Review by John Sooja, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2015


Free video-remix tool boosts media literacy, presents some challenges

Subjects & skills
  • Social Studies

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Lots of support: example videos, tutorials, guides, lesson plans.

Cons: Since students will need to use YouTube and the third-party site, classroom implementation can be challenging.

Bottom Line: It's not without its challenges for teachers, but at its core MediaBreaker is an easy-to-use and free tool for teaching critical media-making and literacy.

Signing up with The LAMP gives teachers access to free online lesson plans and curricula. Teachers can use MediaBreaker/Studios to teach kids how to challenge gender representations in advertising and music videos, examine news media as propaganda, or make book reports by critiquing movie adaptations. Students can discuss what media literacy is and what being a responsible consumer of media means to them. Lessons can center on what counts as media, who makes media, and who pays for media. Discussions can also focus on how media conveys its messages, how these messages are framed, and how media normalizes attitudes and behavior.

Consider weaving "critical media breaks" into the course of a semester or school year; students reflect on current media they're consuming. For instance, students can explore gender and racial stereotypes in music videos or commercials they've seen recently. Afterward, students can create scripts and storyboards of their to-be video critiques of their chosen clips prior to making their videos. Once videos are submitted to the teacher, teachers can do their own reviewing and encourage workshopping.

Given that students will be remixing videos, there's also an excellent opportunity to dig into a discussion about responsible use and repurposing of media. Teachers might particularly be interested in the "Copy Paste Culture" unit of Common Sense's Digital Bytes program.

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MediaBreaker/Studios is a free, online tool that gets students to critically remix YouTube videos. Using, kids can import YouTube videos into the MediaBreaker/Studios online video editor. They can then add a new title, text, audio, clips, images, and effects to add critical context to the video. For instance, students can challenge, critique, and point out unfair social representations of gender, race, sexuality, and/or class. The goal is to remix media into media "breaks" that call out misrepresentations and subtext, question sources of information in our media, or deconstruct narratives in music videos and commercials. Kids can "kudo" other kids' work, and teachers and educators can moderate from within their own "studios" of custom libraries of videos. MediaBreaker/Studios provides lessons and guides on "fair use," "proper use," and "critical commentary," as well as offering plenty of "inspirational videos" to prompt creativity. Kids will need their names and email addresses but nothing else to post and share their work.

MediaBreaker/Studios is not the most full-featured online video editor, but it doesn't need to be. Specifically developed for educational purposes (especially after-school programs) but usable by anyone, MediaBreaker/Studios allows for quick video and audio editing, adding, cutting, titling, transitioning, captioning, and composing. It's free and inviting, and kids and teachers alike will quickly master the basic functions and enjoy playing around with fonts or fun sound effects. Kids will learn the importance of using copyrighted work only in transformative ways and how to be critical and not only observational as well as how not to disparage products. The LAMP has other integrated initiatives, too, that further help kids learn about media literacy and responsible media consumption. 

Still, MediaBreaker/Studios offers some serious challenges for classroom teachers. First, since it relies on YouTube, it may be impossible for teachers to implement due to school firewalls. Second,, which is used to rip the videos from YouTube so students can create their remixes, may also be blocked. It's also not affiliated with MediaBreak, and there are no guarantees as to the legality. Though MediaBreaker/Studios and the LAMP make the argument that ripping these videos falls under fair use, teachers should be aware of the risks and take the opportunity to host a discussion with students about fair-use laws. Third, teachers should be aware that though students retain rights over their remixed videos, the LAMP grants itself license to use the videos however it sees fit. 

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Kids will love editing their own critiques of commercials, advertisements, music videos, and news clips, and they will love learning about what it means to be a more responsible consumer of media in our society.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Specifically built for the classroom (but available to anyone), MediaBreaker features a robust community of critical users, teachers, and students. Online sample lesson plans and curricula are available.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

It's pretty bare-bones, and teachers and parents will need to assist technically at times, but the LAMP provides ample resources for managing and using MediaBreaker in the classroom. 

Common Sense Reviewer
John Sooja Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
James D. , Other
MediaBreaker + their curriculum = Real media literacy
MediaBreaker is essentially a video editor with an agenda, and that agenda is media literacy. Part of MediaBreaker comes with a ton of resources and lessons to help teachers help students learn to really examine media. Most importantly, it helps students learn to craft their own messages using media effectively. The combination of tools brings out the analytical best in students.
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