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PopSquad Workshop

PopSquad Workshop is a teen-led workshop series, designed by Studio REV-, in partnership with MOUSE, Radio Rookies, and The New School’s Video Lab. PopSquad Workshop focused on digital media arts learning and leadership development, through peer education and youth-led trainings with Mozilla Popcorn Maker (an open-source tool for creating interactive media on the web).

The goal of PopSquad Workshop was to use Popcorn Maker (a relatively new web tool at the time) to engage youth in the technology development and user testing process. The main objectives of the project were to encourage youth to share their digital media expertise by engaging them in a project from design to implementation; to develop a cadre of teen educators who could teach others how to use Popcorn and subsequently apply this knowledge to other areas of digital media literacy; and to provide an opportunity for youth to experiment with and share personally relevant skills in media arts production. The project connected participants to organizations and other youth across the city, increased awareness of professional media production roles, fostered critical thinking and collaboration and sharpened digital media and web skills. In addition, PopSquad Workshop worked to facilitate resource-sharing among Hive organizations.

Building upon an afterschool program called “PopSquad,” which was started by REV- in Spring 2012, PopSquad Workshop sought to diversify its approach to teaching Popcorn. One of the key takeaways from the afterschool program was the importance of developing a wide variety of tools and methodologies to introduce youth to Popcorn’s wide-range of functionality and features. In response to this discovery, Studio REV- created a series of activities called “Paper Popcorn,” which encouraged participants to use storyboarding and other production techniques to explore image, sound, hyperlinks and text as the building blocks of multimedia production. These tools were later incorporated into PopSquad Workshop. Program developers continue to strive towards development of varied, low-barrier and engaging forms of learning around Popcorn.

PopSquad Workshop was led by members of Pop Squad—a team of tech-savvy teens from across New York City who shared a strong interest in testing out new digital media tools, sharing their knowledge with others, and expanding their own expertise. These youth educators were recruited both from the pool of youth who have previously participated in REV- programs and from other Hive NYC organizations (MOUSE, Global Kids, and Radio Rookies). Pop Squad members learned Popcorn Maker, and subsequently provided training to other teens, introducing them to Popcorn, Paper Popcorn and other digital media technologies. In the process, Pop Squad members honed their own creative, technological, and pedagogical skills, while providing other teens the opportunity to learn new technologies from their peers.

On a larger scale, the project also fostered collaborations amongst Hive NYC member organizations.  Youth from MOUSE, Radio Rookies, and The New School’s Video Lab participated in PopSquad Workshop, bringing their enhanced web literacy skills back to their organizations. The program was designed to provide youth with opportunities for real-time making and sharing with audiences of both peers and professionals; offer working sessions where teens collaborated and co-created ideas and projects; and create space for youth to develop and test out Popcorn training materials. The project was unique in its collaborative framework—participants were encouraged to take turns and share roles in the production of pieces.

PopSquad Workshop involved a variety of leadership development activities, including youth-led presentations at Mozilla Festival, development of a Hive Youth Council, and a week-long summer workshop. In addition, public and peer-­facing share­-outs were woven throughout the course of the program. These included: share­-outs with peers following MozFest, a PopSquad share-­out of new activities at Emoti­Con! in June 2013, a share-­out at Exposure Camp’s May 2013 Teen Tech Bash, and a youth participant led Popcorn share-­out and creative brainstorm session with Groundswell in August 2013. PopSquad also maintained a Tumblr blog, which provides Popcorn resources and also showcases the work of the youth participants.

Module One of PopSquad Workshop took place in advance of and during Mozilla Festival in November 2012 in London. Two teen PopSquad leaders were involved in the process of leading, producing, and showcasing a collaborative Popcorn project at MozFest. Module Two took place in Spring 2013, and involved the introduction of PopSquad as a committee within the Hive Youth Council (HYC). Through monthly meetings of PopSquad at HYC, teens who had participated in previous PopSquad workshops helped members of HYC explore the various functions of Popcorn and jointly brainstormed activities for teaching others Popcorn. HYC subsequently was able to produce a punchy interactive video preview for Emoti­con 2013 (the annual youth-­led digital media and tech showcase spearheaded by HYC, Hive NYC and member orgs) using Popcorn Maker. Module Three consisted of a two­-and­-a-half week summer workshop for teens that took place in July­ and August 2013. Entitled “El Bibliobandido Bites the Big Apple,” the summer workshop centered around the saga of a story ­hungry bandit known as El Bibliobandido. Participants collaborated to plot out and produce a short film documenting the international escapades of this real­ life masked marauder, while also exploring online media­making using Mozilla Popcorn.

PopSquad will continue sharing the curriculum and activities they developed as part of this workshop with the Hive Network, with the hope that organizations will use and adapt the materials to meet their unique needs.

Organizational Impact & Discovery

PopSquad played an essential role in helping Mozilla develop strategies for educating youth and adults to make and learn with Popcorn Maker. Participants provided invaluable feedback on the brand new tool, while it was still being beta-tested.

Project leaders discovered that opportunities for public-level shareouts were invaluable to the youth. When given a specific event to prepare for, youth were more engaged in the training, learning, and production process, in turn elevating the caliber of their work while still reinforcing and advancing the project’s learning goals.

Throughout Pop Squad Workshop, participants were able to: experiment with and master personally relevant skills in media arts production, design, professional development and pedagogy; connect to a network of resources, peers and mentors with shared interests; share expertise and meaningfully contribute to the learning of others; and develop innovative programming in their areas of interest.


Lead Organization:
Studio REV-

Partner Organizations:
WNYC Radio Rookies , MOUSE , Parsons The New School for Design

Project Goal:
1. By participating in the project from design to implementation, youth will share expertise and meaningfully contribute to the learning of others and to innovative work in their areas of interest;

2. To develop a cadre of youth who can teach others how to use Popcorn and how to transfer this knowledge to other areas of digital media literacy;

3. Youth will experiment with and share personally relevant skills in media arts production–video, web-native filmmaking, HTML editing; gain professional development skills in curriculum design and teaching; and connect to a network of resources, peers and mentors with shared interests.

Project Tags:
Media Literacy & Production, Webmaking, Youth Development & Leadership

Project Portfolio