Last week at Lillian Marrero Branch, we worked with one of Mozilla’s Webmaker tools, PopcornMaker. PopcornMaker allows you to “remix” music and videos off of Youtube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, etc. The interface is very simple and easy to use, and it can be fun and exciting for youth to play with their favorite music videos and online content. It could also be used to teach basic video editing concepts. Because it’s easy to use, and you’re not building something from scratch, it can be a great way to introduce youth to the concept of media creation. It’s not intimidating and uses some of the online resources they’re familiar with.
While some participants showed interest, and immediately focused on using the tool to make something new, it was a struggle to get others past the point of browsing YouTube, and watching their favorite videos. This really highlighted one of the biggest struggles I have working with youth in maker programming. How do you get kids from content consumer to content creator? It’s more difficult and complicated than it sounds, and can be a big jump for a lot of kids.
For me, this isn’t only one of the biggest challenges, but the most important. Sure, it’s great to pick up new skills, but what’s really essential to Maker Jawn is facilitating a shift in thinking and attitude. Showing kids that they can make things and put them out into the world can be an empowering lesson. It’s the difference between being passive and active. Making things can be a form of rebellion, and a refusal to simply accept what is put in front of you. It allows you to throw your own ideas and opinions into the ring. On a practical level, as the economy focuses more and more on content creation, being a creative thinker is going to be an essential skill to have.
Our Popcorn Maker session was the first of a new weekly programming series where we work exclusively with digital media, rather than building hands-on physical projects. We’ll keep you updated on the progression of this programming, and reflect on what work and what doesn’t. I’m excited to see where it goes!
Here are some projects that youth made using PopcornMaker this past summer: