Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Transitioning from Hacking to Webmaking

Today was the second HIVE Mozilla Youth Ambassador training at Mouse. Today was focused on making that pivotal move from hacking bits and pieces of the web with the X-Ray Goggles to designing webpages with HTML and style. This was the first time that I have ever lead a followup workshop to the initial "hack jam" type workshops where participants learned about the open web, what we mean by "hacking" and an intro to the Hackasaurus tools. For me this workshop is very important because it moves from the "a ha" moment that many users have when using the googles to look under the hood of a webpage, to the "roll up the sleeves" and get to work phase. Or, as Mimi Ito might say- from messing around to geeking out.


We started out by stretching our content creation muscles with the Superhero Design Challenge. Participants were asked to look back at the "I think X makes the web special" and the "I think that X makes the web difficult to use" brainstorms that we did in session 1. They chose one aspect of the web to defend or compete against if they were a Superhero of the Open Web. They then used this as the basis for creating  a short web- ready biography for their fictional superhero of the open web. We discussed what makes a good bio as well as what makes for good writing on the web.
The youth presented their stories:
"Captain  Super wall-  he has the power to throw fire balls at villains how try to cross the wall. A long time ago in a far school named cyber squad. were super wall a student was elected to go visit one of the most advanced technology in the hold city, but something when wrong in it’s visit. he touched  one of the controllers and he  when into  cyber world. it took him to  firewall city. where his mission is to let good information go in and burn bad things. "- by Jose
Then, they paired up and created an arch nemesis for their partner's superhero. Here is Captain Super Wall's arch nemesis, Title Wave:
"Title Wave sends title waves of info that is not needed does that because he thinks all info is good and also thinks that all info should have equal rights " - by Youssef
Now that they had bios, they were ready for some publicity! They went into online news organization sites and remixed the pages to include stories of their characters saving the day, or ruining the day as it were.   The youth had a great time taking photos with Photobooth on their computers and doing post production and image manipulation in Aviary:


They remixed the html and style with the X- Ray Goggles and presented their projects and talked a bit about how they trouble shooted problems with the coding.


We then discussed the various components that make up a webpage, including:  HTML, CSS, graphic assets and text content and reviewed that the combination of an opening tag and its corresponding closing tag and the content in between is called an element. 


The final challenge for this workshop was to make an instructional "how to" webpage from a template- without the goggles. In order to do this, we all came up with things that we we experts at- we had a peanut butter and jelly maker, a hand turkey illustrator, a good music connoisseur!  I gave everyone a crash course in web DESIGN. We talked about the importance in identifying a user and designed information architecture as well as wireframes for all of the sites.




Participants used a prototype that Atul Varma and I worked on as a spin off of the Hackbook that Anna Debenham created to help users craft webpages from templates.


In the end, everyone made the "how to" pages and we all critiqued the structure, style and design of each presenters work.

 How to Sleep


Overall the workshop was a  success - we user tested old and new tools as well as curriculum and workshop participants came a way with 2 webpages that they made in a stretch of 4 hours!

Next Up:  How to Run a Hack Jam on Friday.

4 comments:

Thomas Park said...

Great stuff. We're working on offering similar web workshops here at Drexel University in the near future.

One question: Where are the images hosted that participants use with X-Ray Goggles and Webpage Maker? Do they create accounts on Aviary and host them there?

Jessica Klein said...

Hey Thomas- that's fantastic! When are you doing the workshops? We (Mozilla) would love to hear how they work out for you.

The images need to be uploaded online somewhere already. So- actually you don't need an account in Aviary to get it to work, you just go to 'edit photos' (in their top nav) and then kids uploaded photos from their computers that they took using the cameras on their laptops and then "saved" them (bottom of the Aviary page). Aviary is great in that it gives you an option to share as a URL, so participants just embedded that url into their html. If it wasn't an image that they made, they copy and pasted the embed code from other places- I often refer students to use flickr, because of the creative commons licenses built into the system and the ease of grabbing the code.

sschipper said...

I am blown away by how much learning, fun and skill building you managed to pack into 4 hours.

Thomas Park said...

Thanks for the reply, Jess. We're planning to do our first pilot in January or February with many more to come! Here's a bit more about our project: http://thomaspark.me/openhtml/