Archive for April, 2009

April 30, 2009

Summer 2009 Workshops for Adobe Visual Communicator

Learn how to create green screen student TV newscasts, classroom video projects and more this summer as Adobe Education Leader Rob Zdrojewski teaches the basic and advanced features of Adobe Visual Communicator 3. New this summer are workshops for existing users, where we will examine features like live flash web streaming and sharing your productions online.
Summer 2009 Workshop offerings:
-School TV Made Easy with Adobe Visual Communicator 3 (Beginners)
-Perfecting Your Adobe Visual Communicator Shows (Advanced Users)
-Using SchoolTube to Safely Share Videos Online
-Create Teacher Websites
Join us as hundreds of teachers, media specialists, and administrators have for an exciting look at using Adobe Visual Communicator for green screened school TV newscasts and more!
Learn more here:
http://www.schooltvmadeeasy.com/workshops.cfm

9:57 AM Permalink

School Musical DVD Project Made with Adobe Products

This year Amherst Middle School’s musical was written by our own creative team of music teachers. This gave us the ability to record and sell it on DVD as a fundraiser. It was titled, “It’s Middle School…The Musical” and was a big hit!
The “Collector’s Edition” DVD our kids produced was absolutely phenominal! It contains the entire recorded performance shot with 2 camera angles, a slideshow set to the show’s music, and a 30 min documentary containing cast interviews and bloopers.
There were 8 Adobe products involved in this project, to learn more and view sample footage, visit my blog site here:
http://blogs.schooltube.com/robz/2009/04/making-the-dvd–behind-the-scenes-of-our-2009-school-musical.html

9:46 AM Permalink
April 28, 2009

Encouraging Student Success

I supervised a state SkillsUSA web design contest on April 24, 2009 (both secondary and post-secondary divisions) and thought it appropriate to summarize some of my observations. These comments are divided into two separate areas (business professionalism and knowledge of web design and development). Although I see the cup as “half full,” there is definitely room for improvement in both areas. I believe it is up to us as educators to encourage our students to improve in these areas.

On the business side, I must stress the importance of arriving on time for the contest and staying until the end of the contest. As a practicing professional, I am always hoping for a little extra time to polish a site for a client. Those that left early should have used the extra time to improve upon their work. Less than 25% stayed for the optional briefing after the conclusion of the contest where we shared a significant amount of information. One of the main differentiators many employers look for is passion and dedication in their employees. Staying for the debriefing confirms a desire to learn and improve.

It is also important to verify that your work has been properly copied. In many instances, although given the opportunity to check their work on the USB drive used to collect the final entries, very few opened more than the initial folder. Attention to detail is an issue of major importance as several sites had inadvertently pointed to a folder on their desktop (which will not work when the challenges are judged). This leads to broken links to images and CSS (and lost points).

Part of the competition also included an interview. As an aspiring professional, it is permissible to state that you do not know the answer to a given question but would like to find out more about it. Less than 10% of those presented with such a question took that approach (the remainder tried to guess their way through without success).

On the technical side, there was a heavy reliance upon tools (which is fine – provided one understands how to use those tools effectively). Of the tools used, Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 captured the major share (being used by over 85% of all participants). However, it is clearly evident that there is only a superficial knowledge of how to use the selected tool (resulting in errors such as pointing to an absolute location [on the desktop] for an image or CSS document). Likewise, reliance on templates (such as the Spry framework for the JavaScript challenge) is permissible, but one should definitely test prior to submitting (to make certain regions are properly defined in the HTML). Similarly, if there is a challenge to create a two column layout using only CSS, one should not use a Dreamweaver layout table to accomplish that challenge.

The quality of code is important (for example, there is no p2 element; there should not be HTML body elements placed above the DOCTYPE declaration). With the majority of contestants using Dreamweaver, one can easily test for valid code (and the tool actually helps one write such code). Unfortunately, it would appear that this feature was not employed on most challenges.

In my work with numerous business and industry professionals, it is clear they are looking for individuals who have a solid understanding of web standards and can use tools to effectively accomplish tasks. This is why the individual challenges were selected for this contest.

I implore those educating the next generation of web professionals to focus on the following areas to better prepare students for the workforce.

  • Develop a good understanding of web standards (and why they are important – for maintainability of the code, for improved search engine ranking, for increased accessibility and all the other reasons). Tools are important, but students need to know the fundamentals before they can effectively employ those tools.
  • Increase the emphasis on web accessibility and usability in the curriculum.
    Increase the emphasis on professional behaviors (arrive on time, test your work before turning it in, admit when you don’t know something and so forth).
  • Help students develop a solid understanding of the use of the appropriate tool and when one must go beyond a given tool.

It is up to us as educators to raise the bar to help our students succeed in the workplace.

6:14 AM Permalink
April 22, 2009

Webinar: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act & Adobe education solutions

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
10:00 a.m. PT | 1:00 p.m. ET

Join Jenny House, former educator and President of RedRock Reports and Adobe Education staff to get the latest updates on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and how Adobe solutions align with E2T2, Title I, IDEA and other new funding line items for 2009 and 2010. Adobe solutions cover technology integration across the curriculum, career and technical education with ISTE aligned curriculum and new certification as well as online professional development.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act & Adobe Education Solutions
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
10:00 a.m. PT | 1:00 p.m. ET
Register Now

3:20 PM Permalink
April 21, 2009

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The fourth Digital Learning Environment Event was held on April 16 in Scottsdale at the beautiful Paradise Valley Resort. The event kicked off with a post breakfast keynote delivered by the inspiring superintendent Dr. Manuel Isquierdo, from Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Isquierdo shared how his district has developed an innovative plan to increase the graduation rate. Partnering with local businesses, the school district is issuing laptop computers to students who achieve predetermined goals for academic achievement.
Dr. Isquierdo shared the critical need to intervene and support students in their 9th grade. Freshman who fail or repeat 9th grade tend to fall into all or some of these categories:
1. Failing Algebra
2. Have poor reading comprehension and fluency
3. Lack intermediate academic skills-they are failing
4. Poor attendance
5. Lack of connections
Isquierdo also noted that compared to other grade levels, 9th grade dropouts tend to have more discipline problems. Faced with the highest dropout rate in the nation, Isquierdo moved with an intense sense of urgency to address the problem.
SUSD came up with a solution that involved the insurgence of technology as a reward for positive behavior. The initiative was called, “Project Graduation”. The plan was for freshman students in SUSD to earn the laptops after their first semester if they met the criteria that they call the 4 A’s: Academics, Attendance, School Activity and Attitude.
Here are the specific requirements:
• Academics:2.5 or higher grade point average
• Attendance: 95% or better attendance rate — no more than four excused absences, no unexcused, and must attend on the first day of school
• Activity: regular participation in a school-sponsored extracurricular activity
• Attitude: no out-of-school suspensions
The first year has been a tremendous success and has resulted in dramatic results in both student grades and attendance. The entire school culture has been positively affected by the program. Additional data with specific results can be viewed at the district website: http://www.susd12.org/node/1384
The laptops are awarded with great fanfare at a local college where parents and community supporters are invited to attend and cheer the efforts of the laptop recipients as they trade in their golden laptop tickets for the real deal. Efforts to involve the families and community in the initiative have also proved positive. The “Digital Advantage” is being extended to include after-school activities and other efforts to integrate technology into all core curriculums and classes.
Sunnyside’s’ community responded to the commitment and the vision of the school district. Isquierdo stressed that without vision, nothing of value can happen. He shared this old proverb to stress that point:
A vision without a plan is just a dream.
A plan without a vision is just drudgery.
But a vision with a plan can change the world.
Dr. Isquierdo closed his presentation by sharing a video of the student’s ceremony as they received their new laptops. Especially touching was the testimony of a parent regarding the positive change in behavior and attitude of her son. It was very apparent that this program is life-changing for everyone involved. Getting those laptops sends a very direct message to the recipients-that message is. “You can go to college-you can do it!”
More programs involving older students, (called “Digital Scholars”) parents and community are extending the success and continuing to bridge the digital divide for everyone involved.
Cost efficiencies are making the goal of one to one computing a reality, not just a dream. Improved software and applications that fit the curricular goals are getting more effective and more affordable. Companies such as Intel, hp and Microsoft provide support and resources to help make the dream a reality. For more support and ideas for integrating technology visit these sites:
Hp’s site: www.hp.com/gp/TeacherExperience and
Microsoft’s site: www.microsoft.com/education.
Intel: http://k12blueprint.com.

7:39 PM Permalink

“Student Shuffler” AIR Application

The Student Shuffler AIR application is now available via Adobe AIR Marketplace.
shuffler
The app was built to facilitate a fair and transparent way of organizing classroom presentations whether by group or individual student. The instructor goes in before class and inputs each presenter into the application edit interface. This is saved locally to the internal database. When it comes time to begin presentations, the instructor needs only to run the app and the students can all see their names being shuffled into a random, numbered presentation order. This not only frees the instructor of any responsibility toward the selection of presentation order, but always transmits an air of fairness around the process that the students can appreciate.
I hope others find this to be a useful piece of software!

10:24 AM Permalink
April 20, 2009

Can You Save a Recording from Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro to Your Local Computer?

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The answer is yes! There is urban legend out there about hosted Connect Pro accounts and recordings. Individuals who have hosted Connect Pro accounts may think they can’t make a copy of their work through the use of recordings. However, they definitely can by going to “Recordings” on their hosted Connect Pro account and bring the FLV (Video File) across to their local machine using the “Make Offline” button. Once the FLV file is across to the local computer, the end user can do some cool applications with the video file in the real world. They can download the free Adobe Media Player off Adobe’s website and add the videos to their personal video favorites. Students can download the free media player and the video files can be streamed over a local network to them. At the same time, the FLV video files can be embedded into Acrobat by using Adobe Acrobat 9 and viewed with Adobe Acrobat 9 Reader. This blog post includes a brief ten minute webinar on the process and cool ways to apply the Connect Pro Recording technology to your world. So check it out, you can make a copy of yourself in your time zone, and then distribute yourself one hundred fold in multiple time zones and time periods by using your new technology resource found with Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional.
Short Webinar on Connect Pro Recordings
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My Connect Card, Digital Business Card
My Connect Room
My Profile

8:49 PM Permalink
April 15, 2009

Digital Learning Environments Events Series Update-Boston

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The third Digital learning Environment Event, held on April 2 in Boston, had the most participants of any DLE event so far this year. The day began with a review of Intel’s k12 Blueprint for success website: http://k12blueprint.com. This site is an essential planning and implementation blueprint for any district considering one to one computing.
The jobs of tomorrow are here today. Future industries with high expected growth include:
• Renewable energy
• On-line Entertainment
• Medical Research
And employers say the skills essential for our future workers include:
• Science and math
• Critical thinking
• Self direction
• Communication
• Creativity
• Innovativeness
• Life long learners
The conversation then, is how do we instill these necessary 21st century skills in our students today? This is especially critical when all of the above, with the exception of science and math skills, are virtually impossible to test. Our traditional high-stakes standardized testing techniques can’t possibly test self-direction, creativity or innovativeness. In this era of No Child Left Behind, our focus as educators, for sheer survival, is on testable skills, and these are not necessarily the skills our students need for the 21st century. Our vision must be to educate our students with 21st century skills by providing them access to engaging technologies in collaborative, inquiry-based learning environments with teachers who are equiped and able to use technology’s power to assist them in transforming knowledge and skills into products, solutions and new information.
Here is where the rationale for full integration of technology begins. Technology can be the bridge that gets us to the goal of providing what our students need for the 21st century. And it isn’t just the success of the individual students that is at stake, the future of our country is at stake as well. President Obama, in his speech on March 10, 2009, stressed the danger in letting U.S. Education fall behind, saying the nation’s place as a global economic leader is at risk if we do not do a better job preparing and educating our students. Obama lists four major areas for education reform:
1. Early childhood programs
2. Tougher standards, assessments and accountability
3. Recruiting, rewarding, and supporting outstanding teachers
4. Promoting excellence and innovation in U.S. Schools
Creating the learning environment for the 21st century student requires a major shift from Instructor Centric to Student Centric teaching and learning. Student Centric environments will include tools that will extend learning beyond the school day and beyond the wall of our traditional schools. These tools include learning portals, online libraries, online classes, access to other educational institutions and online learning communities.
Cost efficiencies are making the goal of one to one computing a reality, not just a dream. Improved software and applications that fit the curricular goals are getting mo re effective and more affordable. Companies such as Intel, hp and Microsoft provide support and resources to help make the dream a reality. For more support and ideas for integrating technology visit these sites:
hp’s site: www.hp.com/gp/TeacherExperience and
Microsoft’s site: www.microsoft.com/education.
Intel: http://k12blueprint.com.

9:46 AM Permalink
April 10, 2009

Tell a Story – Win a Trip to NECC 2010

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Hi Folks,
      Do you have a story that shows how technology impacts the lives of students?  Do you know how to create simple movies?  If so, that combination can win you a trip to NECC in Denver in 2010.

     As part of their 30th Anniversary efforts, ISTE has put out a call
for a Digital Story Telling Corp, and is asking educators to submit
videos of stories that need to be told. 

     Bernajean Porter has held a number webinars about it.  You can access an Adobe Connect recording of one webinar by visiting the ISTE Digital Story Telling wiki  and clicking on the link to
the webinar is at the top of the page.
      Videos that have been and will be submitted will be shown at NECC and
will be used in efforts to move Tech Ed funding forward.  Submitted
videos can be seen at http://www.istevision.org/ .

     Here’s my story. I’m hardly a George Lucas as far a video is concerned, and this video doesn’t qualify for the contest, because it’s a bit too long, but I didn’t post it to win the contest.  It’s simply a story that needs to be told and might help ISTE in their efforts to advance the cause of technology in education.

     So if you have a story to tell, break out the video camera and tell it!

5:56 AM Permalink
April 9, 2009

SoDA 2009 Digital Marketing Outlook

“As the dark clouds of the economy envelope the marketing world, many wonder if digital marketing may be a ray of sunshine in the gloom. To find out, the Society of Digital Agencies conducted a broad survey of traditional and digital agencies as well as brands, digital vendors and even freelance digital experts.”
Most interesting for me is page 20 of the report:
SoDA Report
Go, Flash!
…why is Java grouped together with JavaScript? Eh?
Grab the full report or visit SoDA.

2:36 PM Permalink