Posts in Category "Higher Education"

My new Adobe Muse title just released!

Recently, Video2Brain released my newest training title, Getting started with Muse. I’m very pleased, through this blog post, to talk a bit about Muse, the title itself and share some video excerpts from the training (just to whet your whistle).

Continue reading…

Learning with a Reason

Like many students, I learn best when I understand the reason for what I’m learning, or am really engaged and curious about how I can achieve a vision of my own. This goes back as far as I can remember, but one example has always stuck in my mind, is my grade 10 math class.

I’ve never been a math whiz. Yes, when Charles Babbage passed away, he took the math gene with him, I think. So generally my math grades were average and my commitment to learning more about math was average. In previous math classes, it seemed every time I asked WHY, a teacher’s answer came in one of two flavors:

a) Because that’s how it’s done

or

b) Because that’s the answer at the back of the book

Neither were satisfactory responses to me then – or now. In retrospect, I think that’s one of the things that made me a good teacher later in life. I wouldn’t settle for those lame responses. I wouldn’t give them to students.

Then one day in Grade 10 math, we were doing a lesson on statistics. I didn’t see much use for them or the lesson and was probably getting ready to tune out. Something however, made me ask my teacher (Mr. Geoff Kavanaugh. Yes I still remember his name), “What’s the point? How will this be useful to me? Why are we learning this?”

And a magical thing happened.

He answered my question.

Not with “because” or by pointing to the answer section of the text book. He answered it by telling me what could be done with statistics, the kinds of jobs and information and understanding that could be gained by using statistics. And he did this without being defensive, or preachy, or talking down to me, or by being vaguely dismissive (as many math teachers had been to me in the past).

Now I’ll be honest; I did not suddenly become a math whiz. To this day, I still struggle with higher math concepts. But I certainly retained more about statistics than I would have. The fact that this teacher took the time to explain the why, made a huge impact to my attentiveness in class. I respected him for truly taking the time to respond intelligently to my questions. I wanted to listen more closely, even if I didn’t “get it” at the time. And I knew that if I had an honest beef with the topic, I could ask him a question and get a solid, useful answer. He is one of a select few teachers that made a difference to me as a life-long learner, and as a teacher.

As teachers, we’re often tasked with trying to communicate intricate or complex concepts to novices. This is just as true in Higher Ed as it is in K-12. And it’s more pervasive now than it was back when I was in Grade 10, or even when I was in college!

Another technique I would use in class is what I call the “Ripple Effect”. In an attempt to keep students on task, open-minded and motivated to learn, I’d tell them a couple short anecdotes about my life, and how I got to where I was, professionally. I would use this in my first year photojournalism courses a couple times. There’s nothing more challenging than trying to teach photography to a room full of prospective “writers”. They didn’t sign on to be photogs; they enrolled so they could be writers, after all.

Well, the route to being a writer, or reporter, (or author or teacher or photographer or pick a career) can be a pretty twisty path. And I take a few minutes and explain the chain of events that led me to becoming a professional photographer – a career I loved but never planned on. Without that career as a commercial photographer, I would never have been asked by my former college photography instructor to be a guest speaker in his classes. This later led to a part time teaching position at Centennial, which lasted for 20+ years.

Later in the semester, when the topic of social media came up, I’d give an example of  the importance of online branding, using myself as the case study. I am 100% positive that had I not started writing online articles, for example, I would never have been approached by Lynda.com or Peachpit Press or Adobe to do work for them.

In short, you often can’t predict what skill you will need, and hence what niche you can fill to get yourself in the door. My layout skills from J-School led me to my first job in a photo studio. And I never actually did any layout work in that job. I became one of the company’s staff photographers! But that skill in layout was what got me the job interview.

I’m sure that many teachers do this already, but in case you’re not, take those few minutes early in a lesson to explain the why. Do your best (as tempting as it is sometimes, considering the massive amount of material we are expected to teach), to avoid the “because” answer. Students will respect the time you take to do so.

It doesn’t take long and it doesn’t have to happen with every lesson, but take it from me, it can truly be life-changing, when we know “why” we’re learning something.

Digital literacy = employment readiness

In mid-December, just before I headed out to the Adobe World Wide Sales Conference, I was invited by my ad students and the coordinator of the Centennial College Advertising program to their portfolio review day. I accepted right away; I really wanted to see how much they had grown as digital professionals. Continue reading…

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…

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!

Adobe InDesign – Path Animation

Adobe InDesign is no longer “just” a desktop publishing tool; it has turned into a full-blown multimedia machine!  As a former teacher and educational technologist, I highly recommend adding InDesign CS5 to your instructional technology tool bag.

The following tutorial demonstrates how easy it is to build path animations using InDesign CS5.  Imagine how much more engaging a lesson on diffusion would be if a student could animate the process rather than simply read about it!

Video 1 – Learn how to create a simple path animation using InDesign CS5


Video 2 – Create a path animation and add duration and timing settings

Project Rome for Education, public preview announced today


We’re excited to finally announce Project ROME for Education. Available as a pilot program for school districts, Project ROME for Education lets students and educators express, collaborate and communicate ideas using graphics, photos, text, video, audio and animation in a simple, unified content creation and publishing environment to enhance the learning experience.   Project ROME for Education is designed specifically for students in classroom settings.

If you are interested in having your school district or institution participate, please go to http://rome.adobe.com/education and register.  Eligibility criteria must be met for program acceptance.  A member of the Adobe Education will contact qualified applicants with further information.  Those in education who wish to try out Project ROME for Education individually can also go to http://rome.adobe.com/education to download the offering as part of the free preview program.

Check back here soon for much more information on Project Rome for Education!


Acrobat X is Here!

Acrobat Box imageThe New Acrobat X is finally here! What can it do for education?

Acrobat X has been re-tooled to provide easier access to tools and more powerful features that are just right for education. For more info, visit the Acrobat in Education Blog

Adobe in Education: An Accessibility Guide

In recent years, the Education community has focusing increasingly on making all web content accessible to individual individuals with disabilities. Adobe® is an industry leader in accessibility and supports the creation of outstanding web experiences by encouraging web developers to produce rich, engaging content that is accessible to all. Adobe has also been focusing on this important task by improving and facilitating accessible content creation and consumption with its powerful design applications and productivity tools.

The information below references resources on our website that can help educators and authors understand the need for creating accessible content for an increasing diversity of users and screens. Not only will content creators learn more about how to optimize their workflows and effectively design a document that not only looks good, but they can also improve the experience as all users on a variety of screens and devices.

What is Accessibility?

Accessibility involves two key issues: first, how users with disabilities access electronic information, and second, how web content designers and developers enable web pages to function with assistive devices used by individuals with disabilities.

For the user with a disability, the challenge is to identify tools that provide the most convenient access to web-based and other electronic information. For the web content designer/developer, the challenge is to remove the obstacles that prevent accessibility tools from functioning effectively. In many cases, these challenges are relatively simple to overcome, but sometimes the solutions require some additional thought and effort.

For more information on Accessibility visit: http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/gettingstarted/accessibility.html

I have heard of Section 508 and the 508 standards. What are they?

Accessibility policies vary from country to country, but most countries, including those in the European Union, have adopted standards based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). In the United States, Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act mandates that web content maintained by the federal government be made accessible to people with disabilities. This law is based on W3C Priority One checkpoints. Find more information at: http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/508standards.html

Where can I find the latest information about Adobe products and accessibility?

A great start to find out the latest information on Accessibility at Adobe is http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/. There you will find links and resources to examples compliance news, blogs, case studies, tips and tricks and more.

I have heard that Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader are very useful for working with and reading accessible content. Is that true?

Yes, unlike other PDF tools, Adobe® Acrobat® 9 and Reader® 9 software continue the tradition of providing strong accessibility support for Adobe PDF documents and forms. Acrobat 9 features a number of built-in accommodations for people with disabilities as well as support for users of assistive technologies.

Where can I find more detailed information about Adobe Acrobat and Reader’s roles in facilitating the creation and displaying of Accessible documents?

Are there any Adobe blogs that focus on Accessibility news and events?

Yes, visit the Adobe accessibility blog and join the discussion at: http://blogs.adobe.com/accessibility/

Which Adobe products support and encourage authors and developers in the production of accessible content?

Adobe seeks to provide products that support and encourage authors and developers in the production of accessible content. The latest information on these products can be found by clicking on these links.

Where can I find information on other Adobe applications and accessibility?

For information on additional applications please visit the Adobe Accessibility website at: http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/