Remixing: A Deeper Look at Audience and Outcomes

Traditional ideas of assessing whether a student understands what they’ve learned is a paper, a test or quiz. This doesn’t necessarily address the fact that not all students think that way or organize their thoughts in that way. It also promotes the idea that students have to do things the same as others and fit into a box. Don’t we really want students to think of things we never thought of, to go further than we did? Isn’t that how we make the world a better place?
I heard the most amazing line at a conference that really helps drive this home for me. “The smartest person in the room is the room.” Seriously, if we continue to demand that students fit into a box, are we helping to empower them, are we helping to expand their knowledge?
What if instead we focus on our intended outcomes and open up how we’ll accept demonstration of those outcomes? What could that do? What possibilities could that open up? What kind of an effect would that have on our teaching on our students’ learning?
Take, for example, understanding the importance of audience. Traditionally thinking, we may ask students to write a paper or prepare a presentation and ask them to identify their audience. What if you had them write or respond to prompts in traditional ways, such as papers or presentations, but then you have another assignment where they take the exact same subject and have to remix it?
That’s exactly what I was asked to come and talk to a class about – remixing a topic they had already written about. They could pick any one they wanted. Personalization and choice is a huge in education right now, particularly because of it’s incredible effects on engaging students. Then, they were asked to remix it. As you might imagine, students were having difficulty understanding what the instructor meant by remixing. I did too, so I did some researching and thinking.
To remix: to present a topic in a different way, perhaps in a different medium, paying particular attention audience and how the remix of the material affects the message.
Ok…sounds great. Now you know exactly what to do right? Haha…maybe not.
First, I started off with the some principles to remember in any project like this:
  1. Stick to the prompt – Tools are cool, but it’s so easy to get lost and lose the focus, and the point of what you’re trying to accomplish. This is the most important thing.
  2. Stick to what interests you – The world is full of assignments and projects where we have to stick in a neat little box and we are restrained by what we have to do. When we are given the freedom that this kind of an opportunity presents, it’s important that we pick something that we like, that interests us. Think of the difference in quality between working on a project that interests you vs. one that you have to do and are not interested in. Take advantage of an opportunity like this and pick something you can really get into.
  3. At first, stick to what you’re comfortable with and what’s in your skillset – Being interested and engaged is very awesome, but it is also important to keep a bit of a connection to reality. Do you have time to learn a whole new, complicated skill to complete a project in 2 weeks? If the answer is no, then stick to some skills that are already in your toolbox. That doesn’t mean don’t branch out of your limited comfort zone at all. It’s important to explore some ideas you might not have normally thought of.
Then, we started exploring the choices and how that could change the message. An example topic a student gave was a paper about miscommunication or bad communication.
What would happen if they turned the concept into a play, skit or monologue? What would that look like? How would that change the message? Even within that media, could they do something for preschoolers? How would that be different than if they did something in a Shakespeare-inspired style? You would really have to pay attention to your audience!
What would happen if they turned the topic into clothing – whether that’s designing it, making it, painting it, etc.? Could they still demonstrate a mastery of the outcomes? Does clothing (and different types of clothing) speak to different audiences? Who would painted shoes speak to? What about a graphic printed on a tshirt? Or an entire outfit made out of duct tape?
What would the act of changing their previous topic into a different media for a different audience? What could that do? Could that deepen an understanding of the importance of audience? Could that deepen students understanding of the topic? Could that get them excited and engaged in a whole new way?
Ok, so what else? How about a social media campaign? What if they started a Facebook page about their topic? What if they started a Twitter campaign? What about Snapchat? Or Instagram? The rules and audience for each of these tools is different. How you format the message, deliver it and the overall purpose is completely different in each of these cases and the students would have to consider their presentation and audience on a much deeper level than if they only wrote a paper or took a test.
Now, to be clear, I’m not calling for never assigning papers or tests or quizzes. But what I am saying is, what could we open up if we opened up the style of expression in demonstrating mastery? We might open up a whole world we never could have imagined. That’s kind of really exciting.
Here’s the list of ideas I came up with along with some tools that could help:
Play, Skit, Monologue, Page 2 Stage, RawScripts, Trelby
Clothing (design, make or paint it),,,,
Social Media Campaign
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat
Painting, Drawing, Pop Art
Music (create or remix)
audacity, soundtrap, soundation, UJAM, incredibox
windows movie maker, imovie, movavi, magisto, animoto, moovly
Performance Art, Interpretive Dance
piktochart, Canva,,,, InFoto Free, Venngage
Blog, Vlog
WordPress, Weebly,, Blogger, Tumblr
scratch, powtoons,,, Animaker
Comic, Graphic Novel
Parody (lyrics, video, speeches, images, etc.)
Interview, Talk Show
Game/Game Show
PowerPoint,,, Jeopardy Labs
Photo Gallery
Publisher, Word, PowerPoint, GoogleDocs, GoogleSlides, Canva
Excel, Venngage, Word,, PowerPoint, iSpring,,,
Finger Puppets
Virtual Storybook
mindmeister,,,,,, Canva,
News Release
News Broadcast, Public Service Announcement
QR Code
Word, Publisher, Gimp, Easy Movie Poster, Canva
Newspaper Ad
Radio Broadcast/Show
Presentation at a Conference, A Lesson Plan
Word Search/Crossword Puzzle
PuzzleMaker, Word Search Maker, Word Search Puzzle Maker

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