Hackjam Parking Lot

This past week, we ran a Hackasaurus/P2PU hackjam to implement functional changes to the P2PU platform and create challenges curriculum for Hackasaurus. It was a whirlwind three days.

While we had specific goals, we also had a lot of ideas that aren’t in scope for this phase of the Challenges Project. Those ideas deserve some attention, so we put them in a Parking Lot to discuss at a future date and time. This post is about the items that were parked.

Parking Lot: Methodology Rethinking

Michelle Levesque and I had a very interesting conversation about process. Michelle is doing some huge meta thinking about web literacy, so we had a huge meta conversation about education, assessment, and curriculum development process. There in the Mozilla Toronto office’s bike room (we were doing a walk and talk all over the office), we discussed the differences between learned methodologies and methodologies that work. We talked about how we’re all trying to do something new, teach something that isn’t widely taught, define lessons that are ingrained within.

Imagine if you were part of the first group of people that could read or write. How would you teach the concept of written language? How would you translate spoken language into a serious of lines and explain it to people ? How would you explain the value of being able to read or write? Where would you start? What auxiliary skills would you have to teach beforehand?

We talked about how methods that might have worked in the past might not be the right methods for us. We talked about how other people tackle problems versus what we would do and found a bit of common ground.

Thanks Michelle – good talk.

Parking Lot: P2PU for Different Age Groups

It’s hard to create a platform “for everyone” and even harder to create curriculum for everyone. In fact, it’s probably impossible to create a piece of curriculum that can teach both adults and children. Jess Klein put the discussion of being able to use P2PU for varying age groups in the Parking Lot, and I couldn’t agree more. The tagline of P2PU is “Learning for everyone, by everyone, about almost anything”. How can and should this platform be modified for children? For teens?

Parking Lot: Badges

The Open Badges Infrastructure went into Beta in September. P2PU had been using the Alpha version of OBI and ran the pilot badge program at the beginning of this year. Zuzel Vera talked about expanding the badge model and functionality on P2PU. In addition to those changes, implementing the beta OBI into P2PU should have high priority. Unfortunately, due to resources, it must be pushed into another phase of the project. Still, the P2PU badge system is getting a lot of attention in this phase, so we’ll have a better picture of how people are responding to badges after the January launch of the Challenges Project.

Parking Lot: Browser ID

One of the goals we had for this project was to enable P2PU content creators the ability to use Javascript in their curriculum. However, due to security issues, that functionality shouldn’t be implemented for the general community without serious consideration of the solution. For this phase, we’ll probably hard code the Hackasaurus Challenges into the P2PU platform and/or use a window.open(). We also discussed using iFrames, but for Hackasaurus, the iFrame conflicts with XRay Goggles, so that solution isn’t ideal. Atul Varma and Zuzel discussed several solutions to allow P2PU to talk to external sites, one of them sounded very promising, but couldn’t be implemented by January. So the discussion about using BrowserID or OAuth was put in the parking lot.

Parking Lot: Identity Design

The last parking lot item revolved around the identity of P2PU. Stephanie had a conversation in Washington DC with a group of networking engineers in which she discussed the Challenges Project and the P2PU platform. That conversation included the demonstration of the platform, which led to a few comments on the look and feel. The logo in particular seems to be aimed at high schoolers (it’s using a letterman font). Chloe Varelidi and Zuzel, the P2PU representatives at the hackjam, agreed that the design of the site could use some help. They also explained that all the design had been done for free in the community. P2PU has a UX designer contracted at the moment, so the platform has been improving, but it’s the identity that is the item in the parking lot.

Hackjam Success

We accomplished a great majority of the goals we set forth, and had a lot of interesting discussions about badges, web literacy, curriculum, evaluating success, and the P2PU platform. We also created a series of artifacts that shows our thought processes and can serve as a catalyst for future curriculum projects. Stephanie and I will be talking more about those artifacts soon.

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  3 comments for “Hackjam Parking Lot

  1. December 20, 2011 at 12:55 am

    “One of the goals we had for this project was to enable P2PU content creators the ability to use Javascript in their curriculum. However, due to security issues, that functionality shouldn’t be implemented for the general community without serious consideration of the solution.”
    => At Google, some of the smartest folks I know have been working on a project called Caja
    It is an attempt to solve the “safe mashup problem”. I think this problem is the one you’re concerned with: have several scripts mutually suspicious running on the same page (without iframes, without window.open) without maliciously interacting with one another.
    I’ve been looking for an excuse to dive into this and using this in an existing environment. I can dive into this to see whether it fills your stability needs, etc. I know the folks (well… one…) who work on that and could probably easily ask questions. Ping me if you’re really interested.

    Related: SES (Secure ECMAScript).

  2. December 20, 2011 at 12:56 am

    Link to the Caja project: http://code.google.com/p/google-caja/

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