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Open Leadership, Open Data, Open Badges at MozFest – Society of Chief Librarians

What a weekend! Between 28th and 30th October I experienced my first ever MozFest in Ravensbourne College, London. It was fun, mind-bending, exhausting, heart-warming, frustrating and inspiring – all in equal measure.

I attended MozFest thanks to a bursary from SCL (Society of Chief Librarians), which meant I got to meet and spend time with some new library friends from around the country. Talking library developments is always lifting, but MozFest was a chance to stretch and fuel our conversations.

So, what is MozFest? MozFest (Mozilla Festival) is an annual celebration of the open Internet movement. It’s where passionate technologists, educators, and makers come together to explore the future of the open Web.’ Essentially, thousands of people came together for a weekend of sharing, learning, listening and chatting.

The beauty of MozFest is you can attend a workshop on Open Leadership run by MIT Media Lab with the Mozilla’s Executive Director and then move on to a session where children teach you how to create a symphony using an iPad app.

The participants are truly international, with people flying in from all over the world – we are lucky to have this event on our doorstep, and it surprised me that there weren’t more people attending from the UK.

Three core themes emerged from my time at MozFest, Open Leadership, Open Data and Open Badges

Open Leadership

Collaboration (with everyone) and sharing (widely, freely and online) are core principles of Open Leadership. Mozilla have defined the principles and benefits of Open Leadership as:

· Rapid prototyping in the wild = improved projects
· Public storytelling, documentation and reflection = greater efficiency
· Community contribution = increased discoverability
· Making the content of work accessible = a stronger commons
Whilst Open Leadership has its roots in open source developments (Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia etc.), it strikes me that there is value in utilising the principles and therefore benefits in both offline and online projects and developments.

It would be easy for us to think we already work in an open way. Libraries are very good at sharing, but this is often after the fact and upon request. I believe there is something to gain by a greater understanding of Open Leadership and Open Projects.

Could we improve our impact on the community by actively demonstrating the intention to share widely and invite others (e.g. library colleagues and the community) to collaborate and build on our products and innovations from the outset?

Mozilla have created a training series (using GitHub) Open Leadership : Best Practices Working Open. Take a look!

There’s more for me to figure out here, but let me know if you’d like to explore Open Leadership and its use in libraries with me.

Open Data

I have been watching the Open Data work going on in Newcastle libraries (and Bath and Plymouth) with interest, so as well as chatting with Aude and Luke about their work I also attended an Open Data workshop, which turned out to be the perfect introduction to Open Data.

The workshop introduced two new Open Data Training Programmes from Mozilla Science Lab, freely and openly available on Github:

· Primers – for anyone wanting to know more about Open Data.
· Instructor Guides – for anyone wishing to share the benefits of Open Data through customisable workshops.
It’s a work in progress, so in true Open Leadership style there is time to contribute.

Open Badges

I’ve had my eye on Open Badges for a while, but I took MozFest as the opportunity to uncover some practical uses for libraries in the community. Luckily, I chose the perfect example from a huge list of Open Badges workshops; completely by chance I selected to hear about a collaboration between a community foundation and the public library!

In simple terms an Open Badge is a digital badge that allows you to record and others to recognise your achievements and skills. Open Badges have been around since about 2010, which means millions have already been awarded around the world. But can we use them in our libraries and communities?

Here’s an example of what one city has done – Chicago City of Learning started in 2013 following a Summer initiative where more than 100 organisations worked together to create greater visibility in what they were doing independently. Young people earned digital badges recording and recognising their achievements in the community.

The legacy is a significant and growing network of opportunities for young people to learn online and through events and activities – gaining a portfolio of digital badges along the way.

(PRO)jectUS is an initiative between the Commonwealth Foundation and YouMedia at Chicago Public Library to create a skills based pathway through learning to real life experiences.

Three creative suites are available for 13 to 23 year olds:

· Sound – music, singing, rapping and poetry
· Media – photography and blogging
· Fashion – design
Badges are awarded to recognise a milestone or learning a new skill. Each participant builds a portfolio of badges; five skill badges can unlock a master badge, which includes a real world opportunity. These experiences act as incredible incentives and also give great confidence to the participants. Examples include a participant’s t-shirt design being produced and sold in a local shop.

The programme is very conscious of creating industry standard skills, accreditation is core and participants work closely with mentors from the business sector.

The badges are created using Badge Lab and are awarded via Chicago City Learning.

This was powerful stuff, and I don’t think I can do it justice here. You can find out more at Chicago City of Learning: Chicago Badges; a Pro-jectUS toolkit will be available in January 2017.

Learn in libraries

I also participated in some engaging workshops that were very relevant to our digital and learn in libraries offers, including iPad Orchestra, Raspberry Pi Twitter Photo Booth, Digital literacy – eZines and Mozilla Clubs.

MozFest was totally relevant to the work we are doing in libraries, in fact our #MozLibs hash tag brought librarians to us, many of whom were running sessions and workshops.

We also had a cult like encounter with the Order of Balance.

The truth is I didn’t even scratch the surface. My big frustration was that even though I filled my head and heart with ideas, conversations and new knowledge I left feeling I’d missed so much!

I’ll just have to go back next year. And I’d encourage everyone to come along too.

I have recorded more about the sessions I attended on my blog: Library Tea Party

Tabitha Witherick
Service Manager – Development
Somerset Library Service
B2E, County Hall, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 4DY