Machina... What? Gamer Videos Go to School

Marianne Malmstrom, Technology Instructor, The Elisabeth Morrow School
Gamers have been making videos of their digital adventures long before the word “machinima” was coined in 2000. Could it be that using video and 3D virtual worlds in the classroom holds real potential for learning 21st century skills? Learn how The Elisabeth Morrow School is exploring the use of machinima as a tool for building media literacy as well as proficiencies in communication, collaboration, creativity, and problem solving. See examples of how 21st century learning is addressed.

Building Visual Literacy Skills:

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words...

... does a movie convey even more information?

If a student's are to develop critical visual literacy skills,

they need to deconstruct and constructed multimedia projects.

Samples of typical multimedia projects constructed by students:

Students love to make movies,
But the logistics of producing quality work can be quite demanding.

Students love animaiton...

... But animation is very, very time intensive

What is Machinima?


  • More flexibility with scenery and actors
  • Not constrained by physical proximity
  • When students are not in front of a camera, they become more focused on the the production
  • Project management

Deconstructing the language of video:

Samples of two videos I sometimes show students to illustrate:
It's all in the editing...

...different editing mix, different results.

Students construct political commercials:

Based on the 30 second candidate lesson found on PBS Online...

6th grade students were asked to create political commercials for Greek Gods.
They were permitted to order animations from the 8th grade machinima club.

View entire project here:

Collaborating Beyond School Walls:

Working with Bernajean Porter,
Students at Suffern Middle School explore machinima as a vehicle for digital storytelling.

Would this video be as strong without the images of machinima?
Many of the machinima clips were produced remotely and after school hours.

Machinima offers a versatile and easy vehicle for creating multimedia projects.

A student created this tutorial in one period.

Students practice working together to create & capture screen shots.

Documenting student learning:
This highly sped-up video shows students exploring on their first day in a virtual world.

On her own time, a student produced this review of a the virtual world, Fantage.

View more EMS machinima projects here:

What's Next?

Experimenting with green screen mixed reality?

Experimenting with cinematography?

Experimenting with edit remixing?

Additional Resources

Knowclue's Machinima Rational & Resources
Global Kids' Digital Media Initiative
SLEDcc 2008 Machinima Festival
Machinima created by the "Harbingers of Light" Guild (Lucas Gillispie's WoW Club)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Getting Your Virtual Feet Wet in Second Life & World of Warcraft"


Gnome Run 2009

Special thanks to the students of the Harbingers of Light Guild for their invaluable assistance!
Machinima was captured with iShowU basic & edited using iMovie.

Workshop participants practiced capturing video with Jing basic.
Clips were uploaded to (Login: - contact me for password)

Screen Capture Tools

Knowclue's pick for MAC : iShowU Basic - (easy, affordable & has real time capture)
iShowU (basic - what I use with Students)
IShowU HD (pro)
Stomp (codec converter)

Dual Platform:
Jing (free, dual platform but 5 min. capture limit & only formats using .swf)
Jing (pro)


iShowU Settings:

Basic without sound

external image iShowU%20settings%20basic.png
Basic with sound (make sure "Microphone Input" is set correctly to show device you are using)

external image Picture%201.png

Additional Resources


NECC 2009 Workshop: Educator's Toolbox
Atlantis Rising

Media Literacy

New Media Literacies



Elisabeth Morrow School: ToMorrow Island

SLEDcc 2008 Machinima Festival

Knowclue's Tips & Tricks

Machinima Institute (SL group led by HVX Silverstar)

Resources by HVX Silverstar