The 3D Effect: A Slowly, Tilting Website

The other day, a companion in the Teach the Web MOOC shared out a feature in Firefox that I didn’t even know existed. It allows you to get a 3D view of a website. Check out these two screenshots that I took of my blog site:
Meandering Mind 3D View

Meandering Mind 3d View2

What is amazing is that this tool is right in Firefox itself. No add-ons or anything. Here’s how Michelle explained it:

“Use Firefox. 🙂 Go to any page. Right click and go to “Inspect Element.” In the dark box that appears at the bottom of the screen, click the 3D cube button (“3D View”) in the upper right. You can then drag the visualization around and look at it from different angles.” — from Michelle’s post in the MOOC Google Community.

I was blown away by this simple rendering of a website, and then started to think: how might this be useful in the classroom? Sure, it’s cool. But is it useful? I think it is, particularly when doing lessons around the architecture of the web. Notice what elements of my blog stand up and out, and the question is: why? What content is there that makes Firefox separate it from the surface? How might we re-envision a website from a flat interface to a three-dimensional space? Intriguing ideas that will surely get kids thinking and playing, and wondering, right?

Peace (in the pop up world),


Week Two at #Teachtheweb MOOC: Remixing Others

Our task this week at the Teach the Web MOOC is to check out other people’s work from the first week of introductions and do a remix of their work. Interesting. I selected a profile page by Lou Buran because of some connections we have via the National Writing Project (it turns out, we have met, a few years ago, but I had forgotten that when I was working on his remix). I took a screenshot of his profile page from his Thimble page and then used Popcorn Maker to add some layers of pop-ups with notes to Lou about our connections.
Lou Remix1

Check out my Remix of Lou’s Profile Page

After I had posted it in the Teach the Web Google Community, some folks suggested that others take my remix, and remix it again. Which is what Lou did. He took my piece, which was based on his piece, and added a third iteration to it. So now we have this remixing conversation going back and forth (which is when Lou reminded me that we briefly met one summer while working on the NWP Digital Is website). I am hoping someone else takes his remix and does it again. I wonder how the work will change as more hands get to work on it?
Lou Remix2

Check out Lou’s Remix Response

Pretty neat, and it all has me thinking of why we are doing this kind of activity and exploration within the MOOC. Certainly, my remixing of Lou brought me closer to him as a friend and colleague, and I was interested to see how he would take my remix and make it his own. I don’t suppose Lou minded what I had done but all this remixing and hacking work does bring up the issue of ownership, right? And I never asked Lou’s permission. I just did it.

Those of us in this MOOC probably are OK with others taking our digital stuff and doing what they want with it. But how about most people? Would folks outside of the MOOC be OK to know that a bunch of folks are taking something original, remixing it with new content and then publishing it to the world? I don’t know. What do we unwittingly give up when we post to a digital space?

I do know these are the conversations that we need to be having with students.

We hammer home copyright infringements, and how to use other people’s work with respect, and then we tell them: go hack this page and publish it? Let me say, I am OK with that. I think the goals here are to move more agency into hands of the viewer/reader and the Mozilla suite of tools does that in many interesting ways. Kids need to have skills to not just remix the web, but also to be critical of what they read and how they are targeted by the web, and having tools to remake that experience is powerful.

Still, I wonder about the conversations …

Peace (in the MOOC),


Still Playing with Popcorn: The Duke Rushmore Talking Comic

As part of my explorations with the Teach the Web MOOC, I am trying to get a better handle on the Mozilla Popcorn Maker video tool. I’m still not convinced it is ready for prime time. Last week, I struggled with mixing multiple videos together for my introduction (told as a remix of some digital poetry videos), and then I tried to watch any number of other people’s Popcorn video intros, and sometimes the videos ran fine, sometimes it did not. There was no way to know if the darned things would load.

But I didn’t want to give up. I see that the tool has a lot of potential value, even if the reality of stability is not quite there yet for me. And then I thought: maybe I am using it wrong? Maybe I should try to use the Popcorn site for what it was first built for (if I understand it). So, I dropped an image of my band – Duke Rushmore – into the tool, and decided to make a snarky, funny, animated comic of sorts of what my bandmates and I are really thinking when we are on stage. (I got inspired by reading my son’s Mad Magazine, believe it or not).

The results were better than my earlier effort, but not without its frustrations, too. The “pop ups” — little texts that you can layer on top of videos and images — kept shifting on me, and when I finally had it down, when I looked at the published page, the texts had moved on me again. Ack. I went back and retrofitted the text bubbles, toggling between the editing screen and publishing screen to get things situated as best as I could.

I published, and the whole mess was right back again to square one. I sent out a tweet, asking for help, and left the computer. When I returned later, the published piece seemed to have fixed itself. So maybe it was a case of me being impatient with the rendering of the project.

(Added note: But now I see that the pop-ups in the embedded version (above) are off-kilter, and different from the live version. So, use the live version to see who is really talking).

As a result, I can’t see using this with students yet. If I was frustrated with Popcorn (and I do have a lot of patience with new tools and am willing to put up with a lot), my students would be nutty with it not doing what they want it to do. Which is too bad, because I like the layering of text idea, and can see some interesting ways to bring that into our discussions of media analysis and critique. I will return to Popcorn Maker at a later date, particularly as I start some planning of a summer course for high school students around digital literacies and hacking literacies (which is why I am in this MOOC project.)

For now, Popcorn holds potential, but it is not yet there yet.

Peace (in the pop),


When the Web Was Young, Remixed

Hacking the First Webpage

With deep and humble apologies to Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues, I took up a challenge by a fellow learner in the Teach the Web Mooc to use Mozilla’s Xray Goggles tool to hack and remix the very first website ever put up on the Internet. The website by the CERN research group had its 20th anniversary the other day (see the original) and I even brought it up on the our interactive board for my students to view and reflect on (they noticed how bland it was with a white background and black text, that there was no advertising, no images or video, and a surprising number mentioned the lack of an embedded Google search button … which I found interesting). I made sure to mention that while the page is simple, it sparked a revolution of how people use technology in a revolutionary way, and changed everything.

That got them thinking.

I hacked the Cern site with the intention of giving it some attitude and being playful, and trying to reference where this simple page might take us (including a cats reference). If I had had more time, I would have messed with the hyperlinks, but I didn’t so I didn’t. It might be an intriguing class activity to have students do the same, reflecting the period that the page was published in. I didn’t do that, but I may keep that one on the backburner a bit.

Read my remixed/hacked version of the first website

Peace (in the hack),

Teach the Web: A Popcorny Digital Poetry Introduction

(go directly to the video)

I am taking part in a MOOC called Teach the Web, which is part of an effort by the Mozilla Foundation  and a group called HIVE to explore tools for creating and making on the web. The first task involved creating an introduction of sorts, using a tool that pulls you out of your comfort zone. I decided, as it seems many did, to use the Popcorn Video tool by Mozilla. Popcorn is a online video editor, with a handful of interesting little extras.

I mulled over where to begin and decided to take pieces of digital poems that I have posted over at YouTube and create a video collage of sorts, using pieces of media. I won’t say this effort was easy, and I won’t say I am completely happy with the final result. It feels jagged to me. In fact, I got frustrated many times with Popcorn, as it seemed slow to respond to my commands and didn’t always do what I wanted it to do. I had a vision, and the Popcorn tool often got in the way of the vision. I could have downloaded the videos and used iMovie, and gotten a more seamless production in half the time.

But this is about learning, and the experience did remind me of the frustration that some students and many teachers feel when confronted with new technology that you hope will go one way and doesn’t. I was cursing under my breath a few times, and literally had to walk away from the computer two or three times (odd for me, in the midst of a project, where my focus is pretty intense). It made me realize how we expect our technology to work without issue, without troubles, and for our own purposes. Sometimes, that is not the case.

Will I use Popcorn again? Yes. It has a lot of potential, but I will approach it warily, knowing its limitations (for now).

Peace (in the corn),


Considering Web Literacies: Ideas from Mozilla

This is part of a process underway by the Mozilla Foundation to articulate Web Literacies. They describe the process as “… elements we believe it’s important to pay attention to when teaching other people how to read, write and participate on the Web.”

I continue to be intrigued about the concept of thinking of my students’ lives online, and those intersections between learning in school and learning at home with technology, and where those ideas overlap … and don’t. Here, I do like the branching ideas of exploring, building, connecting. Many of the ideas are built on the concept of writing and reading, at least in my mind, but then take those ideas in new directions with technology.

What do you think? There is more information about the work here.

Peace (in the consideration),



Joining in with Mozilla’s Teach the Web Initiative

I am going to try my hand at being part of Mozilla’s Teach the Web MOOC. The project seeks to help folks explore the ways to remix and rework and hack the web with various tools (some of which I have used before) in ways to put more agency in the hands of users.

I’m curious on a number of levels:

  • How can I do more to make the Web work for me?
  • How can I envision these tools in the classroom with my students?
  • Is the MOOC format a workable model for me?
  • How can I connect with a larger community of educators and others with similar mindsets?

I’ll see how it goes. You come, too. We’ll learn together.

Peace (in the stepping forward),