball game but the first one has me spiraling with ideas already.

Or maybe it’s because on Monday I got the chance to speak at the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women and speak on a panel with representatives from the Government of Latvia, Government of Finland, the Alliance for Affordable Internet, the Web Foundation and the UN. I got to share the program I’ve been working on and now launching for women and girls in parts of Africa.

Or maybe it’s because I’m working on projects I really care about and hiring in countries and connecting in communities that I would never have imagined like Brazil, Kenya and Cape Town. Or that a reporter from The Atlantic is interviewing me today on these projects and they already think it’s weird how much I love my job.

Or maybe it’s because next week I get to co-host Mozilla Learning’s new community call and this month’s theme is celebrating women and the web in which I got to ask a bunch of people doing awesome work to teach digital skills to women/girls to join me in a live video call to share their work and resources with our global community.

OR maybe it’s because next week I am a guest speaker on the Library Journal’s Maker Workshop Leadership Series discussing “The Web as Maker Platform” and I get to share with 500+ librarians from around the world how they can transform their traditional spaces into collaborative hubs for learning key digital skills.

OR MAYBE it’s because in the last two weeks I’ve been asked to speak or represent at events in NYC, Connecticut, Oakland, Cairo and Bahia and my reaction to every invite has been “you want little ol’ me?!?!”.

I realize these things are normal for many people and this is the life of those who use their voice in a much more public way to share their message, but sharing my story is still relatively new to me and doing it so publicly can be sorta….scary.

So as you can see I’ve got a case of the perma-jitters this month. It’s a mix of excitement, nervousness and and a teaspoon of frenzy. It’s one of those moments in life where everything’s turning up roses and I’m just going to sit here and watch. KIDDING. BRB gotta go do work.


Is online harassment a criminal offense? When is too far?

After a long and public trial, Gregory Alan Elliott was cleared of two charges of criminal harassment that stemmed from his Twitter interactions with two Toronto women. Having known one of these women I’ve been following the case since the beginning and have been curious to see what happens.

For background: Guthrie told police she felt harassed after several heated interactions with Elliott in the summer of 2012. Even after she blocked him, he continued to barrage her with tweets, and made it clear he had detailed knowledge of the neighbourhood she lived in. He would also co-opt hashtags she invented, aggressively inserting himself into conversations about her organization Women in Toronto Politics.

I’ve been struggling with the verdict since it came out last week trying to understand what this means for the victims and the justice system as a whole. This article “Canada’s First Twitter Harassment Trial Sets a Scary Precedent for Women” covers some of how I feel and the general idea that with modern tools we need modern laws.

This verdict is troubling. A precedent has now been set that if a person is harassed online, that harassment will not be deemed criminal unless a physical element is introduced, or unless the harasser repeatedly uses violent language…..Once again, a man’s “freedom of expression” trumps a woman’s right to feel safe and secure.

Our current laws do not protect individuals in our digital world. There’s a lot of harassment that happens online everyday, so much of this directed at women! Why aren’t we talking about the impact this has on women and the web? We’re making the web a scary, closed and unfamiliar places for so many people. We’re hurting the lives of so many individual who fall victims to online harassment and are hurt, fearful and even forced into taking their own lives. I fear we’re not focusing on cyber violence and the effects it has on individuals or the web, which leaves us unable to deal with these issues (both on the web and in the court room).

I fear for myself and others. It’s inevitable that some of us will say something controversial online and quickly learn how scary of a place the internet can actually be. Inevitable that individuals will stand up for others, like the two women did against Gregory Alan Elliot, and feel the wrath of trolls unpacking every bit of our internet existence for public display and scrutiny.

That being said, I’ve been working on something in parallel that focuses on education, conversation and prevention of cyber violence and I’m really excited to share soon. Stay tuned!