Back to School with Adobe Illustrator and Infographics

Both of my daughters are excited about the upcoming school year  (high school and junior high).  They are busy school shopping, selecting classes, and attending athletic two-a-days.  Meanwhile, their teachers are busy winding down their much-earned summer of relaxation and are writing curriculum, creating lesson plans, and planning “cool” projects.  Yep, it’s that time of the year – back to school time!

This year, why not consider incorporating infographic design into your curriculum?  Infographics provide an interesting way to visualize information, knowledge and data.  Infographic design is also a great way for students to learn Adobe Illustrator while solving problems in a creative way.

I recommend starting with a topic that interest the students – themselves!  For example, why not have the students create an infographic outlining what they did over the summer?

This is a great beginning-of-the-year project, as it allows the students to share about their summer while learning Adobe Illustrator.  Because infographics typically consist of a combination of graphs, charts, data, and simple graphics, the instructor can kick-start the course by teaching basic Illustrator skills such as:

  • Combining shapes using the Shape Builder Tool
  • Pattern Building (Background)
  • Typography
  • Building Simple Shapes (rectangle, rounded rectangle, star, ellipse, etc.)
  • Strokes and Lines
  • Color Selection

For example, the following infographic visually represents my “summer in review”.  I selected 4 summer-time events that I wanted to display in a simple, yet effective manner.

summer_infographic2

 

The Illustrator tools/skills I incorporated are:

  • Shape Builder Tool – The  people icons and the sunscreen bottle
  • Shape Tool – The sun was made from an ellipse and a star (obviously there are many examples of rectangles)
  • Typography
  • Strokes and Lines – I used the Spiral tool for the surfing wave and the line tool to create the vertical divider as well as the swimming pool water.
  • Pattern Panel – I created a horizontal striped pattern and applied it to the background.
  • Alignment Panel – for aligning the text
  • Kuler – to find my color palette

As you can see, these are very basic  skills and a great way to introduce your new digital graphics students, communications students, and career and tech students to Adobe Illustrator.  Not to mention, it will also get them thinking about how to communicate ideas in a creative way.

Infographic Resources –

 

Have a great and creative 2013-2014 school year!

Scott Trudeau
www.scotttrudeau.com 
Solutions Consultant, Adobe Inc. 

Follow me on Twitter!
https://twitter.com/scott_trudeau

 

 

 

 

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 Creative Cloud for Education Deployment Resources

Adobe Creative Cloud for Education Deployment Resources

Adobe Family of Deployment Tools for Enterprise

Adobe Family of Deployment Tools for Enterprise

The enterprise deployment tools

Since the release of the Adobe Creative Cloud for Enterprise (CCE) and the Creative Cloud Packager for Enterprise (CCP) this past June, many institutions are preparing their images and applications for fall semester deployment. These tools are free and are used when deploying applications in the Enterprise. Information about these tools and links to these applications can be found at the URLs below and also on your Adobe Licensing Portal (LWS)In this post we will review the role of CCP and it associated tools. To make things easier, a list of resources follows at the end of this post.

Background

Beginning with CS6 was released, Adobe has been hard at work in providing a more enterprise-friendly environment for packaging and provisioning the applications for deployment across the campus. The individual application installers are being standardized so that they can be packaged into either a .MSI file for Windows or a .PKG file for Mac. These common installer file types can distributed by any means that support them.

Changes to packaging process when deploying CCE

Unlike CS6, CCE packages must be packaged thorough the CCP dashboard. This is an application downloaded from the Adobe Licensing Portal (LWS). CCP will then pull the applications from the Adobe Cloud Server to the local IT admin machine where they can be serialized and packaged for distribution to the machines across campus. The advantage of this packaging is that the software will be pre-activated so that once placed on the destination machine, there will be no need to “phone home” periodically (as it does for named user installations like CC for individuals and Teams). This type of packaging and deployment is known as Anonymous (or machine-based deployment). Note: unlike  CS6, there is no ability to enter serial numbers to the individual applications when used in the enterprise. They must be entered via the CCP tool or the Adobe Application Provisioning Tool (AAPT).

Distributing packages

Some common methods for distribution include:

  • Cloning image masters for replication on client machines using such tools as Casper, Ghost, and Apple Remote Desktop to name a few.
  • Pushing these packages though Microsoft SCCM, Altiris, or ARD, for example
  • When network access to the client machine is not practical. placing the package file on the computer desktop and double-clicking will extract it. You must then delete the package file. 

Application exceptions when packaging with CCP

While most of the applications for CCE can be packaged with the CCP dashboard, there are still a few that have not bee standardized to run in the common packaging environment. Adobe is working on getting these applications into the CCP family, but until then these applications need to be installed differently.

As of this post, the exceptions are:

  • Windows – LightRoom 5, Acrobat XI, Muse, and the Edge family of applications still under developer preview in Adobe Labs.
  • Macintosh – Muse, and the Edge family of applications still under developer preview in Adobe Labs.

Working with Exceptions

Since there are still a few applications that fall outside of the CCP environment, these applications each have a slightly different procedure and requirement for proper deployment. The steps and requirements are available at http://tinyurl.com/ccpackager.

If you do not follow these steps, the apps under exception will not install properly. This includes installing as a trial, or not installing at all so please be sure to review the instructions and test prior to full deployment. The Community Forum is a good place to get more info and answers to specific problems. The Link for the CCE forum can be found here 

http://forums.adobe.com/community/download_install_setup/creative_suite_enterprise_deployment

Deploying Acrobat

In Enterprise environments where you are deploying many Acrobat XI installs, you may want to consider packaging Acrobat with the Acrobat Customization Wizard available as part of the Acrobat Enterprise Toolkit at http://tinyurl.com/acroetk. To use this tool, you will enter a separate Acrobat SN in LWS, not the SN supplied with the CC apps. Once the Packages are created they can be deployed as part of your normal distribution process.

Additional Resource Links
•    CREATIVE CLOUD PACKAGER DOCUMENTATION

http://tinyurl.com/ccpackager

•    CREATIVE CLOUD TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS

http://tinyurl.com/cctechnical

•    ENTERPRISE TOOLKIT FOR ACROBAT

http://tinyurl.com/acroetk

•    WHAT’S NEW IN CREATIVE CLOUD
http://tinyurl.com/ccnewfeatures
•    ENTERPRISE DEPLOYMENT WEBSITE

http://tinyurl.com/csdeploy

•    LICENSING AND INSTALLATION BLOG

http://blogs.adobe.com/oobe

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

Adobe EchoSign Can Save Your Organization Huge Time and Money

EchoSign Testimonial

Early in the year I received an unsolicited email from a customer that works for a large Texas independent school district touting the benefits of their EchoSign purchase.

 “Today I did a MegaSign of about 1,000 Letters of Reasonable Assurance to our at-will, non-contract employees who don’t work during the summer (we send about 3,000 total).  A process that used to take a team of people months to complete (printing letters, stuffing envelopes, mailing, tracking, receiving, logging, scanning…)

with EchoSign, I was able to do this myself.  I had about 40% back before I left work (with an average processing time of 21 minutes).  Incredible!”

Mike

Mike went on to explain that receiving signed Letters of Reasonable Assurance is extremely important in that it protects schools from paying unemployment during the summer break.  Without the letter, he explained,  districts would “pay enormous sums in unemployment.”

 So…what is EchoSign?

Adobe EchoSign provides an extremely easy-to-use electronic signature solution.

EchoSign can work with all kinds of documents.  The most common document formats used with EchoSign are:

  • PDFs
  • Word Documents
  • PowerPoint
  • Excel
  • Common image formats

With EchoSign there is no need for your customers (or students, faculty, and parents) to download or signup for anything. They can use their mouse, stylus, or finger to sign the document (heck, they can even type their name into a field and have EchoSign create a signature for them), and you don’t have to worry about what device or browser is supported.  EchoSign works on all browsers, across all devices.

How can teachers use EchoSign?

As a parent, I would love for my child’s school to offer a digital signature option.  For example, say my daughter’s teacher is charged with collecting fieldtrip permission slips from the entire 7th grade.  The teacher can use EchoSign to easily complete and manage this task. The teacher would simply upload the form into EchoSign, add a signature field (drag and drop simple), and send the digital permission slip out to the parents.

I would receive an email on my mobile device, open the email, click a link and sign my daughter’s permission slip (with my finger – touch devices are amazing)!   For those parents that do not have a touch device they can use their mouse or a stylus.  I submit the permission slip and receive a signed copy within seconds.  The teacher also receives a signed copy (everyone is happy).

For those that don’t immediately sign, the teacher can setup reminder emails that reoccur on a set schedule.  The teacher no longer has to deal with last minute phone calls with parents scrambling to find and return important school documents.

What about security?

“But how do I know that it truly was the parent that signed the permission slip?”

That is a great question!  If you think about it, e-signatures provide more security than the paper-based permission slips that the students are returning. The teacher has no idea that the paper-based document truly reflects the parent’s signature or a forgery.  However, with an e-signed document, the parent must log into their email account (presumably using a password) to view the document. An email-based delivery mechanism provides a layer of security that the student’s backpack does not.

More on EchoSign security…

How about complex signature routing?

No worries! EchoSign has you covered.

I’ve also viewed more than a few documents that require complex signature routing.  For example, a change-of-course form may require a signature from the student, professor, student advisor, and the dean of the college.  If each person takes a day it can easily take a document almost a week to process.  EchoSign can handle that kind of complex routing as well, and greatly reduce the time it take to process multi-signature documents.

Below are examples of common documents that require a signature.

  • Contracts
  • HR Documents
  • Permission Slips
  • Parent/Teacher/Administrator documents
  • Progress Reports
  • University change-of-course forms
  • Student Parking Forms
  • Student Housing Forms

…and the list goes on!

Fantastic!  How can I get it?

Hold your horses pardner!  You may want to speak with your Adobe Account Manager.

Ways to purchase EchoSign…

  • Signup for EchoSign electronic signature software online (great for individuals or small teams)
  • Speak to your Adobe Account manager (best for larger departmental and institutional purchases).  For larger purchases, I highly recommend speaking to your Adobe account manager, as they can make recommendations based on your organization’s needs and also provide you with the best pricing options.  

When you think of your organization’s document workflow think of the headaches you experience when trying to get paperwork signed and returned on a TIMELY basis.

Bottom-line… EchoSign has huge potential to save your institution time and money (while saving you from a huge document-induced migraine)!

 

Scott Trudeau
Senior Solutions Consultant, Adobe Inc.
Education

For more Adobe Tips, Tricks, and Information Follow me on Twitter @scott_trudeau 

www.scotttrudeau.com

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.

My Life in 20 Pictures – a research project

A few months ago, I was approached by Neil Ward, photojournalism instructor at Centennial College, and Debbie Gordon, Director of the Kids Media Centre for help on a very exciting project.

This project, “My Life in 20 Pictures,” aimed to address the perceptions of First Nations’ life by empowering children and youth from the Sakatcheway Anishinabe First Nation School in Grassy Narrows to tell their own stories through the camera’s lens. The goal was to remove any possible media bias and let children do the storytelling. In essence, they asked children to become journalists and documentarians, giving them the opportunity to share the images and stories that frame their daily lives. Continue reading…

Tablets and Teaching

While doing some research today about technology in education, I came across a cool infographic.

My research trip started – as it often does these days – with a post on Twitter:

eudemic_tweet Continue reading…