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New Education Training Schedule just Announced for Spring 2014

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Beginning this week, Adobe Education is providing free webinars specifically designed for educators. Please share the news with your colleagues and join us. Topics include Creativity in Education, Indesign, Illustrator, Acrobat, Animation, Creating Forms with Adobe FormsCentral, Dreamweaver, and Edge Animate.

All times are Pacific Standard Time and run through May 21, 2014

Unleash creativity on your campus with free, online professional development from Adobe.

March

March 2nd – April 19th                  Course: Creativity in Today’s Classroom

http://edex.adobe.com/pd/course/creativity/

March 12th @ 8:00 am                  Webinar: Beginning InDesign for Education

http://seminars.adobeconnect.com/edu_id1/

March 12th @ 3:00 pm                  Webinar: Advanced InDesign for Education

http://seminars.adobeconnect.com/edu_id2/

March 26th @ 8:00 am                  Webinar: Beginning Illustrator for Education

http://seminars.adobeconnect.com/edu_ai1/

March 26th @ 3:00 pm                  Webinar: Advanced Illustrator for Education

http://seminars.adobeconnect.com/edu_ai2/

April

April 9th @ 8:00 am                      Webinar: Beginning Acrobat for Education

http://seminars.adobeconnect.com/acrobat1

April 9th @ 3:00 pm                     Webinar: Advanced Acrobat for Education

http://seminars.adobeconnect.com/acrobat2

April 15th – May 27th                    Course: AdobeGenPro – Animation

http://edex.adobe.com/pd/course/agpanimation/

April 23rd @ 8:00 am                   Webinar: Beginning FormsCentral for Education

http://seminars.adobeconnect.com/edu_fc1/

April 23rd @ 3:00 pm                   Webinar: Advanced Formscentral for Education

http://seminars.adobeconnect.com/edu_fc2

May

May 7th @ 8:00 am                       Webinar: Beginning Dreamweaver for Education

http://seminars.adobeconnect.com/edu_dw1/

May 7th @ 3:00 pm                       Webinar: Advanced Dreamweaver for Education

http://seminars.adobeconnect.com/edu_dw2/

May 21st @ 8:00 am                      Webinar: Beginning Edge Animate for Education

http://seminars.adobeconnect.com/edu_an1/

May 21st @ 3:00 pm                     Webinar: Advanced Edge Animate for Education

http://seminars.adobeconnect.com/edu_an2/

Premiere Pro CC: Building easy slideshows

I can’t wait until the day when people are no longer scared of the Adobe Premiere Pro and it’s interface. The truth is that Premiere is just like all of our other applications. They require users to learn a small amount about the application, and then they are totally enthusiastic about what they can create. “If you can imagine it, you can create it.”

One thing that I suggest is that people ease themselves into Premiere Pro by first learning how to make a slideshow video using some JPEG images from your cell phone or another camera. It teaches you how to interact with the interface and simple timeline editing like trimming. Continue reading…

Adobe for Academic Use

Often as we meet with faculty and staff at higher education institutions we are asked about the relevance of Adobe applications on campus. Adobe Acrobat is certainly seen as a tool that nearly everyone uses to effectively share electronic documents and forms. However, Adobe’s creative tools like Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Premiere Pro, etc. are seen as being used by only those in niche programs.

With more and more people online and using mobile devices as well as video increasingly being used to share ideas and information, more robust digital communication skills are needed. Faculty and staff can develop a variety of digital content to enhance student engagement both in the classroom and online. Students can “round out” their skillset to demonstrate to prospective employers their ability to communicate through video, web content, and mobile apps regardless of their degree.

Adobe For Academics Web Site Screenshot

A fantastic resource showcasing the use of Adobe creative tools in an academic setting can be found at www.adobeforacademics.com. This site hosts an ever-increasing number of academic projects including sample assets. Additionally, you can filter the types of projects displayed by digital content (activity), academic discipline, or Adobe application (product). Take a look, try some of the projects, and let us know what you think!

Creating Static and Interactive Infographics with Illustrator and Muse

This week, the team I work on at Adobe was given a special task; to create new education-based assets to use in demonstrations, tutorials and to share with educators and other education colleagues. The main idea being to produce content that could be considered usable from a “non-designer/arts” perspective. Continue reading…

Easy feedback with FormsCentral

FC1

I constantly hear feedback from people needing an easy way to make and collect forms. The funny thing is, all these people have Acrobat XI, which allows them to use FormsCentral, an essential tool for collecting data and distributing surveys.

FormsCentral is kind of the hidden gem associated with Acrobat XI. It allows you to easily create forms by just clicking and designing, dragging and dropping, and using basic menus you know from any word processing program. Let me tell you a few key things in FormsCentral that you could use in your classroom, office, or department and make your life easier. No more collecting paper and tallying them up.

1. Easy to build. You simply can start with a template. You can easily add your own header image. You click a plus (+) sign to add a new field. You check a box if you want it required. How much easier could it get? There is no code involved.

2. Advanced options. Sending email notifications and customize that. You need to collect payments? FC works with PayPal. FormsCentral can also redirect after you submit the form. Or even closed messages can be fully customized. “Advanced” really doesn’t apply to this as far as difficulty though. It’s all for efficiency.

3. Save as PDF form. Need to send to someone in a PDF and not in a web browser? Just click File–>Save as PDF and FormsCentral will build an Acrobat form for you. FormsCentral can automatically collect responses from PDFs as well!

4. Spreadsheet results / Reports. (figures 1/2) This is the heart of FormsCentral. The ability to see results in a very familiar-looking spreadsheet and being able to save to PDF or Excel is huge for the ability to take the results and the data outside of FormsCentral. You can even customize a summary report and show off the charts in a fun way or even export each chart as a file. (see screenshots below)

If you haven’t hopped in the driver seat and given FormsCentral a test drive, now is the time to try it. As educators, we could all use this to learn more about our departments, classes, and students. It’s a little tool with a lot of power for education and could save tons of time and give you an insight into your institution.

Continue reading…

AEL Summer Institute – Inspiring teachers globally

For the fifth year in a row, I was privileged to recently attend and participate in a truly awesome Adobe-sponsored education event; The AEL Summer Institute.

What is an AEL, you ask?

Well here’s a bit of info (admittedly not in my own words):

The Adobe Education Leaders Program highlights the contributions of innovative educators in higher ed and K–12 who are effectively using Adobe tools and applications to promote excellence in the classroom.

Adobe Education Leaders are dedicated to enhancing creativity and collaboration and improving the teaching and learning experience. They share their expertise through workshops and conferences and help develop standards-based curriculums that are used worldwide.

As Adobe updates it products and develops new ones, Education Leaders provide valuable input through beta programs and focus groups. They are among the first to use new technologies in the classroom and establish learning objectives around them.

Through the Education Leaders Program, a network of outstanding educators inspire each other, share ideas, and collaborate. The program provides the leadership and professional development to help administrators and faculty think in new and creative ways.

Now, having been an AEL for several years before joining Adobe,  I can say this: This group of teachers is passionate, innovative, and dedicated to educating both their students and their peers. They thrive on learning as much as teaching and are incredibly talented at what they do. They are inspiring, because they inspire and energize each other. And they are just plain wonderful people. Continue reading…

Adobe Captivate 7 and Presenter 9 Can Now Be Packaged for IT Deployment

Education IT administrators now have the ability to create deployment packages (MSI / PKG) for both Adobe Captivate 7 and Adobe Presenter 9 using the new Creative Cloud Packager (CCP). Currently, CCP is used to build deployment packages for the Creative Cloud applications. With the appropriate Captivate / Presenter licensing keys, CCP can access the “installer bits” for these applications directly from Adobe servers, cache, and then build the package.

Your Adobe licensing manager will need to log into the Adobe Licensing Website (LWS), select Captivate / Presenter to access CCP (for Mac and/or Win) and the accompanying licensing key. Once CCP is installed:

1. Launch CCP
2. Select “I am an Enterprise, Government or Education customer”
3. Sign in with your administrative Adobe ID
4. Enter the Captivate / Presenter licensing key from LWS
5. You will then see the relevant product on the “Applications and Updates” screen
6. Click Build

For more details on the Creative Cloud Packager, please visit:

http://helpx.adobe.com/creative-cloud/packager.html

It’s all about structure!

I was trying to think of a better title-One that would grab you and draw you in. But, it’s late on a Saturday evening here in Pemaquid, ME so I took the simple approach. But, if you got this far, this link should keep your attention:

http://blogs.reuters.com/mediafile/2012/01/12/16-year-old-makes-6200-in-dec-from-her-e-books-on-amazon/

Yeah, maybe I’m in the wrong business too.

So, if you have something to say, you can say it. Working for Adobe as I do, I am blessed with the opportunity to show people in K-12 and Higher Education how to create eBooks. One the topics I often questioned into to covering is about the best way to create an eBook—what format is best?

The answer is, and should be, all of them. PDF, ePub, HTML, JPG (yup, sometimes JPG), xml, Bobs-house-of-ebooks-and-emporium (it’s a proprietary format) ((no, it’s actually made up, but there are proprietary formats and you should consider them.)) The more access to the work you give the world, the more people will be able to access it. Seems simple, no?

But, to return to the question at hand, the best format cannot be predicted. In the next 5 years, I am certain that there will be new options and one of them might guarantee you a paying audience like no other. So, what I like to do is to better prepare people to move their content around and use whatever distribution format makes sense to them. To accomplish that, you need structure—and lots of it.

Use styles like they are going out of style
Because they are not. Styles help you to format text by tagging a paragraph with a name. Then, by describing what the style should look like, you can apply that formatting to entire paragraphs at a time. As a bonus, when you need to adjust formatting, you simply change the style’s definition and the application you are using (in my case Adobe InDesign) will update all of the text that has been tagged with that style. They have been around since before the desktop publishing revolution started. There was such a time. I was there, and it was terrible.

An image showing the style panel in Adobe InDesign

The Paragraph Styles panel (Window: Styles: Paragraph Styles) allows you to apply styles to your text.

However, a new reason to take the time to set up style sheets has emerged for the common user. By tagging a paragraph, you are also determining what the content is. Not what it says, but what it is. For example, Heading 1, as a tag tells me that the content is a Heading 1 paragraph. Visually, that information is conveyed by the font choice you have made (usually BIG and/or BOLD typefaces). Since machines cannot (yet) see, when you need to use a machine to convert the project from one format to another, a human has to sit there and do it by hand. I have done this work for a living. It’s tedious, boring work.

If you have content that is structured with styles, it will be many times faster for you to convert it from one format to another—opening up the opportunity to use someone’s new distribution service. There are more reasons:

  • Automatic table-of-content generation requires it (InDesign will create a TOC automatically if you just ask it)
  • Bookmarking tools often ask you identify the style you want to have become bookmarks (make everything tagged with the Heading 2 style a bookmark. (If you create a PDF with the PDF Maker Acrobat installs into Word, a simple checkbox will create bookmarks—even nested bookmarks—for you.)
  • Find and replace features often allow you to select a style sheet as a way to grab specific content. (Both Word and InDesign do this along with just about any text or page layout program you might find)

There are almost certainly others.

Once you have the styles created, you get two huge operational benefits. On the front end, you can more quickly move the content from a standard text editing tool, such as Microsoft Word (although, I use InCopy for a variety of reasons that are beyond the scope of this post) and then drop it into your layout document. If your InDesign and Word content both use styles with the exact same names, InDesign accepts the text and applies the formatting you set in InDesign. Why the split? First off, layout has overhead and copywriting is fast. Writing without the overhead of formatting, page layout objects, etc. is faster. Plus, as an older gentleman (stop laughing) It’s hard for me to stare at a screen all day as it is. Having to read 13-point body copy is no fun. So, I write—using styles—with BIG SANS SERIF typefaces. Headings are BIGGER and bolder but the overall effect is that it is easier for me to see what I am writing. So, if you use style sheets in a consistent fashion, you can pour the text into your InDesign document and let the style sheets in the InDesign file format the text for you.

Map style sheets in Adobe InDesign
The next thing to do is to map the style sheets in InDesign to standard HTML tags.

The Paragraph Style Options dialog box with the Export Tagging Options selected.

Among the options (double-click on a style in the Paragraph Styles panel) for a style are the Export Tagging settings.


Doing this makes it easier to convert your content later if you need to. Heading 1, for example, likely maps to H1 in HTML and ePub. Because InDesign also allows you to add class names to the mix, the tags for the content you create get specific enough to allow you the flexibility of converting the text to a variety of formats and readies for whatever formatting that converted copy can provide. If it’s a web page or an ePub, Cascading Style Sheets control the look and layout of the piece.
This is what the text looks like as exported HTML. Note the tags (bolded for emphasis) around the three paragraphs. With this structure it is easier to use the text in a variety of ways because the text is tagged to describe what it is.

This is what the text looks like as exported HTML. Note the tags (bolded for emphasis) around the three paragraphs. With this structure it is easier to use the text in a variety of ways because the text is tagged to describe what it is.

Once you have done this, your text is much more portable—even if you decide to export it from InDesign and, for example, add it to a blog post. All you need to do is to come up with that 6,000 per-month topic and start raking in the dough.

What if you could write your own textbook? You can with DPS

We are seeing a lot of growth with our Digital Publishing Suite in education. Its uses are endless, really. Every time I talk to a different school, people are coming up with new ways they want to use DPS, and I find that fascinating. It’s a new frontier. The way we thought about the tablet is growing exponentially because people are finding unique ways to create interactive and highly engaging content through DPS.

I wanted to share a little thing I am working on with a few schools. Have you ever thought of just flat out eliminating textbooks?

No, I don’t mean not having textbooks at all. I mean trading in the paper and the $100+ cost per copy for a tablet version that could play videos and slideshows, provide quizzes and assessments, link out to external resources, and so much more. The professor could actually build and write his or her OWN textbook for the class. Think about it as a map for the entire course. It would be completely tailored to the professor’s type of instruction and provide a much more comprehensive and targeted guide for the student.

CoursepackA few schools have already started this new interactive learning method, and we expect more and more to join the crowd. So how does this provide benefits?

  • It saves students (and schools) money. The costs of textbooks for a college course could be more than $500 per quarter/semester. If schools want to charge students for the textbook, they can through Digital Publishing Suite. Think of all the paper saved from printing costs (i.e. whitepapers, worksheets, course packets) as well.
  • Send feedback to the professor. “How was my class today?” “What would help you learn the material easier?” All of this could be sent through a form within the DPS folio and sent anonymously. Think of the interaction!
  • Speaking of feedback, you can give quizzes through the app. This would be helpful for professors to make sure their students are actually doing the reading.
  • More interactivity – it’s all in one place. You can make DPS your repository of articles, journals entries, videos, links, infographics, and photos. Many students learn through visual media, like videos and photos. A professor could create a course pack or a textbook that suits his/her individual class, rather than adjusting to a textbook curriculum. Kids are used to connecting through tablets and phones. Use them to your advantage.
  • Distribute to only the students who need it. With DPS, you can have a student sign-in and his/her library will be populated with the classes he/she is enrolled in.

There is obviously some work that needs to be done to build these textbooks, I realize that. However, each university has many students who are model InDesign users, who can help organize, build, package, and design these textbooks for the instructor, all while learning new tools and becoming more comfortable as a designer. It’s even something that could be used on that student’s resume. Utilize and leverage the enthusiastic students at your school. At the same time, we provide many learning resources through the Adobe Education Exchange and the Adobe Creative Cloud to get you started on a simple design, and then the publishing part is a piece of cake. (I recommend downloading the DPS Tips app by DPS evangelist Bob Bringhurst on the iTunes Store.)

The key here is the interactivity. You don’t get that with print. I urge you to try it out. Download the DPS Tips app, download the Adobe Content Viewer, and get started in digital publishing, even just to see how it might work for your class or school. Learning is evolving and tablets are here.  Educators need to embrace them as a way to put knowledge in the hands of our future.

Create Now Live on December 11

Since we announced the Adobe Creative Cloud this Spring there has been a steady number of updates in terms of new and updated tools and services. Even more exciting news is now imminent so make sure to enroll for the upcoming Create Now Live event and share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. And in case you aren’t aware what Adobe Creative Cloud has to offer check this introduction from Adobe TV: