Archive for September, 2008

September 26, 2008

National Keep Kids Creative Week

September 21st – 27th is “National Keep Kids Creative Week”. The holiday was dreamed up by illustrator and author Bruce Van Patter to restore children’s innate ability to “think outside the box.”
Bruce became worried about the growing number of children “vegging out” in front of the “rot box” (television) and decided to put together a list of resources and essays that teachers and parents can use to help promote and maintain creative thinking.
Is it just a coincidence that the Adobe CS4 Creative release coincided with National Keep Kids Creative Week? You decide…

12:54 PM Permalink
September 22, 2008

Connect Card – Webinar Marketing Tool

Digital Business Card
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I have presented at many different conferences this past year. I try to bring a set of business cards to the event and have them available after my session for others to come by and pick them up. The idea is that educators can have a card to take with them and contact me later.
At the same time, I have been doing more Webinars using Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional. An Acrobat Connect Meeting allows for placing information in a Chat Pod. The information is usually in text form, but someone can also place a Hyperlink in the chat which becomes active once placed inside. I had an idea of creating a digital business card so people could click on a link in the Chat Pod after my Webinar and get useful information about me and have a way to contact me later.
I have provided my Webinar Connect Card, plus an example of an Adobe Senior Systems Engineer’s Connect Card.
I used Adobe Presenter 7 to create my Connect Card. So, check out my examples and have fun creating one for yourself!
Dave Forrester
Adobe Education Leader

9:01 PM Permalink
September 21, 2008

THERE ARE 30 TEACHERS IN EVERY CLASS

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Click on the picture, mouse-over, left click…. ah yes, the power of a paradigm shift. Thirty kids in a class suddenly become thirty teachers with answers and insights to share with the whole group? Is it really that easy to see our classes differently so that all of those questioning students suddenly become helpful teachers?
After spending almost ten years teaching this digital technology to high school students I have come to realize that I cannot have all the answers. I cannot know every detail of every bit of software out there…. but I am supposed to be “The Teacher”. If this sense of being all-knowing can be a concern for me, what must it be like for any new teacher out there? Especially any new teacher who has no experience with digital technology? Can there be a realistic solution? I would suggest that there most certainly is a solution – and it is as simple as the title of this blog entry.
I was working with one of my digital classes one day, and as I watched them work through their project (commercials created using Photoshop and Flash) I had a radical change of perspective. I “saw” the class differently – they were shifting back and forth between being kids/students and kids/teachers! They would ask each other questions and get those who knew more to show how they had accomplished some effect or process. They were teaching each other constantly, and I realized that this was a power that needed to be put into use a lot more often. All that was required was a change – in me. I had to stop being the great all knowing one. I had to be willing to openly share the role of teacher with any of them. I found the change to be an easy one.
This shift requires that you, the teacher, see yourself in a different light. There are so many reasons for you being up there at the front of the class – and being all knowing about software isn’t one of them. Sometimes we forget this and that can undermine our self confidence. Its time to remember all of those reasons and its time to share. These days I openly tell my students that there are 30 teachers in my classroom. Some look a little taken aback – that’s okay, I just give them more time to get used to the idea. Others have come up to me later and thanked me for saying that – they like the idea of making them teachers. We still need to know the basics and there can be no substitute for actually spending time exploring the technology we use and teach. But we can also share.
This is a fabulous way to give students leadership roles. It recognizes their value and skills and builds a sense of trust and involvement that is so important in a class. It can be how a new teacher puts a class’s energy and skills to work. It can be how we elevate a student who needs a boost. It can be how we release ourselves from a very confining role and find a much bigger and more productive and satisfying one. Thirty teachers in a class? Absolutely.

2:21 PM Permalink

BFF or Worst Enemy

bff.JPGWe tell our children not to share personal information online. That’s the right message, but often we are giving it for the wrong reason. Adults often think that sharing personal information is an invitation to predators. While that my have some truth, research shows that predators don’t use that information to track down victims. It also shows that kids who want to avoid predators generally do so and handle online strangers appropriately.
So if we are giving the right message for the wrong reason, what is the right reason? The reason for not sharing too much information is actually something that children can relate to and accept than the stranger danger message. Sharing too much information can lead increases in cyberbullying, trouble with friends, trouble with school officials, trouble with college acceptance, or trouble with future employers, not to mention trouble with the parents of boy friends or girl friends.
For an activity that you can do with your children or conduct with your class visit “Put Your Best Foot Forward”, one of my Adobe Presenter, Cyber Safety through Information Literacy lessons at WiredSafety.
But there is another part to this important message that is often overlooked. Sometimes your best friend forever (BFF) can be your worst enemy. You might be safe and not share personal information, but that’s not enough. You have to make your friends aware for the dangers of sharing and make sure they don’t share any of YOUR personal information.
This Flash animation illustrates my point. It may be a little over the top, but we produced it with our tongue planted firmly in our collective cheeks. You can also download the essence of this blog and the animation in PDF format as a message you can present to teens to help make them Cyber Safe and Information Literate!

7:18 AM Permalink
September 17, 2008

Educational Grant Opportunities

Waiting in my inbox this morning was an email from the good people over at LEGO education. They sent a list of technology related grant opportunities that can be used to fund software and hardware for the classroom. A few of the opportunities specifically target web, video, and multimedia projects.

Enhancing Education Through Technology (Ed-Tech)
The program’s primary goal is to involve student academic achievement through the use of technology in elementary and secondary schools.

Allstate Foundation
The Allstate Foundation supports national and local programs that fit within any of several focus areas: safe and vital communities, economic empowerment, tolerance, inclusion, and diversity.

Heineman Foundation
Heineman programs enable youth to think, create and communicate effectively.

Best Buy Awards
Schools that implement interactive technology and effectively inspire children are prime candidates to earn these financial awards.

Time Warner Cable
Teachers who develop creative ways to use technology (Web, video, computers) to further students’ learning experiences are eligible.

6:42 AM Permalink
September 15, 2008

Flash aids Internet Safety

Safe Fifer is a multi-agency child safety event, held in Scotland, supported by Fife Constabulary, Fife Fire and Rescue Service and several other agencies and businesses. The event, which attracts several thousand school children from across the Fife area, is intended to drive home safety messages in a variety of important safety areas.
Safe Fifer presentation
This year, one important consideration was the increasing problem of online child safety, and in particular the dangers of posting information publicly on social networking sites. To help deliver the safety message Fife constabulary enlisted the help of local college students and staff to create an interactive presentation about using social networks.
Colin Maxwell, lecturer at Carnegie College, said “The local police wanted an interactive and engaging way of warning school children about posting information publicly on social networking sites. They wanted a simulation of a social network site that was interactive and could incorporate video. The best choice of software for constructing this was Adobe Flash, as it was easy to make graphics, add video and create interactivity”.
Schools and communities Officer, Police Constable Shirley Steele, said “It was great working with the students and their lecturer Colin Maxwell…they were able to provide us with professionally designed software along with input from a younger person’s perspective”.
The safety message will be extended to high school pupils over the forthcoming months as PC Steele has joined forces with Anne Deas of Fife Education Service to train school teachers to deliver the material.
Part of the presentation consists of a video developed by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which can be seen on Youtube.

1:10 PM Permalink

Adobe Design Achievement Awards

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See the inspiring and creative work of college and university students who captured top honors in graphic design, photography, film, illustration, animation, and other categories.
View winners…
In my neck of the woods…three bright and creative high school students from Gregory-Portland High School are the Best-of-Best winners of the 2008 Adobe School Innovation Awards. They developed a “meaningful documentary about the scarring of seagrass and the effects on the local estuaries in the Coastal Bend area of Texas.” Check out their entry here.
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8:47 AM Permalink
September 10, 2008

It’s going to be brilliant

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5:34 PM Permalink
September 9, 2008

A Vision of K-12 Students Today

I thought this short video was well made.

“This project was created to inspire teachers to use technology in engaging ways to help students develop higher level thinking skills. Equally important, it serves to motivate district level leaders to provide teachers with the tools and training to do so. “

2:32 PM Permalink
September 4, 2008

Do You Believe?

The start of a new school year is always hectic, challenging, and exciting. Student speaker, Dalton Sherman, delivers a pep talk to Dallas ISD staff to kick off their 2008 academic year. Could this kid one day run for president of the free world?
Alternate URL if the below YouTube movie is blocked.

6:25 AM Permalink