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About the standard

What do you mean by a 'standard'?

Why do we need a Web Literacy 'standard'?

We want to create a new, open learning standard for Web Literacy for three reasons:

  • To mark the area as important
  • To co-ordinate efforts
  • To improve the experience for the learner.

When it comes to getting better at using and making the Web the current status quo is problematic for learners. Where do you go if you want to get better at your Web skills? How do you even know what's important to learn? Most of us who count ourselves as 'Web Literate' probably reached that level more by luck than by judgement. That journey is certainly enjoyable, but it can be an extremely long and meandering path. We can do better for learners.

What's wrong with the current way people learn how to use the Web?

Crudely speaking, there are three main environments in which people get better in using the Web. The first is through messing about, by playing with family or friends. This is the way many of us learn and it's fine as fa as it goes. However, it's highly dependent upon your immediate network and tends to promote surface level, just-in-time knowledge and skills.

The second type of environment is formal education. Here, understandably, the focus tends to be upon ensuring young people stay safe online and can fulfill the needs of existing curricula. Again, this work is important and necessary, but it doesn't always go as far as it could.

The third kind of environment is informal education, a broad church covering everything from places to learn online like diy.org to after-school and weekend meetups such as CoderDojo and Code Club. Because of the nature of such enterprises and business, they do great work but sometimes run into sustainability and capacity issues.

At the moment there are many people doing wonderful work all over the world helping people not only elegantly consume but actually write and contribute towards parts of the Web. These Webmaker-makers, or mentors, face three main problems: a lack of commonality in approach; much duplication of effort; and learners being presented with a somewhat haphazard model of learning.

Does everyone need to be a programmer to be 'web literate'?

No. Writing the Web - creating pages, documents and multimedia assets - means understanding the building blocks of the Web. As Mitchell Baker (Chairperson of Mozilla) says, we want to move beyond ‘elegant consumption’ towards creating a generation of Webmakers. We’re not talking about everyone becoming a fully-fledged programmer, but we do believe that everyone should have the skills, competencies and literacies to be able to tinker and make things with and on the Web.

We believe that everyone should have the skills, competencies and literacies to be constructive and creative on the Web. While not everyone needs to be a fully-fledged programmer or Web designer, given the pervasiveness of the Web in our lives everyone certainly needs to feel like the Web is a medium to be written and made as well as one to be read and consumed.

Who decides whether someone is 'web literate'?

Literacy is a condition to be obtained not a threshold to cross. We want people not only to self-identify as Webmakers but demonstrate the knowledge, skills and understanding required to be part of one or more web communities. We’re still in the process of defining the process by which individuals obtain Web Literacy badges, but they’ll contain both elements of peer assessment and self-reflection.

How long has this been going on?

What will success look like?

  • Launch the learning standard for web literacy
  • Have lots of other organizations and people aligning with it
  • Offer learning pathways and badges for all of the competencies/skills
  • See lots and lots of people earning and sharing these badges

Who helped contribute to this?

This work has been led by Doug Belshaw and Carla Casilli from Mozilla after some initial work by Michelle Levesque. We have had input from people such as Howard Rheingold, Audrey Watters, Dan Sinker, Ryan Seashore, Rochelle Mazar, and Matthew Levine. We've spoken to people with advanced webmaking skills and those new to the Web.

We've got a list of those who have come along to the weekly community calls on a spreadsheet here. This standard has been very much co-created with the community.

When will this work be "finished"?

Contributing to the standard

Who should get involved in the Web Literacy Standard work?

Anyone! Even if your job or responsibilities outside of work have nothing to do with teaching and learning the Web, that doesn’t matter. If you’re interested in what we’re doing then you’re definitely welcome and your voice matters. On the flip side, even if standards are your job/thing this might interest you. And that’s OK.

There are some obvious candidates of those who should get involved, however. The first of these would be representatives of organisations producing activities that allow learners to ‘level-up’ in their web skills. The value of being involved for this group of people is that they get to map their work onto a framework that both potentially eases their workload and surfaces their offerings to more learners.

Another group of people who should get involved are those who teach in a formal context. These may be teachers in schools where they want to deliver Web-related learning activities as part of the curriculum; it may mean lecturers in universities who want to ‘break down the walls’ of their classes and enable students to participate from wherever they’re based; it may be mentors in hospitals or prisons where improved Web skills allows learners to connect with others outside of their (fairly static context). We’re interested in a Web Literacy standard informing work in all of these – and other – formal contexts.

A third group of people we think should be involved in helping define a new, open learning standard for Web Literacy are those involved with informal education. This is a wide and diverse group of people including (for example) Scout Leaders, after-school club leaders, and CoderDojo mentors. Instead of the (fantastic) activities already being organised remaining in silos, they can be joined up in meaningful learning pathways or playlists. This can allow learners to go to a wide range of places to level up in their Web Literacy skills.

How can I contribute?

Aligning with the standard

So how does an organisation align with the Web Literacy Standard?

Organizations, be they big or small, focused on formal or informal learning, can choose to align with all or part of the Web Literacy Standard. So a small non-profit, for example, can focus on privacy and align specifically with that part of Web Literacy standard. They align using the 'standards' metadata field of the Open Badges specification.

Practical questions

Have you got any examples of organizations using the Web Literacy Standard?

How much does someone need to know to get started in developing/understanding these web literacies?

Who's endorsing/supporting this standard beyond the Mozilla community?

Are there any case studies available?

Technical questions

How will organizations issuing badges aligning with the standard find one another?

Can you say more about 'endorsement' and how it might work with the standard?

How do Open Badges work with this?

Clarificatory questions

What do you mean by 'competencies' as opposed to 'skills'?

By ‘competencies’ we mean collections of skills for pre-defined purposes. Web Competencies are bundles of Web Skills that allow individuals to ‘level-up’ in their knowledge, skills and understanding.

Is this Mozilla's play to 'own' the web literacy landscape?

No, not at all. We're not interested in becoming a regulatory body. This standard is something to which organisations may voluntarily align. However, there is scope through Mozilla’s Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI) for endorsement to provide some kind of endorsement and/or enhanced social proof.

Do people have to use Open Badges to use the Web Literacy Standard?

No! But we hope that doing so will be of value to both them and to learners. A lot of this is up for grabs. But I find that really exciting! A Web Literacy standard can useful in and of itself, but also to have a number of potential spin-off benefits. I, for example, am really interested in how we can find a way to do online peer assessment (including peer critique and peer validation) in an open, rigorous and meaningful way.

One of the great things about the OBI is that it's a platform for innovation. It allows work that previously would have gone on in well-intentioned silos to be joined up and unleashed across the entire Web.

Why is this important for Mozilla? Shouldn't you be focusing on Firefox?

As set out in the Mozilla Manifesto we believe that the Web is a resource to be protected; one to be co-created, not merely co-consumed. To create things with and on the Web means being able to both read and write it.

We want to help create a Web literate planet. We want to teach people about the Web through the Web, moving them from consuming it to making it as a means of self-expression. We want to create a generation of people who know how the Web works and can remix it. We also want to empower educators, those who want to teach other people about the Web.

In terms of the Mozilla Manifesto:

5. Transparent community-based processes promote participation, accountability, and trust.
6. Commercial involvement in the development of the Internet brings many benefits; a balance between commercial goals and public benefit is critical.
7. Magnifying the public benefit aspects of the Internet is an important goal, worthy of time, attention and commitment.

Will Mozilla be providing training materials relating to the standard?

How does this mesh or fit with other standards, e.g., ISTE NETs, ALA, etc?

How do Web Literacies relate to other new literacies? (e.g. 'digital' / 'media')

Who's responsible for maintaining the standard over time?