This morning, Mozilla launched a new Android app version of Webmaker, its free, open source program dedicated to building greater online literacy to empower first-time web users and creators across the world.
The announcement comes as a follow up on the initial Mozilla Webmaker that launched over three years ago, with the goal of hand-tailoring an intuitive and organic web-creating space that would help people "learn and play using the open building blocks of the web."
The new program stems from Mozilla's research on the different ways in which people in emerging digital economies perceive and converse with the technologies around them. It focused on participants from three main markets – India, Bangladesh, and Kenya – and the variety of differing backgrounds within those markets.
More substantially, Mozilla Webmaker's initial launch offered three primary areas of support: through tools and software such as Popcorn, Hackasaurus remixing software, and Thimble Web page creator at the level of actual creation; educational resources such as practical starter projects, how-tos, and instructionals to help reduce stigma in engaging with such programs; and community events such as classes, meet-ups, and location-based content discovery to foster communication between people from diverse backgrounds and skill-sets. As part of the Webmaker launch, Mozilla will no longer support Popcorn Maker after Sept. 30.
The new version of Webmaker, however, is focused on equipping first-time smartphone users in mobile-first markets to become active participants on the web, creating content as opposed to being passive consumers of content. In addition to better performance, users can now view shared projects on multiple platforms. Users with poor connectivity have access to a better experience even when offline, which, according to a report by Ericsson in India, is still a very real hindrance to connectivity in emerging markets.
"The web is becoming the world's second language, and a vital 21st century skill – as important as reading, writing, and arithmetic," says Mozilla's Executive Director Mark Surman, "It's crucial that we give people the skills they need to understand, shape, and actively participate in that world...."
The initial launch of the new app version is available in four languages (Bengali, Brazilian Portuguese, English, and Indonesian) with more coming soon. You can download the Android-only Mozilla Webmaker for free here.