Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

One of the enduring memories I have from my time as a Web Literacy Leader brings me underneath the awning of a hotel just outside the Chicago Loop.

It’s a pleasant summer evening, and, on a break from our meetings, a couple of fellow Web Literacy Leaders and I are scrolling through our phones, pulling up our favorite shots of our cats. I shared the photo above with Matthew and Paolo. When he saw it, Paolo said “a prince!” which is totally accurate, even if Kitty is female.

It turns out that our deep, abiding love of cats is only one of the characteristics that unite us. We are also passionate about keeping the internet an open and healthy space, teaching others all about the wonders of the web, and protecting ourselves and others from harm via their online activities.

This passion has been evident in our monthly phone calls, our gathering in Chicago, and our time at MozFest last October. Through the past year, our group has worked together to share advice, tips, and curriculum. We have presented together, workshopped curriculum together, and shared several lovely meals together. It’s been a great year, and it feels appropriate to take time to reflect before I say goodbye to this project.

Spring 2017

We introduced ourselves, shared our interest in the project, and laid the groundwork for the year ahead. We would each define and carry out a project of our choosing, share our progress via regular blog posts, and bring our work to MozFest in the fall. We learned that our community calls would feature speakers from within Mozilla, allowing us a chance to learn more about how the foundation was working on behalf of an open internet.

As homework for our call in early June, we read through Mozilla’s Open Leadership 101 curriculum. This served as both an introduction to our guest speaker, Zannah Marsh, Learning Strategist at Mozilla, and as an opportunity to learn more about the framework within which our projects as Web Literacy Leaders would be done. Our call with Mozilla gave us the opportunity to ask questions and to share our experience with the Open Leadership modules.

Later on in June, Mozilla introduced us to the world with this post on Read, Write, Participate.

Summer 2017

Our discussion included various facets of what it means to be “healthy,” especially as regards a technical system. There is particular tension around on-boarding people to the web with low-cost devices and the privacy concerns that come along with those devices. With considerations like this in mind, it is increasingly important that we demystify the web to users at all levels of engagement with the online world.

We met in person for the first (and, as it turns out, only) time as a complete group in Chicago, IL during a temperate pair of days in July. Our two-day meeting included presentations from each of the WLLs on the first day and a design thinking workshop and tour of the Chicago Public Library on the second day.

I found lots of value in the presentations provided by all of the leaders, especially Sherry’s presentation of Privacy Speed Dating and Liza’s review of the backward design method. These presentations provided me with tools I could immediately include in my work. I also enjoyed Nic’s thoughts on socio-technical infrastructure, or the web as a social network as well as a technical one. My top five learning outcomes are preserved for all time (…) on this blog post.

Our summer activities concluded with a call featuring a presentation from Paul Johnson, marketing director, Advocacy Media, of the Mozilla Foundation. We learned about all sorts of initiatives going on at Mozilla to engage audiences around issues facing the web. For example: this Safety First! campaign around digital privacy. For another example: this Lean Data toolkit.

This call revealed the potential for another, more in-depth call around potential solutions to reaching the needs of the groups the Web Literacy Leader represent — specifically, library staff, library patrons, veterans and their families. Our second call featured actionable advice for further outreach on Mozilla’s part. This call took place in mid-October, bringing us into the fall.

Fall 2017

We also participated in a session led by our project leader An-Me Chung and Iris Bond Gill, entitled Web Literacy Leaders: How to Grow the Internet Health Network.

I am especially proud of my work to create an activity called MadLibs Manifesto, where learners could fill in the blanks to create a privacy-related manifesto of their own. The template for this activity and other thoughts on MozFest are available in this post.

Winter 2017/18

When it became clear that further content was needed to address the “protect” skill in the framework, I wrote a two-hour lesson plan on online privacy, utilizing activities recommended by the committee: privacy speed dating, Lightbeam, and Bad Password Challenge. This, along with my work to organize and facilitate a three-part series of Web Literacy workshops at my workplace in February 2018, helped to fulfill the goals I set forth for this project.


As winter turns to spring next week, my year as a Web Literacy Leader is coming to a close. It’s a bittersweet feeling. The project required lots of phone calls, carving out time for homework or for reviewing curriculum, and of course there was that big push at the end to wrap the Web Literacy for Library Staff project by hosting three workshops in February and then writing up my findings for months and months of work.

But I like the work I do, especially this component of it. Luckily, I have a few gigs coming up in the future, so I’ll be able to keep the skills I learned through this process sharp.

Before you go, I hope you’ll take some time to read reflections from other members of our cohort:

Thanks for reading!