Mashups in Minutes

fish heads

“Ever notice how the Fishheads song sounds kind of like Phantom of the Opera?”  Um, no, I hadn’t, but when Greg, whose desk is not far from mine asked me this question, I became curious.  I hummed each tune and I had to admit there were some similarities.

I opened a YouTube clip of each song (Fishheads and Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera) and after a quick listen, I also thought there were some parallels that warranted further investigation.  I also found that I could play the Fishheads song, then switch over to another tab in my browser and watch the Phantom clip on mute, thus integrating the audio from one with the video from another.  Interesting.  And, when the Phantom’s mouth movements happened to sync to the Fishheads lyrics, pretty funny.  But, could I capture this hilarity for others to enjoy?  Enter Screenr.

Screenr is an online screen capture service that I’d seen but never used before.  Turns out it couldn’t be easier.  Go to Screenr.com, click on the “Launch Screen Recorder Now!” button, and drag the red rectangle over the part of your screen that you want to record.  From there, just click record for up to 5 minutes of free video.  It was a bit tricky for me to sync the start of the video and audio to the start of the recording, and I had to adjust the volume level so that the recording was not too loud, but after a couple of tries I managed to work it out pretty well.  See for yourself.

Unfortunately, WordPress, which this blog is built in, does not currently provide a way to embed Screenr content.  I should also be able to upload the video to YouTube from Screenr, but that feature isn’t working for me.  So, instead of embedding the video in my blog, you’ll just have to follow the link.

So, that’s how I turned an office distraction (no offense, Greg!) into an opportunity to try out a technology I’ve been meaning to check out.  And, I’m pleased to report, Screenr was extremely easy to use on the fly without practice or instructions.

Can this become a project for your classroom?  Perhaps.  It might be very interesting to ask students to create a Screenr video that combines the audio from one video and the video from another.  Because Screenr is web / browser based, there are very few editing options other than “record” and “stop,” but this simplicity can really flatten out the learning curve.  It would be interesting to have students present and discuss their mashups.  But, please, no Wizard of Oz vs. Pink Floyd.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Mashups in Minutes

  1. Screenr is brilliant – a great idea to use it for mashups. However, as I’m a newbie, I’m wondering what to say when my students or fellow teachers ask about the language learning involved in creating mashups. We are often concerned about learning about technology rather than English language. Any advice or recommendations here greatly appreciated.

    • Thanks for your comment, Vernon. I agree that it can be easy to get sucked in to the novelty of new technology at the expense of actual language teaching and learning. This can particularly be a problem when the learning curve is steep on a particular technology. (See my previous posts on Second Life for an example.)

      Fortunately, the learning curve with Screenr is nearly flat, which means the focus can be on the language acquisition. This can include a pre-task discussion (What videos will you use?), collaboration on the task, and a presentation of the final product, for example.

      Because Screenr is so easy to use “right out of the box,” students (and teachers) can really focus on the language.

  2. Fantastic suggestions. Thank you kindly. I’ll mention the idea to the other teachers soon. Often I test-drive these experiments with my own class first, so it depends on what class I have at the time. Looking forward to using more simple technologies though. Cheers.

  3. Let me know how it goes, Vernon. I haven’t made mashups with students yet either, but I think it would be something they would be interested in trying with Screenr (if they’re not already doing it in iMovie, etc.)

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