Popcorn Maker, taste test

This post describes both a lesson and a task based activity that multi-media students may find interesting.


The lesson starts by asking students to predict the content of a video (by Michael Wesch) that they are about to see from the title –

  • The machine is Us/using Us.

Before playing the video students are told to:

1. Note down keywords
2. Note down message/meaning of the video

Play the video for the first time (HT Tyson Seburn/@seburnt):

Repeat the instructions about what to note-down and play the video for a second time.

Get students to compare notes. Get some open class feedback on the keywords they noted.

Then ask students to look at the following list of words from the video and to check in pairs if they understand them:

linear text
data exchange

Next ask the students to comment to each other in pairs what they thought the video was about and then to whole class.


Tell students that the video was made in 2007 and point out that a lot has changed on the internet since then. Ask them how the would modify the video to make it up to date. Get them to plan this in pairs or small groups.

After enough time check with them the ideas they have in mind. Then tell them that they need to implement these ideas using Popcorn Maker. (Webmonkey has a nice write-up on Popcorn Maker)

In my case the actual implementation was given as the homework due in one week.

Example remixes by my students

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Informal evaluation

I asked students for their thoughts on using Popcorn Maker, the following are some paraphrased comments:

when resizing element it is not very precise on the timeline

would not use it if had choice

buggy, crashed a lot though it may have something to do with browser i used

could be used as a drafting tool

you can annotate in YouTube

Note these are students in the 2nd year of a multi-media course and are used to semi-professional/professional software and equipment. So was not too surprised with their general lack of enthusiasm about Popcorn maker.

As a language learning task I felt it was moderately useful and as a multi-media task less successful. I would try next time to give more support to help them generate ideas. e.g. using sites such as Evolution of the web.

Check out a use of another Mozilla project – Thimble.

5 thoughts on “Popcorn Maker, taste test

  1. I relay like the video and I can think of a couple of students who might like it. I’m not sure how many of my students would though.
    I also like the element of digital literacies with remixing a video.
    I’m not sure i’ll use this but I’m certainly thinking about it.

    1. thanks for commenting chris. i keep wondering how many other teachers out there who are teaching english for multi-media/web. maybe this post may attract some and maybe could lead to a #englishformultimedia chat on twitter!

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