Earlier this week, a group of Mozillians and I met up to discuss how to build a “Webmaking 101″ class for journalists, as part of the OpenNewsproject.

Mozilla’s one-two punch when it comes to teaching this stuff is:

  1. Learn via making
  2. Interest-based learning

So we set out to figure out what we wanted these journalists to make, as well as what skills from the list of  web literacy skills we wanted to inject into this learning.

After some discussion and brainstorming, we came up with the idea of helping them to “tell your story on the web“.

Imagine a website where you type the URL of a story you’ve already written, and it strips out all of the formatting and then teaches you basic HTML that you can apply to that story.

This and all other graphics below courtesy of Jess Klein

We didn’t want to just teach them HTML skills though.

There are lots of natural opportunities to teach someone all sorts of webby skills when showing them how to write stories online, so we took a look at my list of web literacy skills and came up with something like this:

From the “Authoring” column were technical skills like HTML, CSS, embedding and linking, web practices like designing for the web, and the opportunity to talk about some valuable ethos like the open web.

From the “Connecting” column we also wanted to talk about sharing, and a little bit about linking versus copying.

Next we set about storyboarding what we wanted our instructional tool to look like to teach these skills:

I’m not going to get into the details of the tool/lesson plan here (though if you’re curious, I highly recommend reading through Jess’ summaries), but two cool things fell out of this process.

1) The softer skills fell very naturally into a program about teaching the technical skills.

2) The actual journalists we spoke to on Wed about our storyboarding confirmed that these were all useful skills that would add value.

In fact, they seemed to want even more, and spoke about other skills they wanted, which easily mapped back to the larger list of web literacy skills.  Which confirmed, of course, that this is only a very small start in this vertical.

All-in-all it was a good experience to jump from the 10,000 foot view to something more concrete for a week, and definitely felt very validating.  So, yay. :)

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