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Greg McVerry

#Backstage View into my Mobile Learning Video #edu307 #edu407 #edu305

The Project I was asked to do a video about Mozilla and all the Mozilla Learning Network tools for a mobile learning MOOC.In 2019 Mozilla decided

3 min read

The Project

I was asked to do a video about Mozilla and all the Mozilla Learning Network tools for a mobile learning MOOC.

In 2019 Mozilla decided to shut down Thimble, probably the last vestiges of a project we all began together back in 2011.

The Mozilla Foundation decided to move away from direct support of on the ground learning to instead focus on researching, advocating, and developing Internet Health.

All of the tools and platforms we built to help learners join the relics of web history. X-ray Goggles, Thimble, App Maker, Backpack, Hackasaurus, Webmaker, Webmaker for Android, Mozilla Clubs, Mozilla Learning Network, Thimble II.

The Future

So I close the video with my views on and , both of these movements align to my values but don't have the organizational overhead I did not enjoy as a contributor.

  and look  to mobile learning as the web. They both begin with a Domain of Your Own and then expand learning networks outward.

Relying on your own website and building up local infrastructure is the only way to decolonize the web.

One thing I learned in the fights for net neutrality around the globe is far too many people see facebook as the web. When you build mobile learning networks on social media silos we sacrifice long term decolonization efforts in the face of immediate network access.

The role of social media is decision to be made at the local level, but at least begin by building up the local infrastructure of the local web.

Federation and Decentralization begin at home. Stop the colonization of the web. Encourage local communities to carve out a space online they own.

That is the future of mobile learning

How I Made the Project

I used Alan Levine's Pecha Flickr tool. It takes a search trm and generates 20 random slides that advance every twenty seconds.

I then threw out a post on my blog and syndicated to Twitter and Mastodon. Doug Belshaw then answered on Mastodon but it was to a follow up toot. Mastodon doesn't do webmentions so the context was lost.

I did not realize this and it is important to note as Doug was employed by Mozilla at the time of the project. Basically he had no idea I was about to improvise a talk about his work using the two words he suggested "manhole" and "spork."

my plannign notes, three pages in storyboard format

I did have notes, and you can tell I didn't know them well. As I glance down in the video breaking the illusion of total improv, but I didn't know my slide show.

I quickly realized, manholes as a metaphor get boring yet contain unique beauty about different cultures and I couldn't fit all my content in twenty slides. So I had to do a second talk. Luckily Doug gave me "Spork.

So much to work with. Such perfect design.

I originally, after talking too long in my first slide deck, thought I would do three, but I was afraid the video would get too long for a MOOC. Anything after seven minutes and people drop like flies.

I recorded it using screencast-o-matic. Probably the best teaching tool I use every year. It only cost fifteen dollars.

I added simple text boxes. I should not have put in such a large infographic into a video, it will not work for our blind friends.

So here is a description of what happens on the original Google Drawing. This should play better in screen readers.






Greg McVerry

Seven Strategies for Blogging in Open Source Communities

Everyone hears bloggers beomaon writing block. Yet no great ailement spreads that saps writing ability. No virus takes away verbs and no bacteria takes down

2 min read

Everyone hears bloggers beomaon writing block. Yet no great ailement spreads that saps writing ability. No virus takes away verbs and no bacteria takes down a blogger.

Writer's block emerges not from some mental state or illness but from a lack of strategies to get started. Open source community members may not want to blog simply out of fear of answering the question, "What do I blog about?"

The best blog post is a published blog post.

Just encourage this value in your community. Make it a meme, an emoji, a mantra. Get the community blogging and if they need help offer one of these ideas.

  1. Learn Something- No one comes to open source saying, "Gee I want to find a project where I can contribute code." They have a goal and something to learn. Documenting this journey provides endless content for open source bloggers. Simplay answering the question, "I want to learn X" so I will try Y" provides enough content for a post.
  2. Teach Something- Documentation != tutorial. Have you tried to use open source documents to learn? Not for the faint of heart. Check out the Apache documentation I stumbled across when trying to learn to abit of regex to write a redirect, or tell my server to point old links on my blog to the new url of my blog. Write a tutorial. Help the next contrbutor.
  3. Backstage Blog- Slightly different than a tutorial go more in depth into  a reflection your decision making process when building an app, coding, or running an event. Tell us what worked, what didn't, next steps, or what you will do differently next time.
  4. Behind the Scenes-If you work at a company contributing to open source or building open source tools share some office shennanigans. Community members love this stuff.
  5. Plan Your Future-Share your goals and upcoming events.
  6. Share the Past- Post pictures and reflections from events or major community changes.
  7. Celebrate the Community- Higlight other community members. the h/t goes a long way in terms of recruitment and retention.


Greg McVerry

Building Open Source Source Communities Through Blogging

Open source does not mean working open. Open source refers to a small sliver of our work and refers to the license we assign to

4 min read

Open source does not mean working open. Open source refers to a small sliver of our work and refers to the license we assign to content we create.

Working openly builds open source conent but places an emphasis on learning out loud, reflecting on growth and sharing our triumphs.

When we work openly we build better open source software and open source comunities. In fcat five key benefits should drive every open source community to encourage members to blog.

Share your Story

Truth and reflection sell. In fact never sit through any seminar on SEO or social media (trutfhully skip all things SEO) that does not begin with this mantra. Good content is all that matters.

Every open source community has a mission. Never keep quiet about your mission and values.

A blog builds open source communities.

Recruitment and Retention

When you tell your story you attract other people who first want to listen, maybe tell a friend or better yet get involved. So much energy in open source community gets spent on thinking about how do we track contribution? How do we get more people involved in open source? Anyone know any designers?

Platform after platform gets built by community after community without realizing the web provided all the tools we need for recruitment and retention. Blogging begets blogging.

You also get metrics on contributions that go beyond the core commit. We know  other layers of the onion [1] surrond  core community members that contribute most of the code. Event planners, bug filers, and even the feature request as an issue crowd all support

The contributions nontechnical members make support the community as a whole and drawing in contributors, both those take push code or content, requires blogging.

Keep it DRY

Most commit messages are awful. Usually commiters leave a brief word or two and fail to capture changes in the code base let alone the decisions behind choices.

In many open source communities we often fall down repeated rabbit holes. When core committers also blog we reduce the risk of "repeating yourself" over and over again.

When someone may ask about a decision a blog post, which in open source communities averages 11 times the median length of a commit message will not only explain more to our members but it helps sustain our collective mission.

Build a Better Web

 No one gets into open source to save moeny....Well if they do they won't be around long. We choose open because we know it leads to a better web and a better web leads to a better world.

Blogging can make it all happen. Every time you encourage a community member to capture their journey with open source you help build a better web making it more enjoyable and inclusive for all.

Have Fun

Most importantly blog because you enjoy open source. You may not enjoy writing. Even the best bloggers struggle with crafting words just as you struggle with code. Always boils down to text structure. Some  languages are simply more declarative than others.

Let blogging declare you. Let it parse your history as an open source community. The average blog post in open source communities is only 150 words. And who says you have to use word? Photo blogs or video blogs (vlogs) can provide avenues of intention any day.

150 words, one picture, or two minutes of audio or video. You can do this. Your community can do this. Simply set a goal. Could be every day, once a week, before every pull request or commit. You decide. Just have fun.

Greg McVerry

Haven't even finished my @wordpress migration and already thinking maybe @grabaperch way to go (to be fair I have always weighed this decision). Has webmention support, and I am building out how I'd want my site look on @glitch

Greg McVerry

@vconnecting here is workflow>Journal website releases a call>write a draft include link to call>reviewers score piece, make decision> send feedback to the author from their website or review site>final draft published on researchers website and journal article

Greg McVerry

@brianmcc Amazon's HQ2 had nothing to do with tax breaks or hiring pool. Bezos driven by customers. And there is no bigger data customer than the government and the financial sector. I think the store ancillary in decision.

Greg McVerry

Pedagogical Affordances and Instructional Design Using @withknown

I recieved a question from a teacher at Northwest Catholic High School. I am helping the school launch a 1:1 iPad initiative. As part of

6 min read

I recieved a question from a teacher at Northwest Catholic High School. I am helping the school launch a 1:1 iPad initiative. As part of the workflow teachers can set up a classroom website using Known,an open source learning platform designed for educators.

We do not yet use a Known Campus licesened site yet. During the pilot year teachers are building their sites using Known Pro, which is an app you can install with Reclaim Hosting (The site license plans are so affordable I encourage districts and Universities to check them out). 

The teacher asked:

For my classes, I am not sure if putting all courses on one site will work in terms of the blogging. It seems as if blogging, adding posts etc is done through the general format and not through the static pages via the categories. So, would sophomore American lit students be posting on the same platform as senior Brit lit students? How to differentiate between blog postings among classes? Should teachers have one website per course for this reason? I might try it with just one class/course to see how it works out. 

There is a lot to unpack in the question. First is student blogging. The teacher is referring to using the learning network features of Known and creating a class stream where students can write status updates and long form posts.

I am all for student blogging. As a teacher you need to decide: Do I want students blogging? If the answer is no then build one Known site for all your classes. You control the content and the posts.  You can skip to the end of the post. I describe some possible desing decisions for this scenario below.


If you do want students blogging then there are a few things to consider:

  • Do you want students posting straight to your Known site or sharing links to their own blogs.

I have tried both approaches when using Known and I like the latter. This was pretty much personal preference. Pedagogically speaking both worked well. I just believe shaping your space online is an important experience students need to have. Plus I think the stream looks prettier in snippets rather than in long form.

Just have students register for a free Known account and they can get started right away (other blogging platforms such as Tumblr or Blogger will work just as well). 

Setting up Known as a Class Stream

If you are going to use your Known, no matter how students blog as a learning network  then you do have to decide if you want all your classes on one site or one site for each class. Both options are available to teachers. There are trade-off and benefits to both.

  • More streams to follow.  The more Known sites you have the more streams you have to follow. This can be handled with RSS feeds for every class but that is something else to learn.
  • More pages to mantain. A hard Instructional Design lesson for teachers to learn is minimizing content. We want to put it all everywhere. The probelm is "everywhere" requires updating.
  • Navigation would get messy . If you did have all your classes across all your grade levels posting to the same stream things could get messy. So a single site for all your classes is easier to mantain but messy to navigate. The more inferential navigation we require to students the less buy in we get. So here are a few work-arounds:
    • Use hashtags. If you have a single stream for all classes you need to train your students to use hashtags in their posts. Tip: Hashtags in post titles will not work. They must be in the body of the post. Tip: Create a taxonomy of hashtags students with students.
    • Pin Posts Known currently doesn't have a pinned post feature. Instead I would have one page in each category of important posts. If there are posts you want every student in that class to see just add a link.


 Setting up Known for Multiple Classes

 The first step in setting up a site for multiple classes is to close your computer. Go get a piece a paper and map out your navigation. You want to have common pathways across all your classes. This makes life easier on you and your user.

So don't read more until you know what pages you would want under each class and try hard to make them all the same.

Okay so you have returned after finishing your paper prototyping. Good. Lets build the site. Known uses a static pages organized into categories.

You first have to ensure you have tue static pages plug-in turned on. Go to Site Configuration and click on plug-ins

Then you have to install the static pages plug in. Just click in "Enable" if you see the word disabled (like me) then you already activated the pages

Next you add your categories. You should have one category for each of you classes. In Known categories become dropdown menus with page navigation

Then you add the pages to each class. Go back and find your paper prototype. Add the classes and assign each page to the correct category.

So my answer to the teacher is Yes. Yes, you can do all those things and no I will not tell you what I think is best. I told you what I prefer and the steps for both one single site and multiple classroom sites. In the end it comes down to decision points.

  • First ask, how does this enhance my pedagogical goal?
  • Then ask, does my workflow (navigation) make sense to users.
  • Finally decide on how much time you have to invest in building and mantaining your class stream.

No matter if you are a 1:1 community or a one 2004 Windows XP desktop classroom mantaining a class website reaps long term efficiencies and efficacies with an initial investment of time and learning. In terms of students blogging well.... reading, writing, and participating on the web is how we encode and decode meaning onto the world.

Do you want to afford your students this possibility?

Greg McVerry

Design Research, #TeachtheWeb and #DigPed: Scholarship that Matters

Thanks a lot @jgmac1106 u gave the power and support for us things should be done wen we do along.. @I day halo @CoderdojoErode @GauthRaj —

2 min read

I consider Mozilla Learning to be the worlds biggest Design Based Research Project. I wish there was a metaphorical equivalent of the Hydra that did not have a negative connotation.

The many heads of make the world a better place every day. This is the story I need to tell when trying to document my open and digital scholarship.

I contribute to mainly becuase I do not want to simply understand the web I want to help build a better web.

I struggle with telling this story. I my mind I am a fly on the wall in a much bigger global effort. Sometimes I cause more trouble than good as I drop snark bombs or push back against developing narratives.

Mozilla iterates in public. They are as open as much as mission and efficiency allow. Every key decision is documented and made in public. The Foundation is a web collective of amazing narratives.

I question if I am making a difference. Then I get sent a Tweet from Udayhaya Telling me my efforts are recognized as empowering learners across the globe.

Udahaya has set up a local coderdojo club with a few other folks in Erode, India.

Getting a tweet from across the globe that recognizes my efforts means more than any letter from a P&T committee ever could. I really thought our stuff, the debates over the Web Literacy Map, and the work developing the curriculum was only felt in our little bubble.

Good luck ClubDojoErode.

Greg McVerry

Research Opportunity: Identities & Teaching. #teacheredchat #ntchat #teacherprep #walkmyworld

  Dear Student,   Do you plan to be a teacher? Do you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex (lgbtqi)? Are you interested in talking

2 min read

Dear Student,
Do you plan to be a teacher? Do you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex (lgbtqi)? Are you interested in talking more about how your sexual orientation and your professional life may intersect? As a former lesbian teacher, the wife of a lesbian high school teacher, and a professor who works with future teachers, I have lived the decision of coming our or not coming out in schools from a few different perspectives.
If you are in a teacher preparation program and you identify as lgbtqi, I would like to invite you to participate in a research study entitled, “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Teachers' Decisions Around Disclosure of their Sexual Identity.” I would like to know more about how other lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer teachers talk about (or not) their sexual orientation in their professional lives. More importantly, I would like to share that information with future teachers who identify as lgbtqi.  
If you are willing to participate, I will ask you to attend a focus group to talk about your experiences, to read about lesbian and gay teachers’ experiences, and to comment on those experiences. The focus group will last approximately one hour, and you will not be compensated for your time. Your participation will have no bearing on any course grades. If you choose to participate, you will have the chance to talk to other future teachers who are lgbtqi and to learn from the stories of gay and lesbian teachers who are already in the classroom.
If you are willing to participate, please either email me at or call me at 203-392-7298. Feel free to email me from your SCSU email address or from a personal email address.
Thanks for considering,
Dr. Bower-Phipps

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