I had a phone conversation this afternoon with Audrey Watters of hackeducation.com, a self-described “technology journalist, freelance writer, ed-tech advocate, recovering academic, rabble-rouser, and single mom” .  Badass, right?

Here are some of my rough notes from our discussion:

On what “web literacy” means to Audrey:

  • Having the skills to find knowledge.
  • Knowing how things work under the hood.
  • Some basic understanding of the pieces and what they can and can’t do.

On what “essential” skills are:

  • Analogy: If you teach someone to read enough that they can read comic books, are they “literate”, or do they need to be able to read the classics?
  • Hard problem.

Audrey’s history with technology:

  • Taught self HTML, CSS, etc.
  • Having trouble making the next leap (coding).  Find good teachers, and a comfortable environment, is hard.
  • Learned HTML w/ a project in mind.  Not a project in mind when learning how to code. “Maybe the path would be clearer if I had something.”
  • “I don’t need to be able to repair my car, but I should be able to point to a radiator and say why it matters.” <– love this
How much HTML does someone need?
  • Knowledge of “view source” button
  • Create a link, image
  • Very simple.
  • Knowing there is something behind what you see.
  • A grasp of how pieces fit together

How would you evaluate how far down the rabbit hole is right?

  • Probably age-based and interest-based.  Different for kids, different for fashion college students, different for everyone.

What’s wrong with the education right now?

  • Traditional CS education environment is newbie-hostile
  • Many people arrive at CS 101 already knowing a lot, and want to show off how much they know
  • Not a safe environment for learning

How would you measure web literacy success?

  • A decline in exploitation of ignorance: phishing, malware, etc.

Audrey said a lot of other really smart things, but I learned that my note taking skills are not up to par.  Apparently my hand is not used to writing quickly anymore.😉