Saturday, November 16, 2013

MentorN00b : matchmaker matchmaker make me a match!

I have been doing a lot of little projects for one off events lately.  Like this badge claim page I made for the recent Mozilla Summit:


Or the one that I made for Mozilla Festival:
Usually we try to make one - offs more meaningful by actually doing some iteration on them or using them as a use case to inform the core product that we are actually working on.  So for example, I will probably work with our development and design team to figure out how to incorporate these kinds of claim pages into BadgeKit and will use the feedback that we got by standing and watching hundreds of people "test" out the sites as a usertesting and research exercise.

For these two events we also made something that I would put in the category of "schwag". Which, yeah - can totally be fun to make, but kind of usually feels a little meaningless. Here are the buttons that my teammates Chloe and Emily and I made for the events to help people to get interested in Open Badges:

This exercise, (I have to admit - quite surprisingly) turned out to be a meaningful design exploration that keeps on giving to us things to think about on the badges project. As Emily explains in her blogpost, the badges took on another life in practice. People hacked them and used them to give peers a glimpse of their identity - but not just identity with a capital I - really a deeper, more nuanced thing - how people self identify.

One day, I was in a coffee shop with Atul and Mike - thinking about the badges schwag and we were kind of doing our usual brainstorm of - wouldn't it be cool if ..... - and we came up with an idea for a prototype that could have pretty tight parameters. I would categorize this as a prototype that's not designed to scale. 

What we realized was - that at these events we would be seeing people with different kinds of expertise and desires and how in a perfect world we would match-make button wearer's so they could help each other out to learn skills. So for example, my button said that I was a javascript n00b and if Mike's button said that he was a javascript nin.ja we could be paired together.

What the three of us started to hack on was an app - where people could sign in, state their interests and then get paired with a like-minded friend to help mentorship. I could imagine this being something that could be taken further - so after a match is made, a mentor could help a n00b to develop a learning map/goal or trajectory and suggest or create badges for the n00b to work towards. Using the tools offered in BadgeKit, the mentors could then provide peer assessment for the n00bs. Additionally, the feedback loop could be closed by the n00b then giving the mentor through various kinds of mentor badges. This would in essence develop a mentor - n00b community and give participants the ability to always identify as somewhere on the spectrum for different skills or activities as mentors and/or n00bs. I particularly like this idea - that someone could be a mentor and a n00b at the exact same time. 

Here is a mockup that I worked on to start to express the idea:

We haven't gotten super far with the prototype, but I could see this as something that might be interesting to test out with the Hive or the mentor community activities at Mozilla.