Sustaining the movement. From Maker Party to Mozilla Clubs

The below is a exert of a talk I gave at the 2015 TechWomen event in San Francisco to a hundred emerging women leaders in STEM from Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East.

In 2013 I joined Mozilla to run a global campaign to teach digital literacy skills.

At Mozilla we promote openness, innovation and participation for the thing we love most, the web. The team I work on, Mozilla Learning, is dedicated to giving people the resources and skills they need to move from using the web to actively making the web. That means moving the billions of people online who are consuming the web, to actually creating it.

The 3-month long global campaign I worked on was called Maker Party. It was a time for people all around the world to raise their hand and teach the web to their families, friends, peers and communities. It quickly became my favourite time of the year as we saw:

  • families gathering in their kitchen to learn together
  • libraries turning into makerspaces
  • college students edit code at a coffee shop
  • community spaces turning into maker pop-ups showcasing local organizations and their programs
  • individuals teaching what a url is, for example, at an orphanage

Maker Parties came in all shapes and sizes — the campaign has had over 5000 events in over 100 countries since its inception — but they shared the same motivation; to make web literacy universal.

What started out as a campaign turned into a movement, owned by the community. After years of watching thousands of people light a spark, we knew we were on to something. We also knew creating a spark wasn’t enough, we wanted to create lasting impact in the lives of learners. To turn that spark into a flame we needed more than just one event. That’s when we created Mozilla Clubs.

Mozilla Clubs teach how to read, write and participate on the web in an ongoing and engaging way. Clubs are run by Regional Coordinators, who oversee and support multiple clubs in a specific region or location. As well as Club Captains, who are ultimately responsible for organizing the club in their community.

Here are five things that make Mozilla Clubs unique.

  1.   Web Literacy. The skills and competencies needed for reading, writing, and participating on the Web. We’ve spent years studying and developing these competencies with communities to foster people who don’t just consume the web but use it.
  1.   Curriculum that’s free & open and educator-tested. We make curriculum available for local community members interested in starting clubs to teach the web. Our curriculum is free of cost and free to reuse and remix. Each activity includes step-by-step instructions and tips for how to teach it, all connected to different competencies in the Web Literacy map.
  1.   Participatory and engaging. These involve hands-on making and learning activities. We encourage learners to be out of their seat and moving throughout the room. What’s more, activities can be taught with limited or no connectivity, ensuring the Web can be learned anywhere and by anyone.
  1.   Connected learning in action. Research shows you learn best when you learn by making projects you care about, with peers who support and encourage you. That’s why our program is hands-on, production-centered and social. Learners gain confidence with the Web by actively shaping it together.
  1.   Best practices and community mentorship. Clubs are key nodes in the Mozilla Learning Network, which enable connections to other people teaching digital literacy. By connecting with others, individual Mozilla Club have access to best practices and mentorship around the world. Local clubs are more resilient and effective when they are networked with each other.

At the start of 2015 we piloted Mozilla Clubs with a few community members. Now we have 15 Regional Coordinators, with another 15 being on-boarding right now, and 120 Club Captains around the world. We have partnerships with UN Women, Ford Foundation, Telecenter, LAN houses, National Writing Project and many more.

We’re wanting you to join our program. Take a look at our resources, tools, and curriculum to see how it may fit within your current programs. And ask yourself,

  • What makes digital learning important in your community?
  • What does good mentorship look for you?
  • Is there a tech learning challenge in your community that a club could help with?

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