Monday, March 15, 2010

The Grand-Daddy of all Mashers…MacGyver (Post 6: Multimedia Sharing/Mashups)

How to create a mash up circa 1996? (True story. Friday night. No Money.)

  1. Rent the VHS version of The Wizard of Oz …please stay with me here. (Note: Beta is fine.)
  2. Locate a tape of Darkside of the Moon by a Pink Floyd. (Note: 8 track or reel to reel is fine)
  3. Put in the movie. REWIND. If you do not know what this means you must have had a microwave since birth.
  4. After the MGM lion roars three times, press play on the tape. (Rewind the tape first!)
  5. VOILA!!!! Mash up…. Watch in amazement as Pink Floyd provides an uncanny accompaniment to the Wizard of OZ!

When Dorothy enters Oz,
plays…can you say conspiracy theory. Mel …Mel …are you on this?

Patty-Cake, Patty-Cake, Masher Man, Make me a Mashup as Fast as You Can…(Learning the Tool)

What is a Mashup? Schrum and Levin (2009) define Mashups as,"…new applications or new content created by two or more different data sources to yield new integrated, enhanced application or content" (p. 179). I must admit the definition helps but was not exactly 'chrysto' clear. I searched the net. I found several examples that provided pure entertainment value. Check out the Keyboard Cat!

I was excited for multimedia sharing week. Manipulating audio and visuals has been a great reflective tool in this course. I went into this week unsure of the scope of mashups. I had gone ahead of myself earlier in the term by doing an Animoto (see post #2 Video sharing). The professor, minus Mary Ann, had also suggested VoiceThreads. So in addition to that my dream has been to do a book trailer. Please note that my dreams are truly that boring.

Michelle Schusterman provided some great advice in her article "How to Make a Book Trailer: Video Trailers Can Help Promote a Novel"

Step One: Watch Book Trailers

The first time I heard about book trailers I was a little surprised, books are promoted in words not film. Imagine my surprise to find out on Wikipedia that book trailers have been around since 2002-2003 and now there are book trailer awards. D'you know that the human head weighs 8 pounds? So how hard could this be? Do you remember my 3 Hour Tour (see post 4), this was more of a three day cruise? I hope you are wearing life jackets, 'cause you are going to need it.

When you search out exemplars, you expect that you could at least compete with students. Yah!…NO! Here is a sample of the Book Thief. Sadly humiliated, I lowered my bar.

Step Two: Write a Short Blurb About the Novel

I decided on The Book of Negroes
by Lawrence Hill. The official website had a pertinent excerpt.

Step Three: Find Pictures that Represent the Story

This took forever! While there is a plethora of free image sites, finding images to represent a book about slavery and the Black Loyalists was challenging, say like finding a phone booth in Edmonton. I went to Flickr first. Then OpenPhoto… Then Photo Rogue.

Step Four: Create a Book Trailer Slideshow
My original plan was to use PowerPoint. I knew that manipulating pictures, transitions and text would be possible. You know when something is too good to be true…it is! Okay so imagine…"Whoo Hoo! Look at me Miss Ahead of the Game". (Keep this in your mind…)

Step Five: Add Music (Share to the World)

The PowerPoint was done. I spent all of Wednesday evening. I looped it. I added fading. I found a cool sound sample on Microsoft clipart. Then I went to upload… Well to convert PowerPoint to YouTube, you need to BUY a converter for $50.00. Okay, so short term solution, I posted uploaded it to my Wikipedia as an attachment. That was not my original intention.

So I registered for SlideShare. I figured, "Yah Lit Maven…Load it up. Same deal." "No…Lit Maven…you are sadly mistaken." I loaded it up. No sound. No transitions. No noise but crickets. So fine, apparently I could make a slide cast. I could find a new song using the free music sites. Must I remind you of the sensitive subject matter. Reggae…not so good. Hip Hop…… Electronica..really? Finally I googled sad music and I got Beethoven's Midnight Sonata. Not my favorite choice. All of sudden I was faced with a timeline and I had to match the music. I tried. I really did. Finally I pressed divide song evenly among slides. It was four minutes long. The slides moved mercifully slow. " Lit Maven you need a new song." I finally found a gospel tune. By the miracles of miracles, it was only a minute and a half. I selected the divide the song evenly among the slides button. Five hours later… I e-mailed the SlideCast to hubby. Hubby replies, "You need more ellipses. Fix this.." THUNK my head hit the keyboard but then maturity set in. I fixed it and reposted. YAY!

Here are the fruits of my labor.
I posted both formats of the book trailer on my Wiki. Please check out both.

Step Six: Rest, Reflect

What did I learn? Read the syllabus thoroughly next time and wait to do the Animoto!! But seriously, the experience was worthwhile and now I know how to prepare students and teachers with the challenge. All schools have PowerPoint so it is a viable alternative for making book trailers. However other platforms make it a lot easier to share on the net. While the Animoto looks the most professional, I found the text manipulation limited in terms of size, font and number of characters allowed. However, choosing applications that involve more choice ultimately enhance the feeling of ownership.

I was disappointed that my text transitions and music did not translate from my PowerPoint to SlideShare. I preferred them to the result on the Slidecast. I think that PowerPoint offers more animation techniques. I did sign up for SlideRoll as well. This does offer more panning etc. Perhaps I will work with this one in the future.

Trying Another Tool: Pipes

I never thought I would ever make a pipe. Let's face it, I never thought I would do most things in this course. I discovered pipes in this scribd article. What are pipes? O'Reilly (2007) explains:

'Using the Pipes editor, you can fetch any data source via its RSS, Atom or other XML feed, extract the data you want, combine it with data from another source, apply various built-in filters (sort, unique (with the "ue" this time:-), count, truncate, union, join, as well as user-defined filters), and apply simple programming tools like for loops are filters created by a user, with different types of user data to find specific information.'

Please watch the tutorial before you attempt this at home! I created a pipe by limiting Flickr data to pictures of the Northern Lights near Canada. This type of pipe is of value for personal interest and to show my kids. Here is my
. You can choose to view it by map, image or list. There are many possibilities of modifying this pipe with an infinite amount of data. The best part, I made it myself. I made another basic pipe, searching using Yahoo as data source for mashups. I have included both pipes as widgets on my blog. I think MacGyver would really like this tool.

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad, You take them Both and There You have the Mash of Life… The Mash of Life (Personal and Social Implications of the Tool)

The trailfire and readings really helped clarify what mashups were and what I had already been using. Isn't it funny when you find labels for things you already do? I must admit that I found the information on mashups to be plentiful, check out the Programmable Web, but not as clear. The online dictionary was a handy companion. After deciphering the language and viewing examples, I thoroughly relieved that many mashups have been incorporated into my life already.

Enjoy exploring your city without wasting any gas…save for the natural kind that comes from the burrito you are eating as you type at your computer. Have I got a tool for you!

Google Maps

  1. Click the tab Google maps on the Google homepage.
  2. Enter an address. The address will be indicated by an arrow.

Google Maps first entered my life through the Real Estate website. A few years ago when house fever hit, my husband and I would drag the kids along to various open houses in the city. Knowing where houses are located visually in relation to other streets and avenues, helps know in advance that the house backs on fifteen major roads. Okay that was an exaggeration but you can imagine how helpful that is. also combines the Google mapping feature in addition to images of the houses and in combination with a search criteria, looking for a house is adventure that you can have without leaving your house.


So your friend just moved into a new swanky abode. Afraid to be caught doing a drive-by? Here is the solution for you!

Google Street View

  1. Click the tab Google maps on the Google homepage.
  2. Enter an address. The address will be indicated by an arrow.
  3. Near the zoom feature, is a little orange man. Click the orange man and drag and drop him at the arrow.
  4. Voila. Now you can cruise down the streets of your city without having to leave your house.

When I first heard about this mashup, I wasn't really keen on the idea that people, anywhere could see my house. Not only that, but the pictures are taken randomly throughout the year. The photo of our house was taken in the early ugly days of spring, not exactly when out house looks it best.

Both of these features assist with trip planning. Now you can find the location of the best hotels and resorts. In addition you can walk down the streets to make sure that your ideal vacation getaway is not located next to a volcano. Again exaggeration, but a bad holiday destination can make some people erupt in anger. Can you say Grizzwolds?


Do you have no shame? Are you more a zoom in than zoom out kind of person? Do I have the Christmas app for you!

Elf Yourself

Making and sending holiday greetings is no longer a chore with the advantageous Elf Yourself application. I have received these two years in a row. Unfortunately it is down until next season but what it does, is allow you to upload family photos onto the bodies of dancing elves. You can post it on Facebook and include your relatives and pets. Do be kind…this can be passed around like a Christmas fruitcake.


I was first introduced to Voicethreads ,in a grad course, a year ago. This mashup is a great way to document memories for your children and receive feedback from friends and relatives. Here is the voicethread that I created using my children's artwork. Picture uploading offered three choices, computer file, URL and media sites (Flick and Facebook). Truly the process was user friendly. I chose not to create fancy avatars to protect privacy.

The whole family had fun with the process.


  1. My daughter self initiated revisions."Mom, can I do that again? I think I had too many 'okays'."
  2. Reinforcing self expression with a wider audience.
  3. Enjoyment of hearing feedback from family and friends.
  4. Reflecting on the artistic process and what her creations meant to her.
  5. I was surprised at her detail and her awareness that others would hear it. This increased her motivation and sense of purpose.


1 five year old boy!!!!!


Animoto is an excellent presentation tool. Children could upload photos of their artwork and accomplishments. Perhaps even creating their own music accompaniment. For those of you entering the wedding season, Animotos can replace the outdated PowerPoint. Speaking of family, Animotos can also be created for the next family reunion. Do I hear Family Tree Animoto contest? I think I do!

There is so much to discover and explore with Mash Ups you will wonder how you ever survived without them.

It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right…It Takes Two to Mash it Outta Sight (Educational Implications of the Tool)

When I think back to my years in school, the closest thing to a mashup was a collage, and some might debate the food we made in Home Ec. We all dragged in magazines from home. National Geographic was always risky. Those tribal women believed less was more. The rest of the magazines were limited to images of celebrities, advertisements etc. BOP, Teen Beat, Seventeen
16 cost a week's allowance, and there was no way that anyone was cutting those up. Save perhaps for the MONKEES…why were these old men in teen mags anyway? Needless to say our "Mashups" were limited to the sources we had and our resulting collages represented this grim reality.

Flash forward to March 2010, the issue over access to sources has changed again. Mashups while abundant on the World Wide Web, little documentation exists about their use in education. Perhaps it's the nature of a mashup. With the filters and protection on the import of audio and video, there is a lot of rigmarole to get through. There is some debate over the difference between a remix and a true mashup. Lamb (2007) "Dr. Mashup; or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix" mentions in his article that some cause for concern among educators is deciding whether a students' work is original. Indeed what is the definition of original? Walling (2009) adds, "Teachers need to discuss the fine line between inspiration and plagiarism so that students understand that networking is intended to spark personal innovation" (p.23).


The biggest issue with mashups in education is the need for openness among sources of data. My school district blocks images, video and at times audio. Lamb (2007) emphasizes the importance of openness in three particular ways: Open and discoverable resources, open and transparent licensing and open and remixable formats. He adds," more reuse means that more dynamic content is being produced more economically, even if the reuse happens only within an organization. And when remixing happens in a social context on the open web, people learn from each other's process." Also the supportive tutorials and student examples on the web make mashup processes differentiated and accessible to most students.

Mashups place an emphasis on creativity, the ability to find unrelated sources of information and combine them for a different purpose. Students have been doing this for years. Web 2.0 tools have highlighted a new platform for these processes to be pushed to a new level. Soule (2008) expresses the importance of matching, "the
vehicle, audience, and message" (p.14). Here is a list of some uses for mashups in education.



    1. An educator can create several avatars under the same under one account. This allows for total control over content and easier management due to a single login.
    2. Students' identities can be hidden by using drawings of themselves, instead of photographs for their avatars.
    3. They provide a forum where students can receive feedback from students in their schools, in addition to relatives and friends outside school. Comments can be left in these formats: mp3 audio file, text, webcam, drawing and telephone. It is important that teachers model for students how to make appropriate comments.
    4. It partners well with the new Social Studies Curriculum in Alberta that emphasizes studies of the past, especially images. Here is an example of what this would look like with pictures depicting an Acadian community. (Grade 2 social studies)
    5. Storytelling can be supported by students contributing their talents to a group story as seen here, Mini Legends Choose Your Own Adventure.
    6. Teachers could also set up a VoiceThread of a class theme or book for students to provide a reader response.
    7. Here are several more ideas from the VoiceThread library.
    8. Here is another example of a VoiceThread being used by educators to discuss their PLN's. Scroll down to the twelveth response for the Voicethread.
    9. They process provides opportunities for differentiation. With the feeback possibilities, there is always an option for a student to use their strongest modality.


  2. Pipes

    Lamb (2007) states that you can create a pipe that "… can create a filtered search of trusted domains that are relevant to a particular course, and the filtered search will adjust automatically as new links are added to the course materials." The benefit to ongoing data specifically tailored to a course is invaluable. I can imagine all the different pipes that students can configure to support their learning in all subjects.


    Here is an example of a pipe that was created to aggregate all the blogs in a particular class at Cornell University.


  3. Animoto


    1. Storytelling: Here is a current example of Animoto's being used for storytelling.
    2. Creating a Movie Trailer
    3. Creating a
      Book Trailer.
      (Scroll down to the third Animoto example.)
    4. Creating Instructional Videos
    5. Demonstrating vocabulary knowledge. A math teacher in our district had students create an Animoto to demonstrate knowledge of mean, median and mode. In particular, this was to support the Knowledge and Employability Alberta Program of Studies in Math. The other teachers at the session were amazed at the quality and the implications for motivation and purposeful learning.
    6. Introducing a new subject. (Scroll down to the fourth Animoto video).
    7. Public Service AnnouncmentsCreated on the issue of homelessness, authored by a grade seven student.

Solomon G. & Schrum, L. (2007) highlight some other contributions for mashups in the classroom.

Flash Earth
– This is amazing! This is my first time viewing this site. There are obvious connections to social studies but the artistry is breathtaking. My husband used the words 'frightening' to describe the incredible detail. I sure hope there is not a picture of me getting the morning paper.

– Students will enjoy adding bubbles and text from their own or borrowed pictures on Flickr. This example demonstrates the possibilities of students highlighting their knowledge of science topics in a fun and engaging way.

Who are these students in our classrooms? They are a new generation of students that have not known life without a computer, it is their desktop. As a consultant, it is my job to model how mashups can be used to extend students' understanding. The representing strand of the Alberta English Language Arts Curriculum is a sure fit for mashups. Underwood (2007) adds that schools provide a safe environment to work with these tools under the guidance of educators.

Of course, like with all Web 2.0 tools it's necessary to weigh the benefits for using them in the classroom. O'Brien & Scharber (2008) stated, "the use of digital technologies

in schools should be driven by educational purposes rather than social ones"(p.67). The issues surrounding access to open sources will threaten the establishments in their efforts to control information. Indeed as Palfrey & Gasser (2008) state "The hardest question we will ever have to answer is whether we will attempt to thwart this burgeoning online activity in Digital Natives in the name of protecting crumbling institutions, or foster it and the participatory culture it can lead us to"(p.129). I am hoping for the latter.


So my week of using my inner MacGyver has been fruitful. I have learned how to entertain the masses or at least subject them to my experiments.

Until next time…Lit Maven OUT!



Nonlinked Resources

O'Brien, D., & Scharber, C. (2008). Digital literacies go to school: Potholes and possibilities. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(1), 66-68. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2008). Born digital: Understanding the first generation of digital natives. Philadelphia, PA.: Basic Books.

Solomon G. & Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0: New tools, new schools. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.    

Soule, H. (2008). Transforming School Communities: Creating Dialogue Using Web 2.0 Tools. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(1), 12-15. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Underwood, L. (2009). 21st-Century learning blocked: What is a school librarian to do?. School Library Monthly, 26(1), 14-16. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Walling, D. (2009). Idea networking and creative sharing. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 53(6), 22-23. Retrieved from ERIC database.
















  1. Brandi,
    I thought your book trailer was excellent. In the past I have used iMovie and although the results are great I had never thought of using a slidecast. Many students are familiar and proficient with powerpoint and this provides an alternative. Sometimes teaching students a new program isn't feasible. Congratulations on using pipes. I must admit I looked at it awhile back and shied away from it as it wasn't as quick and easy as some other mashup tools. I find I always get introduced to new Web 2.0 tools reading your blog. Cheers, Nicola

  2. WOW! Thank you for the feedback. I always feel the same when I read your blogs. I came across something awhile ago about taking inventory of what "tech" you have at schools already. With the economic downturn or not, schools shouldn't always throw old tools out. Powerpoint is a great option. As for the pipes...THOSE ARE CRAZY!!!! Some of them are so complex. I could see some kids really getting into it.
    Lit Maven


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