Posts in Category "Educators"

Kids Media Centre engages kids in the technology conversation

I dropped by my former stomping (er, teaching) grounds last week to say hi to my many friends at Centennial College’s School of Communication, Media and Design. And while chatting with the Dean, Nate Horowitz, about my role here at Adobe, he suggested I call on Debbie Gordon, the Director of the KidsMediaCentre at Centennial College. Debbie and I had a great chat about digital readiness in public schools and she shared with me the KMC’s new blog, just hot off the digital press last week.

The kidsmediacentre is an industry and creative content think tank at Centennial College’s Centre for Creative Communications.  Working alongside Centennial’s Children’s Entertainment Program, they research kids’ relationships with 21st century media and connect their students with industry partners to help incubate and produce the next generation of children’s entertainment and media. Their hope is to engage kids in assessing the worth and contribution of a media product or idea: what works for kids and what constitutes a good idea and value proposition for the industry. One of the kidsmediacentre’s main goals is to help bridge that gap.

Based on what I read on their site, it’s working.

The kids aren’t just listening and learning; they’re involved in the conversation. You’ll see some of their contributions on the KMC site, in a section called the Kid’s Panel. Broken into three age categories, 4-8, 9-15 and 16-19, these kids test out a review a wide variety of media and technology, from games to music, books to eBook readers, iPhone Apps to software reviews on products like Adobe Photoshop. And the reviews are remarkably on point, honest and act as a window into how kids see certain aspects of the world. I found the Kids Panel blog posts refreshing.

For example, the review on Photoshop  (Bella checks out Photoshop) examines some pretty savvy points about self image and our culture – from a 15 year old!

In the 4-8 category, 6 year old Salmah checks out the book, The Missing Piece, which was read to her class by her teacher (Gosh, I still remember those days…), and summarizes that “… it is good to keep going. When you keep going, you can learn more things.”

There are reviews of music and politics, among other things, in the 16 – 19 category. 16 year old Ian gives a very knowledgeable review of the Miles Davis album, On Green Dolphin Street.

I was impressed by the insight provided by these young people. And I think you will be, too. These are not kids who are just blindly using technology; they’re engaged, aware and see technology for what it is – a tool to help extend creativity or productivity or personal growth, not a replacement for the passion that makes those things possible in each of us.

Now Available: New eBook on Fireworks’ CSS and jQuery Mobile features

Using the CSS3 Mobile Pack for Adobe Fireworks CS5

Using the CSS3 Mobile Pack for Adobe Fireworks CS5

If you’ve found yourself wondering how Adobe Fireworks can fit into your web and mobile design workflows, or how you can introduce students to a visual method of designing for mobile, I may have just the thing for you.

Today, my new eBook, Using the CSS3 Mobile Pack for Adobe Fireworks CS5, went live at http://www.peachpit.com/.

While there are already a couple good how-to tutorials available at the Fireworks Developer Center, I wanted to take a deeper, more practical approach to this new extension. I wanted to go beyond the how and hopefully address the why. I walk you through the basics, but then I move you to a realistic application of the extension. You will learn about both parts of the CSS3 Mobile Pack:

  • CSS Properties Panel
  • jQuery Mobile Theme Builder

CSS Properties Panel

In the chapter on the CSS Properties panel, for example, you’ll be doing more than simply exporting a rounded corner rectangle as CSS3 mark up; you will be taking a completed web page design and – using Fireworks and a Dreamweaver HTML5 starter page layout – building a standards-based web page, complete with navigation, semi-transparent content areas and stylized text.

Final web page design that matches the original Fireworks mock up

Final web page design that matches the original Fireworks mock up

The only bitmap in the page is the background image. And it was all done with a minimum of coding. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that’s pretty cool.

jQuery Mobile design, mocked up in Fireworks, then exported to Dreamweaver and previewed in Device Central.

jQuery Mobile design, mocked up in Fireworks, then exported to Dreamweaver and previewed in Device Central.

jQuery Mobile Theme builder

In the chapter on the jQuery Mobile Skinning, you will study and work with the jQuery Mobile template file, also part of the CSS3 Mobile Pack, and learn how to customize an existing skin and export that new mark up over to Dreamweaver to quickly create a simple, customized mobile web site.

Time-saver in production and in the classroom

Whether you are comfortable with code or not, the new tools in this extension can be a creative and time-saving boon.

A designer  can export out standards based mark up, which can be further edited and tweaked by a developer in their preferred web page editing environment. Or if the designer wears both hat, he or she can move quickly from a visual design to realizing that design in HTML and CSS. I think this is a great example of Fireworks bridging the gap between designers and developers.

And for students learning the craft of web and mobile design, it gives them the opportunity to create their design first, and then see how that design becomes converted to code. Or, depending on the design itself, learn about the limitations to be aware of when building a standards-based design that targets multiple devices.

Either way, it’s a win-win.

Final thoughts

The fact that the extension is also FREE is another bonus. I think it’s pretty cool that Adobe released this extension now, rather than making anyone wait for the next version of Fireworks.

If you’re interested in the ebook, it’s available for less than $6.50 USD at http://www.peachpit.com/. Feel free to follow me on twitter @JimBabbage. If you’ve got questions, that’s a great place to find me.

 

Adobe MAX 2011: an education perspective

MAX 2011 and pre-MAX sessions such as the full-day Education Summit gave educators many opportunities to learn from the industry, from Adobe and from each other.

The room fills up quickly as doors open for the first keynote

The room fills up quickly as doors open for the first keynote

Having been a teacher in Higher Ed for 20+ years, it’s natural for me to look at events like MAX with an educator’s eye. This is a perspective I hope I never lose, to be honest.

While MAX is a great networking occasion for professional designers and developers, it also gives teachers a chance to some important networking as well. They have the opportunity not only to learn new tips and techniques, but to talk to the people working in the industry, learning what skills are used, and what ones may be lacking. I think this is invaluable information; gaining this knowledge can help immensely when planning new courses, or updating existing ones to be more relevant.

The keynotes and sessions revolved around a major theme of Change, in my opinion. In the keynotes, Adobe continued to remind the industry that they are aware of – and actively involved in  – changes in the marketplace and user trends. Continue reading…

Use Your Imagination and Win $10,000!

Adobe has launched Adobe & Imagination Challenge, a new contest for students 15 years of age and older, encouraging them to show off their creative abilities with Adobe Creative Suite® 5.5 software products. Individual students who submit their creative pieces will have a chance to win $10,000. First prize winners in each of the four weekly judging sessions, and the grand prize winner, receive a $10,000 prize and will have their work showcased on Adobe.com!

Work must be submitted online, where it will be featured for fellow students to vote on. The pieces will also be reviewed by a panel of professionals — including DeadMau5, Jake & Amir, Rivers Cuomo, and Scott Dadich — who will select the top 10 finalists for each of the weekly judging periods. Students in North America can submit entries from August 21 to October 15, 2011, for weekly judging.

Let your students know about this rewarding opportunity to express themselves and show off their talents with CS5.5 tools.

Fireworks Mobile Design Tip: Batch Processing app icons in Fireworks

In the previous post, I talked about using Fireworks to create multiple application icons for an Android device, and then how to export those multiple icons as individual flat files.

In this post, we’ll look at how to batch process those larger images into three different sizes, and how to automate that process for future work. The original icons were created quite large – 244 pixels square, to be exact. This made it easy to be very detailed when creating the look of the icons. And while this is useful from and editing and creative perspective, the project requires three sets of smaller dimension icons for an Android application.  Well, Fireworks excels at this type of workflow and produces very small files to boot. Continue reading…

Build a 3D Planet in Photoshop

Imagine a satellite traveling thousands of miles into space, flying around distant planets, snapping pictures of their surfaces, and returning the images to Earth.  Well, it has been done, and the images are amazing (Thanks NASA).

What is even more amazing is that you can find the images using a simple Internet search (keywords:  Jupiter, surface, map) and wrap them around  3D objects created in Photoshop!

This makes for a great student project.

Here is how…http://youtu.be/uqQ9TTALw7U 

In my next tutorial I will show you how to export the 3D layer to an Acrobat PDF file.  This will allow mom, dad, or another student to view and manipulate the 3D object using the (free) Acrobat Reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adobe Education Exchange Announces The 2011 Educators’ Choice Awards

Just as Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences, educators are changing the world through innovative teaching. From creating inspiring curricula to bringing dynamic, media-rich content into courses and assignments, educators go above and beyond to prepare students for today’s global workforce. But creating those amazing learning experiences for their students is not an easy task. To encourage educators to share their successful teaching materials and help each other get ready for the new school year, the Adobe Education Exchange launched the 2011 Educators’ Choice Awards. Starting this week, educators can win great prizes by simply submitting their best projects, lesson plans, curricula, and tutorials. Prepare to be inspired!

The 2011 Educators’ Choice Awards will recognize and reward Adobe Education Exchange members who submit the most innovative teaching and learning materials. The community will choose the winners of the awards by rating and voting for one another’s entries. Educators can submit entries in four categories including:

 Higher Education Digital Arts and Media

Primary/Secondary Digital Arts and Media

Higher Education Cross-Curricular

Primary/Secondary Cross-Curricular

Grand prize and runner-up winners will go home with prizes like laptop computers, tablets, digital cameras, and the new Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 to help them continue to create innovative learning experiences for their students.

For more information on the 2011 Educators’ Choice Awards or to enter, visit: http://www.adobe.com/go/AdobeEDUAwards. For inspiration and examples, join or sign in to browse the resources on the Adobe Education Exchange. Also, be sure to follow @AdobeEDU and #AdobeEDUAwards for the latest updates about the awards. Get your creative juices flowing, submit your great teaching materials and win big!

Underserved Youth + World + Media = Adobe Youth Voices!

As an educator you are most likely aware of many of Adobe’s great products, our super teacher resources like Adobe TV for professional development and the explosive growth of the Adobe Education Exchange. But what about those students of yours, especially students in underserved communities from around the world who could be empowered with some help from Adobe? Adobe Youth Voices (part of the Adobe Foundation Philanthropy Program) aims to help youth and educators who teach to them in these underserved communities from all over the world.

I recently had the honor of attending the 2011 Adobe Youth Voices summit in San Jose, CA where eighty educators chaperoned two youth from their schools and programs spending five days with them learning about Adobe products, technologies and teaching methodologies. But for me (who was on hand at the Summit doing some training) the high point was seeing what the educators along with their students created; outstanding short five minute movies covering subject like: Human Rights, Relationships, Communication, the Environment and other important topics.  Using basic video & sound capturing hardware gear and primarily Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements to edit their videos the attendees broke into several teams and over the course of five sleepless days and nights produced amazing videos in record time.

Check out examples of some of the great Adobe Youth Voices videos in the Youth Media Gallery link here as well as more general  information about the program here.

 

Abracadabra! The Green Screen Magic of Premiere Elements 9

Adobe Education Leaders (AELs) in front of a portable green screen

Adobe Education Leaders (AELs) in front of a portable green screen

If you’ve ever been to famed Las Vegas, Nevada you may have had the pleasure of seeing one of the many fantastic Illusionists preforming their incredible magic there. Several years ago I had the fun opportunity to see world famous illusionist David Copperfield in action at Cesar’s Palace along with my wife. During one of David’s sold out performances I was one of twelve lucky audience members who was picked by him to come up on stage to take part in one of his tricks. After entering a strange transparent on all sides box like contraption with the other volunteers the contraption exploded with a bang into flames, fireworks and flashing lights! I suddenly “disappeared” along with the eleven other audience members to the simultaneous loud gasp from hundreds of people watching the trick from their theater seats. To my amazement along with the other eleven people who disappeared with me we all had a big laugh together when we realized how David actually made us disappear – it was incredibly simple how he did, but from the perspective of the people watching the trick out in the theater it was astonishing.

Before we were made to reappear in the magic box and be reunited with our friends and loved ones David appeared in person back stage with all of us! David quickly told us he would give each of us a personalized autographed photo of himself in exchange for our life-long swearing of total secrecy of how he did the trick. All twelve of us happily agreed and promised David we would never ever tell anyone how he did this trick; to this day fifteen years later I never have – even to my wife or kids who have begged me repeatedly to divulge all. So what does this have to do with Premiere Elements? – read on.

What’s interesting is some of the earliest silent film makers were previously stage magicians before they hand cranked a film camera. In fact one the earliest projection apparatus even before film cameras and film projectors were invented was called a “Magic Lantern,” a tin lamp-like device with a concave mirror, lens and an oil lamp or candle inside of it which was used as the light source to project a still image on to a screen or wall.

We’ve come a long, long way since the eras of the early stage magicians and first film makers who magically made things disappear and reappear on their limelight lit stages or in their early hand cranked films shown in picture palaces. In the case of the silent film makers to make say an actor magically disappear or appear in a scene it simply came down to scratching the actor’s image out of the nitrate film with a sharp blade.

In this digital age we are all a part of right now we are stunned by the digital CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) magic of the likes of James Cameron’s award winning film “Avatar,” or a flim like I saw last night; Rise of the Planet of the Apes and other amazing movies and television series that use state-of-the-art 3D techniques, or compositing tricks to create the illusion that different elements are all parts of the same scene to make things magically disappear or reappear in scenes.

Now you might be thinking to create this same kind of CGI magic for your own movie projects is not only super expensive, but most likely really hard to do – not at all. In fact with Premiere Elements it is as simple as shooting two clips of video, dragging & dropping them into Premiere Elements timeline and then clicking the mouse just once to achieve the same kind of CGI compositing magic of a James Cameron or making things appear or disappearing like David Copperfield on a live stage. Note in Premiere elements we call this cool trick “Video Merge,” but it also goes by a few other names like: Blue or Green Screen, Chroma Key and Compositing.

I’ve created two short Adobe Captivate screen capture demonstrations of how to do a basic Video Merge effect with Premiere Elements as well as a bit more advanced features and posted the demos to YouTube. Check out Part 1 or Part 2 (links below) to learn how you too can become a CGI magician in just a few mouse clicks using Premiere Elements Video Merge!

Part 1: Movie Magic with Adobe Premiere Elements Video Merge

Part 2: Creating Video Merge effects with Adobe Premiere Elements

How Are We Doing? Introducing Adobe FormsCentral!

First on behalf of all of the Adobe Education Solution Consultants (formally Solution Engineers) who contribute to this blog a big and sincere Thank You for stopping by and learning about Adobe tools and technologies from us. We are all honored to have you here reading our post, posting comments and more.

Second I wanted to invite you to tell us how we’re doing here as authors and at the same time introduce you to a brand new online based tool we recently announced and made live called Adobe FormsCentral. Adobe FormsCentral is a new online service that lets you easily and quickly create and distribute online forms and surveys – including analyzing the results.

I’m really excited about FormsCentral because I believe powerful tools do not have to be complicated to get a job well done. In fact in my humble opinion powerful tools that are easy to use are the true mark of outstanding software craftsmanship. FormsCentral is powerful yet super easy to use too. That’s why to solicit your feedback here on our blog to help us all do a better job for you I used FormsCentral to create a quick and easy feedback form to have you tell us what future topics you’d like us to consider blogging about, get suggest from you on other ways we can improve the blog and continue to serve you better.

Note the link below will take you to a super short FormsCentral form that took me less than half an hour to design, test and distribute right here in this blog post. Now you may be thinking I have days and days of experience in FormsCentral to have been able to do this in half an hour – nope. The truth is I played around with FormsCentral for about one hour total and was creating nice looking forms within that hour and even posting them online!

You might also be wondering that this new tool cost a pretty penny. I’m happy to inform you there are two affordable subscriptions offered for FormsCentral and a third which is free!

To give the Adobe Education Technologies bloggers some feedback on the blog please click here; time to fill out the form is about three minutes or less.

To get started with FormsCentral click here to open a FormsCentral Account.

Happy FormsCentral form making!

Richard John Jenkins