What are Mozilla Clubs? To understand that, let’s have a primer to Webmaker and what Mozilla wanted to achieve with it.
The Webmaker project came in to this world as a means to learn and share knowledge based on the web. Since we have been becoming ever so dependent on the web, it becomes important to understand the web better. For example, what price may you really be paying if you are using Internet.org for free? What rights do you have over your Internet Provider? And, can you make your own things on the web? If so, how? Thus, the “Webmaker” initiative was born so that everyone was in-the-know and everyone knew to make things in it. Eventually giving people the power to shape it for the better and for their own good.
To give this initiative a massive boost, Maker Parties were released. Maker Parties are events that happen every year globally from June to August. In this period of three months, citizens of the world gather in parties to make things on the web; learn more about the web and to share their knowledge about the web. This initiative became hugely successful; from taking place in developing countries like Bangladesh to taking place in Obama’s own residence in the White House.
But none of this were free of problems: Events were being done successfully; people were becoming more aware and interested about the web; but there were no follow-ups being done, or were being possible after the events. Even though all of these were being done by the huge voluntary community Mozilla has all over the world, could this be made better? Could there be constant participation on teaching and knowing about the web? Could there be an easier way for the students attending the events and the mentors to stay in touch? Could this problem of “sustainability” be solved? Another problem was that majority of the events' duration was spent introducing the participants to three tools Mozilla developed to make “webmaking” easier. These three tools are superb but the participants became so involved in using them that most of them couldn't recall Mozilla's main objective in doing this –- making the web better.
So the heads of the Mozilla Foundation sat on meetings and on came the inception of Mozilla Clubs. So what really are Mozilla Clubs? Mozilla Clubs are places where people can go to read, write and participate on the web. This will be completely done by volunteers making clubs at their hangouts, schools, local parks or anywhere they want. The idea is that there be a place, or a group of people to whom anyone can go to discuss, share knowledge, and make things on the web. This does not mean that these clubs will be exclusive to sharing knowledge about the web only. There may be people who are interested in tinkering with an Arduino. There may be people who do not know how to use computers properly, let alone the Internet. All of these people can come to a “Mozilla Club” to have a friendly environment to learn things about computers as they will eventually lead to a capability of understanding the web and making it better.
So how are the Mozilla Clubs going to do these, you might ask? They are going to do these through what is called Connected Learning. Connected Learning is a way of learning that is a little different from that of a school. In a school, there is normally one teacher explaining their subject but in Connected Learning there are people from different professions and age groups all teaching and learning from each other. This kind of learning uses any array of resources available, not limited to books only, and the act of hacking ideas and resources is strongly encouraged.
Each club will have a Captain and all the clubs within a region will have a Regional Coordinator. The captain is responsible for keeping the boat afloat, if the club is on a boat and the Regional Coordinator will be there if the Captain needs any advice or if he is confused. It is not important for the Captain to notify everything to the Regional Coordinator as it is enough if he just shares a talk when he is confused.
Now, does a person need to have any qualification for opening a club? No! Anyone can start a club almost anywhere. It is also not important that your club members need to be super knowledgeable about anything. The club is, in the first place, made for exchanging knowledge and learning together.
The clubs will receive certain curricula given to them from time to time by Mozilla. The captain should let the club know of the curriculum and they have the option to choose to follow or not to follow. In any case, receiving curricula should help keep the club advancing and the activities exciting.
So if you are in a Firefox Club, do you need to be in a Mozilla Club too? And what is the difference between these two? It is up to you if want to be in any club at all. Firefox Clubs have an obligation to promote certain Mozilla products in their university/college. Mozilla Clubs have no obligation to promote any Mozilla products and they can play with anything as long as the ultimate goal is for the web. Mozilla Clubs is also more permissive in a few factors, like:
- You don't need to be aged 18 and up.
- You don't need to be in any school/college.
- You have no obligation to promote anything(although please do promote the web).
- You don't really need a designated spot for a club.
- You don't even need to have 'Mozilla Club' in your club's name.
- Activities done in the club will not be exclusive to web only.
You can also see a list of existing Mozilla Clubs, register your own Mozilla Club and see about Maker Parties here. So if you have an urge for all things computer and the web, join your local Club at the earliest and remember it is not to teach only, but also to empower.