Remixing -the art of combining creative productions and adding new elements to create one’s own project- was the focus of the first week of CEP 811. Since my own classroom is part of a pilot initiative called 21st Century Learning in which students each receive an iPad, I selected 1:1 technology as the focus of my remix. To illustrate the features of this concept, I used Mozilla Popcorn Maker, a media production tool designed for accessible remixing. Using clips from Creative-Commons licensed media as well as the digital embellishments furnished by Popcorn Maker, I remixed a YouTube video into a new product.
At the beginning of his TED@Motor City talk, Dale Dougherty introduces the idea of “making” and uses early television commercials to support his claims that every person can be -and, inherently, is- a maker, and that “making” was formerly a mainstay of American culture and industrialism (Dougherty, 2011). A major question that arose for me during Dougherty’s talk was, If makers used to be integral to the materialization of the American dream, why do so many consider maker culture radical and subversive? I pondered this question as I approached this week’s remixing assignment.
One of my greatest challenges this week was the emphasis on failure as a learning tool. The tension between being a relatively traditionally educated student and striving for progressive problem solving opportunities for my students is a difficult one. I noted that sometimes there seem to be two ways to fail, which I’ll call environmental failures and operator errors. My first ‘environmental failure’ happened as soon as I turned on my computer to begin the remix: my computer turned on, booted up, and immediately shut down. The AC adapter began to beep ominously. After a failed trip to Best Buy and an Amazon Prime overnight order, I restarted the remix. The second type of failure, ‘operator error’ was my lack of facility with Popcorn Maker. During my first attempt, I used a MacBook. The video clip input functioned properly, and while the Popcorn events appeared to function, upon replay, it was clear that they did not embed properly. Without prior knowledge of the program, I did not know it required a PC to perform efficiently, thus entangling me in a failure of operator error.
All told, the project alone (sans the play time required for experience and increased facility with Popcorn Maker) took approximately six hours to complete. I began to empathize with the sentiment of designer and scientist Fernanda Viegas: “When do you decide that what you have is good enough?” (Eyeo, 2013). Furthermore, while perusing related YouTube videos this week, I discovered Ira Glass has similar insight. Glass discusses ‘the gap’ between creative ability and creative ambition. All involved in the creative process, he says endured a period of time in which “they had good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn’t as good as they thought it should be” and ends the segment by saying, “you just have to fight your way through it, okay?” (Glass, 2013). It seems that frustration with failure throughout the creative process may subvert the desire to engage with making. Makers, it seems, must learn to be tenacious.
As I remixed the 1:1 technology video, I saw potentials for both the grooming of young, new makers, as well as the pitfalls of failure. In my experience, using the 1:1 method allows for the highest level of differentiation in learning, as well as the recognition of each young learner’s own creative abilities. Engaging with the Popcorn project unearthed for me the importance of both opening space for creativity and engineering an environment where failure is neither prohibitive nor unexpected. Indeed, the teaching of new makers requires that failure become an integral part of the creative process. I look forward to embracing this concept with my students in my own classroom.
Discover a few of the hallmarks of 1:1 technology integration in my remix here:
A Day in the Life of an ILS iPad – Immaculata-LaSelle High School: Creative Commons Attribution
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