14 tech speakers on stage: 10 male, 4 female and 1 ethnically identifiable speakers. Let’s talk about how that makes me feel.

I want to be clear that I love what I do and where I work. The often-harsh realities I look at below are not targeted specifically at the organization I work for, but it is merely a reflection of the industry as a whole. I’m grateful to work for a company where I can openly talk about these issues with my peers and encourage us to hold ourselves to higher standards. I wanted to write this article to not identify this already-common problem, but in search of solutions and work that can be done to overcome it.

 

This past year I attended two company retreats in Whistler and Orlando with over a thousand of my co-workers who I have now literally and figuratively climbed mountains with. These gatherings are a special time for our organization that deals with close to 50% remote workers and teams dispersed across the world. I can’t stress enough how much I love the people I work with and appreciate spending time with them. Having attended a few company retreats, I was all to familiar with that eager feeling to rekindle my passion for what I do and the affection I have for my colleagues.

I remember pouring into the morning plenaries on the first day in Whistler and looking for leadership, hope and honesty. Members of our management team storming the stage (some wearing their ‘Canadian’ lumberjack attire) talking about their enthusiasm for the work we were doing, while showing demo’s of cross-company products and telling real stories about how we’ve changed since we’ve last been together and frankly, where we had come up short in the past. We were told we were going to space and given some reasons as to how we were going to get there. It was cheesy, but sometimes cheesy isn’t bad. I listened eagerly and watched carefully. In these situations watching was always important to me.

I wrote down the name of everyone on stage and made myself an ad-hoc infographic of all the speakers. I have often talked about the importance of equal representation on stage and I wanted to know where we as an organization stood. By the end it looked like this:

14 speakers over 3.5 hours

10 male speakers, 4 female speakers

1 ethnically identifiable speaker

No speakers of African or Asian decent

A (very roughly) estimated 90% of speakers to whom English is a first language

I looked around at everyone present, which to my dismay didn’t reflect the leadership on stage. There was a diverse group present and while there were a considerably less number of females in the audience, there was definitely no shortage of identifiable ethnicities and multi-lingual speakers. As a visible woman of colour, I was frustrated that this was still prevalent in even the most forward-moving technology companies. As an individual, my diversity had always made us strong and given me a unique perspective. For my company, our ability to engage community leaders from around the world as both staff and volunteers was something I was proud of. Our work is built with the community at the center, who in turn furthers the mission and products at a global level. It’s these community members who we invite to join us on our retreats and are sitting in the audience. The stage I was looking at didn’t reflect them, our employees or myself and it was far from something that would make me proud.

I thought about that stage a lot in the proceeding month, sometimes even sharing my concern with my co-workers. Some of them understood my pain and frustration, while others seemed unaware to why I was so concerned.

After time had passed, we started preparing for our next meet up and I was hopeful for change in Orlando. Sure enough, there I sat with my notebook intently watching the stage and crowd. Here’s what the plenaries looked like on the first day:

10 speakers over 2 hours

8 male speakers, 2 female speakers

No ethnically identifiable speaker

No speakers of African or Asian decent

A (very roughly) estimated 90% of speakers to whom English is a first language

Just to be clear, there were plenaries on other days in Whistler and in Orlando but the emphasis at events, conferences and on stage is always given at the beginning. That is where you set the tone of who we are as a company. This is the one I’m always so eager to watch.

You might have seen this before. In fact, I’ve seen it many times both within my organization and in the industry. Like many others, I’ve provided feedback about it and wished individuals would consider the image they are putting in front of a stage compared to those sitting in the audience. So minorities like myself, didn’t feel like……… more of a minority; isolated and different than our leaders. Like we will never be the one’s on stage.

The numbers and information from both events stared back at me, haunting me. I began to get embarrassed when reviewing or even sharing them with others. In fact, it took me over 6 months to post how I felt about it since I first wrote it after our retreat in Whistler. I’m proud of where I work but conscious that we have a lot to learn as an organization, and I contemplated whether posting my thoughts would be constructive to the situation. But then I realized that I don’t talk about it with others, we won’t be able to work on solutions together.

I mentioned in the opening of this article that I wanted to push past the problem and focus on what can be done in these types of settings. Truthfully, I’m often not sure what to do. Two years ago I had the opportunity to plan the speaker line-up at a large Mozilla event and consciously planned for a speaker line-up that reflected the diverse audience. It was hard (why is this so hard?!) but I made it a priority and worked towards successfully obtaining my goals. While I kept thinking about that moment, I knew that it was small and I needed to think about how to create greater change. That’s when I realized that actual change takes times but there are still many steps along the way to help bring that change to fruition and communicate what change is happening.

Here are some ideas on where we can start:

  • Open and continue the conversation about the issue. Having discussions on how the stage does not reflect the audiences are healthy conversations we should be having with each other. We can start with small questions like, “what does a diverse stage mean to those attending?” The more I talk about it to others, the more they are opening their eyes when they attend events and conferences.
  • Challenge those planning stage activity to be more inclusive and aware of the audience that is present. This can be done in event feedback or emailing an individual or organization. Express this in a positive way, such as how the stage presence and the messages being conveyed can have a higher impact when it’s reflective of the audience.
  • Supporting diverse speakers to either start or continue sharing their story to audiences. If you’re a manager or executive, maybe it’s understanding that sometimes you don’t always have to be the person to share the story on stage and sharing that time with members of your team.
  • Sharing action steps with all parties. Did executive members of the organization notice the lack of diversity? Are they taking steps to prevent it happening in the future? This is the type of information that individuals should know and allows conversations to have a forward-facing approach.
  • Holding ourselves accountable. We can say we want to be better but who knows what that ever means, we need to set goals and hold ourselves accountable to achieving them.
  • Any more?

There are solutions and ideas that I know I am missing, some which might have even been discovered in previous conversations around the issue. If you know of where this conversation is taking place or ways to plug-in or other ideas please do share. I hope to make this an open conversation, where we can learn how to be better together.

Mozilla Clubs year-end reflection

Well, it’s been quite a year! Having kicked off Mozilla Clubs in 2015 we knew the year would be filled with learning, reflection and growth. Both in what we wanted to create and how we could help individuals have an impact in their local communities. In October 2015, the Mozilla Clubs team gathered to review our progress throughout the year and agreed upon an ambitious plan for the last quarter. Since then, we’ve come some way and we wanted to share what we managed to complete within those precious few months and what we have identified, with the help of many community members, as areas of development and growth for the following year.

What we did in the last quarter of 2015

Onboarding a new cohort of Regional Coordinators: In late October 2015, we welcomed 15 Regional Coordinators to our cohort allowing us to grow our reach of the program. We now have a team of 28 global Regional Coordinators who are able to support and manage multiple Mozilla Clubs in a given area.

Steps towards our new training and on-boarding program: As our network keeps growing (new volunteers, Regional Coordinators, Club Captains, learners etc.) our presence in the digital world demands a more complex system to provide workflows, tools and resources for our communities, to help them be more independent, autonomous; and empowered. We begun to build this new system by researching what others are doing and analyzing their current approaches to training and onboarding. At the same time we asked our community members about their ideas, needs, and learnings. With such a huge amount of relevant information we proceeded to systematize, categorize and prioritize according to these criteria: relevance, urgency and available resources.

Localization of curriculum: As Mozilla Clubs grew around the world the need for localized curriculum became clear. In many locations such as Brazil the lack of command of the English language was a barrier to the adoption of our activities and methods. As a stopgap solution our team created a simple webapp system that could make the localization process easier by leveraging the Github platform for storage and management, and the Markdown format as the way to produce content. Using this new webapp we managed to get many of our activities from the Web Basics I curriculum localized into 9 languages in a short period of time. We ran a campaign, and a few in-person sprints, for localization that started in November and is continuing into the new year.

Storifying Mozilla Clubs and their activities: It was our goal to document stories of club participants, Club Captains and Regional Coordinators so we could learn what they were doing and how they have developed over time. We’ve kept a close eye on many of the clubs and their teams but sharing their stories has always been important to us. In this quarter we’ve started an early documentation of the Mozilla Clubs in Rio projects being led by Mozilla and Ford Foundation. The case study gives an in-depth look at the breakdown of the club structure, events and the transformation of LAN houses into learning spaces. Along with the case study, we’ve worked with Club Captains to continue documenting their experiences within the program. A report from Mozilla Club Leao showed the impact the club is having on the learners who attend and the environment. As well as a testimonial by the Club Captain, Geraldo Barros, on his experience in the position and how he has personally developed over time.

Creating more free-flowing communication channels: We set out with a goal to allow more opportunities for Club Captains, Regional Coordinators and other individuals to communicate with each other and our team. In the latter half of 2015 we, 1) focused on creating on-going conversation through our Discourse channel for everyone to learn and share together; 2) created Mozilla Club monthly office hours for individuals to attend and ask questions about starting a club, growing a club or finding resources; 3) provided greater communication to Mozilla Clubs on new resources and curriculum available for them to use.

Create guides for Club Captains: With the hopes of creating a future repository where Club Captains could come and grab information or resources that were relevant to their needs, we started creating content. In the past couple months we have documented how to start a club, integrate clubs into existing environments, facilitate like Mozilla and much more with the help of community members, staff and session leaders at Mozfest.

What we are looking forward to doing in 2016

Implementing our training and onboarding program: After the research we did in 2015, we are looking forward to provide our community members with the tools, resources and structures they need. We will do this by 1) redesigning content architecture of our webpage for clubs to reflect what is happening in our live community; 2) creating a basic training curriculum for Regional Coordinators and Club Captains; 3) implementing a platform to facilitate and promote interaction.

Further localization of platform and resources: While having created a quick localization process through github/markdown we want to create an improved process that would make it easier for community members to localize content, given the feedback we have received since the launch of our localization campaign. The easier it is the localize content the quicker we can have curriculum, guides and resources adapted for use locally. To make sure we have something that works not only on the first quarter but beyond that we’re investigating the usage of Pontoon which is one of the localization platforms used by Mozilla.

Creating a hub for all things Mozilla Clubs: As we build more materials, resources and guides we want to have a central place online to share these with all individuals in Mozilla Clubs. A repository will allow Mozilla Clubs to get content and move faster.

Building a recognition and reward system: Identifying who, where and when we recognize or reward Club Captains, Regional Coordinators and learners will ensure that individuals at all points of the program are being acknowledged and appreciated. This is important for us to sustain healthy growth with the community that has been supporting us since inception, as well as future members.

Providing a space for event report-outs: It’s been evident to our team that the many Mozilla Clubs are busy running on-going events but it’s often hard to capture what happens, have ways to recognize events and share the stories of what happens. It’s our hope to build out a space where individuals can record their events so that the team can monitor, record and share activities. As well as have a place with Club Captains can use for continuous record of their clubs.

Understanding and providing various types of event support: While trying to support Mozilla Clubs with as much event support as we can, it’s been fairly inconsistent. Understanding what types of support, whether that is monetary, in-kind, or both, as well as how we allocate them is tricky. Especially when doing so in a way where we can scale the approach for the growing number of clubs.

On-going and new partner programs:  We will continue the work with Mozilla Clubs Rio and helping the program continue throughout the year with Ford Foundation. This will involve a close look at the program including what we’ve learned, what has happened and the path forward to expand into more LAN houses. We are excited to launch on new program with UN Women and grow Mozilla Clubs for women and girls in Kenya and South Africa. Along with hiring local managers, recruiting and training Club Captains, and supporting events, we will be focused on how we can increase literacy and leadership with local women and girls. Among Ford Foundation and UN Women, there are other partnerships in which we are jointly supporting growth of literacy and leadership through the Mozilla Clubs program.

Running a pilot program with Every1Mobile: We’ve partnered with Every1Mobile to create a platform that will allow for 1) curriculum and resources to be available via web-enabled phones; 2) a community hub for learners who attend Mozilla Clubs to further connect, learn and share with each other; and 3) an online space within the online community which serves to support Regional Coordinators and Club Captains during the training. We will work with Every1Mobile in the creation of the platform and pilot it with our upcoming Mozilla Clubs in Kenya and South Africa.

Support for Mozilla Clubs when partnering with institutions and organizations locally: Many of our Regional Coordinators and Club Captains are working with local institutions to help grow the program and they have indicated that letters of support, resources and information are needed to allow them to appropriately represent Mozilla Clubs. We’re still working on what this means but will start by scoping out exactly what we can create.

Connecting Mozilla Clubs by participating in global campaigns: Many Clubs like to participate in our global campaigns as they feel more connection to Mozilla, the mission and each other. In early 2016, we will be sharing ways Mozilla Clubs can participate in our two advocacy-focused campaigns including celebrating International Data Privacy Day on January 28, 2016 and International Women’s Day on March 8, 2016. We will provide clubs with relevant curriculum, resources and information while encouraging them to integrate these campaigns into their events.

I am Muslim and I refuse for silence to be our biggest weakness

From the moment I learned of the attacks around the world and turned on the TV to learn more, one thought kept going through my head “I hope the attackers weren’t Muslim.” Horrible right? I was travelling in Switzerland and close to the end of my second week in Europe when news of the attack broke out. In the next few days I was fixated to the news to learn more about the attackers.

On the outside it appears that I am fairly removed from the effects of the terrorist attacks, having grown up in Toronto, living in NYC and surrounded by much tolerance and love throughout my life. Though there is something that changes every time a terrorist attack occurs and it is identified that the attacker is Muslim. Myself, and Muslims everywhere, are put under the microscope and categorized in these broad categories. We’re told we are something we are not. We feel distant in these places we call home, in these modern countries we were born in. We feel different from our friends and the people we know. And what’s worst? We feel scared. We are scared that individuals think that a terrorists actions reflect on us as people, that people in our communities start looking down on us and that we can no longer go to sacred places like mosques without fearing for our lives.

And while I appear to be removed from each attack, I am not. No Muslim is removed from the attacks. We are deeply shattered by the actions of individuals who follow our non-violent beliefs, a religion that is followed by more than 25% of the world’s population. We are deeply scarred by the actions and accusations by those in our communities and the unwarranted attacks, statements and bigotry that we see. When looking at my Facebook feed I am appalled at the level of racism and anger towards my religion that leaves me feeling frustrated and yet, warmed at the openness and compassion of friends who stand up to this intolerance. My Facebook feed has become the place I dread looking at but can’t avoid.

A few days before I left Switzerland I told my brother I hadn’t seen or felt any unbalance in the areas I was travelling after the attacks. It was the day I left Switzerland to return home that I started to be reminded what life as a Muslim meant in today’s terror. I was held back three times while en route to my flight for ‘random’ searches. My friend and co-worker that was with me, who is not of a Muslim background, had the exact same travel route as myself and was not held back once. What might have been a coincidence was less coincidental when realizing I was the only identifiable Muslim on the flight. I was first held back when trying to drop-off my baggage and asked extra questions, I was then escorted away when trying to board my flight to verify that the attendants who had cleared me upon check-in had run a background check and I was then put into an extra security check before being allowed to board. There were a few other people held back at the last security check which made me feel more comfortable but when taken to the blocked off area I realized that they weren’t making anyone else take off their shoes, take of layers of clothing and have intimate areas examined. I made light of the situation by laughing with the attendees and discussing the souvenirs I bought as they made me empty every single item I had in my bags. When they brought a binder over titled “Threat Control” and listed my name, passport number and other description I was told it was formality. I didn’t see them do that for anyone else.

I wasn’t outraged at the airport. In fact, I wasn’t even fazed. As I was one of the last to board the plane, I found my friend and expressed sympathy for having to travel with Muslims. This is our life. This is just a small taste of what we are more likely to experience in times of terror and fear.

So while I feel for the victims and their families that have been subject to senseless violence, I also feel for Muslims around the world that are pushed into the feelings of self-guilt and self-hate. That we silently accept the extra scrutiny and security checks as if they are apart of life.

And though I know there are greater issues that demand attention right now, I want to encourage people to remind themselves that the actions of a few should not reflect the actions of many. To know that we all suffer together, and the greatest damage we can do is point fingers at each other while we pass blame. This is the time in which we need to stand together, to uphold the inclusivity our countries have proudly proclaimed and to protect each other. If we don’t, then it saddens me to say that our society is moving backwards and repeating unwanted history.

I know there are Muslims out there with stories of how they have been personally attacked and hurt. Stories that are much more grave than mine. I feel like I haven’t heard that protagonist version much before and that we, as a community of the same culture, need to be more vocal about the underlying racism and effects of terror on us. Together, we need to be #silentnomore.

Creating a pathway to build Mozilla Clubs at Mozfest

It’s almost that time of year again, the time when Mozilla unleashes chaos in the form of Mozfest.  This year, I am working with team members Andre and Carolina to see how we can curate a pathway that truly benefits Mozilla Clubs and the community. With that in mind, we have selected an esteemed group of people who are tasked with the responsibility of sharing their knowledge, tips and facilitation skills around topics that are currently needed by our community members in order to successfully grow their clubs. While we are most excited to have this special group of people teaching and leading within our pathway, we realize that there is only a tiny portion of our community that is actually able to attend Mozfest. With this in mind, we developed an idea to work with each facilitator to gather their work, research, supporting links etc. and document their session so that the information can live on in informal guides after Mozfest. Of course that means there is a lot of work leading up, during and after the event but the potential to scale/share all of the knowledge keeps us driven. If our word isn’t enough, check out the list of sessions happening within our pathway and come visit us among the chaos next week.

Retaining and growing communities online and offline by Nick Weinberg

Session Description: Building community is incredibly powerful, but as it grows it can become tricky. Once you’ve built a community, how can you build enough momentum to retain them and keep members active and engaged? Also, how can you continue to attract new, diverse and dedicated community members, while avoiding self-gentrification? This session will focus on conversations around best practices for retaining and growing your local community and also keeping them committed and participating. It will also focus on how we can bridge the gap between the online and in person communities to ultimately build a SUPER community? Hear how littleBits tackles these big questions, discuss solutions as a group and get HANDS-ON experience making with littlebit kits.

From Participation to Collaboration by Hélène Petry

Session Description: The session is a fireside chat about participatory and collaborative methods for mozilla clubs and community building. In this session we’ll explore best practices, tips, tricks and ways that club captains and facilitators can improve their game and make the most of the community they are a part of. We’ll look into ways to move from participation into collaboration and why these methods work and are the right approach for a “Teach Like Mozilla” framework.

How to increase digital literacy with women globally through on-going programs by Kristina Divina Verbo

Session Description: To gather women who are interested in creating a community to increase the web literacy of girls. Girls are too shy to explore coding because they initially think that it’s interface is too masculine. This session’s goal is to create a Mozilla Club designed for girls. And help them see technology in a whole new light – as a medium for self-expression, and as a means for changing the world. This will be a brainstorming session on how to persuade women to be more involved in web literacy in the means of establishing Mozilla Clubs. And how to create more effective events that will make them stay and would want to reach out to more people.

Using Digital Fabrication Techniques to Make DIY Activist Gear by Drew Wilson

Session Description: High tech manufacturing tools are becoming more accessible for do-it-yourselfers, makers and activists. The tools you can find at a local maker space can be used to make inexpensive activist gear. In this participatory session, you’ll learn learn creative ways to user maker tools for activism. We’ll cover making giant banners, laser cutting stencils for spray painting, making custom vinyl stickers to culture-jam billboards, using CNC machines to carve block of linoleum or wood for printing posters. In the first part of the session you’ll get a quick overview of these DIY production techniques, see some examples of how activists have used these techniques, we’ll talk about how you can access these machines at maker spaces, and we’ll spend some time brainstorming some new ideas. In the second part we’ll get our hands dirty and print some t-shirts, bandanas, patches and posters. Bring a blank t-shirt to print on (but don’t worry if you don’t have one with you, we’ll also have fabric and paper available).

But I Already Have One of Those: Connecting Existing Programs to Mozilla Clubs by Ani Martinez

Session Description: Collaboration turns good work into great work. If you are already connected to a community of people who are teaching web literacy, you have a lot to offer. Finding creative ways to connect your work to the Mozilla community can help bring your strengths and needs into greater focus and expand the impact of your efforts. This session will explore the exchange of value that can occur when mature digital literacy programs connect with the emerging Mozilla Clubs initiative.

Teaching Web Literacy in the Open by Simeon Oriko

Session Description: The session will showcase how open organizations work in the open and how session participants can replicate those ideas in their practice. We will do so by reviewing case studies of organizations working in the open, teaching how to practice open, and having hands on tutorials using web tools that facilitate working in the open. Less what to do and more how to do it!

What does being participatory & playful in a learning setting look like? by Shreyas Narayanan Kutty

Session Description: This session contains the core ideas of the Mozilla Learning Network, which is, “Teach like Mozilla”. As opposed to conventional learning methods that include watching & listening, we are going to explore participatory,inclusive and fun ways of teaching. These include examples of sessions that worked in our local communities, for example:Teaching HTML using Lo-fi/No-fi methods in remote villages in India with the help of bricks and LAN houses (internet cafe’s in Brazil) where people are taught web literacy skills.The attendees of our session would have a better understanding on the importance of fun and participatory learning activities.

Tips, tools and resources to help fund your local club, program or group by Sayak Sarkar

Session Description: Hosting and running a club isn’t easy, neither is dealing with the costs. Need help reaching out to local partners to help fund parts of the event or supply resources? Want to build a microfundraising site where people can donate to your club? Find out how you can fundraise to help support your clubs. This session aims at empowering individuals and groups with the know-how and essential understanding of basic tips and methods of fundraising for their clubs or programs.

Run the gauntlet by Su Adams

Session Description: Calling all creative youth and spirited adults – we need you to use a variety of talents towards a common goal. Join us by adding to an activity course for the Sphero, to create a colourful, interactive end result by the end of the weekend. For example, you might decide to make a tunnel or see-saw bridge etc… to add to the course attach a MakeyMakey, Raspberry Pi and Arduino and program it using Scratch, S4A or Mind+ etc… to code a response to an input for example a noise of some sort or traffic lights to change at another section. The possibilities are endless and the final product will be a mystery (until the end!). Come be apart of a live-making exercise where all skills are valued.

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?

State of Mozilla Clubs – what’s left for 2015?

Since the launch of Mozilla Clubs at the beginning of the year, we have been in an ever developing lean model of create, test, adapt and share. As we continue through this cycle and develop a new program, we’ve had our share of learning.

Throughout it all, a lot has worked! In the last few months we solidified the offering of Mozilla Clubs as a leadership and educational program, along with that of the greater Mozilla Learning Network team. Within that offering we have seen our programs be a forcing function driving towards our curriculum, content and resources. You can see that coming together at teach.mozilla.org, which is always evolving as we continue to test and build. We’re getting better at documenting what we do and how others can replicate our values in their programs. Above all, we’ve generated excitement in the Mozilla universe and outside with hundreds of people wanting to start a Mozilla Club and a lot of partners joining in the work.

Developing a global club program is no easy task, and has very rarely been done at the scale we had planned. Global means understanding how multiple languages, locations, cultures and laws can be modeled into one fine-tuned program. That obviously has taken understanding and time, and while not at perfection yet, we’re on the road to developing. Also, the need for thorough digital training and on-boarding is critical for the hundreds that raise their hand to run a club and need the skills and knowledge to do so. When the system became overloaded, we realized we needed better coaching to get individuals through the funnel and quickly activated.

After taking time to reflect on the past eight months, we’ve used our learning to shape what the next four months need to look like in order to continue to develop the Mozilla Clubs program.  Here’s a snapshot of our current framing and objectives for the remainder of 2015.

The two-faces of a Mozilla Club applicant

From inception we have had a lot of applications from individuals wanting to run a Mozilla Club. Over time, we’ve created guidelines, pledges and even interviews to manage expectations and responsibilities of those individuals. In doing so we have learned a lot about why they want to be apart of the program and what they want to receive by being involved. We’ve identified two unique categories; 1) An individual or group wants to self-identify as being a Mozilla Club and agrees to the guidelines and pledge set forth by our team, 2) An individual or group already self-identifies with another affiliation and their brand but wants to access Mozilla Club resources, curriculum, guides and information to bring more value to their existing programs. These groups are not something we promote on the site but are a group we organize behind-the-scenes and use to get our materials out into the world. By identifying these groups we can develop plans to address both their needs.

What next:

  • Adapt our sign-up process on teach.mozilla.org/clubs to acknowledge both groups and allow them to self-select when signing up as either a club or affiliate. The existing clubs sign-up form can remain the same though the additional sign-up form can gather information on affiliation and location.
  • We will also have to update management systems on the back-end of the site to represent the two groups and allow for possible transferring within groups.
  • Create communications plan to continuously share Mozilla Clubs resources as they become available. Share curriculum, guides and stories so other clubs or affiliates can model practices and to appeal to potential new clubs and organizations.
Active Clubs Affiliated with another org; wants Clubs resources Pledge to teach
Value to Mozilla They live our mission! They identify with our brand, use our materials. Build a list of partners and others who respect our brand, but already have a brand identity. Can draw upon this group for potential leadership opps in the future (CCs, Fellows, etc.) Building a list of interested, but not-yet-committed, people; offer a low-bar point of entry
Why they join They want personal support and brand and resources They want resources, w/o support (already have a brand) Just want to indicate interest
What they get Regional Coordinator, 1-1 attention, first access to resources; announcements about tools, curriculum, prof dev Email alerts for new Club guides, resources, curriculum and role opportunities; announcements about tools, curriculum, prof dev Announcements about tools, curriculum, prof dev
Frequency Weekly or Bi-weekly (mostly via their RC) Monthly (from Mozilla) No more than once every 3 months (from Mozilla)
Presence on site Sign-up form, showcase of approved Clubs Sign-up form Pledge form (once there are a lot, we should show a count on site)

 

On-boarding and training of Club Captains and Regional Coordinators

We’ve got a lot of people in the door; including 100+ Club Captains, 15 Regional Coordinators and a handful of partner organizations. Each range in knowledge of Mozilla practices and ability to run successful events. Now that we have demonstrated the potential and built excitement, we need to focus on developing the leaders who are a part of Mozilla Clubs.

What next:

  • Develop on-boarding system for new cohort of 18 Regional Coordinators and on-going recruitment of new Club Captains.  For a Club Captain this involves everything from when they sign up on the site, to getting matched with a Regional Coordinator to successfully running the first few club events. For a Regional Coordinator this involves understanding the role, how to manage multiple groups, how to provide guidance and measure success.
  • Create a Web Literacy training program that all individuals involved in the Mozilla Clubs (as well as Mozilla Learning Network) can benefit from.
  • Create a Regional Coordinator and/or Club Captains specific training program that gives individuals the coaching they need to run a successful club and develop their skills.
  • Create systems for on-boarding and training online.

Guides and resources to running a club

We always knew that a repository of information on how to run a Mozilla Club would need to be produced. In the past few months we’ve developed GitHub-based guides on how to brand your club, your first month as a Club Captain, how to interview Club Captains and more. This is the tip of the iceberg. We are in the process of developing and scoping many more. By the end of the year we can expect to have 20-30 guides that cover a variety of topics.

What next:

  • Finalize (and in some cases scope) the next 5 guides: How to market your club, how to tell the story of your club, how to share your club on social media, how to manage time at a club event and how to design local activities.
  • Create 10 new guides alongside the 10 sessions within the Mozilla Clubs pathway at Mozfest. Sessions within the pathway have been strategically picked based on current club needs. It is our hope to work with session leaders to simultaneously turn their session into guides. This will allow for new guides on how to encourage participation/collaboration, running a club in the open, practices for on-boarding new club attendees, growing your club community, using arts as a form of participatory learning, tips to sustain your Mozilla Club after the first year, and others.
  • Create an online repository that links to all available guides.

Developing the Club Captain to Regional Coordinator relationship

The dynamics between Club Captains and Regional Coordinators has been one of the most interesting to observe over the past few months. In some cases the individuals know each other and in some cases they don’t but have been matched based on location or interests. In situations where they know each other, individuals were generally able to work better together because each group felt more connected to the work they were doing individually and together. Since the reality is that you might not always know your Regional Coordinator, we need to focus on how to improve this relationship and collaboration for those that are going in blind. The better the relationship, the greater the success.

What next:

  • Develop systems for when individuals get matched. Provide a sample outline of joint storytelling, sharing and continuous meetings. Test with small sample and roll out within the program.
  • Monitor on-going relationships between Club Captains and Regional Coordinator and research behavior patterns.

Localization of curriculum

Having clubs around the world means Mozilla Clubs are being run in multiple languages. Though many Club Captains and Regional Coordinators are proficient in English, there are barriers for many others who want to teach in their local language (after all, many of their club participants are not English proficient!). By December we aim to have the Web Literacy Basics Module translated in 5-10 languages.

What next:

  • Finalize list of top languages of current Club Captains and/or Regional Coordinators.
  • Run localization campaign with community to translate Web Literacy Basics into preferred language.
  • Develop system or place to share localized content.
  • Create guide on how to create activities so that individuals can create local content quicker.

Storify our early clubs and partners

We need to start documenting what is happening! For starters, document stories of club participants, Club Captains and Regional Coordinators so we can learn what they are doing and how they are developing. Also, we’ve been working with a variety of partner organizations since we launched such as UN Women, Equity Group Foundation, Ford Foundation, Telecenter, National Writing Project, Sproutfund and Mozilla Reps. Some of our most successful Regional Coordinators are through these partnerships and we want to be able to replicate the model for future Regional Coordinators to get potential funding, network and support for their work locally.

What next:

  • Organize stories of club participants, Club Captains and Regional Coordinators from various paths to be able to show their leadership and development. We should be identifying these stories and sharing them through blogs and our network.
  • Create stories, business plans and budgets for grant-funded partnerships. We can use this package to leverage potential future grants by showcasing the impact of current funding in a specific area.
  • Develop a model for working with established key partners such as Spoutfund and National Writing Project.

Adjusting 2015 goals

As we learn more, we have to adjust our expectations and continuously remind ourselves to strive for quality over quantity. Our organizational goal is focused on building the best Web Literacy leaders. In light of the developments over the past eight months, we’ve adjusted our objectives to have by end of Q4:

  1. 30 trained Regional Coordinators each overseeing 2-10 Club Captains.
  2. 150-200 trained Club Captains running on-going local Mozilla clubs in their communities.
  3. 150-200 individuals using Mozilla Club resources in their existing programs.

What else do we have in the works

  • Mozilla Clubs Monthly office hours
  • More on-going communication efforts

Digital Inclusion: Introduction

I’m looking for purpose.

It was when reading an article my dad sent me titled “16 ways to have the confidence of a concrete elephant” by Matt Anderson that I read confident people have a sense of purpose.

In order to gain that purpose individuals must answer the great old question “how can I make the biggest difference in the world?”

I took a moment to think through this question. I decided to first focus not on where I wanted to make a difference, but what I cared about. The most obvious thing that came to mind was the web. I care about this place online that provides a space for people around the world to connect, create and develop. It’s easy to see why the opportunities and outcomes are endless on the web, and is the reason I’ve been dedicated to fighting for a web that is open and accessible to people everywhere. I also deeply care about the people online; how they form, build and grow communities within networks related to their interests and motivations. I have spent the better part of the last 7 years working with online communities and understanding how to turn their interests and motivations into movements where they can have an impact.

The past two-something years at Mozilla has been fundamental to my learning about the issues I care about. Mozilla’s mission is to create an open, safe and accessible web and it does so with thousands of volunteer contributors that reside, literally, all over the world. I’ve been working on campaigns and programs that focus on helping individuals teach and learn web literacy; a term we’ve coined at Mozilla as the ability to read, write and participate on the web. It aligns with our belief that the more you know, the more you can do to contribute and build a better web. The intersection between my values and what I do at Mozilla couldn’t be a better fit.

It’s when looking at our community, the projects I’m working on and the web as a whole that I see a deep need for the understanding and practices around digital inclusion. I’m one of the many within Mozilla Foundation who openly meet and discuss how we can practice inclusion in our work. As communities online grow, we’re realizing that being inclusive is much harder to scale, especially if it’s within a diverse community that crosses many parts of the world. Digital Inclusion can be very hard; and if you are not purposely inclusive you often come off as non-inclusive to individuals without realizing it.

When thinking about how I can make a difference in the world, I’m increasing realizing that this is the space I want to working in. It’s a space that I deeply care about. It’s a space I want organizations and society to be better at. It’s a space that provokes emotions such as rage, frustration and persistence.

Someone once said that you have to find what makes you angry and devote yourself to that cause because when it gets hard, and it will, you will still be there.

The issues surrounding inclusion in the world, organizations and communities are what fuel my fire and where I want to make a difference in the world. I want to work in getting communities of all backgrounds and locations online, and I especially want to provide opportunities to those of various race, age and gender. I want to creates spaces that are open, safe and encouraging of a variety of backgrounds.

Here starts my path to purpose. Over the next few months (and beyond) I want to explore different areas of digital inclusion and how we, people and organizations, can practice inclusion for existing online communities as well as for the billions of people who will be coming online in the next few years for the first time.