by Matthew F. Norsworthy, Professional Consultant for The Sloan Consortium Adjunct English and Humanities Professor, Humanities/Technology Advocate

Engaging students in the learning process is every teacherʼs goal. Simply relying on students reading text on paper and listening to a teacher lecture is not going to do the trick in the modern, technologically advanced world we live in today. Embracing the technology that is available can really help increase student engagement in any lesson and at any level of education. Mozilla Popcorn Maker is a creative tool that can be used to help deliver key points and learning objectives through existing Internet-based audio and/or video tools. Once I had a good idea of what I wanted, I started looking for people to help me bring it to life.

Incorporating audio or video in your lessons can help engage students and support your learning objectives. However, many teachers do not want to simply rely on the old tried-and-true videos or sound recordings that may have come with their textbook. Mozilla Popcorn Maker allows you to use a website, YouTube video, Vimeo, or Soundcloud file while adding text, maps, and web address links that support what “you” want to add to the lesson. You can simply use the URL to the chosen file that you want to present. Then, you can add pop-up messages, text, sub-titles, maps, Wikipedia links, and images at precisely the right moment and in the chosen place you want it in the original audio/video file.

So, you found an interesting video on YouTube on the Civil War for your history class, but you want to add more to this video file that would help support your learning objectives and the material that you have been covering in the textbook.

Mozilla Popcorn Maker allows you to add “layers” to that YouTube video, which will help you do just that. You can incorporate popup messages in text with key dates, interesting facts, page numbers from the textbook, or even important quotes. You can add a Google Map that shows where a battle or event took place, along with a link to a Wikipedia page for additional information. You can choose where these messages start and finish in the audio/ video file, and there is almost no limit to how many Pop-upʼs you can add.

Are you worried about not having enough time to incorporate everything that you want to into the audio/video file? That is not a problem because you can create pauses to help give “you” more time to teach what “you” want to with that audio/video file. Do you have a great YouTube video, but it is a bit long and really contains some parts that are irrelevant to what “you” want to teach? This is not a problem either. You can easily add “skips” to the video in order to roll right over those sections that do not suit your teaching needs.

Many of us like to use our own experiences in our teaching to help add a bit more of a personal touch on the lesson and to help give the students a more practical application or perspective of the material. So, have you been to a famous Civil War battlefield? Have you seen Shakespeareʼs Globe Theatre in London? Did you go to the top of the Empire State building, or stand on the edge of a volcano in Hawaii? If you did, Iʼll bet you took pictures. So, put those in your Mozilla Popcorn Maker Presentation and add those moments that you experienced personally to your lesson in order to really help teach from experience.

Mozilla Popcorn Maker can be used to teach any subject, at any level, in an online course or in a traditional classroom. Mozilla Popcorn Maker can enhance a YouTube video for a History lesson, as described earlier. However, teachers can also use this in presenting a Vimeo found on a relevant topic to your geography, literature, or science class. Music teachers can add pop-upʼs with links and text, maps, and images to a Soundcloud recording in order to give students more of a music theory or history lesson while listening to a the piece of music. Art teachers can certainly add a bit of art history and theory with Mozilla Popcorn Maker when presenting works of art from a particular style, historic period, or country.

Audio and visual presentations can support your teaching by engaging students and helping them achieve the learning objectives. Using Mozilla Popcorn Maker can help you enhance those videos or sound recordings, which can help connect the information in the recordings with the material that you are teaching in your lesson. Your students are probably already watching their favourite YouTube videos and listening to their favorite bands through smartphones and computers already. Therefore, you will certainly capture their attention and enhance their learning with your Mozilla Popcorn Maker creation.