My #Mozfest 2013


I feel incredibly  fortunate to be adding a ‘2013’ to the title of this blog post,  reflective of this being my second Mozilla Festival.  Last year, I spent the entire event on the Webmaker floor, but this time propelled by new questions, ideas and focus  – found myself knee-deep in a variety of spaces.

Privacy and the Web

I found this to be my strongest focus at Mozfest this year.

In my community recently, I’ve been trying to figure out – how to address parent and educator fears about the web , and thus Webmaking.  I wrote a blog post on my own fears, and how I think Webmaker can plug into that – and so it was a lot of fun to create and present a Hacktivity kit on Security and Privacy with my friend and Mozilla Rep colleague: Dumitru Gherman.  Our focus was to keep learning fun on this often dark subject – the feedback from our group was really, good.  It was interesting how, from country to country our participants had different things to share about what privacy-concerns looked like.

  • One British parent said she finds kids are terrified of the web, because parents and teachers are… terrified of the web.  This made me realize how important the ‘fun and maker’  focus of our Hacktivity was!
  • Another Parent from America said she finds kids dismiss parental fears.
  • We had great discussions on the value of parental controls vrs digital literacy and we all agreed in the end, that daily attention to what kids are doing online, can help all things including paranoia.
  • No one agreed that banning, or setting age limitations on access to the web was a good idea – kids will find a way, they have friends with devices, best approach is literacy and awareness.

I also really enjoyed a session on Teaching Privacy with @Benrito, discussing the creation of Hacktivities for the Web Literacies focused on Privacy.  The time we had wasn’t nearly enough because the term can be so broad, and each person in our group had such a personal reason for being there. The one thing we did share was the idea of a cross-training space for youth and parents/educators, where basically youth teach us about what they’re doing online, where – with who – and in turn we can help provide best practices, relay concerns and help them stay safe.  I know…. not exactly realistic, but flipped learning makes sense – how can we fully teach if we don’t fully understand?  Looking forward to exploring that more.

Me and My Shadow” is a great resource for understanding and taking control of your online information.

Mozilla Lightbeam release was very exciting – another good way to better understand who’s tracking you.

Also exciting:  our Security & Privacy Hacktivity Kit was translated into Spanish at Mozfest by the amazing Alvar Maciel.

Code Club

With my own code club starting up at my daughter’s school this winter, I made a bee-line for the UK Code Club people.  I was interested to learn  the idea started with a pub conversation, that led to a web page seeking others who might be interested in teaching kids to code – and that it exploded from there.

I’ve been quite vocal about the failure of our local school system to adopt digital literacy programs.  At the Mozilla Summit I learned a lot from my friend Santiago , a teacher in Uruguay about the work he does with the ‘One Laptop per Child’ program.  His school was doing more than ours with much, much less – and it was this that made me try again with our local code club.  I feel more and more like Canada is just behind…not clueless, just behind, and I think the adoption and interest will be ignite very soon – I hope my code club will help.  I decided *at Mozfest* to also launch a Webmaker Club site, with resources, and updates on the lesson plan I’ll be using, with an invitation to others who want to do the same.  If it gets 5% the response of UK code club I would be thrilled


(Gunner :)

As with Mozilla itself, Mozfest is all about people, and I had some treasured chats:

Maker-Kids Canada – Minecraft

I was sad I couldn’t make it to their session, but I did have a wonderful chat with the dad and daughter team responsible. I feel terrible I forget their names, but they left an impression on me.  Namely using Minecraft to teach Cybersafety.  I had no idea you could program Minecraft games :  ie:  ‘Make wrong choice fall into Lava’.  I learned a lot from this 12 year old girl – and it’s on my code-club bucket list to teach at least one Minecraft-thing.

Elyse Eidman-Aadahl

Elyse from the National Writing project really inspired me last year.  She gave me wonderful advice about how to connect with teachers, how to appeal to the values they already hold in trying to teach code in schools.  I was so thrilled to meet her again and give her an update that I had ‘found my teacher’ who ‘got it’. It seems small, but I truly held her advice in my head and heart all year – so it was somewhat emotional to share progress.


In the strange world of EdTech, found through friends Clint Lalonde and Scott Leslie, I have come to follow so many interesting people one of which has been Alan Levine -AKA Cogdog.  It was very cool to meet Alan – in person, and to learn more about what he’s doing with Webmaker and digital story telling.  Now I just have to meet Audrey Watters, go get my ‘EdTech Groupie Badge’.

Mozilla Reps

If you’re ever at an event with Mozilla Reps, find one – from a country that’s not yours and talk to them.  Ask what the Web is like, schools are like – ask what they do for a living, or if they’re in school and you will have your mind blown. At the Summit I spent an treasured evening with Spanish-speaking Reps learning about challenges and successes teaching youth and adults.  I learned that one of my fellow reps was actually completing his PHD in a computer study.  At Mozfest, I learned a lot about what life is like in Mexico, Texas, India, Uganda, Indonesia, France. I really treasure these chats. I learned a lot about the difference between Quebec French and France-French from Flore – super interesting.

The Customs Security  Investigator

I was detained at the border because…well I am naive, and used the word volunteer to describe my work facilitating (although that was about 7 questions-in) .  Long story-short, after 4 hours in detention my entry to the UK was approved.  BUT prior to leaving I had an interesting discussion with my investigator about Web Literacy (I know @dougbelshaw would be proud).  I was shocked to learn how many girls (and young people) attempt to cross borders each year to ‘meet people they’ve met on line’. I quickly realized that I had already met one of these girls in detention on her way to a ‘Role Playing Game’ festival, without the phone number or address of the person picking her up.  This left a huge impression on me, and reinforced the importance of empowering youth online – to understand opportunity, but also risk and danger.

‘Inside the NSA Crypto Story’ Session.

I went to the , a packed room.  LIke most I’ve followed the NSA story, but it was incredibly interesting to hear the journalistic experience piece.


I didn’t get to meet enough kids at Mozfest, at least one-on-one as I love to do, and so I did steal a few conversations with kids where I could – in elevators at the Maker Party and everywhere in-between.  I think one of the coolest moments was watching someone teach kids Ruby.  I haven’t taught simple programming concepts yet like string vrs float – and watching kids learn this so quickly really impressed the fact that my code club can include Ruby as well.  Especially with a great resource like ‘Try Ruby‘, which make coding fun.

Happy to be home again, planning again.  Grateful to Mozilla Reps for taking me to London again, grateful to my wonderful husband and family for enduring all the extra kind of hell that comes along ‘when mom leaves for a few days’.