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Adobe Digital Publishing Suite as a College Recruitment Tool?

My daughter exclaimed, “Hey Dad, I want to play soccer for the University of Alabama!”

I work with the Adobe education team, and my iPad is filled with examples of applications created with Adobe InDesign and the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite.   A University of Alabama DPS “app” that I had installed a few days prior was responsible for my daughter’s surprising exclamation.

The exclamation was surprising because:

  • both my wife and I graduated from the Texas A&M system
  • we live in Texas and have never been to Alabama (although I hear it is a great state)
  • I was cheering for LSU during the BCS championship game

Curiously, I glared at my daughter and replied “You want to play soccer for Alabama? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!”

Kelsey, with a sparkle in her eyes, replied, “Hold on a minute Dad, I’ll show yah.”

My daughter, after disappearing for a few seconds, returned holding my iPad.  She plopped down next to me and exclaimed, “Dad, Alabama has a cool app!” and proceeded to show me all the “cool stuff” that makes up Alabama’s female soccer program.

Some quotes lifted from the lips of my daughter:

  • “Check out this amazing video!”
  • “…wait Dad, swipe the image to see more pics.”
  • “scroll up and down to view stats about the players”
  • “Keep flipping to the right to watch some more videos.”

I’ll have to admit, the Alabama “Fan Guide” app is pretty darn slick.  The rich-multimedia experience captivates the audience and makes good use of video integration, photo slideshows, and interactivity. The app really makes the Alabama athletics program look great.

My daughter, with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye, looked up at me and said, “So what do you think Dad, can I play soccer for the University of Alabama?  Before I had time to answer, she blurted “click the home button, they also have one for Volleyball!”

As I walked away shaking my head and mumbling something about out-of-state tuition, Kelsey’s younger sister ran up and asked to view the app as well.  For forty-five minutes both girls sat around the living room zooming, swiping, playing videos, and learning all about Alabama’s athletic programs.  My girls had been “hooked!”

I’m not sure if Alabama intended on using their “Fan Guide” app as a recruitment tool, but this A&M family may just have crimson in their future.

 

Publications that are part of the Alabama DPS “Fan Guide” app:

  • 2012 Rowing
  • 2012 Softball
  • Gymnastics Fan Guide
  • Women’s Basketball Fan Guide
  • 2011 Volleyball
  • Note: The Soccer publication is no longer available (perhaps they are updating for the new season?) 

You may also want to check out the Alabama “Game Day” App.

Learn more about Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS)

 

Cronkite Students Create Award-Winning Multimedia Project

“State of Change” is an award-winning multimedia project created by Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication graduate students.  The students used various Adobe products to create a website that offers a “rich look at Arizona history”.

The students were part of a graduate “boot camp” where they learned how to integrate journalistic storytelling and technology.  A few of the students had not previously had any experience with Adobe solutions, but the project introduced them to software applications like Flash and Dreamweaver.

“State of Change” won two national awards from the Broadcast Education Association, including the “Best of Festival” award, which honors the best work of the competition.

To learn more about the project visit:

“State of Change” Project

http://cronkitezine.asu.edu/stateofchange/index

The Cronkite Journal

http://cronkite.asu.edu/experience/journal.php  (2011 – 2012 journal, page 52)

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…

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.

Amazing Photoshop Touch Technique

Russell Brown thought up a great Photoshop Touch hack that is just too darn cool! Check out this short video on how to use Photoshop Touch and a flashlight to create some AMAZING lighting effects.

 

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.

 

Publish Photoshop 3D layers to PDF

In my last tutorial I showed you how to take an image and apply that image to a 3D object in Photoshop. In this tutorial I will show you how to publish a 3D layer to PDF.  Anybody with Acrobat Reader will then be able to interact with your 3D object.

 

  1. Create a 3D object in Photoshop (tutorial here)
  2. Right click on the 3D layer
  3. Select Export 3D layer
  4. Name the file and select U3D from the Format dropdown menu
  5. Click the Save button
  6. The 3D Export Options dialogue box will open.
  7. Make sure that JPEG is selected from the Texture Format dropdown
  8. Use ECMA1  for the U3D Options

 

The steps above exported the Photoshop layer to a U3D file.  The U3D file can now be published to PDF.

 

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat X
  2. Select File>Created PDF>From File
  3. Browse to the U3D file you saved earlier
  4. An Insert 3D dialogue box will open.  Select OK (You may want to check out the “Advanced” options by clicking on the Show Advanced Options check box.  There are some neat options to play around with).
  5. Click on your 3D object to interact with it.  Also notice the 3D tool bar that appears.

Cool!  Now anybody with Acrobat Reader can view your 3D content!

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 FormsCentral – Skip Logic

The smart gang over at Adobe FormsCentral recently added a great new feature to the forms service. You can now direct users to different pages based on their previous answers.

Check out this video for more on Adobe FormsCentral’s latest feature…”Skip Logic.”