From MozillaWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Summary of survey of visitors for Summer 2009

Prepared by James Boston

Only a few people responded, probably because of the time of year. The majority surveyed had experience using Mozilla for teaching and plan to do so in the future. Firefox and Firebug where mentioned as Mozilla products that are used. For instance, Firefox is used to teach HCI to graduate students. None of the more exotic products where mentioned, but we know from other communications that people are using them. Moreover, all the respondents were computer science focused so this may skew results.

An interesting point was made about teaching introductory courses . Sometimes the language of instruction at a school is Java, which is a poor fit for Mozilla. But even where C++ or JavaScript is used, how can Mozilla technologies be used for teaching people who are new to programming? Firefox development has a very steep learning curve. Most of the courses offered/planned focus on advanced students.

I asked respondents to indicate whether they had visited the site, but neglected to ask how often. However, since the site changes are relatively new and took place during the summer break, results would probably not have been meaningful. But people have visited the site.

The majority felt that changes to the site are positive. They indicated the new structure of the site is easy to understand and navigate. However, reading between the lines, I think there is uncertainty about the purpose of the site, which is not as clear. Some saw it as a place to promote Mozilla technology more than links between Mozilla and education. But people are using the site to find out what other universities are doing in open source which is good. Respondents particularly like seeing links to their own work/courses on the site. One respondent complained that there is not a link the the Education section from the main page. Perhaps this indicated the need to separate the two.

I asked if professors would find the site useful for teaching. The answers were postive, indicated they would give the site URL to students as an entry point.

Professors want to use the site to host content/courseware (such as videos, wikis, etc..) or link out to content, but there are a few problems to be solved. Regarding publishing student work on the site, concerns were expressed about language barriers. Many students will only be able to present their work only in their native language (which is not English). So having a place where students can share their projects presents some localization difficulties. Although it was not mentioned, this may also be the case with courseware (and videos, etc...). Presumably it won't all be in English. Another problem is lack of content provided by institutions. The professors are very happy to see announcements of their Mozilla projects on the site, but at present, there isn't a lot to link to, especially in terms of teaching materials. I think there is still trepidation about making original material used in class available on the open web, especially to people are not registered students.

A prime candidate for exploring using the site in conjunction with a course is the CoMETe project in October (

Regarding providing a Learning Management System like Moodle, respondents were generally positive, but some may be tied to other systems. (It would be interesting to find out how Moodle was used in the Madrid courses recently.)

One of the goals of the site that may have been lost in planning was providing a simple intake for professors interested in using Mozilla. One of the recommendations from the survey shows there is still a need for this. One professor asked for a list of possible courses that would benefit from Mozilla on the site. It was recommended that we use the ACM's model curriculum for computer science to get course descriptions of the courses that universities typically offer and then try to find possible connections between those courses and Mozilla. Such a list might aid in the intake process. The desire for such a list indicates the need for a top level node/link to orient professors new to Mozilla.