Planning, Running, Visualizing #teachtheweb

Week 3 of #teachtheweb is right around the corner, and I thought it might be nice to do a quick shareout of the planning and running of the MOOC.


Before I say another word, I have to give my partner in crime a gigantic love bomb. The word “collaboration” only begins to describe the epic brain connection Michelle and I have seemingly developed. Additionally, as Michelle noted, the entire Webmaker Mentor team has been massively supportive and absolutely integral to getting Mozilla’s first MOOC off the ground. High-fives all around!


We’ve been having calls with wonderful community members who signed up to help create the #teachtheweb experience. We’ve been calling them the Super Mentor Calls.

The Super Mentor Kick-off call on April 19 had 41 attendees from 17 different countries. They are designers, developers, educators, makers, architects, librarians, youth workers, entrepreneurs, teens and more, who answered our call to be super mentors in #teachtheweb.

This call was used to help the Super Mentors understand what we were asking them to do throughout the 9-week course. This blog post explains the job.

We also used the opportunity to explain the concept of a cMOOC and to thank everyone for signing up before they even knew what they signed up for.

Follow our Twitter List of Super Mentors

The next week, April 25, we took some time to celebrate Super Mentor makes after many created introductions using Webmaker tools. We gave each other virtual high fives for being engaging, thoughtful digital citizens and shared a few moments of excitement centered around the fact that the Webmaker Community is full of intelligent human beings looking to change the world.

Next, we explained our launch strategy with a “Heads up! It’s going to get busy!” and proposed the formation of Study Groups. We created a lightweight google doc and asked if anyone would be interested in running a smaller study group during the experience. Many were, and the Google Doc started filling up with ideas for Study Groups based on interest, language and/or geography.

We also talked about the content creation procedure and came up with a plan to braindump into Etherpads, filter and curate. We want to make sure any one who wants to contribute to the content of #teachtheweb can. If you want to help plan, see the planning page!

We talked about the connection between #teachtheweb and #MakerParty (#teachtheweb is kind of like Party Prep), and the Super Mentors began to volunteer to spread the word about both initiatives in their local areas as well as online. Finally, Super Mentors volunteered to help moderate the various #teachtheweb channels during the May 2nd Live Session and #teachtheweb Kick-off.

On the #teachtheweb launch date, May 2nd, we had a relatively quick call with Super Mentors to celebrate the G+ Community‘s growth and talk about the Live Session. Super Mentors signed up to participate via video, monitor channels, serve as tech support and help out on IRC. The session went, I heard, nicely. You can watch the video here.

Yesterday, May 9th, we spent a little time talking about how to get participants more involved and how to be better at sharing with each other and the larger community. We decided to try to give each other weekly report backs on how Study Groups were doing in the following Super Mentor calls.

Content Creation

Each week a post is released in the Planning section of #teachtheweb, which invites any and everyone to contribute their thoughts to a particular topic. The Super Mentors get extra reminders, but the content creation process is completely open. If you’re interested in contributing your thoughts to a particular topic, check the planning page for new topic etherpads each Monday.

Monday is also the day that we’ve been distilling these Etherpads into a digestible blogpost with extra readings, resources and tasks. The filtering and curation of everyone’s braindump is massively interesting but quite difficult. The posts need to be relatively short to keep people engaged. We would rather that people spend their allotted MOOC time completing the weekly Make Projects and reflecting on their own work, instead of focusing too heavily on truncated descriptions of complex topics. We believe in Making as Learning, so we want to spend as much time as possible making, sharing, remixing, iterating and making some more.

Tuesday’s we post new topics to the #teachtheweb site. We also do shareouts in the Weekly Webmaker Community call.

Thursday’s are the days we do live sessions (only 3 throughout the 9 weeks, one on May 2nd, May 23rd and June 13th) and Twitter Chats. Which leads me to the visualization piece of this post. This morning, I really just wanted to MAKE stuff. So I started fishing through the Twitter archive Jeannie Crowley created for #teachtheweb. Then I got a data bug and started looking at other numbers. I made two things:

A Visualization of Relationships between Words used in #teachtheweb Tweets

Click the image to play with this interactive visualization thingie
Click the image to play with this interactive visualization thingie

A Slightly Interactive Infographic

[iframe src=”//″ width=”550″ height=”2161″ scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ style=”border:none;”]

MOOC Attrition

One of the things that has been bugging me is the rumors of MOOC attrition rates. I’ve read percentages from 85% to 98% in the last couple of months, and I was worried that the participants in #teachtheweb will soon be dropping out and the conversation will come to a standing halt. Up until a few days ago, I was basically waiting for the ball to drop.

Then I read this post from a mathematician at Stanford and decided to just stop worrying about it. It’s easy to sign up for things. You just put in one of your many email addresses and that’s that. It’s easy to begin the journey into a specific community. You just use the hashtag, comment on people’s posts, follow some people and start trying to know people through their digital representations and artifacts. But it’s not easy to remain an active member of a community. Being active takes time, perseverance, patience, understanding, collaboration, connection, mentorship, and a whole mess of other things. We all participate in multiple communities, and it’s natural that one community or another will take precedence on a given day.

I just hope that the those of you who have found the Webmaker Mentor Community through #teachtheweb decide to give this community precedence from time to time. We’re teaching the world the Web – and we definitely need your help.

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Planning, Running, Visualizing #teachtheweb

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