How did I not know about this sooner?
I didn’t really have an answer to the question that Jonathan asked me, but it did prompt an interesting conversation and even better, a full exploration into learning the tools. After practicing some HTML on X-ray goggles and using it to remix his high school website, he tried another Webmaker tool called Thimble. Thimble offers many “Starter-Makes” to new users, which are hackable templates built by the Webmaker community. Choosing to hack one of these starter makes challenged Jonathan to make an HTML and CSS based website of his own. His enthusiasm was great and he quickly called over several friends to check out this “baller” (slang for something well respected I think?) website.
Like many free online tools (Scratch, Dash, Google sites, Twine, Code Academy, etc.), it takes a lot to get them into the hands of grade school students and teachers. Events and conferences of this nature seem to be a great solution. During the event I spoke with a variety of interested professionals from schools, clubs and city government. All of them were new to these tools and very excited about their potential.
I would like extend a huge thank you to Philly Youth Media Collaborative for putting this together and bringing so many interesting people together. The combination of youth performances, gaming, crafts, digital tools, media workshops and youth organized activities was outstanding. I witnessed a level of excitement about learning that does not happen on a daily basis for many youth I know. I am looking forward to the next one!