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My quick thoughts, back stage, and rants as I try to Teach kids about the Web while learning how to help others build a better Web.

Greg McVerry

My Next #indieweb task

2 min read

So I got my blogs (well the ones I use a lot) updated and running smoothly. I was looking for my next project and I have decided I am going to focus on streamlining my course workflow and also utilizing microformats when makring up my courses.

Here's my problem. I try to host all my courses in html/css. It makes remixing and sharing so much easier than locking htem behind a unverisity silo. I then also try and mantain these on GitHub.

Things quickly fall out of sync. My syllabus, my course site, and my repos are never the same.

Here is my solution: Create a system where I can update a course module template and this will immediatley update both my website and my syllabus.

Be really cool if I could do this right from my repo. If not I can just sftp into my sites to update.

I really want to to do this because I am intrigued by altmetrics. A solution like that has been a dream of our study group.

Quick punchlist:

  • Update frameworks. Syllabus uses Skelteon and classes use Bootstrap. Probably make them both Bootstrap,
  • Change all the font awesome icons to 5.0.
  • Figure out when using microformats if there are already conventions used in and learning spaces.
  • Finalize my instructional design for my modules. I am really close but this work will be important for next steps.
  • Figure out best way to serve up the modules in html. Here I am at the edge of my knowledge. Should be fun.

Greg McVerry

Choosing Course Delivery #OpenEd #EdChat #HigherEd #Literacies #Edtechchat

2 min read

Over the last few years I have explored a variety of tools for open course development. Asa refresher I design my online learing space with three elements: a hub with materials, an individual site for each learner, and a class stream.

I am debating how I want to present my hubs. I orginally created a Wordpress site with multiple courses.

Last year I tried building a class in HTML/CSS and Javascript using a bootsptrap framework. I could host all of this in my GitHub repo.

I am not sure which method I prefer: Wordpress or a blank HTML page as a canvas.

Over the summer I got back to Wordpress course design. I was hired by a client to develop a learning managament system. I went with Wordpress and the Sensei plug-in from Woocommerce. We added a paid theme Guru and topped it off with a Discourse with SSO integration. We also added Buddypress and BadgeOS for good measure. 

The platform came out great.

Yet I am still drawn to trying to develop class Hubs in the most basic HTML possible (while getting some design love). I imagine a future where other professors openly share their coursework. Where a new teacher  can fork a repo rather start from scratch.

Still the Wordpress page looks prettier (for now).

I think for this semester I will keep with the dual approach. EDU106 will remain a hub in Wordpress and EDU307 will go through a round of iterative development.

Greg McVerry

I can't make what I want . I was trying to make my syllabus using a navigable javascript slide deck. I tried to make:

It looked fantabulous on my desktop display, but when anyone else opened it it looked like crap. The fixed pixels of elements and text spilled out of the divs.

I tried really hard to fix it but it looks like crap. I should have juts used Google Docs for my syllabus.

Greg McVerry

Reflections as a Participant Leader at #mozfest

8 min read

Amira opened up the Mozilla Foundation comparing the MozFest journey to a magical carpet ride. What a journey. So many of us took flight and explored a confernece built on making, hacking, and playing.

flickr photo shared by ChristosBacharakis under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Yet in almost all instances magic is an illusion.

flickr photo shared by Mozillafestival under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license


The woven threads wisping through the air of Ravensbourne College do not just stay afloat like some kind of strange indoor blimp.

flickr photo shared by Mozillafestival under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Instead the efforts of hundreds of contributors breathing life into MozFest lift us into the air. They hold up the values of the Manifesto and their voices will unleash the next wave of Open.

flickr photo shared by Mozillafestival under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Developers, designers, analytics folks, artists, activists, and even the misiter of fun made sure magic enveloped everyone at Mozfest.

flickr photo shared by Mozillafestival under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

That's how I see our role as participation leaders. We spread the wizadry so the burdens and joys of a magic carpet ride on the  Open Web will not be an illusion. The Participation Leaders (read more on our Planet) are members of the newly formed Participation Team. Our goal is to increase community involvement across all of the channels of Mozilla.

As a Participant Leader I attended my first mozfest. So I wanted to take some time and reflect on what I thought we could do to help spread a little more magic. These reflections cut across MozFest and the Participation team.

Getting Remote Right

A huge hat tip to the team behind and the remote challenges. Fuzzy nailed the live stuff, Hannah and Natalie did awesome design work, and Andre worked hard on localization. I have attended the last Mozfest as a remote attendee. In terms of Participation remote is huge.

The challenges were awesome. Everyone did a great job on the design. What remote attendees don't want, however, is  to sit alone and hack at something. We do that every other day for Mozilla. Make us feel special as remote attendees.

We want to be there. Stream all plenary addresses. Encourage crowdsourced streaming. I periscoped and live blogged many sessions. I got personal thanks from many remote attendees. As remotees we want to see as much live as possible.

Have online and synchronous remote challenges. One idea, and I steal this from Maha Bali and the Virtually Connecting Crew, is to team up an on the ground participant and a remote participant. They can then host an open session that anyone around the world can join.


We got pathways wrong. Having fifty pathways isn't choice it is a maze. Designing your own direction is at the heart of Teaching Like Mozilla... but if I need an atlas and a tour guide it is too difficult.

I should be able to count the pathways on one or two hands.

People also come to with their destination in mind. If you are into , or , or Mozilla Learning Networks you want to hang out there. Over the past year or two as a participant you have been getting help from, reading about, or building with the facilitators in that space. maybe the only time to work face to face.

I understand we do need to get people out of their spaces. I love having the hackspaces in each Space at mozfest. I would just suggest that if VPs, project managers, or community leaders are going to hack away at something you head to a different space.

Many of the spaces alternated from looking like lounges or board rooms. Neither are inviting if we want to increase participation

Maybe the answer is to fool around with the session types. You have your Mothership activities, like plenaries where everyone gathers, orbit sessions centered around spaces, and exploration sessions that get people out of their spaces and checking out other teams.

This can be done by changing up the session times. Have one hour, two hour, and four hour sessions. This will lead to a reduced number of sessions, but it seemed many people wanted to keep working long past the end. There would be a call to head to a hackspace but with coffee that good along the way few would make it.

If session time varied 1 hour sessions in a space would be limited and people would check out other places. In other words if a Space as three avilable rooms butif  rooms are doing two hour and four sessions then by default many participants will head to another space.

Participation Team Notes

  • Onboarding is vastly different across the Globe. In North America and in Western Europe most people come to Mozilla through an existing partner. Across the rest of the globe people come to Mozilla through Mozilla. We need to think about and plan for these pathways.
  • The Tech Speaker series is critically important. Many people on the Participation Team noted how the opportunity made them more confident and want to get involved in Mozilla. The tech speaker series was standing room only. We should double down on story telling in every modality.
  • Everyone is trying to figure out GitHub. I am seeing curriculum development occur both on the MoFo side and and the MoCo side. We want to lift the same carpet but may be blowing in different directions. This is my first time working on another team. The workflow is vastly different then what I was used to in old webmaker/Mozilla Learning Networks. Lets build the same system. The Participation Leaders can help be that bridge.

    Maybe the idea of simplifying git hub for community contribution is the wrong problem to solve. For many teachers and activist curriculum and lesson plans might be the first contribution they make. Some of the best lessons I have ever written were on the back of cocktail napkins. We need to have as many channels open for people to share curriculum.

    Our job as Participant Leaders should be to curate this material and recognize future contributors who might need a little cultivation (such as learning Git).

    I see having someone get to a point where they are actively contributing to Git as a key indicator of leadership growth. Anyone willing to fight their way through that pain in the ass process is pretty committed. If you can get Git simplifed awesome. Just make sure the curriculum writing process is the same across all of Mozilla

  • Maybe the Participation Space should be a distributed space. The Participation Leaders talked about this a lot. Many of us had teams we are already committed to. Some wanted to hang with the FirefoxOS teams, others were involved in Mozilla Reps, some like me wanted to hang with Mozilla Learning Networks.

    Many of our sessions overlapped or sounded very similar to sessions in other spaces. The goals of the Participation Team are the same for every team. We want greater contribution and leadership in each space

    What if Participation Leaders were embedded in their space? This would allow us to greater track the contributions and recognize future leaders. We could even offer similar sessions simultaneously across all the spaces. Then in the afternoon in the Participation space we could gather for training.

    We could even offer an exclusive "golden ticket" session for other people. So if we noticed in our embedded space that there was someone going the extra mile we can say, "Hey there is this super duper double top secret sessions to thank leaders in each space. You should go."

  • The Gear Store matters. Its hard, as a New Englander full of false bravado and  self-import it to admit, but the swag matters. I have never been one for branding. Like many of my "too cool for school New York city types" the labels did not matter to me. They matter for the rest of the world.

    I saw people trading all kinds of weird stuff for hard to get stickers or t-shirts. While it takes staff and commitment I think an effort should be made to beef up the Gear Store. I wonder though if it can't be community driven.

    What if there was a site where community artists could submit designs that could be added to stickers, t-shirts, and mugs? Mozilla just takes a 30% cutoff of gross proceeds.

  • The Museum Matters. We tried to build a Museum in the Participation space. There were some awesome older artifacts. These were cannibalized at the end of the conference. Recognizing how much people care about gear also means preserving this history. Build a traveling museum exhibit that can be easily shipped.