Mashups make meaning

As a result of teaching my students about fair use of web content, I have become enamored with mashups. For those who are not familiar with the term “mashup”, it can be a conglomeration of video, audio, or pictures that are remixed or reused in a new way to create a new composition.

Mashups can be used in education as a creative means to communicate what students have learned.

On Bloom’s Spectrum
Mashups are on the creation end of Bloom’s spectrum and require students to make a meaningful composition from multiple sources. Mashups can be about anything. Educationally, students have to perform a variety of mental gymnastics to create a meaningful, original composition about a topic to clearly communicate what is learned.

Analytical. Students must be this. They must listen to audio or view a picture or video and decide what part of it they need to create that meaningful piece of art. The parts must fit into the whole so as to give the audience a complete understanding. If a mashup can use all three mediums, or just one, the author has to be explicit about his or her intent to communicate. Pulling apart the audio, video, or image media demonstrates a student is explicit about what they want and how it fits into the whole.

Synthetical. Students must be this too. To create a conglomeration of media, a student has to be able to pull together different mediums, sounds, images, movements, and more into a coherent whole. This isn’t just about being creative, but communicating creatively bringing together a variety of clips and images from multiple sources at the same time.

Creatively. Students can work to be this. Creativity has a place with all of us. Some are gifted with this and others have to work at it. To be creative is to look at something through a different lens sharing your point of view. Creating a mashup allows the student to put together various parts as he/she wants to. It should be a given, as I have already said, that the final product should be coherent and make sense given the topic.sun mosaic

The lower end of Bloom’s taxonomy
The knowledge side of Bloom’s taxonomy is take care of automatically. A mashup cannot be created if the content is not understood or known.

How to use the mashup
You can have kids create a mashup as a way of flipping the classroom so they become familiar with concepts before you teach. Perhaps it can be thought about has a formative unit measure.

Complex concepts can be interwoven in any of the content areas allowing the student to determine how they best fit together. The weaving together of complex ideas is metacognitive processes that leads a student to question how everything relates.

Another way is to use a mashup as a summative measure to diagnose competency from novice to expert. The use of video clips and image media would be most important here because the choices that are made – what to use and what not to use – demonstrate the complexity of thinking.

Students can create a mashup to introduce who they are, interests, dislikes, family, and passions.

Mashups give freedom of choice and creativity while giving the teacher an in depth look at what a student has learned through analysis and synthesis based on the final product.

Carey, Chris. sun12.jpg. October 2006 . Pics4Learning. 16 Jan 2013

Digital toolbelt

Digital literacy is knowing what technology to use for a specific purpose. This is one of the 21st century skills students and teachers should have in their tool belt. If a task is given to me I should be able to think of a numerous ways to complete it, but be able to choose the one web technology that allows me to complete the work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I said, the tool belt needs to expand for all learners. Expanding it takes a bit of perseverance and determination because trying to search for specific webware isn’t that easy. To really take full advantage of finding resources I suggest doing two things. First, get a Twitter account and follow two hashtags: #edchat and #edtech. Then, learn how to curate the Internet using something like Feedly, Pinterest, Evernote Webclipper, Zite, or Flipboard. These apps or sites allow you to aggregate RSS feeds into one place for you to read as you wish.

Using Twitter and a news aggregator, look for all of the resources that are shared. Choose the ones you feel look interesting to you. Doing this will expand your digital tool belt. With a repository of digital tools tasks like research, presentations, writing, reading, podcasting, video, and others gets to be pretty easy.

There are so many ways to demonstrate what is known. Growing up there were a few ways to make things which usually involved a great deal of time. Given the current nature of technology, and the ease of obtaining content, knocking out a piece of work that shows your true understanding doesn’t have to take that long. For you perfectionists out there, devoting more time means a well rounded product.

The 21st century learner will have a large repertoire of digital mediums to choose from and know when to use them. Put on your digital tool belt.

photo credit: jwcline via photopin cc

Classbadges: Award achievement digitally

I am a fan, actually an evangelist of sorts, about using digital badges as a way of awarding and delineating levels of talent development within the classroom. I often tweet about this, especially when I am in certain chats, because of the flexibility and positive reinforcement it gives to kids. When used in conjunction with a rubric, awarding badges for talent development prizes them with a visual they can return to over and over again, and when further levels of talent are achieved, new badges are awarded. Rather than display points and a percentage, it shows success and if the student doesn’t reach the level of success they want, they work harder to achieve it. This won’t always be true, but the concept is sound based on video games kids play today. ┬áStudents who play games and cannot complete a certain level will try repeatedly to “beat” the level because it shows achievement. I recall my days playing Halo with my brother. We would choose the most difficult setting and play, for long periods of time, trying to go from one level to the next. It was exhilarating to win! Here is the kicker. We never beat the level during the first try which meant we had to go do it over and over again until we did which meant we stayed up late into the night driving my wife crazy. The reward was knowing we could move on and by moving on, we were more accomplished. Give students badges as a way of showing accomplishment gives them a real sense of what it means to achieve.

I have looked for quite some time to find a site that awards badges. One site is Edmodo and another is Classbadges. Classbadges allows a teacher to choose a visual for a badge, name it and describe it. When the student achieves the a level of achievement, a badge is awarded.

Some applications. I recently wrote a post about inFORMATIVE Measures, or ways in which a teacher can use online resources to determine learning as a way to guide instruction. If a student achieves at certain formative levels, badges can be awarded. Book badges can be awarded for so many books read or achieving reading levels. Give a badge for working as a scientist or historian in science and social studies. There are many ways you can use Classbadges to award student achievement.