Gilbert Were Odero is a “Maker.”
For some, that title might require an explanation. For Gilbert, it’s perfectly clear: He creates on the Web, but also serves as an educator and mentor for others. “Making” is a way to actively participate on the Web, to boost web literacy, and to unlock social and economic opportunities.
Earlier this year, Gilbert — a 19-year-old Firefox Student Ambassador and resident of Mombasa, Kenya — launched Mombasa’s MozTour 2015 with fellow Mozillian Alifiya Ganijee. The MozTour visits high schools and universities across southern Kenya, teaching students the power of the open Web using Mozilla’s Webmaker tools. These tools allow users to build simple apps, remix audio and video and learn the basics of coding. The MozTour also spreads the word about their growing Hive Mombasa Learning Community, which brings together local educators and organizations to share digital skills across schools, libraries and community centers.
The MozTour is centered on making. When Gilbert, Alifiya and others visit a school, students are divided into groups of five to 10. Each group is introduced to the Webmaker tool, and then asked to develop a new “make.” Users can create content from scratch or remix an existing make. After one hour, each group presents their invention. The Firefox Student Ambassadors vote on the most creative make, and the winning group is awarded a prize.
“The success story is that many students come up with great ideas and makes,” Gilbert says. “The passion of learning the Web grows from each place we go.”
Gilbert himself has created a range of makes, from interactive postcards to graphic designs.
Already, the MozTour 2015 has visited eight locations: Gilbert and his team have stopped by Sheik Khalifa High School and Aga Khan High School in Mombasa, Ammarcom Institute, Jomo Kenyatta University and several other schools. And they’re still going.
Gilbert and MozTour exemplify Mozilla’s approach to learning: Make First. When students are able to learn the Web by building it, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. We support our Make First approach across our Learning Networks: From our Hives in Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh and Toronto to our Maker Party events on six continents, participants are encouraged to roll up their sleeves and create. But it doesn’t stop there: Every make can be shared, improved and rebuilt.
Later this year, Mozilla will unveil a new, more powerful Webmaker tool that will allow mobile users around the world to become makers — all that’s required is internet access and a smartphone (it will also be available on desktops). Currently in beta, the Webmaker mobile app will help billions of individuals just now coming online to experience the potential of a truly open, inclusive Web.
The Webmaker tool complements Mozilla’s Learning Network, a collection of digital mentors and educators around the globe that teach the web. The Learning Network is made up of Hives and the annual Maker Party — and soon, Mozilla Clubs. Clubs are inspired by events like MozTour: They bring together makers in an informal setting to create, learn and make the Web a better place. Clubs will roll out later this year.
The Webmaker app — coupled with ambassadors like Gilbert — can empower countless individuals to become makers. And even for teachers, there are always opportunities to make and learn more: “[MozTour] has enable me to understand the Web and improve my skills,” Gilbert says.