A summary of how this course broadly fits within Kerschensteiner’s seven relevant functions (Scheibe, 1999) of project-based learning follows.
The target audience of this program have discovered the “Introduction to Web Native Filmmaking” course organically through independent, informal learning institutions, word-of-mouth, or through the marketing efforts of Mozilla. Adults have their own motivations for trying out the course, likely the desire to integrate digital practices into their own classrooms or organizations (as addressed in Chapter 1.2), and they complete the learning pathway that suits them. The course is run independently from Mozilla. Course organizers are given the curriculum and support to run the course, and they are invited to hack the course as they see fit.
This course does not have any required attendance or required coursework, thus Kerschensteiner’s first relevant function, independence, is achieved. Adding game mechanics to this first function is achieved through badges. Learners are given a participation badge for completion, and they have the opportunity to earn other skill badges throughout the course.
Know-how and social and technical skill development, the second and third functions, are inherent within the course. The project based curriculum requires a learner to go through logical thinking steps to complete the activities. As each activity is completed social and technical skill development is achieved. A variety of game mechanics are used in individual activities to make the learning both fun and quantifiable. Again, badges are used to mark achievements.
The fourth function, overcoming resistance, is supported through augmented information on activities and badges awarded for exploring resources in-depth. Projects are real-world pieces of content that a learner can share across the web. The projects implement gamification by giving status to learners that have completed projects. The better a project turns out, the more social status a learner receives. This increases learner dedication and inspires them to use trial and error to complete coursework.
Because the “Introduction to Web Native Filmmaking” is aimed at filmmakers and is about a new form of filmmaking, the materials show a relevance to those topics. It is assumed that since the learner has begun this course on their own accord, the work is likely to be relevant to the learner.
The activities used in this course allow for social sharing, and the materials instruct the learner to garner feedback before submitting finished projects. Other forms of group work are suggested and executed in the real world workshops. For example, learners work together to create a web presence for their chosen topics. Learners use peer assessment to help each other and to provide the course organizers with qualitative data about the course and curriculum (see Chapter 2.4.3).
Because coming to a decision or answering a complex question can take longer when digital communication replaces face-to-face communication, and because every organization has different abilities to commit time and personnel to this project, this course is scaffolded into six phases that span a total of six weeks. The six phases are meant to run in a sequential order, but this pathway is only suggested, not required for an optimal learning experience. The course uses a networked model, which means that a learner can jump into whichever week he or she chooses (Swertz, 2010). Each week has different learning objectives, and the content is prepared in a way that provides plenty of time for the successful development of a full fledged project. Furthermore, the timing is such that the priorities and wishes of the learner can be facilitated.
2.3.2 Blended Learning at Every Level
It is important to remember that the definition of “blended” used in this concept places equal importance on blended learning and the effective blending of organizational process and production of the learning materials. What follows is a breakdown of how each dimension from Khan’s Octagonal Framework has been considered on each level of this program.
At the Institutional Level, blending is prevalent in the way the different organizations involved communicate with each other and their constituents. Meetings and work sessions are done both in face to face settings as well as online. This is beneficial to the learning because content creation can be streamlined, and blended learning aspects can be tested in various contexts before the learners access the content. Additionally, learners have the ability to interact on the institutional level by giving feedback and submitting evaluations to the institutions web literacies initiatives as a whole.
1. Institutional – At the institutional level Mozilla collaborates with a variety of other organizations that are interested in expanding web literacies and digital skills. The Mozilla Webmaker initiative seeks to help people move from using the web to making the web. The initiative works with a global community of creators to increase understanding of web principles and help people take greater control of their digital lives.
2. Pedagogical – Collaboration and partnerships underline the pedagogical aspects at the institutional level, as this initiative works with organizations that specialize in education as well as in technology, filmmaking, journalism, and other interest-based initiatives.
3. Technological – Mozilla is a global leader in technology. Working within the Open Source Community, Mozilla aims to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Internet. The blended approach to learning is a focus of Mozilla programming.
4. Interface Design – Mozilla and the organizations that Mozilla partners and collaborates with have web presences. The websites are created by professional designers and developers, and new sites/pages are created for each new program these collaborations champion.
5. Evaluation – Mozilla and partner organizations complete regular evaluations of their programs and projects. Through the analysis of quantitative as well as qualitative data, these organizations strive to improve their content and programs (see Chapter 2.4).
6. Management – “Mozilla is an open source project governed as a meritocracy. The community is structured as a virtual organization where authority is distributed to both volunteer and employed community members as they show their abilities through contributions to the project.” (“Governance”, Mozilla, n.d.)
7. Resource Support – Mozilla and the organizations with which Mozilla collaborates create a variety of both online and offline resources that cover general as well as program specific topics and themes.
8. Ethical – Mozilla works with organizations across the globe. The foundation strives to make all materials and programs accessible and relevant to every regional and local community worldwide.
As with the Institutional Level, at the Program Level, blending is prevalent in the way the different organizations involved communicate with each other and their constituents. In addition, the Program Level blending occurs with general program workshops and information sessions along with online presences designed specifically for the learner.
1. Institutional – Mozilla and Zero Divide1 collaborate with the Bay Area Video Coalition2 for the implementation of the “Introduction to Web Native Filmmaking” course. Three organizations work together to support the course at various other organizations. They blend online, in-person and independent project collaboration to provide a comprehensive development of media functional skill sets.
2. Pedagogical – The content for this course has been written by people working in the fields of media, education, filmmaking and technology. These experts have been pulled from a variety of organizations blending each of their skill sets into a collaborative and comprehensive educational process.
3. Technological – Mozilla and the open source community created a piece of free and open software called Popcorn. This web application is accessible with any modern web browser and code has been contributed to the project from a variety of organizations. The focus of the Popcorn program is to provide a blended learning environment that promotes the use of remixing, technology and face-to-face learning to augment the experience.
4. Interface Design – Each organization has their own web presence. Content appears in and is restructured for wikis, static pages and dynamic pages on multiple servers for accessibility, once again blending various forms of media applications for use in the development of web literacy skills..
5. Evaluation – Each organization has a sub-program (e.g. Mozilla’s Popcorn program, BAVC’s Next Gen program, Zero Divide’s Youth Media Partnership) that complete evaluations independently from the institutional level.
6. Management – The organizations collaborating on this program collaborate on the management of it as well.
7. Resource Support – Each organization dedicates man hours and server space to creating and hosting online resources. Each organization also runs face to face sessions which include offline resources for learners.
8. Ethical – Plans to make accessible, culturally relevant and localized content is at the forefront of the programs activities.
Blended learning is at the center of the Course Level. Learners will attend six online Webinars and six face to face sessions over a six week period.
1. Institutional – All three organizations have committed financial and personnel resources to the course assuring the ability to support learners, both online and offline. The pilot course will be run at twenty-eight different institutions.
2. Pedagogical – A coalition of experts have created a six chapter, networked model. Each chapter includes orientation, instructional and practical exercises.
3. Technological – An online presence with a unique URL has been created specifically for the course. An online community headquarters where learners can post and access information from other learners in the course has also been implemented.
4. Interface Design – The Popcorn tool opens in a new window allowing learners to switch back and forth between the curricular content and the projects hosted within the tool. Usability tests have been completed to ensure maximal suitability.
5. Evaluation – Anecdotal feedback is collected, learner creations are catalogued, and the course will have a qualitative survey for participants to be completed after the week six session.
6. Management – Several managers from each organization are working together to ensure that the learners as well as facilitators are supported, that logistical issues may be dealt with appropriately and that content is delivered in a variety of ways.
7. Resource Support – Step by step online resources to help learners learn the software and underlying educational concepts of the activities have been created. Concepts are introduced via Webinar and cognitive connections are deepened with face to face sessions.
8. Ethical – There are no restrictions on who can participate in the course.
The Activity Level
Offline curriculum and exercises have been created for the face to face sessions and the Webinars are augmented with online activities that underpin the learning objectives.
1. Institutional – Activities are run both online and offline depending on where the learner is. If the learner is participating at one of the twenty-eight institutions running the pilot program, he/she will have both online and offline coursework. If the learner is not participating at one of the institutions, he or she can still attend face-to-face events during the year.
2. Pedagogical – Certain learning objectives are delivered via online media, while others use face-to-face interactions as transfer methods.
3. Technological – Learning specific templates have been created for the Popcorn software. These templates highlight singular learning objectives. Online sharing and publishing is also possible through Popcorn.
4. Interface Design – The learning templates are pre-filled with content that the user can explore and change as he/she sees fit. The learner also receives instruction and training on using other open technologies to explore his/her ideas.
5. Evaluation – Peer assessments are completed with each making activity. The publish feature allows a learner to share his/her work and gather feedback from others. This feedback can then be used to iterate the work.
6. Management – At the activity level, individual facilitators from each organization are managing the progress of their learners. They have access to the program designers through both online and offline methods.
7. Resource Support – Facilitators support learners in their sessions and online and offline resources are available for the learners use.
8. Ethical – The activities have been created to adhere to accessibility guidelines.
Learning events take place weekly throughout the six weeks in those organizations running the course. In-person workshops on individual learning objectives and methods are offered by Mozilla sporadically throughout the year. It is important to note that these workshops are run by Mozilla employees or by volunteers. Guidelines on how to run such a workshop and content offered for use is planned for public use. In essence, anyone that has something to teach or wants to learn something that falls within the realm of web literacies has guidance on how to run an event.
There are three main event formats – kitchen-table event, hackjam, popup – that are offered to the target group. These formats have been defined and tested by the Mozilla Foundation. All events are centered on making something, thereby learning by making.
From a didactic standpoint, there are several types of knowledge that are addressed in the three event types. A kitchen table event is categorized as mostly an “orientation knowledge” event because participants are learning about the connection between the chosen topic and their own lives. These events are also introductory sessions into chosen learning objectives. With “instructional knowledge” participants receive targeted lessons with specific learning objectives. A hackjam serves to transfer mostly “practical knowledge” as a participant will use pre-acquired knowledge to solve problems. A popup is a large scale version of a kitchen table event in that a popup centers both on orientation knowledge and instructional knowledge. The difference between a kitchen table event and a popup is that a popup event addresses these two knowledge types, orientation and instructional, through a series of individual stations. One such station might be the “Popcorn” station where learners are introduced to learning objectives from the “Introduction to Web Native Filmmaking” course.
None of this is to say that one event type could not or will not transfer other types of knowledge, it is simply a way to distinguish the learning goals of each event type. Understanding the overarching knowledge types is useful in creating curriculum and games that fit into each event type. This allows for more efficiency in content creation, which means more content is able to be produced.
Events are used in certain contexts as “crash courses” for educators to develop their own web literacy skills prior to attempting the transfer of those skills to others. A variety of theoretical educational practices such as drill and practice or anchored instruction are used in the curriculum created for each event type.
Once the structure of the blended learning program has been considered and created, the appropriate learning objectives for the course can be granulized. The learning objectives specific to the Mozilla Popcorn course “Introduction to Web Native Filmmaking” are web literacy skills at the Exploring, Authoring and Connecting levels (see Chapter 1.6.1). For a complete outline of these skills, see Appendix I.
Other high-level learning objectives include:
An understanding of what makes web native filmmaking different from traditional filmmaking, nuances about the history of media, how to use Popcorn and other online tools, how to work with story, vision and technology, how to plan web native projects and how to do peer assessment.
This curriculum assumes that the facilitator has a fundamental understanding of basic media production techniques. Often our conversation about using video in a web-native manner assumes the video is already filmed, edited and exported in a compressed web-friendly format. This course will not walk learners through the steps necessary to get to this stage. However, if the facilitator feels he or she needs to brush up on his or her media production experience before tackling web-native storytelling, simple and accessible online resources are provided.
It is not expected that the facilitator has any computer programming experience before running this course. Part of what has made web native filmmaking such an exciting development in the past few years is the great strides that HTML, the foundational language of the internet, has made in becoming more accessible and easy to use.
Prerequisite skills for successful completion of this curriculum include previous audio/video production experience and baseline computer skills (they should be able to open a browser, click, double click, etc). The learner should be comfortable learning new software and graphic design skills help the learner translate his or her ideas for the viewer. These skills are, however, not required and should be addressed in the face to face sessions with provided resources.
It is highly recommended that learners have a blog, website, or some sort of online presence (other than Facebook) that can be used to participate and contribute to the collaborative experience.
The first step in opening the door to Web Native Film and Webmaking is understanding that webmaking is a collaborative practice. This curriculum helps learners develop an interest in technical and communicative skills as their desire to participate in the landscape of the web grows. Since this curriculum proposes a great deal of self-organized collaborative work, the learners need to organize their time effectively. They have to navigate the flexibility of their own project time line in combination with any class project deadlines. Time management, group cohesion and cooperation are other lessons this curriculum aims to transfer.
The most important thing to remember in terms of technology is that everything created in this course is for the web. Not only does the course publish projects on the web, but many of the tools used, such as Mozilla Popcorn, exist as web applications rather than installed programs on our computer. Because of this, it is critical that facilitators run this program on up-to-date web browsers. The tools used are designed to support the latest versions of either Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.
Video conferences, Chat and Email are recommended media for connecting learners. Chances are, learners will want to work on their projects outside of the allotted time an organization dedicates to face to face sessions. In today’s web landscape there are hundreds of solutions for communication tools, and everyone has his or her favorite. All of these tools have pros and cons. One of the learning goals is the ability to effectively collaborate, so groups are allowed to choose the tools that help them develop that ability.
This project uses a preview version of Mozilla Popcorn — a free tool for making web-native video. This tool was developed side-by-side with the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) during the production of their projects. BAVC participants gave Mozilla feedback on the Alpha version of the software. That feedback was taken into consideration for the development of the Beta version used in this course. The weapons-grade software will be released in November 2012 after another iteration based on feedback from those who run or participate in the course.
In classical forward facing classes, the learners have a passive role and the instructor has an active role. This dynamic is the absolute opposite in this course. Facilitators act more as a project manager and allow learners to explore their project theme and the communication tools on their own.
Both the organizations involved in the creation of this course and those running the course provide learners with motivation and support to see what kinds of amazing ideas they have.
Week One: Introduction
In the first week, the course is introduced to the learners either in person or as a synchronous, virtual video conference. Facilitators choose a specific theme or topic that they want learners to explore. The first chapter of a six chapter curricular video is viewed to give a brief introduction to the six phases this curriculum details. The appropriate segment is viewed again at the beginning of each week to help learners make cognitive connections between the overarching theme of each phase and the work they are doing in assignments.
Learners are separated into groups. The groups of five people or less per group is designed to ensure maximal participation (Hinze, 2004). An attempt is made to put learners together that have similar interests, but varying competencies in digital media. Learners are given some tips on how to work together, respecting each others opinions, division of labor, Netiquette, turn-taking and other topics.
Next the overarching project, to create a web native film and supporting website, is introduced and questions about requirements answered.
Facilitators then give some quick crash courses on the setup and basic usage of the collaborative tools. It is also suggested that facilitators describe the intensity of this project. Groups will likely need time outside of the classroom to complete the project. However, creating a Web Native Film and supporting website can be very easy or very dedicated, as the facilitator desires.
Finally, each week learners make a project, designed to be completed in as little as ten minutes, specific for that week’s topic. The first week has a project illustrating the idea of procedural storytelling.
Week Two: The History of Media
Week Two is intended to have students reflect on the relatively short history of the web as compared to other communications media. The activities are meant to spark critical thought surrounding the history of media and how specific medias have altered the cultural landscape, why this happened, why it was/is important. Facilitators lead a discussion on this topic, and learners work these lessons into their overarching projects. The second week’s specific project is creating a short video that recontextualizes an archival film.
Week Three: Remix
The Remix chapter is intended to have learners consider how the creative process depends on influence – and how the structures of the web depend on the ability to build on the work of others. This week also involves activities required for the planning and design of the overarching projects. The third week’s projects are remixing audio and video and remixing a news site.
Week Four: Ways of the Web
Week Five: Web Native Storytelling
Week 5 is a detailed examination of the web as a unique storytelling medium. The curriculum video is full of examples and resources that provide students with inspiration as they get closer to beginning production on their own work. The students produce their own personal News Cast, inspired from the weeks guest speaker.
Week Six: Web Native Film Planning
It might seem strange that this pathway has the last chapter of the „Introduction to Web Native Film” video and is about planning a web native film. While it is true that the planning always comes first, this curriculum is meant to serve as an introduction to web native filmmaking. The influence of developing each component of the technical and communicative skills to create a large scale collaborative project, changes the planning process, as the learners have experienced the process. This last chapter of the curriculum film is watched with the learners and a discussion about how their ideas have changed based on the last few weeks of experiential learning is led. From this discussion, shared lessons are used to promote a better experience for the learners that follow.
Reviewing the Sample
This sample has laid the groundwork for a curriculum used in a blended learning course in which learners are learning by making. The principles of Kerschensteiner are revived through the course’s project-based methodology and the curriculums’s adherence to his seven relevant functions (Scheibe, 1999). Blending occurs at each of the four levels described by Graham and Bonk (2006), and Khan’s Octagonal Framework (1997) is used to further pinpoint specific blends occurring in this concept. Gamification, though its precise usage is not defined in the sample curriculum contained in this thesis, is used in learning events to transfer specific concepts, in individual activities and projects both offline as well as online, and through the use of badges as the assessment mechanism.