Web Literacy 2.0

Authors: An-Me Chung, Iris Bond Gill, Ian O'Byrne

This paper captures the evolution of the Mozilla Web Literacy Map to reach and meet the growing number of diverse audiences using the web. The paper represents the thinking, research findings, and next iteration of the Web Literacy Map that embraces 21st Century Skills (21C Skills) as key to leadership development.

As technology becomes more ubiquitous, and more people come online, Mozilla continues to refine its strategies to support and champion the web as an open and public resource. To help people become good citizens of the web, Mozilla focuses on the following goals: 1) develop more educators, advocates, and community leaders who can leverage and advance the web as an open and public resource, and 2) impact policies and practices to ensure the web remains a healthy open and public resource for all. In order to accomplish this, we need to provide people with open access to the skills and know-how needed to use the web to improve their lives, careers, and organizations.

Knowing how to read, write, and participate in the digital world has become the 4th basic foundational skill next to the three Rs—reading, writing, and arithmetic—in a rapidly evolving, networked world. Having these skills on the web expands access and opportunity for more people to learn anytime, anywhere, at any pace. Combined with 21C leadership Skills (i.e. critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, creativity, communication), these digital-age skills help us live and work in today’s world. Whether you’re a first time smartphone user, an educator, an experienced programmer, or an internet activist, the degree to which you can read, write, and participate on the web while producing, synthesizing, evaluating, and communicating information shapes what you can imagine—and what you can do. follows:

Specifically, these skills are described as:

Research Findings

In 2013, Mozilla and community stakeholders designed the first Web Literacy Map to identify a set of core web literacy skills, and set the stage for engaging individuals as makers on the web. As our strategies evolved to meet the needs of the growing numbers of diverse audiences using the web, we began to ask questions such as:

  1. Are these concepts helpful if we’re talking about people across a wide variety of skill levels and needs?
  2. Does one need to code in order to be considered web literate?
  3. What leadership skills are being developed as a result?
  4. How does our first web literacy map hold up?

We conducted a series of focus groups, interviews, and in-person meet-ups that included teachers and in-school educators, scientists, afterschool leaders, community members, web and technology advocates and experts, and international leaders of emerging markets and digital learning networks. We also reviewed the Mozilla field research conducted in India, Kenya, Bangladesh, and Chicago. What we concluded is that people needed the map to be more approachable, accessible, and applicable for learning and teaching web literacy skills.

Specifically, the map needs to be:

And include:

Web Literacy 2.0

From focus group findings and other research related to instructional practice, the web literacy map was updated to include language and practices that are more approachable. To help people identify why these skills should matter to them, the profiles generated from the focus group data represent examples of real people using web literacy skills in their everyday lives. For increased applicability, these digital-age skills will be connected to curriculum, professional development, credentials, and other tools.


Reading on the web is a critical skill for engaging content online. They can be viewed as “exploring,” or “navigating the web.” Just as traditional reading requires knowledge of the text and concepts of print, reading online requires a basic understanding of web mechanics. Good online readers know the tools and strategies that can be used to search for and locate people, resources, and information. They then know how to judge the credibility of these sources.1 The web literacy skills and competencies identified under reading on the web are as follows.


Using questions and keywords to find the information you need. 21C Skill: Problem-solving


Understanding the basic structure of the web and being able to understand how this affects reading online. 21C Skill: Problem-solving


Integrating separate and unique information from multiple online sources. 21C Skills: Problem-solving, Communication


Comparing and evaluating information from a number of sources online to test credibility and relevance. 21C Skill: Problem-solving


Writing on the web enables one to build and create content to make meaning. New genres that blend texts and tools have emerged on the open web and are often referred to as making. 2 Learning through making involves constructing new content. Good online writers pick up tools while composing text through creating and curating content. In turn, the content they remix and modify drives the open web. The following skills and competencies of the writing strand reflect an emphasis on making.


Creating mental and physical representations of digital content focused on accessibility and approachability. 21C Skills: Creativity, Problem-solving, Communication


Building, organizing, and sharing digital content that is accessible and approachable. 21C Skills: Communication, Problem-solving


Understanding basic principles, purpose, and applications of coding and programming languages. 21C Skills: Problem-solving, Creativity


Systematically reviewing and examining digital content with the intent of improving work process and product. 21C Skills: Creativity, Problem-solving


Encoding (production of message) and decoding (comprehension and interpretation of message) meaning in digital content by constructing, redesigning, and reinventing online texts. 21C Skills: Creativity, Problem-solving, Communication


Participating on the open web includes connecting with the communities that share, build, and sustain meaningful content online. A healthy online community requires knowledge of how to create, publish and link content, and an understanding of security in order to keep content, identity, and systems safe. 3 Participating on the web allows users to remix, modify, and share content, and the skills and competencies in this strand drive the open web.


Giving others access to files or digital content in an online space while respecting copyright and licenses. 21C Skills: Creativity, Communication


A group of local or global learners who reach a common outcome while connecting and learning online. 21C Skills: Creativity, Problem-solving, Collaboration


Extending thinking beyond the individual learner to integrate social networks and tools in problem-solving. 21C Skills: Problem-solving, Communication, Collaboration


Managing and maintaining the privacy and security of your digital identity through behaviors and digital tool settings. 21C Skills: Problem-solving, Communication

Open Practice

Using and contributing web resources to keep the web transparent and universally accessible to all. 21C Skills: Problem-solving, Collaboration, Creativity, Communication

21st Century Skills and Leadership Development

As people learn to read, write, and participate on the web, a cross-cutting set of 21C Skills emerge as skills critical to success in today’s world. They enable individuals to become teachers, advocates, and community leaders to leverage and advance the web as an open and public resource.

The 21C Skills, combined with the web literacy skills, are the nexus for entry-level digital-age skills. They are a set of abilities such as problem-solving, creativity, collaboration, or communication that people need to develop in order to succeed in the information age. These skills have always been critical, and even more so in an information-based economy. When most workers held jobs in industry, the key skills were knowing a trade, following directions, getting along with others, working hard, and being professional. To hold information-age jobs, people also need to think deeply about issues, solve problems creatively, work in teams, communicate clearly in many media, learn ever-changing technologies.

As part of our Digital Skills for Digital-Age Leadership Development project, we have conducted research and are working closely with expert advisory groups to create a set of open badges to capture 21C skills and competencies and prototype digital badges to make learning and achievement outcomes count towards college and career readiness, and workforce development. The resulting 21C skills framework and rubric includes a core set of skills and competencies important for leadership development that allows people and programs to customize assessments that capture 21C Skills based on relevant content.

The 21C skills and competencies are as follows:


Using research, analysis, rapid prototyping, and feedback to formulate a problem and develop, test, and refine the solution/plan.


Being audience and culturally aware, resolving conflict appropriately, using technology tools effectively, and taking responsibility for personal and group productivity.

Audience & Cultural Awareness

Conflict Resolution

Use of Collaboration Technology

Responsibility & Productivity


Generating, connecting, synthesizing, transforming, and refining ideas.


Developing and presenting effective messages, and contributing to groups through appropriate interactions and active listening.

Message Development

Group Contributions

The following 21C Skills correspond to the specific web literacy skills indicated below. If creativity, communication, problem-solving, and collaboration are core to leadership development, practicing these skills in an online environment is the “webby” or web-based experiences of these non-cognitive skills. These 21C Skills span across sectors and domain areas and are critical in a variety of jobs and higher education, and for success in life. As users learn and practice the web literacy skills, they also gain web-based competencies in the following 21C skills.






With the generous and thoughtful input by many current and emerging community members, this paper generate the latest version of Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map that includes 21C skills, leadership skills and competencieswritten in language that is approachable and accessible to more people, and connected to curriculum to make it applicable for learning and teaching web literacy skills. If you are a general user, we suggest you identify your own skill set and level up or identify others that want to level up in an area and if you are an proficient in particular area, help them out. If you are someone who knows how to teach others, we encourage you to find ways to embed and remix Mozilla’s open source curriculum, professional development and other resources into your offerings and share what you are doing with us and others.

Although An-Me Chung (@anmechung), Iris Bond Gill (@iris007gill), and Ian O’Byrne (@wiobyrne) took pen to paper, it would not have been possible without the many who have contributed to updating this version of Mozilla’s web literacy map and from its inception. We encourage you to continue providing us with feedback and contributing to the community.

The first whitepaper paper is available here.

Read Read, Write, Participate, Mozilla’s blog about web literacy, or contribute a guest blog post.



Teacher Persona Headshot

My name is Mr. G and I am a high school music teacher. I’m interested in teaching my students to be responsible citizens of the web given how active they are in making and remixing digital music. With all the issues about copyrights and licenses, I need resources that will help educate me and them about these issues as well how to be a good collaborator and leader.

Afterschool Educator

Afterschool Educator Persona Headshot

My name is Maya, and I work at an afterschool program where middle school students participate in a variety of activities from homework help to creating their own online movies. Kids love this program, but we have parents who are concerned about security and privacy. We need a workshop or set of activities to help participants and their parents understand how to protect their privacy and be able to develop and share movies in the open.


Researcher Persona Headshot

My name is Jane and I am a professor at a research university. I’m want to learn how to effectively data mine and publish my research online. I need basic digital literacy skills to understand how best to search and aggregate data online, and how to post my research in the open for feedback and comment. I need a MOOC to learn these skills and a way to and collaborate with other colleagues to develop common practices.


Activist Persona Headshot

My name is Meghan and am a self-proclaimed programmer who started coding on my own as a teen. I now own my own start-up technology company, and the more time I spend collaborating online, and understanding the most critical innovation of my generation, I’m realizing how vital it is for me to teach and educate others about how to protect the web as a vital public resource. I need resources to teach others about basic web literacy skills, and campaigns to invigorate them about why they should care about the web.


Welder Persona Headshot

My name is Adeo and I am learning to be a welder in a job training program. I want to start my own business, and need to learn how to use the internet to build a website, find partners, and create jobs for others in my community. I need low-cost tools and an online community to learn these skills and promote his new business.


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Leu, D. J., O’Byrne, W. I., Zawilinski, L., McVerry, J. G., & Everett-Cacopardo, H. (2009). Comments on Greenhow, Robelia, and Hughes: Expanding the new literacies conversation. Educational Researcher, 38(4), 264-269.

O'Byrne, W. I. (2014). Empowering Learners in the Reader/Writer Nature of the Digital Informational Space. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(2), 102-104.

Pearson, P. D., & Duke, N. K. (2002). Comprehension instruction in the primary grades. Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices, 247-258.

Wenger, E., McDermott, R. A., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Harvard Business Press.


1 Recasting the reader as a navigator has important implications for learning and literacy. It involves making meaning online beyond traditional reading skills. (Duke & Pearson, 2002; Leu, O’Byrne, Zawilinski, McVerry, & Everett-Cacopardo, 2009).

2 As writing moves from page to screen one of the key differences between the traditional writing process and online content construction is that individuals need to consider other elements that are particularto working with online informational text (e.g., semiotics, visual literacy, multimodal design). As the writing process moves from print to pixel, writing needs to take into account the reader/writer nature of content in a digital space. In computer science, read/write is defined as media that is capable of being displayed (read) and modified (write). In a literacy context, the reader/writer nature of online information could be viewed as a means to allow individuals to quickly and efficiently comprehend and construct online information (O’Byrne, 2014).

3 Thus, the skills and competencies under the participating strand encompass the values of not only connecting with, but also protecting the values of the open web. In these activities, sharing is essential to creating the many small pieces of the web (Alexander, 2006). Individuals that excel as good participators on the open web collaborate as both a mentor and learner while sharing and creating resources in different spaces (Jenkins, 2009). By participating and connecting in these spaces, and in their specific practices, we connect as an online learning community (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002).