In a recent column for the Journal of Adult and Adolescent Literacy, I indicate the need to encourage students to not only read, but write online text. I believe we need to move students from content consumers to content curators, to individuals who construct online content. The truth is that as technologies and literacy advance it is becoming easier and easier to play, create, and post digital content on the Internet. More to the point, we can provide opportunities for our students to rewrite, recreate, or remix information.
What Do You Mean by Remix?
We live in a remix culture. When I use terms like "remix" or "mashup," it may sound foreign or taboo, that it doesn't make sense I can read something online, and then rewrite or recreate it.
For a better understanding of the pervasive nature of remix in culture, I recommend Kirby Ferguson's Ted Talk, " Embracing the Remix".
Keep in mind that many have already seen plenty examples of remix in popular culture. One of the key examples I provide for remix includes the recent spate of remixes of Brian Williams content from The Tonight Show.
Getting Started With Remix Using Popcorn
Now that we're beginning to understand the nature of remix and mashup in culture, one of my favorite tools to use with students and teachers to explore the nature of remix in composing online content is Mozilla Popcorn. Popcorn is one of the fantastic, FREE tools offered by the Webmaker community to help teach and learn digital skills and web literacy. Learn more about Popcorn, through the following video from Kevin Hodgson, or check out Common Sense Graphite.
To get started with Popcorn, I first start with teachers in class, or professional development and ask them to write down six words that they identify with. In the Webmaker TeachTheWeb Massive Open Online Collorabtion this was called the Six Word Memoir assignment. I view the Six Word Memoir assignment as a digital alternative to the traditional BioPoem activity. After teachers identify their six words, I show them the basics of Popcorn, and then allow them to remix my Six Word Memoir. With some time and tinkering, educators are quickly adding in their own photos, music, and text to my content.
Read, Write, and Remix Your Identity
After teachers become a bit more experienced with manipulating Popcorn, I usually up the ante by showing them to the version of My Philosophy Statement. In the Webmaker MOOC this was labeled your credo, but at its simplest form it is a philosophy of teaching and learning statement. In our Instructional Technology & Digital Media Literacy (#ITDML) program, we require students (veteran teachers) to start the program by blogging about their philosophy statement. At the end of the program they remix this statement using what they've learned. Many students choose to remix my content as a starting point. Here is my credo to review and remix.
W. Ian O'Byrne is an assistant professor in the Department of Education at the University of New Haven. You can read his blog , follow him on Twitter (@wiobyrne), or on Google+.
This article is part of a series from the Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).