Community Spotlight: Kim Wilkens

Kristina Gorr

Last month, we featured web literacy champion San Emmanuel James, and celebrated his successful and ongoing efforts to build a strong web community in Uganda. This month, we’re proud to feature Mozilla Club Captain, advocate for women in tech, and a strong supporter of the #teachtheweb movement: Kim Wilkens. Kim is based in Charlottesville, VA, is co-coordinator of St. Anne’s-Belfield School’s Computer Science Initiative and founder of local non-profit Tech-Girls.

Kim Wilkens at Girl Rising premiere in Charlottesville, hosted by Tech-Girls.

Kim Wilkens at Girl Rising premiere in Charlottesville, hosted by Tech-Girls.

Kim is also a recent recipient of the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council’s (CBIC) inaugural Social Good Award, which recognizes her work with Tech-Girls to empower girls to imagine and achieve their future dreams in our tech-savvy world.

Kim Wilkens receiving her CBIC Social Good Award

Kim Wilkens receiving her CBIC Social Good Award, 1st row, 4th from the right.

Recently, Kim and her colleagues launched SPARK, Charlottesville’s first ever teen hackathon. Over fifty teens from six area high schools gathered at St. Anne’s-Belfield for two days of learning and work sprints on app, game, and website-driven solutions to problems posed by the event’s sponsors, including Mozilla.

We asked Kim to tell us more about her exciting journey with the web. Here’s what she had to say:

What is your background with the web? With Mozilla?

Once upon a time, I was a publications manager at IBM and I learned how to code pages for printing with SGML which became the precursor to HTML. So, when I struck out on my own as a tech consultant, knowing how to create web pages was a magical skill to have. Somewhere along the way I became a teacher and passionate about helping students create tech. I got hooked on Mozilla’s philosophy & outreach efforts in 2013 when Chad Sansing brought me to a hack jam lead by Laura Hilliger in Philadelphia at EduCon 2.5.

Kim Wilkens presenting at Viriginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE).

Kim Wilkens presenting at Viriginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE).

What is your most noteworthy #teachtheweb accomplishment?

Inspired by the connected learning experiences I had with #clmooc & #teachtheweb, I created a Women Learning Tech connected learning experience. Remnants of that have become the basis of my Create a Website workshop that I’ve held in classrooms and camps all around my community.

Kim Wilkens (middle) at Tech-Girls table with volunteers.

Kim Wilkens (middle) at Tech-Girls table with volunteers.

I started teaching this workshop formally in 2013 as part of a local community education program and I called it Women Learning Tech: Create a Website. As this workshop was happening live, I also uploaded video tutorials and started a Women Learning Tech Google+ group online. Looking back, I have done this workshop in some form or another well over a dozen times – at libraries and schools, as part of Maker Party, Hour of Code, CoderDojo and Tech-Girls, with a variety of participants from elementary school-aged students to grandma entrepreneurs. The underlying goal for me is always the same – to demystify tech and empower students by getting them hands-on with the building blocks of the web.

I’ve collected some of the students creations from this workshop at techkimweb.weebly.com.

How are you inspiring others to #teachtheweb?

I am passionate about technology, education and social justice. I believe that empowering students to learn to code and create tech can change the world. Being a champion for Mozilla, #teachtheweb and incorporating Mozilla Clubs into my work with Tech-Girls and at St. Anne’s-Belfield School comes naturally.

The Mozilla Club philosophy to teach others digital literacy skills, to help move people beyond consuming the web to creating it and being an advocate for the open web are already an integral part of my work with Tech-Girls and teaching philosophy at St. Anne’s-Belfield School. At school, I am excited for students to take their webmaking skills to the next level and to find ways we can help push the Mozilla Club philosophy into the community, like through the SPARK Hackathon.

SPARK is a two-day event of learning and hacking geared toward high school students. It connects students to industry experts and their peers who are passionate about changing the world via technology. The first day is a “learnathon”–a day of fun, interactive workshops and presentations designed to jumpstart students’ creativity while they learn why and how to create tech. The hackathon, on the second day, is the opportunity for students to collaborate on creating tech that solves real-world problems.

I love the community that has blossomed around Mozilla and the worldwide connections it enables every day. It’s tech at its best!

Learn more about Kim on her website, and follow her on Twitter.

Do you know someone that has made tremendous strides towards global web literacy or has made an impact through a Mozilla Club, classroom, or the #teachtheweb community at large? Share their story with us.

 

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