Earlier this month, Mark wrote a post called Webmaker 2013: Product + Community, and we’ve seen a slew of posts that talk about the evolution of Webmaker from the product perspective, so I thought I would write a little about the people piece.

We have big aspirations for Makers and Mentors in this community. Not only do we want them to make and remix and learn together in a true spirit of openness and collaboration, we want them to actively reach out, to teach, to mentor, to live and breathe the open ethos* in a way that infects people around them. We want them to be having so much fun making and mentoring that they just can’t stop. We want them to be fixing things that are broken in our world, and we want to make sure that everyone knows that it was this spirit of openness that made the world a better place.

I’ve been participating in various communities that are full of kindred spirits. One of these communities is a group of innovative educators that are planning something we’re calling the #ETMOOC. The idea is to collaboratively explore the thoughtful integration of technology and media in teaching and learning through a ten week online experience. It starts in January, is open and free and you should sign up right now. You will learn things, even if you think you already know everything there is to know about the topics we’ll be covering.

Connected Learning, Digital Storytelling, Digital Literacy, the Open Movement, and Digital Citizenship are among these topics. Despite the obvious overlap between Webmaker and these topics, my participation in the #ETMOOC is not about spreading the use of Webmaker tools or badges or projects. It isn’t about the Webmaker product. It’s about burrowing into a community to learn from them and to teach them. It’s about spreading the open ethos and some of the web literacies. It’s about the movement side of Webmaker. I am 100% sure that we’ll be using Webmaker tools to make things during this experience. We’ll use lots of tools, but I’m participating because of the PEOPLE.

There are currently 297 people registered to participate in the #ETMOOC. 297 people who are curious and passionate about education and technology. 297 people to learn from. 297 people to inspire.

These are the types of people that will become mentors in the Webmaker community. They’ll be the people that would pick up Webmaker and run with it. They’ll be the most active makers, the most giving contributors, the most vocal proponents for web literacies. It is curious and passionate people who want to learn and make and collaborate.

Curiosity and passion are infectious. Being engaged in something you care about and caring that people around you learn about that thing takes passion. People see passion, and they respond with the thing they’re passionate about. Add in curiosity and a conversation evolves, people learn from each other, and communities grow and develop around that learning.

It is serving as a liaison between the education and technology communities, and then becoming a bridge that will allow us to intertwine various communities of interest through Webmaker. We need to build that bridge from both sides. We need to work with kindred spirits in tech AND kindred spirits in education (we’re totally already doing that, I’m just being explicit about it).

You have to meet people where they are to build community. You have to be passionate about your thing, but also curious about theirs. As a bonus, understanding the needs of different groups, understanding their passions, understanding their motivations and their use cases is how we will make the Webmaker product better.

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