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H807 – Mashups (9.1)

April 8, 2011



As the term suggests, mashups involve the reuse, or remixing, of works of art, of content, and/or of data for purposes that usually were not intended or even imagined by the original creators. The term data mashup describes a Web site or application that combines the data and functionality of multiple Web sites into an integrated experience (Lamb, 2007).

Data mashups were featured on the mid-term slot for the 2008 NMC Horizon Report, thus we are just in time to see if mashups can cross Moore’s chasm and be adopted by the early and mainstream majority.

The following extracts are copied out of the 2008 Horizon report and ‘mashed up’ with my blog 😉

“Mashups—custom applications where combinations of data from different sources are “mashed up” into a single tool (NMC, 2008) It offer new ways to look at and interact with datasets. The availability of large amounts of  data (from search patterns, say, or real estate sales or Flickr photo tags) is converging with the development of open programming interfaces for social networking, mapping, and other tools. This in turn is opening the doors to hundreds of data mashups that will transform the way we understand and represent information.”

“A mashup is a web application that combines data from more than one source via a single, unified tool.  Mashups are often about data visualization, but they can also be creative products of other kinds—indeed, the term “mashup” originates from the music industry— such as assorted film and music clips assembled into parodies of well-known productions, for instance. Data mashups are powerful tools for navigating and visualizing datasets; understanding connections between different dimensions such as time, distance, and location; juxtaposing data from different sources to reveal new relationships; and other purposes.”

“Mashups have been around for several years, but in recent months they have captured greater interest, due in part to a broader exposure from their integration with social networking systems like Facebook. While most current examples are focused on the  integration of maps with a variety of data, it is not difficult to picture broad educational and scholarly applications for mashups”

The report provides some helpful links and resource, amongst others this link to a collection in Delicious. Follow this link to find resources tagged for this topic and this edition of the Horizon Report, including the ones listed here. To add to this list, simply tag resources with “hz08” and “mashup” when you save them to

Educational challenge

  • Educational mashups can be teacher or student-centric,

However, favourable would be mashups produced by the students to facilitate creativity and to empower them to customize and personalize their learning.  The main challenge for educators is to design subject-specific problems, issues or questions that motivate learners to create and unique response. Otherwise mashups might end up in a mishmash of different, but unrelated resources. Students might learn the technical knowhow how to manipulate and mix different sources, but the underlying pedagogy is lost.


  • facilitate creativity, greater ownership of learning and personalization
  • mashups are visual and support therefore in particular visual learners, yet, if you have a disability that affects vision than mashups are of limited use
  • can be used as tools other people have created and as something for students to create themselves a mashup
  • new way to present and analyse data
  • allows for a different, but more authentic experience of learning
  • multimedia experience enhance understanding, but can also cause confusion, students might feel lost by the overkill of information
  • students get a taste of research


  • as mentioned above, one danger of mashups, especially when lacking an appropriate subject-specific problem-solving activity, is that the mix and match aspect precedence over the value of the final product.
  • Intellectual property rights, respectively the violation of copyrights is a potential disadvantages and needs to be addressed in teaching to safeguard that students do not present data in unintended ways. Yet, the rise of common creatives CC that allow the reuse and remix of material as long as the author is acknowledged minimize this issue
  • the digital divide that might still exists between students, who own a computer and have internet access and those who might have no access needs to be considered
  • requires some technical knowledge to manipulate  the API (application programming interface).

But Lamb (2007) refers to developments that make the creation of mashups a lot easier referring e.g. to Yahoo!’s Pipes service ( Some H807 colleagues already tried it out with some considerable success.  “Described by O’Reilly as “a milestone in the history of the internet,”17 the Pipes interface is a remarkably intuitive drag-and-drop editor that allows the user to bring in resources from Google, Flickr, and other data sources, manipulate the resources, and generate outputs that can be implemented in most Web environments. Although the service has not reached a level of simplicity approaching that of blogs (the developers of Pipes have noted that the service is presently targeted at the “top 10% of the market,” from developers to remixers18).”

Key points for effective practice

  • requires educators to adopt a fluid attitude towards information and to be open-minded towards this innovative learning approach
  • Lamb (2007) argue that Web 2.0 remix won’t be any more significant on campus unless certain conditions are met:
  • Open and Discoverable Resources
  • Open and Transparent Licensing
  • Open and Remixable Formats

My example

Mashups in medicine from HLWIKI Canada.

HEALTHMap brings different data sources together to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases, and their effects on human and animal health. It also combines the Google maps api, RSS feeds from different news sources, and Google News, ProMED, the World Health Organization and Euro Surveillance. Through an automated text processing system, the data is aggregated by disease and displayed by location for user-friendly access to the original alert. HEALTHMap may be invaluable for health professionals and librarians who want to stay up-to-the minute with information on global health news.

A H807 colleage recognized that a lot of mashups are somehow related to Google maps. Well, my example I found is as well about maps. However, I think mashing up with Google maps has indeed some potential and reading the article from Brian Lamb taught me that Google offers the service MyMaps where you can ‘easily’ (not sure about that mixed ) manipulate existing Google maps to personalize it to your own use. Google offers a service ‘My maps‘ that even allows to mashup their maps with e.g. picutures, videos, annotations, etc.

That page triggered an idea how I could use mashups in my teaching. We could e.g. indicate different places were internships are possible, probably with a rating or some comments. Our students have to finish a four week internship and during the internship it would be a helpful tool for the teachers to locate those students they supervise and later it could serve new students to see where internships are possible. Well, just a possibility – I guess I already ‘Stop worrying and Love to Remix’.

However, similar to another student I have my doubts if creating a mashup is really so easy as described. I have not really a computer science background, although I took a lot of computer courses and teaching them as well, but mostly applications not programming.

Nevertheless, it seems that mashups over a new ‘playing field’, although it appears to me that the idea behind mashups is not completely new, just the technology that is now used.


Lamb, B. (2007) ‘Dr. Mashup; or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix’, EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 42, no. 4, pp.12–25; also available online at WhyEducatorsSho/44592 (Accessed 07 April 2011).

Links to follow up

Just do it yourself presentation from Tony Hirst –

Create a timeline –

From → H807

  1. Thank you for article. I think that this post is interesting . I like your post this site. I need to know how can I subscribe to your blog?. I will be follow you blog each 3 days.

    • Hallo Margarite,

      I am glad you like my blog :-). If you want to subscribe to it you can simply click on the RSS feed button display on the top right of the blog. It then offers you the option if you want to subscribe with e.g. Google, Yahoo or any other Reader. You will then receive my blog post at regular intervalls. Be aware I am writing a lot 😉


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