Zeega is a website that lets you "mash up" various types of online content, including images, GIFs (short animations or video clips), and music, to create your own pieces of original media called Zeegas. You can drag and drop popular GIFs from the daily favorites menu on the left side of the screen, pull from other aggregators like Giphy or Tumblr, or upload your own. Then you can add text and color filters, and adjust opacity to layer images on top of each other. Click the red cloud to search Soundcloud for a song to accompany your creation; they've got everything from David Bowie to Bing Crosby to the Notorious B.I.G. to choose from. Each Zeega is then saved in your profile and can be shared through social media channels.
Adding layer upon layer of moving images can get pretty trippy, but it's really fun. Mix a 1960s-era Twiggy eating an apple in front of a sad clown with a sleepy kitten, overlay a Jack Kerouac quote and a Mos Def soundtrack, and you've just scratched the surface of options. You can also create more straightforward content; think I Can Haz Cheezburger-type memes. The comic book-style text bubbles help kids easily follow steps to complete a Zeega. More and more, people seem to be communicating online with short bursts of image and text to express a feeling or idea. Some Zeegas play like short art films, while others are just plain silly. It's best for mature teens who are interested in how to use media to send a message. Here's why: While the majority of Zeegas are cool and experimental, there's no way to filter out inappropriate content on the site, and many of the pre-made GIFs that kids will be choosing from from are violent or sexual in nature. A scrolling screen filled with herky-jerky GIFs can be overwhelming for younger kids, but older kids should be able to have a fun, creative experience.
Kids can learn to tell a story using text, images, and short film clips. They can gain cultural understanding as they browse through GIFs, some of which portray current events or popular media. Making a Zeega requires analysis of part-whole relationships; they can essentially create a short film on any topic, adding tone with filters and text. A complex Zeega can be a visual poem, juxtaposing images and words to add depth. A less complex Zeega: a cat wearing a suit, playing "Fur Elise" on the piano. Get it? Zeega is a fun, if not always kid-appropriate, place for teens to experiment with making their voices heard. They'll make a lot of choices, combining their knowledge of the world as they know it with images matching how they feel about that world. They'll learn a little film theory, too, such as how color and filter affect mood and create atmosphere. Zeega's content lends itself well to social commentary; kids will learn by analyzing meaning behind the images, or create their own meaning for what they see. The random bank of content found on Tumblr or Zeega's favorites lends itself well to kooky, fun creation, but not so much to learning beyond a mishmash of artistic expression. Content is pulled from the entire Internet; clips and images can come from any source (and it's also easy to grab inappropriate content directly from Zeega's bank), so you'll want to be aware of that as kids scroll through other people's Zeegas as well as create their own.
Analyze your class to see if they can handle using Zeega; some teens will appreciate its unique storytelling power, and others will just want to put profanity on a GIF of Homer Simpson eating a donut. English teachers can use Zeega: Creating digital poems could be a suprisingly satisfying task for students and will help them think visually, as well. Zeega also could be handy in an ELL classroom; kids can choose images and describe them using their English skills.