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This page is still a draft mode. Comments and contributions encouraged.

During 2009, we want to experiment with Mozilla Education -- helping people learn about Mozilla through an open, participatory and distributed approach to education.

Working with computer science, design and business schools around the world, Mozilla Education will to create learning opportunities for a new generation of Mozilla community members and help to drive a new wave of participatory, student-led learning. By doing this, we hope to move closer to Mozilla's broader goal of making openness, participation and distributed decision-making more common experiences in Internet life.

We think that education can help us reach this goal by helping more people to:

  1. Understand and use open source work methods practiced by Mozilla and other projects
  2. Learn about and build with open web and Mozilla technologies
  3. Participate in Mozilla and other open source projects

In 2009, we'll test out a number of small programs aimed at reaching these objectives. They include:

  1. Seneca Expansion / Virtual Seneca offering Mozilla learning resources and support to students everywhere.
  2. Madrid Summer Course at URJC, establishing the first formal Mozilla course beyond Seneca and establishing an educational foundation in Europe.
  3. Online Mozilla Courses that provide learning and engagement opportunities directly to potential Mozilla contributors.
  4. education.mozilla.org where all Mozilla courseware and learning information can be found.

Over time, we hope these programs will also make a broader contribution to creating a new participatory learning model based around open source contribution, and we hope to work with others who share this vision. However for now we want to start with something doable: making a formal link between education, learning and the Mozilla community.

The (still under construction) plans for Mozilla Education are detailed on this page and a number of sub-pages.

Contents

Overview

Intro

Open source projects help contributors learn incredibly useful skills: how to code, how to collaborate, and how to lead in a global community. Despite this, formal links between higher education and open source projects like Mozilla are rare. College and university students who want to take advantage of the resources and mentorship that come with open source development have had to do so on their own time.

Working with others around the world, Mozilla Education wants to help change this: we want to build systematic links between our projects and the world of education. Over the long haul, we hope that this will help to drive a new wave of participatory, student-led learning in fields like computer science, design and business. In the shorter term, we believe that we can provide students with rich learning opportunities while at the same time generating new ideas and contributors for Mozilla.

The idea is to provide content, mentorship and community infrastructure that make it easier for students, professors and universities to contribute to and learn with Mozilla. At the simplest level, this could include online 'bootcamps' and easy-to-start coding projects for students who want to build an independent study credit around Mozilla. At a larger level, it could involve university departments building significant ongoing programming with Mozilla. What actually happens will depend on where students, educators and Mozillians decide to take this.

Context

There has been much talk over the last few years about the link between open source and education. Key things to note include:

  • MIT and many others have released 'open source' versions of their course content and materials.
  • David Wiley at BYU and many others have started promoting participatory pedagogy that builds on the culture and tools of the internet.
  • Some people have started talking about an 'open education movement' that combines open courseware with participatory teaching and learning.
  • Open source software has been rolled out widely by schools in Russia, Brasil and the Extremadura region of Spain.

Despite all of this buzz about 'open' and 'education', there have been few projects that have focused on the fact that participating in open source development is itself a rich, participatory learning experience. Some exceptions are:

  • Seneca College in Toronto has integrated participation in Mozilla, Fedora and OpenOffice into its computer studies programs.
  • A Mozilla contributor and student at the National University of Singapore has taught a Mozilla class loosely based on the Seneca model, and is planning another.
  • Smaller, university-based software projects like AVOIR have grown up with significant participation from students.
  • A group of small liberal arts institutions in the US is exploring integrating FOSS into the undergraduate curriculum, with support from the National Science Foundation.
  • OSS Watch in the UK has submitted a 'FOSS Education' proposal to the JISC to develop an open education curriculum and mentoring programme embedding open source mentoring into computer science and work based learning (funding decision due at the end of February 2009).
  • The osie-list mailing list is a forum for people interested in open source in education and the development of an open source-centric computer science curriculum.
  • The official master on free software at the Open University of Catalonia has a master thesis course where interaction (in any way) with the free software community is a goal.
  • The master on free software at URJC has several subjects on this topic.
  • The INGOTS certificates engender participation by making project contribution a requirement of the higher grades. Lower grades also raise awareness of many issue around Open Standards and Open Source projects, especially those relevant to Open Office.
  • This is perhaps stretching the point, but the Moodle learning management system is founded on constructivist and participatory practices, and so the Moodle community as a whole has a lot of relevant experience and resources.
  • George Washington University offers a class called Development of Open-Source Software that is taught by a Mozilla community member and includes developing a Firefox extension on mozdev as part of the course work.
  • Jeju National University offers a a class called Open Source Class that gave an opportunity to make Firefox Addon as a student project.
  • What else? Please add additional examples.

It's in this area that Mozilla Education wants to focus -- making a direct link between organized learning opportunities and the learning that comes from participating in open source development. While we've already had some success in our collaborations with Seneca, we've also faced challenges:

  • We haven't yet been able to replicate the Seneca model directly. The barrier to entry for this model -- the right professor, a supportive institution, local Mozilla support -- is quite high.
  • Students -- or even professors -- who want to build their own credit courses around Mozilla activities don't have any easy pathway to do so. The resources that have made it possible for Seneca students to succeed -- help navigating the Mozilla world, a supportive community of other students, a pre-selected list of useful projects to work on -- are not easily available to students not taking Seneca courses.
  • While Mozilla has many useful learning resources for self-learners, there is no simple way to find materials that lend themselves to inclusion in formal courses. A number of course resources like this exist, but they are not well packaged or easy to find.

In 2009, we plan to run experimental programs aimed at overcoming these challenges. If we can make progress, there may be a case for Mozilla to more actively promote and scale its efforts in the education field.

Strategy

Vision

Working with computer science, design and business schools around the world, we aim to create learning opportunities for a new generation of Mozilla community members and help to drive a new wave of participatory, student-led learning.

Strategy Scribble (aka Theory of Change)

The following diagram provides an overview of how we plan to pursue this vision:

Mozeduscribblesmaller.jpg

The elements of this diagram are written our on more detail below. You can also look at a much bigger version of this picture.

Goal: Big Picture

At the broadest level Mozilla Education is focused promoting the strategies outlined in the Mozilla Manifesto. In particular the aim is to

Make openness, participation and distributed decision-making more common experiences in Internet life

This is one of four goals that Mozilla is aiming to meet by 2010.

Objectives: Education Program

We want more and more people to

  1. understand and use open source work methods practiced by Mozilla and other projects
  2. learn about and build with open web and Mozilla technologies
  3. participate in Mozilla and other open source projects

These ojectives are designed to contribute to the larger goal outlined above.

Possible Bonus Effects

In addition to these objectives, we're also hoping that Mozilla Education will result in

  1. a pool of high quality Mozilla open courseware
  2. a new participatory learning model built around contributing to open source projects
  3. many professors skilled at integrating open source projects and methods into their teaching

These things aren't our core motivations, but they are still important and useful outcomes to work towards.

2009 Activities

We are planning a number of pilot activities for 2009. These include:

  1. Seneca Expansion / Virtual Seneca offering Mozilla learning resources and support to students everywhere.
  2. Madrid Summer Course at URJC, establishing the first formal Mozilla course beyond Seneca and establishing an educational foundation in Europe.
  3. Online Mozilla Courses that provide learning and engagement opportunities directly to potential Mozilla contributors.
  4. education.mozilla.org where all Mozilla courseware and learning information can be found.

Each of these is described in more detail in the 'pilots' section below. There is even more detail on related pages for each activity.

Questions?

We have a broad thesis about how Mozilla can contribute to and benefit from engagement with the world of education:

Systematically creating opportunities for students and other learners to immerse themselves in Mozilla projects will a) produce rich learning outcomes for the participants and b) garner new ideas and contributors for Mozilla. Over time, this will contribute to the broad adoption of participatory learning approaches based on involvement in open source communities.

These are big ideas. We can't test fully test them in one go. However, we can ask a number of questions over the coming months that will help us understand whether this is an area worth a significant investment of time and money:

  1. Can we replicate something roughly similar to our Seneca experience, getting another college or university to run community-based Mozilla courses, or is Seneca a unique case? If we can, how much time and resources are required?
  2. Can we leverage skills, knowledge and other resources at Seneca to create a sustainable platform that students everywhere can use to learn with and contribute to Mozilla? If yes, will students use it?
  3. Can we accelerate our efforts in education by setting up our own online courses for Mozilla volunteers and others? If so, do we get good participation and learning outcomes?
  4. Will more students and professors use Mozilla educational materials if we create and promote a single place where they can be found (education.mozilla.org)? What if we promote these materials on other courseware portals?

Our plan for the first three quarters of 2009 is to start running real programs at a modest scale to help us answer these questions. Towards the end of 2009 we will evaluate to see if we should go further.

2009 pilots and experiments

Prior to 2009, the primary Mozilla activity related to education was financial and staff support of Mozilla-related activities at Seneca College. Our proposed plan for 2009 is to expand the scope of Foundation activities through a series of pilots and experiments related to Mozilla education. These include:

  • Seneca Expansion / Virtual Seneca The aim here is to expand Mozilla related mentorship, online community and infrastructure at Seneca to support faculty and students elsewhere, making it easier for more people to 'study with Mozilla' and start their own small scale courses.
  • Madrid Summer Course. Working with UJRC in Madrid, we will establish a prototype Mozilla course at a European university to see whether it's possible to run Mozilla education programs in formal academic settings other than Seneca.
  • Online Mozilla Courses. These community based courses will provide Mozilla volunteers and other interested learners with an easy way to study topics like community management, open web technologies and community marketing.
  • education.mozilla.org We will pilot this site as a central place for course-friendly Mozilla resources and other materials relevant to education. This will leverage and promote existing and emerging Mozilla Education materials.

Most of these activities are very Mozilla-specific -- our immediate goal is to better understand how Mozilla can contribute and benefit in the education space. However, the aim is not to do this alone or in isolation. OSS Watch, Red Hat and many others are also trying to make links between open source and higher education. We plan to work closely with these other initiatives wherever possible, collectively helping to create new participatory learning models based on involvement in open source communities.

Seneca Expansion / Virtual Seneca

[We need a better title for this.]

The Seneca Expansion / Virtual Seneca initiative is intended to open up Seneca College's existing Mozilla-related resources to students and faculty at other institutions. Specifically, this will include:

  • Updated and well packaged version of Real World Mozilla, a one week bootcamp / intro for computer studies students who want to participate in Mozilla projects.
  • Online mentorship and guidance for students and professors who want to do their own ad hoc Mozilla courses, either on an independent study basis or as small classes.
  • Ability to participate in and contribute to Seneca's online community for students: the #seneca IRC channel, OpenSource@Seneca blog planet, project wiki, etc.
  • Expanded wiki / web page that lists student-friendly projects, a critical resource in getting students involved in Mozilla. This will be actively maintained all year round by Seneca professors participating in Firefox, Thunderbird and (possibly) other Mozilla project triage calls.
  • Help finding project mentors within Mozilla where needed (??)

With these resources in place, students and professors anywhere will find it easier to get involved in Mozilla. An individual student would have the resources to propose and undertake an independent study credit at her own university. A professor or Mozilla contributor would also be able to run pilot courses, just as Thunderbird developer Gary Kwong is doing at the National University of Singapore. Our hope is that expanding the reach of Seneca's resources will encourage self-organizing activities like these around the world. Ideally, other institutions will also contribute to and help run these resources over the long run.

Madrid Summer Course

The Madrid Summer Course [name still in flux] is an attempt to create a second instance (i.e., beyond Seneca) of a thriving Mozilla education program within a formal academic setting. The GSyC/LibreSoft/Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid is proposing a three month summer course with the following characteristics:

  • Summer course including Mozilla bootcamp, likely based on Real World Mozilla from Seneca.
  • Practical project work based on projects taken from the Mozilla community. Similar to Seneca approach.
  • Takes place from June to October. First week face to face, rest is online.
  • Online components developed in Moodle, and reusable for other courses.

This will be an initial experiment in Mozilla education in Europe, and will test the concept of a hybrid course combining classroom and online instruction. It may be possible to make this course partly self-sufficient financially.

Online Mozilla Courses

The Community Courses initiative will create an ongoing series of online courses on topics where Mozilla a) has expertise and b) needs more skilled contributors. For the pilot phase we propose the following approach:

  • We would create and operate short online courses on topics like community marketing, open web technologies, localization, community management, and design for open source projects. Our goal is to have up to three courses during the pilot period.
  • Participants would be either new Mozilla volunteers or people who simply want to understand how Mozilla gets things done. Some might be students registered for an independent study program at their universities.
  • Each course would build a learning framework around existing Mozilla activities and materials, with one or more Mozilla contributors leading the course. An academic partner at a college or university might co-lead a course, especially in areas like design where theory would be helpful.
  • Students would be given small tasks / assignments to complete that a) offer a chance to contribute to Mozilla but b) don't create a lot of noise or require much community time and attention.

The immediate benefits of these courses include: a) better skills for participating Mozilla volunteers and b) a collection of course materials on key Mozilla topics. These are both useful assets in their own right, and will be valuable even if we just do one round of courses. Of course, we will also have developed a framework for offering Mozilla courses that can be used over again if there is demand and impact from the pilots.

[We need Mozilla people / teams who would benefit from running courses like this. If you are one of those people, contact Mark Surman or Frank Hecker. If you can bring the content, we can do a lot of the heavy lifting on organizing the course.]

education.mozilla.org

The education.mozilla.org (EDMO) initiative will create a Mozilla Education library as a special section on mozilla.org. This would make it easy to find resources like:

  • The Real World Mozilla and Mozilla Developer Resource Kit materials developed at Seneca.
  • Moodle-based course materials developed through the URJC courses in Madrid.
  • Suggestions on how to use existing resources like developer.mozilla.org and the Mozilla slide library in educational contexts.
  • Information on how to get started as a student or professor interested in Mozilla (e.g. Seneca project pool, campus reps program, etc.)

All the materials in this library would be openly licensed so that students and professors can use or adapt for their own courses. They would also be able to upload or link to their own Mozilla materials.

Most if not all of the materials on the proposed site would be created as a byproduct of the other proposed activities. These materials could also be made available and promoted through existing OER portals. The Mozilla Education library would also provide a window into the other Mozilla education activities listed above.

Note: The outdated Mozilla University content on www.mozilla.org may be a useful guide to what works or doesn't work for hosting education content.

Related activities

As noted above, Mozilla is also committed to contribute to broader efforts to promote "teaching open source" -- using open source development methodologies and other participatory practices in an educational context. Other initiatives we know about include:

  • The nascent "Teaching Open Source" site and related efforts to provide a cross-project view of resources and activities related to open source and education. [Emerging from Seneca.]]
  • The proposed FOSS Education project under the auspices of OSS Watch at the University of Oxford.
  • The "Integrating FOSS into the undergraduate curriculum" project funded by the National Science Foundation.

Our plan is to track and participate in these projects where we can add value, in order to take advantage of general resources that can be leveraged in a Mozilla-specific context, make contacts and alliances that might be useful to Mozilla, and promote the general topic of open source and education. We have already agreed to sit on the advisory committee of FOSS Education at Oxford and to participate in the "Integrating FOSS into the Undergraduate Curriculum" symposium planned for March 4 in Chattanooga TN.

Checkpoints

It is important to get early results on the progress of initiatives and avoid expending time and resources on unproductive activities. We therefore plan to have quarterly checkpoints throughout 2009 at which progress will be assessed and decisions made about the future course of individual experiments.

The current list of checkpoints is given below; note that these should be read in conjunction with the planned activities for each quarter as listed in the roadmap section. Checkpoint activities should be completed by the dates given.

March 30, 2009 (end of Q1)

  • Do we still have confidence in proposed activities now that we have plans and budgets in place? If 'no' for any activity, kill it.
  • Do we have agreement on plans and institutional commitments from Seneca and URJC? If 'no', ask why and potentially reconsider partnership.
  • Do we have people, content and web infrastructure ready to roll for at least one Mozilla Community Course? If 'no', is the problem one of resources or enthusiasm for the project? If the problem is lack of enthusiasm, drop this idea.
  • Are we able to gather compelling and useful content for EDMO? If 'no', what is missing? Where do we need to look? Is the idea viable?
  • Do we have shared versions of basic Seneca tools for use by others, especially the prototype student project pool web site and the updated Real World Mozilla course?

June 30, 2009 (end of Q2)

  • Is there interest in using the materials and infrastructure that Seneca is sharing? Are Seneca and Mozilla happy with what has been produced?
    • In particular, do we see early evidence that students, professors and mentors are planning to use these resources in the 2009/2010 academic year? If 'no', is this an issue of promotion or interest?
  • Do we have the materials and people in place to have a successful first course at URJC? Are students registered?
  • How many people participated in the first Mozilla community courses? Did the participating Mozilla projects get useful outcomes? If 'no', do we need to improve our approach or kill this idea?
  • Are we starting to see traffic and use on the EDMO site? If 'no', does this indicate a lack of interest or a need for improvements?

September 30, 2009 (end of Q3)

  • Do we see actual courses or individual student projects starting up with Seneca-provided resources? If 'yes', do we have the capacity to handle them? If 'no', assess why and adjust future plans accordingly.
  • Is the pace of Mozilla community courses meeting the needs of the potential audience? What do we need more of? Less of?
  • How useful is the new EDMO functionality? If it is not useful, can it be fixed?

December 31, 2009 (end of Q4)

  • Did the URJC Mozilla Technology summer course generate good learning outcomes for participants? Was URJC happy with the outcomes? Did we produce re-usable course materials? If 'yes' on most, consider a second phase. If 'no', question whether this is worthwhile to do again.
  • Do any major tweaks need to be made to the Mozilla community courses for 2009? Should we bring all instructor duties in-house (as part-time or full-time staff)?
  • Is EDMO important enough to evolve into a "first-class object" (e.g., comparable to SUMO, QMO, AMO, MDC) during 2010? If 'yes', this needs to be fully addressed in the 2010 budget.
  • What is our overall assessment of Mozilla Education activities in 2009? What are the answers to our core design and thesis questions? In 2010, should we expand, evolve our experiments or kill the program?

Roadmap

[More detailed roadmaps are included on specific pages related to the pilot program activities outlined above.]

The following roadmap outlines proposed activities in each quarter of 2009. At the end of each quarter the results of the activities will be assessed according to the checkpoints above.

Q1 2009

  • Present plan to the Mozilla Foundation board, revise plan as necessary. Finalize commitments for funding and staff time. (January)
  • Finalize a detailed task list and timeline for Seneca activities. (January)
  • Generate a list of course topics for Mozilla community courses, recruit instructors and mentors for Mozilla community courses, begin course design. (January and February)
  • Hold an EduCamp meeting in association with FOSDEM in early February to discuss Mozilla and other open source education initiatives in Europe. (February)
  • Get a definitive go/no-go decision on URJC participation and plans for a Mozilla Technology course, and begin content development. (January)
  • Deploy an initial EDMO prototype as a page on mozilla.org or WikiMo with a basic set of links and resources. (February and March)
  • Develop shared versions of core Seneca resources, especially student project pool web site and updated Real World Mozilla course. (January to March)
  • Make contacts and have discussions with the OSS Watch FOSS Education project, the institutions involved in the "Integrating FOSS into undergraduate curriculum" activities, and others involved in general "teaching open source" activities. (throughout)

Q2 2009

  • Do an academic year-end review of Seneca program, including
    • progress on generating lists of student projects from Bugzilla
    • state of participation in #seneca, Seneca wiki, etc., by non-Seneca students and faculty
    • state of development of packaged course material for "Real World Mozilla", etc.
  • Develop content and recruit students for Mozilla Technology course, making sure it's ready to go live in Q3.
  • Deliver at least one Mozilla community courses, ideally more.
  • Evaluate the usefulness of the EDMO prototype (e.g., based on traffic, content, comparison with related sites) and plan how it might evolve. In particular: should it remain a simple portal or take on other functions?
  • Make decisions on where and how we might work together with others involved in "teaching open source" activities and commit to a set of plans.

Q3 2009

  • Work on Seneca initiatives in preparation for new academic year.
  • Mozilla Technology course begins.
  • Hold three Mozilla community courses (one per month)
  • Work on the next phase of EDMO.

Q4 2009

  • Evaluate the achieved scope of the Seneca program in the 2008-2009 academic year thus far vs. what was accomplished in the 2007-2008 academic year.
  • Evaluate the success of the Mozilla Technology course and plan follow-on projects.
  • Evaluate the success of Mozilla community courses, including the popularity of particular topics and whether the basic model of academic instructor plus mentor is working OK.

Beyond

[What 2010 activities can we reasonably anticipate at this time?]

Community process

In order to succeed we will need to build a community of people who are working together on building up Mozilla Education. This group would also link Mozilla to in the wider open source world like TeachingOpenSource and FOSS Education.

Processes and practices would be built around things that already work within Mozilla, including a commitment to working in public and being open to potential new contributors. Specific practices might include:

  • public online forum or newsgroup (e.g., mozilla.education)
  • IRC channel (e.g., #education on irc.mozilla.org)
  • planning wiki (part of education.mozilla.org?)
  • scheduled public teleconferences (e.g., weekly or biweekly)
  • quarterly or bi-annual face-to-face meetings (e.g., combined with other events such as FOSDEM, Mozilla Summit, etc.)

Whatever the exact practices, the goal is to keep the group cohesive and focused on achieving steady progress.

Courseware and content licensing

As a nonprofit public benefit project Mozilla is committed to releasing its various products under permissive licenses allowing redistribution and reuse. Traditionally Mozilla has released its main body of source code under the MPL/GPL/LGPL trilicense, and has released non-code content at the Mozilla Developer Center (MDC) or elsewhere under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license (CC-BY-SA). However the Mozilla project uses the MIT license for MDC code samples separate from the main code repository, and there has been some discussion about moving to the more permissive Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY) for MDC non-code content created in the future,

We have not yet made a final decision on the licensing to be used for Mozilla courseware and other education-related content released through education.mozilla.org and other channels. We wish to encourage maximum re-use of Mozilla education materials, and we recognize that the wide variety of licenses used for open educational resources can sometimes cause license incompatibilities that limit the potential for re-mixing content in different contexts. We are therefore seriously considering using CC-BY rather than CC-BY-SA for Mozilla educational materials, with the MIT license used for code samples as is currently done on MDC.

Related information

  • People who are candidates for participating in the Mozilla education community.
  • Resources (funding, staff time, etc.) that will be required for the above activities.
  • Some thoughts on evaluation methodologies for the larger questions of measuring learning outcomes and contributions to the Mozilla project and community.