Last week a bunch of us MoFos had a discussion about how to build out our instructor community.  How do we find folks out there who are teaching this stuff, or similar stuff, and how do we “bring them into the fold”?  How do we measure success?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are still some big questions out there about what we mean by “instructor community”, and why we want them, and why they want us.  Here are my rough notes while thinking about this.  (Including some thoughts by Mark Surman.)

Three classes of instructors:

  • 1) Already teaching “web making”
    • help guide their content to stuff we find important, via tools/curriculum/teaching culture that lean in that direction
    • help them expand?
  • 2) Already teaching folks, maybe not web making. (eg: camp instructor)
    • inspire them that this would be fun to teach
    • make it seem easy to teach
    • help them learn it themselves
    • provide tools, curriculum, etc.
    • success stories?
  • 3) Second-generation teachers: folks we could teach how to teach, and then they might. (ie: the learners becoming the teachers)
    • encouraging existing instructors to identify these stars
    • and providing a single pathway once they’ve been identified
    • lower barriers to teaching
    • teaching the teachers
    • how to host events, etc.
    • hooking them up with existing teachers to learn from

That first-touch experience:

  • Meet an instructor at a conference, they “want more info” about teaching webmaking.
    • Where (URL) do I send them? How do we follow-up?
    • What do we offer them when they get there? What might they do w/ what we offer?
  • We discover someone already doing this stuff.
    • What is our ask / offer re: doing ‘our stuff’ in addition to ‘this stuff’?
    • How do we tap them in? (mailing list, call, etc.)
    • How do we keep them engaged? why bother with us, rather than going alone?
  • Instructor finds us via our tools, search engine, or media, etc.
    • How do they discover the instructor community from there?
    • What are the asks / offers? What can they DO right away?
  • Instructor identifies a star pupil who’d make a great future teacher
    • How can we help turn that into a conversion?
    • How do we pipeline / onboard the potential teacher?

Providing them with things they find useful

  • Inspiration
    • …?
    • point at each other / a peer group (mailing list, calls, MozFest)
    • mozillawebmaker.tumblr.com (feature good teachers / students here)
    • have dedicated folks (volunteers?) welcoming new people
  • Content / curriculum / tools
    • webmaker.org, but where on the site?
    • email newsletter or just our mail list, regular ‘curriculum highlights’ or ‘try this’ tips
    • Teach them (so that they can teach others)
  • …?

Providing them with reasons to contribute back

  • [what are the reasons? :)]
  • How can we help make this feel like a movement that they are a member/hero of?
    • Showcasing other folks’ work, their own work, etc. Showcasing metrics.
    • Make them want to be a part of it, and able to see how their contributions matter.
  • Lowering the barrier to entry for contributions
    • We shouldn’t need to be directly involved. Make clear processes. Then make those processes scalable, etc. Eg: “So you want to localize Thimble! Awesome! Here are the steps.”, or “Anyone can reply to #webmakerquestions (or whatever)!”
  • If they do contribute back, making it a positive experience
    • Have a time-to-reply on all github issues as a MoFo standard
    • Have dedicated folks thanking them, keeping them engaged, etc.

These are important questions because I believe they should shape our goals.  For example, if we believe that what we’d be providing instructors with is A, B and C, then we should make sure to actually do A, B and C.

Lots of open questions, though.  I’d love any thoughts that you might have!