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Learning With Hackasaurus

Learning With Hackasaurus

Written by Erin Wilkey Oh
March 17, 2011

Hackasaurus is a set of open tools that allow anyone to see and play with the building blocks of the Web. Designed to introduce young people to coding and basic HTML, Hackasaurus takes advantage of youth interest in tinkering and remixing. 

One of the tools, Web X-Ray Goggles, is a plug-in that reveals the HTML tags on any webpage. As the cursor moves over the various page elements, Web X-Ray Goggles shows each element’s HTML tags, exposing the underlying structure of the page. To start playing with Web X-Ray Goggles, simply drag the bookmarklet provided at the Hackasaurus page onto your bookmarks bar and activate it on any site by clicking the bookmarklet.

Web X-Ray Goggles also allows users to hack webpages (essentially creating mock-ups). By typing “r” when a page element is highlighted, you can replace or remix that element. Change text in New York Times headlines, put your picture in place of a famous musician’s, or redesign Google’s homepage. Hackasaurus turns the entire Web into a remixable learning environment.

A second tool, HTMLpad, allows users to create webpages collaboratively and in real time.

In partnership with libraries, youth media centers, and learning centers, Hackasaurus supports “Hack Jam” events around the world by providing curriculum support with hands-on projects and online “missions.” Young people gather to develop “hacker habits”–the combination of technical and social skills youth need to become active co-creators, shape their environments, and take charge of their own learning.

Hackasaurus developed out of a partnership between Mozilla and the MacArthur Foundation.

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