Archive for October, 2007

October 31, 2007

Cross Curricular Excitement in Singapore

Another excellent and engaging Adobe Educational Solutions Seminar in Asia happened yesterday 31/10/07. Everyone really firing on all cylinders about empowering our learners through digital media and creating learning experiences throughout the curriculum not just the “expected” educational or vocational tracks…..
With over 100 attendee’s we spoke for hours about cross curricular examples, and examples of best practices from UK, USA and Singapore. With so many examples coming from fellow AEL’s and educators here in Singapore the event shows a need to know more about integration of suites into traditional and academic subjects prevalent this side of the pond.
The need to enhance understanding and allow for reflection through project based learning is provided through the CS3 Suite and beyond. The biggest buzz was around Visual Communicator 3. :-D

11:42 PM Permalink
October 26, 2007

Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

American humorist, Josh Billings, wrote, “I hate to be a kicker, I always long for peace, But the wheel that does the squeaking is the one that gets the grease.” I don’t much care for complaining, but sometimes a little strategic “squeaking” can yield high returns.
My school director would often catch my class huddled around a small fifteen inch monitor as we took a virtual fieldtrip, participated in a digital frog dissection, or communicated with a scholarly expert located halfway around the globe. That one computer was the portal to some exciting learning opportunities…if only I had some additional portals! I knew that I had to get the technology in the hands of my students. I decided to make a list…and a plan.
A projection unit, additional computers, and updated software were tops on my technology wish list. But how could I convince the director of the school to commit to spending the necessary money? I knew that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” and my director had to have faith that I was going to actually use the technology. This was not hard, as the director had already caught my class massed around my monitor on more than one occasion. My students also managed to create a few projects using that lone computer and I made sure that their projects were prominently displayed at all the right events. However, the second plan of attack was, I believe, the most effective.
Lots of squeaking! Anytime the director was in earshot I made sure to voice how having a few additional computers and a projector could really enhance my instruction. I also enlisted the help of parents. Anytime I ran into a parent I would ask that they stop by the office and brag about the great things that their students were doing with technology. I also asked them to throw in a, “wow…imagine what those students could be doing with a classroom full of computers.”
I also made sure that the school board members knew about my plight. I was always upbeat, never negative, and focused only on the positive impact that technology was having on my classroom. The next year my classroom had 10 computers, 2 scanners, a printer, and a projection unit! Mission accomplished…now I needed some software.
The students were humming along creating all kinds of great projects using the run-of-the-mill presentation tools, but the novelty was starting to fade. I had just been introduced to some really great multimedia software called Macromedia Flash (version 5) and I had to get my hands on a copy (or ten). I made an appointment with my director and told her that I wanted to create a computer animation club that would meet twice a week after school. The club would be of particular interest to a few of the boys that were normally “problem learners.” She responded that she would think about it.
The next day I pulled the parents of the “problem learners’ aside and told them about the computer club and that their sons were not only interested but also excited about participating in the club. Again, I recruited some “squeakers.” I asked the parents if they would do me a favor and pop on over to the director’s office and mention how excited their sons were about the potential of the computer animation club. Fast forward five days and the director of the school signed a PO that provided the club with the necessary software.
Yep…the squeaky wheel gets the grease!

7:29 AM Permalink
October 24, 2007

Adobe Advances Web 2.0 in Education

Offers Adobe Flex Builder 2 to Students and Faculty at No Cost
SAN JOSE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Oct. 24, 2007–Adobe Systems
Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced that it is offering
Adobe(R) Flex(TM) Builder(TM) 2 software at no cost to students and
faculty at educational institutions worldwide. The Flex Builder 2
integrated development environment (IDE) is part of a powerful toolset
for designing and developing rich Internet applications (RIAs), an
essential part of Web 2.0.
Web 2.0 technologies have spurred the development of RIAs that
enable data sharing, collaboration, user participation, social
networking, and more. Flex is the industry’s most advanced framework
for building cross-operating system RIAs for the Web. By offering Flex
Builder 2 at no cost, educational institutions will be able to improve
students’ and researchers’ knowledge of RIA development. With Flex 3,
currently in public beta, students will be able to extend their RIAs
to the desktop using Adobe(R) AIR(TM).
“By making it easier for educational institutions to adopt Flex 2,
we are ensuring that students and researchers are better equipped to
harness the power of Web 2.0 and RIAs,” said Peter Isaacson, vice
president of education marketing at Adobe. “It is clear that RIAs are
the future of Web development, and a strong skill set in RIA
development will serve students well in their careers.”
“As someone who teaches a Flex course, I applaud Adobe for helping
to provide the free software that will help professors better prepare
our students for the future,” said Yakov Fain, adjunct professor at
New York University. “People with Adobe Flex skills are already in big
demand in the industry, and this smart move will help to substantially
increase the number of Flex-enabled college graduates. We are pleased
to be among the first universities to offer this kind of coursework to
our students.”
Flex applications can be commercially created and deployed today
with the free Flex 2 SDK, which includes the Flex compiler and the
ActionScript(TM) 3.0 libraries. Together, these elements provide the
modern, standards-based language and programming model used by leading
businesses to create RIAs deployed on the ubiquitous Adobe Flash(R)
Player. Beginning with the release of Flex 3 in early 2008, the Flex
SDK will be made available as open source, enabling developers to
extend and contribute to the source code for the Flex compiler,
components and application framework.

Pricing and Availability

Adobe Flex 2 will be available to qualified education end-users
for free download on Adobe.com in early November.

7:49 AM Permalink
October 13, 2007

Slide Shows with Fireworks CS3

If you need to publish photos online in a hurry, I suggest you check out the new slide shows available in Fireworks CS3. They are easy and quick to create. All you have to do is select the folder of photos you want to publish, choose a slide show design you like, specify your export options, and click “Create”. Fireworks will optimize all your images, write all your scripts, and build your slide show in a matter of minutes.
We’ve been studying about force and pressure this week in my science class – thought it was time to put my students in the “hot seat.” See the slide show.

5:11 PM Permalink
October 11, 2007

Merging Broadcast and Online Video with Adobe Connect

My partner in crime, and fellow Adobe Education Leader Lee Keller, have been working on a very cool project that blends the use of traditional broadcast video with the online capabilities of Adobe Acrobat Connect. Here’s a recap of our project and how we’re bringing these two worlds together.
When our school district purchased a super-size license for Macromedia Breeze two years ago we knew that one of the challenges we faced in spreading the good word about what this new transformative technology was that many people in education were just not that familiar with how online, collaborative meetings might be used in education. As part of our viral marketing campaign we launched The Palm Breeze Cafe, a weekly online “show” where members of our team discussed educational technology tools with any teachers or school media specialists who cared to tune in. What we found was that while the online presentation had a good turn-out, we actually got much higher viewership for the recordings of our sessions. Schools were replaying the shows to their staff and using them as part of their professional development program. Cool!
But Lee, being one of those people who is always trying to take over the world, decided that we ought to take things one step further. For this year we made this plan:
We would pre-record the show at our district television station.
The recordings would be converted to Flash Video and placed on our Connect server. (Although we still persist in calling it Breeze.)
The same recordings would also be made available via the regular broadcast network that our district owns. Each week we now run our own version of one of our old favorites, The Screen Savers show that used to run on Tech TV.
The same shows are simulcast by our local cable provider.
So, now we have four ways to use the same video content: Online via our live Palm Breeze Cafe show (so teachers can continue to ask questions and interact as they watch the presentation), directly into the classroom during the regularly scheduled broadcast times, on-demand through their browser via a web link, and finally, if they have cable, right in the comfort of their own homes.
Effective? Oh yeah, we think so, and despite not having ALL of the equipment in place the results are darned good.
But, I’ll let you be the judge of that. Here’s a presentation that Lee and I taped a few days ago where we put Google searches that our students might want to do up against the research databases that our district subscribes to. While this session talks about three different databases that we subscribe to, we also talk a bit about the problems that teachers and students face when they turn to Google as their first stop in doing research. (You’ll need to click the Play button in the lower left hand corner to get started. Oh, and I’m the good-looking one. )
Google vs. Research Databases
Enjoy!

4:23 AM Permalink
October 10, 2007

Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 Photo Collage (of sorts)

Photoshop Elements 6 has a slick new interface with loads of great tools to help with all your image manipulation needs. I just received my copy of Elements 6 and had to give it a spin.
I decided to create a photo collage using a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge that was taken in the wonderful city of San Francisco over the past summer. I suppose using the term “collage” is a stretch, as this project will only use a single photograph; however it will make use of Photoshop Element’s powerful layers functionality.
before-after.jpg
The final project consisted of 3 layers: a background layer, a duplicate of the background layer, and a Hue/Saturation layer. The background layer was converted to a black and white image while the copy of the background layer had a Hue/Saturation layer applied just above it to really make the colors pop.
elements78.jpg
For a step-by-step check out the Adobe Captivate video tutorial that goes along with this post.

1:33 PM Permalink