Thursday, 28 February 2013

How I am learning to use Mozilla: By taking a sMOOC

So the past two weeks we've been concentrating on digital literacy and what it means in all its various personae. ETMOOC had proposed the following questions to answer:
What does it mean to be digitally literate? 
What is the difference between being digital literate and web literate?
How does digital literacy relate to participatory culture?
What digital competencies and skills do your learners demonstrate through their daily use of technology?
What digital competencies and skills are required by our emerging knowledge economy/age?
What are the differences between digital literacy and digital fluency?
What is the role of attention within the spectrum of 21st century literacies?
What are the problems inherent in defining literacy, fluency, skills, and competency today (e.g., using terms like 21st century literacies, digital fluency), and how do these affect curricular development, pedagogy, and the work of teachers and students?

I have thought about these questions, answered some and been baffled by others. What these past two weeks have done is show my areas of literacy strengths  and weaknesses. And so I have decided to do something about them. Thank goodness for my PLN as they have showed me the way! Thanks Christina Hendricks and Janet Webster for steering me in the right direction.

So as you know if you've been avidly following my blog (ha!ha!) is that I've been trying to learn how to use the various new software put out by Mozilla. First there was the tale of using Popcorn  and now I am writing about my ongoing saga with Thimble, X ray Goggles and Hackasaurus. It's not been pretty. Unlike Haiku Deck, which very nicely responded to my laments on Twitter about it not being available for PC users, I am never sure if Mozilla has heard me (even though sometimes I think they have-my mistake).

So what are my issues with Mozilla which is admittedly putting out some fantastic stuff for us to play with in this sandbox and expand our digital literacy?

I think, no, I know! that Mozilla suffers from a lack of "instruction" literacy. They are either a) so immersed in the language of code that they don't see that others are not or b) trying to convince us that it is that easy. I am not sure which one it is but either way I feel as dumb as a pack of hammers every time I go to their site (I felt the same when I started Popcorn). I had a very brief (and mercifully short) introduction to html in the distant past and I've steered clear ever since. (Is it because it reminds me of how stupid I feel in math?) Now I am going back to play with html because it is time. And right off the bat I am made to feel incompetent.

This is what I mean:

 Now this says three easy steps. I can tell you right now they are wrong. I have actually enrolled in this smooc course WomenLearningTech (courtesy of Christina and Janet) so that I can be taught how to use Mozilla XRay Goggles and all of their other lovely programs. It took Kim Wilkens 6 minutes of video time to explain this software and I was pausing and following along step by step in order to create this. Once you understand that to Activate XRay Goggles you have to put it in your bookmark bar that solved a lot of problems. But how was I supposed to know that? Is there a secret code or something? And the different colours? What do they mean? Is there a colour code? And which box to type in to change the code? The one on the left or the right? (the left) And what not to touch of the code in the box?  After the lesson with Kim I had produced my own web remix. I still don't know what the R is supposed to do. I expect that now I at least know what I am supposed to do in the site I might go and try and find out.

Perhaps Mozilla expects us to mess around with the program and find out by playing with it? That's great for some, especially if it works. But it doesn't work for me and that means it won't work for others. How does this approach promote digital literacy? Wake up Mozilla! If you really want people to use your products cure your "instruction" literacy problem so I can cure my"digital" literacy problems.

And Mozilla? I really hope you're listening this time.


  1. Hooray! Yes! Exactly!

    I have been baffled by Mozilla's opaque interface with Popcorn and Thimble (haven't tried anything else). I can't find any place that has instructions, troubleshooting, where to go for more info, etc. If things don't work as they're supposed to, then you have nothing but to go to your PLN, search the web, etc. And that sometimes works, sometimes not. I've had more trouble with Popcorn than Thimble, but with Thimble:

    -- I want to know how to learn more to make the pages I create even better, change font size, location, etc. But I don't have any links to help me find that information when I create a page. I do learn some html in small doses, but if I want more, well, I guess I have to try to find a new project to work on that might, or might not, have the info I want.

    -- I want my Thimble pages and Popcorn videos to be accessible when I log in with Persona. Sort of a "your projects" kind of link, so I can see and access all the things I created. When I log in with Popcorn I can see my project (just one so far), but not with Thimble. Why not be able to see them all in one place?

    Also, the badges I've earned sit in my Mozilla backpack, but there's no instructions for how to post them anywhere else, like an eportfolio or blog. I'd love to do so!

    Those are just some things I can think of at the moment. How to get Mozilla to listen and respond? I sent some of this on the feedback form at the top of the Thimble/Popcorn page, but never heard anything back.


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  3. That's a big question isn't it? I think they're probably listening but not I'm not sure about the response aspect.

    While I have no problem with Staples using the "That was easy" campaign for the purpose of shopping for office supplies, I do have a problem with the whole "it's easy, easy" mentality approach to learning these new programs on the part of Mozilla staff, especially if, when you do try to find answers (because it is not easy), you can't find them. Even if they did a walk through video that would be so helpful!

    I also find it interesting that one company Haiku Deck (admittedly much smaller than Mozilla) is able to send me an email welcoming me to the company and responding to my issues on Twitter the day I post.

    Still waiting patiently......

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