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Review by Amy Cox, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013

Mozilla Popcorn Maker

Impressive free tool for teaching video editing, remix, and fair use

Subjects & skills

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • 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.
Great for:
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (7 Reviews)

Take a look inside

1 video | 5 images

Pros: Popcorn makes it easy for kids to create multilayered videos about their learning.

Cons: Video editing takes a lot of time and patience, and there's not much editing help baked in.

Bottom Line: Robust opportunities to remix and create reel kids into producing digital content.

Teachers can use Popcorn Maker as a differentiated, mostly visual pathway for student learning and publication. It's easy to imagine kids using Popcorn Maker to critique a dramatic performance against their own interpretation of a character; to edit together and annotate pictures showing the water cycle; to analyze the imagery in a recorded poem, song, or speech; to present research on a video timeline for history class; or to publish an audio or visual response to a class assignment for other students to comment on by remixing it. Teachers can frontload Popcorn Maker projects with research, scriptwriting, and storyboarding, and complement or follow it up by assigning reflective work like a student-kept production diary.

Watch this video to see more ways you can use Mozilla Popcorn Maker:

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Editor's Note: Popcorn Maker has been closed and is no longer available.

Popcorn Maker is a free and open Web app for video editing and remix. Kids pull in audio or video "base" layers of media from sites like SoundCloud, Vimeo, or YouTube, and then add text, images, and other multimedia bits (like maps or Wikipedia summaries) to remix and enrich the source material. Popcorn Maker looks and behaves somewhat like a video editor you'd expect to find installed on your own computer. Kids compose the video in the middle of the screen and use a sidebar on the right to drag in media. Using Popcorn Maker is like creating a pop-up video for whatever subject you tackle in your film. Kids can publish their videos and make them available for others to remix as well.

By helping kids annotate audio and video clips from the Web, Popcorn Maker encourages kids to research their topics and combine what they learn with their own ideas through pop-up word balloons and thought bubbles. Kids can also bring in and remix audio and video files they make in class and upload to any of the services that work with Popcorn. For example, a group of students might perform and film a skit about class content, upload it to YouTube, and remix it in Popcorn, adding pictures from other productions, maps showing where the skit takes place, or summaries of Wikipedia articles that informed the academic content of their skit.

Popcorn is an excellent resource for helping kids present their learning visually, and it offers both teachers and students the opportunity to consider and discuss new media topics like fair use, remix, and video editing. Kids will learn basic video editing skills that transfer to other programs and -- if mentored to be mindful about their work -- will learn the difference between plagiarism and critical, educational, and transformative fair use of others' work. Mozilla's online community of Webmaker volunteers is a great support network for Popcorn users, but there isn't a lot of help embedded in the app itself. While Popcorn is fairly intuitive, there's definitely a learning curve in the beginning -- it functions differently than the mainstream video editors kids are probably used to.

Overall Rating

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

Kids will love becoming curators, directors, and producers as they remix audio and video from the Web with their own multimedia content.

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

This fun, hands-on approach is a great way for kids to learn the basics of video editing and the concept of fair use.

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

While this is an exceptional online application, editing video has a steep learning curve that is a bit hard to climb, especially when the tools work differently than other video editors.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amy Cox Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 7 reviews) (7 reviews)
Featured review by
Amy B. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Le Jardin Academy
Kailua, United States
Great tool for remixing, augmenting, mashing up, and facilitating crowdsourced combinatorial creativity
I love the idea of Popcornmaker and it looks like they've added features, such as a collaboration mode. The fact that you can remix and build off of other videos is key. Mozilla Webmaker site offers many ideas for teachers to use this tool in the classroom. I do wish the user could have a more public channel such as YouTube.
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