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…

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…

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:

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

The Cronkite Journal  (2011 – 2012 journal, page 52)

Adobe Fireworks CS6 Classroom in a Book is now available!

I’m so excited! I just received copies of my latest book on Adobe Fireworks. Hard to describe the feeling of seeing your words in print. But after months of conceptualizing, writing, re-writing, editing and revising, it’s finally here! Continue reading…

Play LevelUp – Learn Photoshop by Playing a Game of Missions


Do you enjoy a bit of friendly competition?  Do you need to polish-up on your Photoshop skills?  You can do both by downloading and playing LevelUp for Photoshop!  LevelUp for Photoshop is a “game of missions” that will allow you to earn points – the more points you earn the better chance at winning prizes like Amazon gift cards and a chance to win a one-year membership to the Adobe Creative Cloud!  Heck, you also get the added benefit of learning more about Photoshop!

But you better hurry…because you must finish the game by midnight Pacific time on June 30, 2012, to be eligible for the Creative Cloud drawing.

Go check it out… 


Create a Swirl Pattern Using Illustrator CS6

The new pattern tools in Illustrator CS6 are simply amazing.  The new tools will greatly reduce the time it takes to create web patterns, textile patterns, fabric patterns, etc.   Now you can spend less time learning tools, and more time on your designs!

And heck…I’ve found that creating patterns is somewhat therapeutic!

I’ve included a quick tutorial on how to create a “swirl” pattern.  Enjoy.

View the Tutorial (YouTube)

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


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 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…