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Cover image for Elementari Web Monetization — Grant Report #1
Nicole Li
Nicole Li

Posted on • Updated on

Elementari Web Monetization — Grant Report #1

Project Overview

👋 Hello everyone! You can read about Elementari. About Us here:

Project Update

While there have been delays, we’re excited to announce that we are making progress on adding support for web monetization for our educators and artists (in addition to making Elementari just better).

Quick Recap:
ℹ️ Help Center. Our website finally has a Help Center and it includes some articles on web monetization! The source code will be released shortly.
👩‍🏫 New Lesson Plan Creation + Library. The development of the flow from creation to submission to publishing took longer than expected, but we are in the local testing phase with web monetization enabled.
🎨 Art Contests are launched!

For the technical developments, we’ve been mostly working on how educators can publish their web-monetized lesson plans on Elementari, developing our Help Center, and doing a lot of backend work (so there's not much to visually show).

A large focus for us is refining the communication of web monetization to a general non-techie audience. To do so, we’ve done a lot of reading, held some informal interviews with educators, are developing our survey, launched our art contests, and scheduled our first round table on web monetization. Finally, we’ve spent the past couple of weeks taking time to get to know other platforms, meeting with the web monetization community, and finding ways to collaborate long term.

Progress on objectives

Our objectives can be broadly categorized into:

Development

  1. Help Center Development and Articles - 80% completed

  2. Web Monetization for Educators via Coil including the lesson plan contribution UI and flow - 70% completed

  3. Web Monetization for Artists via Coil with probabilistic revenue sharing - 60% completed

  4. Elementari Boosts (experiments in Web Monetization: Coil tipping or other) - not started.

Communications

  1. 5 Art Contests between October to January - all contests launched.

  2. Survey for Educators / Students regarding Web Monetization - in progress

  3. Lesson Plan Contests - not started

  4. Webinar / Round Tables for Educators - in progress

Key activities

⭐️Developing a Help Center

You can see it at help.elementari.com.

When writing our proposal, we planned to just pay for a knowledge base service. However, with increasing subscription prices and a decision to keep Elementari as lean as possible, we’ve developed our own Help Center (though development time has been increased).
We will release the source code and articles as open-source so it can be a base for any other web-monetization platforms.

Development Stack:

Nuxt 3 with Nuxt Content (though currently in the release candidate stage) for its Full Static Generation and for articles that can be written in markdown. Vuetify to make things prettier. Automatic deployments through Netlify (though it’s easy to do with any other hosting such as AWS).

This means our Help Center has zero running costs, helping us for long term sustainability. Source code and documentation will be provided as open source.

We will be releasing the Github Repo most likely next week as we finalize some additional web monetization articles / resources.

⭐️Writing Help Center Articles

Originally, we planned for the Help Center articles to be done throughout the grant period. While some work remains - we’ve front loaded the work so we can refer to it when communicating about web monetization.

From interviewing our focus group of Elementari Educators and Artists, none of them knew what web-monetization was. This led us to spend time researching how other platforms have communicated web monetization, asking the community such as Erica for resources, and finally crafting our Help Articles. We will be adding videos later on to better illustrate things.

⭐️ Art Contests

We’ve worked with our educators to come up with the contest guidelines and have begun our art contests! See Communications / Marketing section for more on this.

⭐️ Improve lesson plan editor, publishing flow, and library view

TL;DR: A lot of development work backend (mostly) and frontend to make something that looks simple like this:

Lesson Plan Library

Things can always be improved and will be over the coming months as we test it some more.

In detail about some of our development and struggles:

Backend Migrations
Previously, we had a backend model for curriculums and assignments. Curriculums were the full length lessons we would publish for educators of the platform to use. Educators could view these curriculums and then set them as an assignment for their classroom students to view. This was back when we didn’t really know how to code anything… So a considerable amount of time was spent figuring out how to clean up and migrate the existing models into just one model.

Frontend Flow for Educators / UI
We spent time speaking to a few of our Elementari Ambassadors (educators who constantly use and promote Elementari) regarding the flow for viewing lessons, creating lessons, and assigning lessons to their classroom. From their feedback, we’ve improved the frontend flow for educators while adding the additional functionality of submitting their lesson to be published on the Elementari site. It was a big struggle to maintain simplicity for any educator to still create private assignments for their class, but enabling the option to publish a full blown curriculum.

Lesson Plan Form UI
This is still an ongoing process as the UI needs to be:

  1. Simple enough to create an assignment for the classroom privately (the least amount of fields possible)
  2. Complex enough to publish a full blown lesson plan publicly with all resources (video, sample story, etc), specific teacher instructions, and learning standards. We're now on the 3rd revision...

Lesson Plan Library UI
You can now view the new (but hasn't really changed much visually) lesson plan library here.

⭐️ Setting up probabilistic revenue sharing
Currently all artists are automatically credited when their work is used in a story (page by page and for the full story). You can take a look at the image for the crediting in the story Things I've Forgotten by 5th grader Supernova (it's pretty good!).

Automated Crediting on Elementari

We will be developing probabilistic revenue sharing for these artists when a story with their work is viewed. We've already done a lot of the backend work necessary to set up the share percentage of a story. Up next is just setting up the payment pointers and testing.

Communications and marketing

Elementari Intro Post on Interledger Community

Official Elementari Web Monetization Announcement

📣 Art Contests

We have focused on marketing our Art Contests. These contests will help us increase the number of diverse artworks on our platform, market Elementari to a wider audience, and introduce the concept of web monetization to educators, students, and artists alike.

We aim to generate interest in the Interledger Foundation and web monetization through these contests. The Interledger Foundation is mentioned in the art contest announcement page, social posts, and when talking about the contests in Elementari Webinars and Events. We plan to send a digital badge and letter to all artists who submitted in the contests with the Interledger Foundation logo and mission as well as an intro to web monetization. In addition, we directly ask adult contest participants if they are interested in being a web monetized contributor on Elementari to be put on our waitlist / mailing list.

See the announcement page with information on all five of the contests. We also have a banner at the top of our website highlighting the contests.

First Contest #UseTech4Good

Our first contest (co-hosted with the Digital Citizenship Institute) is wrapping up, with a deadline of October 24th for people to submit.

Our co-host the Digital Citizenship Institute has done an awesome job in helping spread the contest. @gfam has also generously made sharing our tweet a challenge for his community, helping spread the word. Educational consultant Educator Alexander shared the contests via her newsletter. Our Elementari Ambassadors have shared via their private school mailing lists. Finally, some other educators are sharing the information at the upcoming NYSCATE Conference (November).

Here are some highlights and stats:

Tweets about Elementari Art Contest

Social Media Stats

I also presented Elementari and Art Contests for Global Maker Day.

📣 Round Table Discussion on Web Monetization

We are scheduling our first round table discussion the week of November 14th. We will be posting soon.

If you are interested in co-hosting with us and sharing your expertise, please feel free to contact me at nicole.li@elementari.com.

What’s next?

➡️Finalize Help Center Articles
While we did most of the development and articles for our Help Center, we still need some step-by-step video tutorials for web monetization (how to create a Coil account, how to set up your Uphold account, how to link your wallet on Elementari, etc). If people already have a good videos on this, please share.

We will also be putting up the Help Center (with some documentation) on a GitHub Repo soon for other organizations to use as a base.

➡️Implement payment pointers for Educators and Artists

Individuals can paste their payment pointer in their account settings. Payment pointers will be attached to their profile pages, lesson plans, and stories who have used their artwork (probabilistic revenue sharing).

➡️Elementari Boosts (experiments in Web Monetization - Coil tipping or other).
As part of our mission to promote arts, we aim to profit share up 70% with our contributors. We have always had profit-sharing in mind since the beginnings of Elementari. We plan to look into Coil tipping and Fynbos in ways to make this happen in a more sustainable and fair way.

We are open to all ideas on how we can easily tip / boost our contributors.

As many artists will not have payment pointers yet enabled. We are looking into ways to show the "payouts" they could have received from web monetization and provide a payout. @graeme from Prototypr has an interesting base to look at at in his Web Monetization Payouts for Individual Articles (Experimental).

➡️Continue Our Art Contests
We will continue our communications / marketing with our art contests. Please continue to share our contests out - We have a total of 5 that will be run during the grant period!

➡️Launch our Lesson Plan Contest
We plan to launch our lesson plan contests which can use the artwork from the contests soon.

➡️Wider Community Outreach
We will continue to have round tables / informational webinars on Web Monetization.

We are also finalizing our survey to educators / students and will be sending that out soon! Stay tuned for our survey so you can help us share.

We plan to create some simple slides for Educators to use that cover basics of Web Monetization / Open Web that they can use with their students.

➡️Grow User Base
Of course we still have business as usual in growing our platform user base and correcting bugs. As we have more users use Elementari (and therefore just more people reading stories and using lesson plans), there will be an interest in users to become Elementari Contributors web monetizing their content.

What community support would benefit your project?

❤️Please share our art contests (and even submit yourself)! We love seeing all of the entries! You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for any updates.

❤️We’d also appreciate any sharing of your content / resources / tips in helping make web monetization understandable for kids and grandparents alike. Does anyone have a pretty educational presentation on web-monetization?

❤️Like mentioned above, we are looking into ways to send money from Elementari to artists / educators (Elementari Boosts). If you are familiar or want to have discussions of different possibilities, please let me know.

Additional comments

💼Branding Kit
We've benefited from reading the research made by @hessel from Free Music Archive: FMA Explores How To Introduce Coil to Users and completely agree for the need of a "branding kit" for grantees. This will help all grantees have aligned messages and allow grantees to directly jump into their specific development. With the "branding kit", there should be explicit descriptions of the Interledger Foundation, Web Monetization, Coil, and digital wallets like Uphold.

There is also a need for a centralized location (even a google doc works) where we can contribute to presentations, images, infographics, etc that can be repurposed for our own organization (no need to rebuild the wheel).

If there are any good step-by-step videos on how to create a Coil account and Uphold wallet, then please share. As techie people, we tend to forget that a large population of users (both young and old alike) struggle with or have low confidence in basic technological tasks. Otherwise, we will be working on our own instructional videos for how to set up a Coil and Uphold account that can be shared for others to remix and reuse.

Coil Coupon
We also previously reached out about creating a template gift certificate with the Coil codes. Like regular cash / gift certificates it will include participating stores (or in this case websites). One of the shortfalls of Web Monetization now is that is that it is too innovative and too far from what most consumers are used to.

Just some thoughts

Recently, we received a retweet:

And it echoed some of the thoughts I've been having while navigating the Web Monetization space: which projects are actually here to stay? Once the grant money / period is over, which projects are the ones that will continue to live and continue developing? It's hard to build something polished in 6 months or even a year.

And while projects can continue to go grant surfing, the goal of course is sustainability. How are projects expecting to finance their running costs outside of grants (or are there just a ton of grants I'm completely missing out on). I'm looking forward to reading more and connecting with others regarding this point.

🤗 Thank you!
Thank you for all of your time @ericahargreave in helping us navigate the community (especially since we were a bit late to the party). I’ve had a great time knowing some members of the community and helping where I can. Being not pregnant (and not completely sick) does wonders for the amount of work that can be accomplished.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or would just like to chat :)

Latest comments (5)

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graeme profile image
graeme • Edited on

This is a fantastic report. It's a great example to follow, and goes into my useful references folders, alongside @gfam reports :D

There are a lot of learnings that I can apply too.
Also, thanks for the mention around the payment pointers issue. My solution seems to be working well, but I can't really tell how accurate it is.

When I was in Malaysia, it seemed to be streaming very tiny micropayments, like $0.0002 per visit (spend around 30 secs on the page), but when I came to the UK, the payments were higher, around $0.01 for the same time.
I don't know why that happens - if it's due to location, or the time of the month and what is left in my coil account.

Apart from that, I haven't run into any issues running the monetization aggregator, so I think for the most part, it's a good indicator of what's going on. I'll post more on this in the next few days, including how to set it up

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gfam profile image
gFam

Hi @graeme!

Personally I've noticed that the payments I'm sending out are bigger in the days after I've paid the Coil subscription bill and they get really tiny towards the end of that month... so my guess that the differences in micropayment amounts is more to do with what's remaining in a Subscribers account than anything else.

There are some ways to track a little more closely what you're sending out, and that might give you a better idea of how it all works:

This browser extension shows you exactly what you've sent out to which sites:
chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/...

This mobile browser is pretty amazing and you can see the payments flow out in real time:
pumabrowser.com/

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graeme profile image
graeme • Edited on

Okay that's great to know! I just tried the browser plugin and compared their counter to the amount added onto the total for my tracker, and it was spot on!
So at least it's a decent first version. It's really cool how it works, but feels a bit crazy at the same time because I have 3 pieces:

  • front end with nextjs server
  • express server with cronjob
  • supabase app

here is the link again if you missed that (just an overview of how it's working , not the technologies): community.interledger.org/prototyp....

I look forward to trying it with many Coil users on the site at once 🙀

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gfam profile image
gFam

This is an incredibly detailed report! I'm going to have to read it another couple of times for it all to sink in.

Very happy with those Twitter engagement stats! Thanks so much for sharing that.

I think about the longevity of WM projects all the time. From a personal point of view, gFam.live can be super lean and there is potential that web monetization from enough active Coil subscribers could be all that is required to keep the lights on.

Personally I'd prefer to make money from gFam as a creator like everyone else rather than have the platform make money for me. However, to pay for development and to continually improve the platform will take additional revenue and that's where I'm hoping gFam Challenges can benefit both creators, brands and the platform.

We also need some good videos on creating creating Coil accounts, Uphold accounts and Payment Pointers. Some of our users have found some of these pages useful help.coil.com/docs/monetize/paymen... but I think video would be so much more useful.

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nikorawrs profile image
Nicole Li Author

Yes. Videos are definitely the way to go. We should always assume that users know little to nothing of technology. Some teens who grew up with technology don't even know what address bar, folders on a computer, etc are.

I'm not sure what the Twitter stats from the Digital Institute are since they shared much more than me.