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Response to Praxis and Dr. Mashup Essays

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These two articles really helped open my eyes to the true possibilities of mash-ups in education, as well as the problems faced by educators trying to implement them. The first article, “Praxis 2: Escaping the edu-travelogue” focused mostly on the issues educators face when trying to introduce students to some of the more commonly known mash-up ideas, such as Pogo’s remix of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Mainly, the article highlighted the dilemma educators face when trying to encourage student creativity without overtly condoning illegal activity (mainly violation of copyright laws). Melanie McBride, the author of the article, is a teacher herself, and she mentions that many of her students felt limited creatively by the public domain material that they were permitted to use.

While I agree that copyright laws certainly will inhibit a student’s ability to fully express him/herself through a mashup, I think there are enough public resources online that a student can get a pretty good feel for the concept in the classroom. While their final product may not end up being ideal, they will still gain valuable experience through the practice, and still come away with a solid appreciation for what a good mash-up entails. After all, their creativity shouldn’t have to stop in the classroom. Once the exercise is over, they can always go home and create whatever they want without the teacher having to face an unpleasant dilemma. That being said, however, it is still unfair that teachers should have to choose between encouraging students to extend to their full creative potentials or following regulations placed on them by the college.

The second article “Dr. Mashup; or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix” (an awesome title, by the way) discusses many of the same issues as the previous one, as far as the problems faced by educators trying to use the mash-up to its full potential (copyright laws, mainly). While these are all valid problems, what I found most interesting about the article was the (previously unknown to me) vast potential of mash-ups as an educational resource. I’d really only considered mash-ups as classic remixes, like Girl Talk, Pogo’s stuff, or over-dubbed movies, but the applications that the Dr. Mashup article discusses go far beyond that. For example, the article mentions HousingMaps, a site that matches Craigslist housing ads to Google maps. While it’s too bad that a student can’t create the remix he wanted because of copyright laws, it’s this sort of application, one that is useful and innovative, that I feel is really being limited by the present legal issues of mashing-up.

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