The time of year is right for submitting proposals for MozFest, the huge Mozilla Festival is a wonderful mix of technology, community and sharing which will span the weekend of 28th - 30th October 2016, which never feels long enough!.
I have been truly inspired by each MozFest that I have been to and gained hugely from the relationships, conversations and wonderfully rich experiences on offer at each visit. At each MozFest that I have attended, I've been priviledged enough to be successful with at least one of my proposal submissions and even more priviledged to be joined by some of the wonderful children with whom I work. But this year the priviledge has moved up a gear as Mozilla invited me to help curate one of the 10 spaces as a Mozilla Space Wrangler, alongside Robert Friedman, Kim Wilkens and Simeon Oriko! An honour indeed, not just to receive the invitation, but also to work with such wonderful talents in their fields (not to mention the high levels of enthusiasm)!
This year, the Mozilla Learning Space for 2016 is to called
"Demystify the Web"
It is set to be a whole experience in itself as you wander around a themed area, intended to excite and enthuse every visitor and encourage participants to share their talents and the knowledge they gain over the MozFest weekend. Aimed at Educators and Learners, one thing is for sure, it'll be an area to remember... for all the right reasons!
The Demystify the Web Space invites teachers and learners of all ages to join our funhouse of Web literacy. Embrace the unknown! Experience the thrills! Imagine and share the full potential of the Web with everyone!
So, grab your ticket to our carnival of learning! All who enter will gain the most important skills of our age: the ability to read, write and participate in our digital world.
My involvement as space wrangler has led me to contact many talented individuals, and invite them to propose their own submissions for a session within the Demystify the Web space. It has highlighted to me that there is a level of uncertainty around what could be offered within the space and how they could fit in, which has led me to wonder if you are having the same uncertainty.
The aim of the area is to help make sense of the web in interesting and engaging ways for educators and in turn for learners. This could be through sharing your inspirational success stories, shouting from the rooftops about a wonderful tool that you've had great feedback on, providing others with information on how to best support learners ensuring inclusion and diversity or... about the mechanics of technology, robots, programming and generally 'making stuff happen'
And this is where the uncertainty has crept in. The space name is Demystifying the Web, surely sessions must be directly related to the Web then? So how do robots fit in, if they're not part of the Internet of Things? Where does programming fit in if we're not making something online?
Each session that I have run has involved a largely physical aspect. Last year we brought along Sphero (the programmable robotic ball) and created a huge track, with interactive experiences for the Sphero to trigger as it rolled by. We used Raspberry Pi mini computers to create programmes that would control motors that were triggered by sensors and we created code to kick off sound effects and animations on Scratch. Scratch was the only online element of this activity, but we could have easily used the offline version. The previous year children shared their experience and knowledge of Zu3D animation software showing adults and children alike how to create a stop motion animation, we didn't have any reference or need for the Web. We also brought along the Sphero another time and created an interactive maze, again not needing or reliant on the Web at all.
To be able to demystify we need to understand and understanding is reached through a wealth of knowledge. For example, I pride myself on my driving skills and I love to drive! But part of my own success, I would relate to my understanding of a car engine. Don't get me wrong, my understanding isn't deep, but I understand how a clutch works and gears and, when I was learning to drive, I also learnt to service my own car. This understanding helps me to feel the biting point and visualise what the car is doing, and awareness of where the brakes are helps me to understand what is happening when I brake. We need to apply this same idea to computing. We should also consider that, without an understanding of robotics, programming and hardware people who are interested in creating for the Internet of Things would struggle.
In short, there are many pieces to a puzzle and the puzzle of the Internet and the Web is no different. We need to equip our learners with as many experiences as possible to allow the way that we use the Internet and the Web today evolve into the amazing ways in which we can use these amazing tools tomorrow.
Just think about how different the Internet and the Web were 2 years ago, then jump to 5, then think on how different it was 10 years ago... The scope of what it could be is amazing, let's help fuel that!
So... What do you have to offer?
What makes MozFest are the wonderful contributions from the community, from you!
Have a think. How much would you love to be a part of this amazing event and to inspire the wider community with your talents and knowledge?
We’re looking for sessions that share fun, interactive ways to teach and learn the Web in diverse, inclusive spaces; sessions designed for creative collisions; sessions that inspire people to engage in an openly networked world.
If you want to know more about the Space, have a look at one of these great blogs:
Already have an idea? GREAT! Submitting your proposal is quick and easy, just head to the MozFest Call for Proposals page.
The deadline for submissions is 1st August 2016 at 21:00 UTC
We look forward to welcoming you to Demystify the Web! See you there!