Multimedia in eLearning? Bring Popcorn and Butter!

Popcorn WebMaker is a Mozilla project. The video you see in the frame below is actually 3 YouTube videos, linked and enhanced using Popcorn (popcorn.js) and Butter (butter.js). Popcorn uses JavaScript to synchronize events you plan and implement with the audio or video that’s playing. Butter is an HTML5 timeline interface that lets you set it all up, it works much as Adobe Captivate, although not nearly as advanced—yet. Open source technologies tend to be less refined until they find a niche market, and eventually interest and a community attach a commitment to their further development. A classic example is the transistor radio. While audiophiles built ever more expensive high-fidelity vacuum tube amplifiers and receivers, with special speakers and advanced crossovers, a cheap, portable unit, sometimes with a 1.5 inch paper speaker sounding like a telephone, caught on with teenagers, with the eventual result that transistors and miniature speakers created a new market, marginalizing the status quo in the process; vacuum tubes now inhabit niche markets (rock guitarists in particular have helped keep the industry from disappearing altogether). JavaScript supplies interaction that was impossible within the video file itself.

Very Basic Web App 101

I’ve already noted an irony… I was unable to watch these videos on my iPhone, and yet I uploaded HTML5-friendly .webm files. That seems to be about YouTube, though, not Popcorn.

Will Popcorn and Butter disrupt Adobe? You won’t see it on corporate training sites any time soon, but you can rest assured the number of people who know what it is and try to use it will surpass Captivate’s in a short time — and they’ll have lots of fun at https://popcorn.webmaker.org/ exploring ideas and re-mixing the ideas of others. I’ve only just begun exploring this exciting new resource. I hope you will join me.

Try Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker for yourself. https://popcorn.webmaker.org/

I’ve already encountered some PopcornMaker gotchas, including an inability to reliably hold HTML code in Text or Popup events, making it difficult to do some of the lessons I had in mind. I expect to write a few more blog entries on Popcorn, and though I got a late start I’m taking part in Teach the Web: a Mozilla Open Online Collaboration for Webmaker mentors. I’ll have much more to say, and I’ll tackle the gotchas, when I see and hear how others have approached this fledgling resource in the 21st-Century-Educator’s repertoire.

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