July 19, 2016

Pode, An Accessible Code Editor

My colleague Claire Kearney-Volpe and I have recently been co-teaching HTML and CSS to students who are visually impaired.

One of the benefits of learning coding today is the fact that it can be done without having to install anything: using sites like JS Bin, CodePen, and Mozilla Thimble, people can tinker with code on their web browser, and even publish it instantly online with the click of a button.

Unfortunately, however, these sites are inaccessible to screen reader users.

... Read more

April 27, 2016

Embeddable p5 Learning Sandboxes

I’ve recently been helping my colleague Taeyoon Choi with his series of Signing Coders workshops, in which we’ve been teaching students who are hearing-impaired how to code using p5.js.

One of the challenges Taeyoon faced in writing his computer-based learning activities was providing students with a simple, welcoming coding environment in which they could tinker with example p5 sketches without fear, embedded in the context of his curriculum.

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December 10, 2013

Clarifying Coding

With the upcoming Hour of Code, there’s been a lot of confusion as to the definition of what “coding” is and why it’s useful, and I thought I’d contribute my thoughts.

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December 5, 2012

Building Experiences That Work Like The Web

Much has been said about the greatness of the Web, yet most websites don’t actually work like the Web does. And some experiences that aren’t even on the web can still embody its spirit better than the average site.

Here are three webbish characteristics that I want to see in every site I use, and which I try my best to implement in anything I build.

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April 26, 2012

Learning and Grammatical Forgiveness

HTML is a very interesting machine language because, like human languages, most things that interpret it are very forgiving.

For instance, did you know that the following HTML is technically invalid?

<video>
  <source src="movie.mp4"></source>
</video>

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March 28, 2012

Coffee Machines And Community

The Toronto and San Francisco Mozilla offices each feature very different coffee makers. The Toronto office has a Rancilio Epoca espresso machine. It has lots of knobs and switches, and one has to be taught how to use it. When one learns, the first few drinks they make are likely to taste very bad; a conscious effort must be made to learn from one’s mistakes and create better drinks. ... Read more

March 26, 2012

Storything Interactive Prototype

Last week I merged the Webmaking Tutorial Prototype with the Webmaking 101 for Journalists prototype we made during our three day sprint in NYC in February. The result, which is code-named Storything, is currently hosted at storything.toolness.org. Give it a try! The design for this prototype is based on Jess Klein’s instructional overlay mockups. A separate two-pane editor for example snippets is included in the movie frame; my hope here is that by setting the tutorial movies in an actual editing environment, users will obtain a better understanding of how to use our tool. ... Read more

March 9, 2012

Webmaker Tutorial Prototyping

Recently I’ve been playing around with creating interactive tutorials that teach people how to create things on the Web. Check out this prototype. At the end of a movie-like tutorial, you’ll be given a challenge to write your first bit of HTML. At any time, you can use the scrubber at the bottom-right to review any part of the tutorial; anything you’ve typed so far in the challenge is undone while you’re scrubbing, and is automatically re-applied once you’re back at the challenge. ... Read more

November 30, 2011

Achievement and Playfulness

Michelle Levesque is tearin’ it up with her rapid pace of blogging and it’s inspiring me to blog more myself. Yesterday in her post Things I Have Done, she ruminated on different kinds of categories for achievement badges. I personally have conflicted feelings about badges, and sympathize with something Jessica Klein mentioned in a blog post a few months ago: My colleague Jack Martin and I participated in this local learning incubator where we told a story with twitter. ... Read more

© Atul Varma 2017