Teach the Web

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Week 6: Peers Working in the Open

MAKE Project this week: Use remix as a form of constructive criticism. Try running someone’s activity from last week and/or do a critical review of their resource, learning goals, idea, etc. Remix the activity/resource to ask questions, give ideas or otherwise give your peer some feedback.

Throughout #teachtheweb, we’ve been interacting with one another through our comments, suggested group work and conversations. We’ve used making as a mechanism for communication, and shared our thoughts and desires through the work we’ve been doing thus far. This week, we’re going to take a closer look at the idea of open collaboration and try to understand why it pushes each of us to be more effective in our work.

Constructive Criticism

We gather strength and confidence from positive feedback, just as negative feedback forces us to consider whether our ideas are valid.  Reaction pushes us to think about our actions, so when we work openly, we invite reaction. While metaphorical pats on the back are necessary (and encouraged!), the type of feedback that really push us to grow are thoughtfully-formulated constructive criticisms.

Giving constructive criticism (and receiving it) is something that takes practice. We adhere to “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all” because we don’t believe that our opinions are necessary. We forget that criticism doesn’t have to lead to complete redesign or reformulation. We also tend to spend time focusing on our own things, rather than looking at other people’s ideas and thinking about making them better. We ask for feedback and expect to get some, but we rarely give our feedback freely – we wait until our specific feedback is requested or until the work directly affects our own.

What open means to you

What open means to you / johndbritton / CC BY-SA

We all know how fantastic it is to get good, constructive feedback on something we’re working on. What if we all took more time to give feedback like that to others? What would happen?

On the flip side of giving feedback, we have to receive it. It can be hard to hear critiques that reshape your work, but think about the input with some distance and consider how it might improve what you’re doing. If, in the end, you disagree with the critique, explain why and your reaction will lead to a further conversation. We should aim to assume good faith when discussing feedback, and think not only of what to critique, but also concrete proposals to make it better.

Feedback is a way to invite people into your project. Asking for it can become a gateway to deeper participation and collaboration as it gives agency.

Deeper Collaboration

Giving feedback is an important part of collaboration, but there’s more to it than just giving and receiving feedback. People learn to collaborate in different ways, along multiple paths, just as they learn to code or make things. Our experiences in group work past and present have great influence over how we think about ourselves as collaborators, and how we act as collaborators is greatly contingent on who we are.

As we discussed last week, our roles as mentors are changing, and so are the roles of learners and peers. These roles are fluid in maker and remix pedagogies, and they’re fluid in spaces where community and inquiry drive co-learning and making. As we discussed in “Add the Web to Anything”, we have agency to control our own experiences, which means we can experiment with our own perception of the role we’re playing and even change that role. If one of us has this agency, so do all of us, which means that we have to be respectful of the differences in our collaborative styles.

We can help one another better understand fair use, remix, and transformative use by unpacking systemic and personal biases against collaboration. At the same time, we can help each other understand the pathways that lead to those biases, all the while using them to create opportunities for individual contributions that push our collaborative projects to new levels.

In short, deeper, more meaningful collaborations will come from our ability to create complex social spaces that encourage freedom of expression and honesty.

Make Projects this Week

MAKE Project this week: Use remix as a form of constructive criticism. Try running someone’s activity from last week and/or do a critical review of their resource, learning goals, idea, etc. Remix the activity/resource to ask questions, give ideas or otherwise give your peer some feedback.

Other suggested makes:

  • GIVE FEEDBACK to the Web Literacy Standard skills – we only have until June 26th to put thoughts in these documents!
  • Make a MentorMob playlist that alternates between group work and individual work.
  • Give constructive feedback to the Webmaker Product team.
  • Make a single-page project or web app with a feedback form.
  • Ask specific people for feedback on a project, blog post, idea, etc.
  • Collaborate to rapidly prototype and playtest a game. Document and share everything.
  • Make a feedback-giving .gif animation, then remix it into a #teachtheweb project about giving good feedback.
  • Revise something from the past that has actionable feedback pending and document and share the revisions.
  • Make a “choose your own” CSS webpage adventure, ask folks to document and share the choices they make in viewing and learning from your content, and revise and publish a draft using the data you collect about users’ choices.
  • Contribute to Opportunity Knocks


  • What “best practice” forms of collaboration do connected learners and webmakers use?
  • How can definitions of collaboration from informal learning spaces broaden collaboration in formal spaces?
  • What are the barriers to collaboration in our spaces, and how do we help one another work around them to keep our teaching and learning open?
  • How should we balance collaborative work with individual work?
  • How does empathy play into collaboration?
  • How does leadership play into collaboration?
  • How do the following idioms relate to collaboration?
    • “If you want something done right, do it yourself”
    • “No man is an island.”
    • “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
    • “Actions speak louder than words.”
    • “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”
    • “Two heads are better than one.”
    • “Honesty is the best policy.”
    • “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”

Readings and ResourcesTowTruck


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)
  • Michelle Thorne (@thornet)