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How Can Teachers Mash Content?


Mashing content puts teachers in control of digital learning. It’s a great way for you to become the active creator of digital learning content, not just the passive communicator.While mashing might sound a bit daunting to some teachers, it’s actually a simple yet powerful technique to get to grips with.

Here’s our quick guide to mashing for the classroom, including some suggested sites to get you started.

What is mashing?

Mashing (also called a mashup, or remixing) means combining two or more data sources into one.

For example, taking graphics, texts, audio clips or video from various media such as blogs, wikis, YouTube and Google Maps, and creating a new piece of content.

Why should you mash content?

You can use mashing to:

  • Clarify complex concepts through a dynamic, multi-layered presentation.
  • Combine large amounts of information together, and then offer students several different ways to access, compare and interpret it.
  • Make sure digital content is reliable, and adds something to the learning experience. In other words, it might be educationally inadequate to just show a single piece of content in isolation. Mashing it with other sources enables a teacher to add the degree of authoritative, reliable and instructionally-sound knowledge they need to offer their students.

Is mashing too technical for the average teacher?

Thankfully not. There are numerous tools and online programs available that make mashing relatively straightforward, even for someone with limited technical expertise.

Some of our starter suggestions include: edted, purplemash, mentormob, tackk, movenote, metta and powtoon.

What are the pitfalls of mashing?

There are two main issues.

Firstly, copyright infringement. For a mashup to be ok to use in the classroom, the sources it draws from need to be open or ‘creative commons’ (CC). That means there are no copyright or licensing barriers to their reuse. Put simply, you can’t use stuff you’re not allowed to. Unfortunately, the licensing of Internet content is confusing. What is and isn’t freely available is not always clear, creating a minefield that teachers need to steer through carefully. Searching for CC-licensed material is the best course of action.

Secondly, plagiarism. This is a similar issue, looked at in a slightly different way. Just as we want students to write their own original essays, we want them to create their own material through mashing. Mashing shouldn’t be an excuse to just ‘copy’ stuff. Teachers need to set the standard in this. Your mashups need to be clearly creative and original. When you present them, try to demonstrate how they don’t plagiarize content, but represent and interpret it in ways that support your own meaning.

Can students mash too?

Of course. It’s a great technique for learning, and not just because of the technical skills it develops. For students, mashing also helps develop valuable inquiry-based skills: finding and linking information, and then editing and manipulating it themselves to create their own argument.