"Students were required to bring a one-to-one device at Year 9 - we came to the conclusion that the iPad is the most suitable machine and recommended it to parents."
Smart, elegant, and a little mixed-up  
Smart, elegant, and a little mixed-up

 

Entering the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) Remix competition opens students to the exciting online culture of remixing and mashups, writes Helen Baxter

 

 

One of the things I love about remix and mashup culture is the merging of art and information through data visualisation. London-based David McCandless is another connoisseur and practitioner – he describes himself as a data journalist and information designer. His website is called ‘Information is Beautiful’ () and I believe this really is true; that a well-designed infographic can convey a lot of information in a creative and attractive way.

The NZTA_Remix competition taps into this growing field of knowledge creation and presentation, by challenging secondary students to present data or messages about safe travel in a cuttingedge way. The three categories are a creative remix of images, video or music; a literary remix based on the works of Shakespeare; or an infographic created from one or more sources of NZTA data.

I’ve said elsewhere that which category students choose depends on whether they prefer to be a storyteller or a data detective. However, creating purposeful digital media for a target audience (in this case their school peers) requires a mix of skills, so students can combine their strengths when entering as a team. In the same vein, their learning is likely to cross traditional curriculum boundaries – between statistics and social sciences, or media studies and health.

 

Finding tools for the job

You can direct students to my column on the NZTA education portal, where I describe some of the tools I think will prove useful. Recommendations are mostly web-based and mostly free to use. Here are a few of my favourites:

·         Pixlr () is an excellent online photo editor. Try adding layers to create a montage of images and text;

·         Audacity () is a free audio converter/ editor for creating soundtracks;

·         youtubedownloaderhd.com is a useful freeware tool for downloading videos from YouTube (such as your favourite NZTA clip!) but you will need to install it on your computer first;

·         Stroome () is an online collaborative re-mixing studio that offers basic and advanced editing options;

·         Create Visually () is an infographics generator that lets you customise examples from a gallery. Another option is Piktochart ();

·         Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) create advanced ways to search and combine data found on the web. I recommend Tim McNamara’s Beginners Guide:

 

Time to get going

Despite all these online wonders, the best way to get ideas flowing is to step away from the screen. Give students some paper and something to doodle with, preferably in lots of colours. Start by brainstorming relevant ideas, images and storylines to do with safety and roads. Next, search the remixable resources listed on the competition website for matches with these rough ideas. A mindmap or a digital collection on Pinterest () can help the team keep track.

Students may not have a clear idea of the finished piece yet, but should be ready to figure out which competition category to enter.

Each group should also look ahead to using their creation. Entrants are expected to provide evidence of use in school, such as a presentation to a form group or assembly, an infographic poster, or a video placed on their intranet or used around the school.

Whichever category they enter, students are telling a story. Entrants need to stay on the theme of safer journeys for teens and focus on positive messages, so no disaster scenarios.

Finally, before clicking on those online tools, get them to sketch out a storyboard with a beginning, middle and end. Even infographics are a visual way to tell the story found within a dataset. What message will your class find to tell?

 

Helen Baxter runs creative agency Mohawk Media. S he sits on the advisory boards of C reative C omm ons A otearoa, DigitalNZ, and is convenor of judges for the N ZTA _Remix competition. Her competition blog appears regularly: .govt.nz/remix-columns

 

 

NZTA Remix Competition

The competition (drawn here as an infographic) invites Y ear 9-13 secondary school students to create an infographic, mash-up, remix using content and data from NZTA resources. I nformation about the competition and help for students to prepare their entries are available on the NZTA education portal. Entries open 1 September and close 31 October, 2012.

 

 

 

 

© INTERFACE Magazine, August 2012

 

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