1.1 Background and Significance of the Problem

As we move further into the Information Age, the populous is being segmented into varying degrees of digital competencies. As technology shifts and changes at an exponential rate, those lacking web literacies are being left further and further behind. A solid understanding of how the web works, how to use it, and the idiosyncrasies of web culture is necessary in today’s world. Furthermore, the ability to participate in governmental, societal and economic affairs is beginning to be directly connected to these understandings.

Consider, for example, the fact that the majority of job postings are only available online, or that the majority of businesses have transitioned to paperless online billing. These examples show the necessity of navigating the online space, but web literacies are about much more than simple navigation. Because our society is steadily becoming a digitally based knowledge network, it is necessary to be web literate to participate in key problem solving. Wolfgang Klafki’s concept for general education and his theory’s three central aspects play a new role in the Information Age1. More people have access to the global knowledge structures through the Internet and because the Web offers every topic from a multitude of perspectives, understanding and contributing ideas and solutions to and for key problems has become easier than ever before provided, of course, that one is educated. The third attribute of Klafki’s general education concept proposes that a person is only educated when that person can think critically about problems that affect everyone (Klafki, 1993). Thinking critically about these problems in the Information Age requires accessing information through the Web, as the Web is most likely the only place where the multitude of perspectives on a particular problem.

Critical thinking in combination with creative thinking leads to innovation, something that is only possible through usage of and contribution to the ecosystem of human knowledge and the collective distilling of that knowledge. In short, without a critical mass of contribution to the human knowledge network, we will be unable to distill the truth from the irrelevant and unable to solve key problems that plague the human race. All issues of the human experience are directly related to our ability to communicate and share ideas with one another. The World Wide Web has made both of these processes extremely easy.

Mozilla, a non-profit organization best known as the makers of the Firefox browser, has committed itself to tackling the problem of web literacies, literacies that involve the ability to contribute knowledge to the global ecosystem.

“The goal: help millions of people move from using the web to making the web. As part of Mozilla’s non-profit mission, we want to help the world increase their understanding of the web, take greater control of their online lives, and create a more web literate planet. (“About Webmaker,” 2012)

The organization is currently in the process of conceptualizing programs for a variety of target audiences. As a Mozilla community activist and open ethos cheerleader, I2 have taken on this research to support Mozilla in their Webmaker Initiative. This thesis will be provided to help Mozilla reach their goal of creating ten million webmakers by outlining a scalable model and sample content structure for training adults in web literacies and how to teach them.

1 Wolfgang Klafki’s concept described general education as being for every one, covering a wide variety of topics and skills and helping with the solution to key problems (e.g. understanding complicated issues). Klafki said that the three central aspects (skills) of education are self-determination (envelops the unique and personal relationships as well as distinctions between people and variations in the handling of vocational, ethical and religious situations), co-determination (the ability to participate and understand in society and politics) and solidarity (the accumulation of the other two skills is only true when a person tries to stand up for the rights of everyone).

2 For the assertion of my own ideas and reflections, I found it necessary to use the personal pronoun in this document. I made this choice consciously as in describing my concept and perspective, I feel that using the first person will lead to more clarity for the reader.

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