Session Thirteen—Mashups

Virtual Tour Mashup
A city tour via a mashup that integrates wikipedia, google maps and pictures to create a virtual tour of NYC. Photo courtesy of GISuser (Creative Commons License) from his flickr account.

In our penultimate session we focus on mashups, web applications that are hybrids of two distinct applications not originally intended to work with each other. An example would be the combination of google maps and flickr that enables flickr users to ‘geotag’ their photos. This all became possible when we could separate form from content as Professor Michael Wesch depicts in The Machine is Us/ing Us.

Please remember to read the Power of the Mashup by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss, which you downloaded in August. (You’ll need to be a current ISTE member to download now.)

Our four articles this week take a look at mashups from multiple angles. Educause’s 7 Things You Should Know About Mapping Mashups provides a solid foundation for our understanding of mashups as well as suggested educational applications. In Dr. Mashup; or Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix, Brian Lamb artfully weaves together the evolution of mashups with multi-disciplinary perspectives on creativity and ownership. In so doing, he presents a compelling argument for a careful yet open evaluation of content and application remixes and mashups that could support student, teacher and institutional goals. Both Educause’s 7 Things You Should Know About Google Earth and Suzie Boss’ and Jane Krauss’ ISTE article, Power of the Mashup (must be a current ISTE member to download) focus on the integration of Google Earth within a student-centered instructional environment. Be sure to check out Jerome Burg’s Google Lit Trips and David Fagg’s iHistory Podcast Project for excellent resources and archived projects.

This will also be the session in which we will present and discuss our class projects—I look forward to learning from your experiences!


 The combination of maps and information is tempting as a tool in a foreign language classroom, particularly if you explore communities and countries with your students. I will definitely try it. So far I would like to give a short overview of my classroom project. Actually, I had two technically based projects this semester. First, in my Business German class the students were supposed to use voicethread in order to create and record a 3-5 minute telephone talk in an office. We had discussed these talks in class and read and heard many examples. The studnet worked in pairs of two. This tasks was a substitute for a test. Despite the early dificulties — your have to make sure that the students log in with the e-mail address you assigned them, e.g. the University’s address, otherwise, if they use another address, it is not working — it was very successful. I was amazed how creative and motivated the student’s were and how much fun they had creating different charecters using different voices, intonations, background noises, and expressions. The recording process seemed to be fun, e.g. when one recording was interupted by the dog of a student in the background, or when the topics itself were entertaining, e.g. a stubborn customer or the reclamation of a non working toaster — that was unplugged. I graded them based on creativity, correctness, vocabulary, and fluency.  There were only very successful contributions and we enjoyed the projects.

The other project dealt with collaborative writing in an interdisciplinary German discussion section. This discussion section was linked with the course “Contemporary Germany.” Since I used many visuals in class, e.g. the movie “Good-bye, Lenin”, the assignment was to comment on them. As a wiki I used googledocs and assigned there some questions. The technical difficulties in the beginning were the same as mentioned above: when the students used e-mail addresses other than those I had invited them, they could not sign up or log in. After we discussed this issue in class and after two outgoing students started the online conversation based on the questions I had written, the discussion was very active and fruitful. Students commented in the target language German using the new vocabulary and expressions they had learned in class. The gave insight into new aspects and ideas. I graded them based on the quality and amount of the contributions. This grade was part of the classroom participation and was, in addition, the opportunity for an extra-credit.

In my opinion both course appications were very successful additions to a regular language class since we could cover things we could not cover in the classroom. I will use them in the future, with the only change that I would describe the sign-up process in class and that I would like ot try wetpaint instead of googledocs since I like the idea to assign each student a color to write with and to make more clear who contributed what part of the discussion.


2 Responses to “Session Thirteen—Mashups”

  1. rventura Says:

    I find mashups extremely useful for a language class environment. It is the first step toward a virtual world that fully interacts with the target language, allowing the students to apply what they learn in class. I was thinking about a tour of a city where the university is planning a study abroad program. A couple of classes exploring interactively the city itself will reach two objective: practicing the language and let the students familiarize with the city they will study in. “Due piccioni con una fava” as we say it in Italy.

  2. felicebeneduce Says:

    My classroom project:
    In my LTL class connected to ILCS 101 – Italian Humanism – I had my students act out on Voicethread a novella by Boccaccio, specifically the Madonna Oretta novella (Day VI, Tale I). It is a very short piece about a knight who recounts a tale to a lady – Madonna Oretta – so badly that she begins to feel ill. There are four narrative voices in novella: Boccaccio’s, the narrator’s (Filomena), and the two characters. I paired the eight students of the class into 4 groups and we began the project which encompassed the four skills of the communicative approach. First, we had an in-class project of reading the original which had to be re-written into modern Italian. Then one of each pair read the piece they had rewritten into the Voicethread page I had previously prepared: the pieces were read in order – Boccaccio, Filomena, the knight and then Madonna Oretta – with each pair having to listen to the previous entry before making their own. In order to allay their initial misgivings, I had to assure the students that only they, Barbara and myself would ever hear their project.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: