How I Use It
A student approached me for suggestions about a free presentation tool that would allow her to incorporate a video, some text, and a sound recording of her own voice. We used to use Animoto for such purposes, but it is no longer free for students and schools, so I started seeking another option. I discovered Mozilla Popcorn Maker on a Graphite board. It's a fairly advanced capability video editor that would allow the student to include all of the elements that she needs. It allows the user to edit video, layer sounds, add callouts, and import media from popular web sources like YouTube, Flickr, and SoundCloud. The nature of the program and the connection to common media outlets makes it user-friendly for students who may not have a lot of familiarity with video editing. Students who have some expertise will take to Popcorn Maker naturally. When I showed the student what I found, she said it was exactly what she was hoping for, but she didn't know that Popcorn Maker existed. She left my desk filled with enthusiasm and eager to begin her project.
Popcorn Maker is a great tool for project-based assessments. It offers tons of information sharing capabilities while simultaneously providing room for student creativity. I really appreciated the more advanced editing options that one would find in a serious editing program, like Camtasia. It is nice to know that there is a free program available students could use for video editing. That being said, I also appreciate how easy it is to incorporate media. A student with some computer awareness, but limited video editing experience would still be able to use Popcorn Maker easily. One criticism I have is that I wonder about copyright issues with YouTube and SoundCloud. When it is so easy to download media from the Internet, I wonder if students are considering fair use and proper acknowledgment of their sources.