Two weeks ago on Thursday we held our first web literacy framework / standard conversation. We, along with interested and influential folks, are thinking through what a web literacy standard might look like and how it might be implemented.
You can read more about our first gathering on this etherpad and check out our recorded interaction here—but before you fall too much in love with that pad or deck, take a gander at this etherpad, too. Because we held another web literacy online gathering just yesterday. (By the way, if you haven’t introduced yourself in the web literacy group of the webmaker list, please do.)
Participants at both of these public interactions began to think through and converse about some of the many complex questions surrounding this effort. Things like, what do we mean by the term “standard,” and what about people who are educationally or socially underserved, or those folks who are not even on the internet? While we don’t have answers to all of these questions, we do anticipate that this communication opportunity will spur a number of lively conversations and perhaps some complex philosophical and sociological inquiries, as well. Of course we want to talk, but more importantly, we want to listen, too.
Questions we’re asking
In essence, we’re asking a number questions and we’d like your thinking on them. Here are a few that we’ve been obsessed with lately.
- What are the basic, intermediate and advanced skills that are essential to becoming a productive participant of the web?
- How many are necessary to produce useful competencies?
- What are the related outcomes associated with those skills and competencies? In other words, what might those skills and competencies get you in an applied setting?
- Can we build assessments that support and acknowledge those skills and competencies?
- Can we build APIs that allow you to begin to use these skill and competency assessments right on your own site?
- How can badges be designed that accurately represent those skills and competencies?
- What sorts of badges make sense in a distributed system like this?
And another question that’s close to my heart:
- What goes into a badge framework that will encourage other individuals, organizations, educational institutions, etc. to build upon our web literacy badges efforts so that together we construct a viable, meaningful, and valuable network of activities, assessments and badges?
Definition of terms
A lot of this work is contingent upon us reaching some universal agreement about what we mean when we talk about web literacy.* In order for us to make any headway with the development of a standard, at the very least we’ll need to be aligned in our understanding and use of this term. Also, you may hear us talk about a standard and a framework somewhat interchangeably: we’re focused on building a framework from which a standard will emerge. Our approach for the web literacy badges works similarly: we aim to construct a conceptual framework that encourages other organizations and individuals to form their own badge system nodes in this network. While we’re still figuring out how all this gels, we’re forging ahead with designing a web literacy badge system that derives its excellence from a variety of committed, web-literacy-standards-aligned issuers contributing to it. I’ll explore this idea in detail in future posts.
One of my favorite posts that I’ve written on badge system design is Building Trust Networks, Creating Value. If you have questions about how we see this all coming together, you’ll find a number of answers there. In short, that post reviews the ways in which trust networks may evolve in the Open Badges ecosystem. It also purports that a system will function at its best if trust grows right along with it: trust that is both internal to the system as well as external to the system. A slightly different way of saying that is that a system will become more resilient if trust becomes and integral aspect of its network effect. The hallmarks of a successful system include resilience and flexibility: we’re working to build those into our web literacy badge system.
How we’re getting there from here
We’ve been considering what web literacies might look like. We’ve released a preliminary set of badges based on low level achievements that can be accomplished using one of our tools. We have a killer team assembled to begin tackling incremental assessment, creating activities that are both informative and inspirational, designing badges that act as guideposts to the standard they represent, and devising possible pathways for people to get from one skill or competency to another.** We’re analyzing the best ways to make this an open standard; imagining ways that an API might be able to be useful for things like those incremental assessments.
Over the next few days we’ll be roughing out a lightweight roadmap; there you’ll find specific dates and goals. And exciting next step will be to hold regular weekly calls to publicly investigate, evaluate, and scrutinize this work—this most definitely will be a group effort. You’re invited! Please make a point of joining us for our inaugural weekly meeting on Thursday, Feb 28 at 08:00 PST / 11:00 EST / 16:00 GMT.
I’ll post more specific dial-in details when they’re finalized. Dial-in info can be found on the Web Literacy Standard Community etherpad.
We’re excited to have you join us on this journey. Together we will co-create a new web literacy standard, develop badges that reflect that standard and begin to define pathways that lead to rewarding educational, social and personal experiences.
* A quick and appreciative nod to individuals who have been ruminating on digital literacy, digital divides, and technological literacy for years.
** A foundational badge pathways post is coming within a few days. This is a lynchpin concept.