Remixing Mozilla’s Web Literacy Curriculum for CPL

Paolo Balboa
Jun 27, 2017 · 3 min read
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21st Century skills c/o Mozilla

Last year my library, The Cleveland Public Library, was chosen as one of eight sites to pilot the Mozilla Foundation’s web literacy curriculum.

Joined by a talented, country-spanning cohort of folks from Multnomah County to Upstate New York, CPL hosted the full-day web literacy pilot last August. The small group of us that attended that day mapped a plan to turn inward and train our Public Services staff on web literacy.

So far, we have completed two full sessions, training a total of 40 CPL Public Services staff.

Initially we sent an email to branch and department managers to select a Web Literacy Ambassador to take the training. Our description of an ideal ambassador was purposefully open-ended, and it included bullets like

· any position within the Library (i.e. Clerk, LA, Librarian, or Manager)

· excited to learn and share new skills

We wanted people who understood the value in professional development and could advocate the training back in their home branches or departments. The intended effect was to get a broad spectrum of skills, interests, and job positions from our Public Services staff.

We structured the first training to reflect staff with advanced computer skills, and in the second training we invited a more mixed group.

While both groups completed the training with no discernible change in pace or timing of the exercises, we discovered an interesting wrinkle — the diverse cohort of learners communicated with each other more, which lead to more positive and energetic sessions.

In the second group we observed that at each table the natural teachers completed each exercise first, then jumped in eagerly to help their fellow tablemates, which then made our job easier as facilitators.

By encouraging groups to share ownership over the exercises and given the natural inclination to educate, we found that diversity provided a strong backbone for learning.

We gave each ambassador agency to create programs based on the Mozilla curriculum, and it’s been thrilling to hear stories around their experiences. Given the endless remix potential and the tireless ingenuity of our staff, the feedback to the training so far has been overwhelmingly positive.

Lisa Sanchez, who works in the Center for Local and Global History, trained with us last Autumn, and remixed the Who Am I? exercise to craft a Cleveland-specific program based on significant people and events.

Titled Decoding History, the program is aimed towards young adults, giving them a chance to exercise web literacy skills such as reverse image searching, source links, and basic coding.

Lisa’s aim is to establish a connection to our city’s history for young adults by teaching basic web literacy skills. A dose of knowledge sprinkled with some critical thinking.

“I thoroughly believe that young adults and children can easily grasp the technical side of computer literacy, but it’s the critical thinking aspect that I really hope to hone with this exercise,” she says.

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Lisa’s CLEcentric remix

Our young patrons, Lisa suggests, are familiar enough with the Internet to navigate it diligently, but the crux is teaching them to engage their web to become better digital citizens.

“I think the trick is to teach people, especially teenagers, how to wade through the deluge of information and how to verify sources,” she says.

Lisa hosts her first Decoding History workshop Thursday June 29th at 2pm at the Main Library downtown.

Check out her thimble projects here.

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