School of Webcraft – Plans for 2011

by P

This is a post about our plans for the Mozilla P2PU School of Webcraft – a joint effort to provide web developers training and certification that is free, open, and globally accessible. At the same time this is a post about P2PU as a whole – which encompasses many courses on many subjects, and even a few other Schools (like this, and this).

From prototype to product

2010 was fun, experimental, and exciting. We built a cool prototype, but didn’t worry too much about the rough edges. The original School of Webcraft was designed for ourselves and our friends (the early adopters). In 2011 we will turn it into something that works for (almost) everyone interested in web development skills. We started seeking out feedback from our users, asked advice from our friends, and put together a roadmap that will help us get where we want to be by the end of the year.

2011 will be focused on quality of the user experience, on designing a peer learning model and platform that can easily scale, and on tracking metrics that show we are moving in the right direction (or let us correct course easily).

2011 in bullet points

  • Everyone is a learner – P2P is the core learning model at School of Webcraft. However, that’s not an easy switch to make – from the traditional model where an expert teaches a group of mostly passive students – to learning with peers. At School of Webcraft everyone is a learner, and everyone is a teacher. In 2011, we will introduce more granular, smaller steps, that allow new users to “level-up” their engagement with other learners and the community. We will also nudge learners to start thinking of themselves as facilitators. Want to learn something? Run a course! We will help you.
  • A new platform – Good bye Drupal you old foe. We are moving to a Python/Django solution that re-uses some of the core code, and adds social learning features. We already have a great community of volunteer developers (list, tracker), who are helping with UX, cutting designs, and starting to build the basic feature set. And we are just about to hire a tech lead, who will give our efforts focus, own the technology stack, and kick us into a higher gear.
  • Badges – Badges are like symbols of achievement for something you have learned. Lots of people are interested in badges as a new and alternative form of certification and we’ve driven the conversation about an open badges infrastructure, where users are in control of their credentials, and credits can be moved around more easily. We just started our badge prototype (background), giving SoW users the opportunity to get skills badges (“javascript expert”, etc.) value badges (“accessibility” etc.) and community badges (“innovator”, “team player”, etc.). By the end of 2011 we’d like to see first anecdotal evidence that SoW badges help users get jobs.
  • Growth – While our main focus for 2011 is quality, we also want to keep growing. More users means more experimentation, more feedback, more learning. We already have more than 700 users enrolled in courses (> 1200 for all P2PU courses) and more than 6,000 members in the community. By the end of the year, we’d like to have at least 10,000 engaged and active peer learners.

Bootstrapping P2PU

P2PU will always support many different and diverse learning communities. At the same time, it’s also true that School of Webcraft has always been a little special. First of all, we’ve had a great partner in the Mozilla Foundation whose values and ideas are perfectly aligned with ours. We want to see open learning succeed and we need the open web for that. Mozilla wants to preserve the open web, and needs more people who have the skills to build it – and traditional training doesn’t scale. Second, web developers understand our open peer learning model – it feels natural, because it’s what they have been doing all along. As a result SoW is growing very fast. In the current round 30 out of 54 courses are Webcraft courses, that’s more than 50%. And School of Webcraft is also getting a huge amount of attention, including some attention that might come a little too early – this mashable article brought down our site. As a result School of Webcraft is the perfect opportunity to bootstrap all of P2PU.