Teach the Web

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Week 3: the Open Web

MAKE Project this week: Find someone to collaborate with and create a make about why being open is important to you.

Plan your makes with your collaborator and then do it! If you’re in a study group, you’re encouraged to work together around your topic. Share your makes with the #teachtheweb community.

Two weeks ago we began the #teachtheweb experience by taking a look at “Making as Learning“. We zeroed in on digital making with a project on introductions, which we built using web tools. In Week 2, we used those projects to explore the idea of “Connected Learning in Practice“. As we riffed off each others work and began remixing each others ideas, we began to have a deeper conversation about being connected through technology, implications of our online versus offline identities and what those things mean for learning.

This week, we’re going to take a look at how important the Open Web is in supporting connected learning and making in the digital space. We’ll explore what it means to work openly and how it can influence learning.

When we talk about “openness”, there are a variety of things that come to mind. We can view openness i) through the lens of copyright/copyleft, ii) through the technical structures that make a webpage open or not, iii) through the cultural practices the Open Community prides itself on, and so on. The term openness is a confluence of technical, cultural and social definitions that can get meta pretty quickly.

Tenets of Openness

Open Web? Freedome, participation, decentralization, generativity

A Mark Surman Doodle

Nevertheless, there are several tenets of openness that apply to the technical implementation as well as the social and cultural usage of the Web:

The first is decentralization. The Open Web is made up of thousands and thousands of independent servers and webpages. The networked computers that make up the Internet are not owned by any single entity. Additionally, webpages are created and maintained by millions of people. Decentralization in the social and cultural space is inherent in the Open Web.

Another tenet is transparency. You can see how any webpage is built, you can copy a webpages code and duplicate and/or remix it to be your own by viewing its source code. Furthermore, the culture of Open is one that transparent about processes, creations and authors. We make media and write posts about our work. We ask questions and allow anyone to feedback on them through commenting and social media. We change things based on what our peers say, and we explain our decisions openly, so that everyone can see not only what we’ve done, but how and why. We iterate on our ideas based on the feedback we receive from our peers.

With decentralization and transparency comes the tenet of hackability. The Open Web is a structure that makes remix and redistribution easy, and the culture that lives by these tenets takes pride in extending, changing and reforming each other’s work. Because we can see how things are built, we can change them and apply new meaning and context atop someone else’s ideas. We start to have a conversation through production, and that is something that is supported by and encouraged through the Open Web and Open Culture.

Ownership and Authorship

Good vs Bad Theft

Good vs Bad Theft from Austin Kleon

A remix creates a derivative work from an original. In the web context, remix is used to imply that a new work is built off an already established base. That “base” work might be a code base, a curriculum base, an image base, a text base, etc.

What’s important about ideas and creation in an open context is making sure that credit is given where credit is due. Since we all influence each other, it’s important to make note of who influences your work and how.

Let’s explore open collaboration together. Below are some ideas on how you might explore the Open Web through making. This short blog post barely scratches the surface of what the Open Web is or why it should be protected. Below are a variety of readings that will help you delve deeper into the idea of “openness” and why it’s important.

MAKE Projects this week:
Last week in #teachtheweb, we explored “Connected Learning in Practice” by remixing other people’s work to create a conversation through makes. This week, we’ll work together to make things, and we’ll use the openness of the Web to do so.

  • Find someone to collaborate with and create a make about why being open is important to you. Plan your makes with your collaborator and then do it! If you’re in a study group, you’re encouraged to work together around your topic. Share your makes with the #teachtheweb community.
  • Explore your peers’ remixes from last week and choose one to make a mashup with. Make a webpage to juxtapose their work with your own, and write a blurb about how the two works relate. Then share it to as many online channels as possible.
  • Review the Creative Commons licenses and choose one to add to the footer of your blog or on your other works.
  • Learn more about Creative Commons licensing and HTML/CSS by becoming a citizen of Open Webville
  • Add a popup to your introduction video that links to the resources used
  • Compile a list of 5 open projects that interest you, explain why they interest you, and offer ideas on how you could help each project. You might remix this Thimble page for your list.
  • Find an open project and contribute something to it (writing, QA, ask or answer a question in forums, report a bug)
  • Create a github account, and share something you’ve written, made, coded, etc.
  • Popcorn the Mozilla Story and add personal context or extend the video with extra information (for example, how popups made you feel, what a walled garden of content is, what your dreams are, etc)
  • Try the Hack a Boardgame activity with family or friends. Take pictures and write a reflection on the activity.
  • Make a Thimble project that alters a web page or book-page image with new images, artwork, writing, reflections, etc to create an entirely new version. Try using the CSS z-index property to “layer” your new work on top of the old.
  • Draw (like with a marker and paper) your online connections and networks, snap a photo & share it on Google+.
Other tasks you might want to do:
  • Join our Twitter Chat on Thursday at 5pm UTC, 1pm EST, 10am PST using #teachtheweb
  • Comment on G+, Twitter or on blog comments at least 5 times this week
  • Attempt to connect and expand your personal/professional learning network by sharing your social media profiles and linking to others
  • Share 1 reflection about the first time you made something on the Web
  • Share 1 reflection about yourself when “openness” was important for you
  • Share a resource that the #teachtheweb community needs to know about the open web or open culture
  • Contribute to planning Week four of #teachtheweb

Start connecting with your peers and dive into their work!


Choose one of these questions (or make up one of your own), and write a blog post on it. Then share your post in the G+ Community or using #teachtheweb on Twitter.

  • What competencies and skills are necessary for working in the open?
  • Who’s the author in the open?
  • What control do you have with your content?
  • How do you add creative commons or other copyright to your work?
  • Why might sharing and publishing in the open be advantageous?
  • What are the benefits of inviting people to remix ideas?
  • How is “open” different from “free”?
  • Why do some “free” tools leave a watermark on the finished product?
  • What are some possible ways “free” tools aren’t really free? Or make money?
  • How can I find an open community/project that best suits my skills/ambitions/goals?
  • Why is collaboration a better option than a number of people trying to accomplish similar things?
  • How does openness drive innovation ?

Small Sampling of Readings and Resources


The following is a list of people who contributed their thoughts to the planning document for this topic. Want to help plan topics? Check out the Planning page on the #teachtheweb site.

  • Laura Hilliger (@epilepticrabbit)
  • Chad Sansing (@chadsansing)
  • Emma Irwin (@sunnydeveloper)
  • Michelle Thorne (@thornet)
  • A few others who, unfortunately, didn’t add their names to the planning document :)