Archive for September, 2009

September 25, 2009

Photoshop CS4′s Contact Sheet Options – GONE!

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The other day I had to create a contact sheet from a folder full of images. I opened up Photoshop CS4, clicked on File > Automate, and…to my surprise… the contact sheet options were gone. Vanished!
Where in the heck did the Contact Sheet plugin go? Well, Adobe now provides us with a much more elegant solution via the “Adobe Output Module.” Using the Output Module script, you can create Adobe PDF contact sheets that include header and footer information or throw together a PDF presentation in just a few clicks.
Here’s how

7:00 AM Permalink
September 23, 2009

Adobe Photoshop Elements & Premiere Elements 8 – New Features

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Adobe announced the release of Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 8 today. The release included a bundle of great new features that are sure to help jazz-up your fall and holiday photographs.

  • Recompose photos to any size without distortion – This feature is amazing. You’ll have to see it to believe it.
  • Combine multiple exposures into one perfectly lit shot using Photomerge
  • People Recognition – find specific friends and family members in a flash.
  • Manage your photos and video in one place – the fully featured new Organizer!
  • Sync your photos and video on multiple computers using “Automatic Syncing!”

-Want more? Take a deeper dive into Element’s amazing new features.

1:24 PM Permalink
September 20, 2009

Open House Night Video- Made With Adobe Visual Communicator

This year we wanted to do something a bit different for our 10 minute “speech” to the parents attending the annual Open House Night at our school. So using Adobe Visual Communicator, we decided to create a “video tour” of the units we teach in Technology Education at Amherst Middle School.

 

Sure we could have pre-recorded these segments, and had the benefit of starting over if we flubbed our lines, but hey what fun would that be? We decided to perform LIVE so parents could see Visual Communicator in all it’s simplicity.  Simply put, there is NO other comparable software out there that has greenscreen capability, live output, a built in teleprompter, and so many templates and wizards making video production a snap!  All made possible with software costing less than $150 edu retail.

Suffice to say, this will now be an annual event for us as it went over extrememly well and was highly effective showing what we teach in our classrooms.  We had a lot of positive feedback from administration and parents, and the video was featured on SchoolTube for all to view as well.

Production Note– nearly all of what you see was created exclusively with Visual Communicator, except for the classroom footage which we used our handy Flip Video cameras for, worked great!

5:40 PM Permalink

H1NWhat? Free Tools to Share and Collaborate at a Distance

Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro is an awesome service for presenting and collaborating at a distance. Unfortunately, not a lot of people at the University of Denver (and other universities, I’d imagine) have a Connect Pro license and have to look elsewhere for such services. In preparing for the H1N1 Influenza virus, faculty actually have a lot of options beyond setting up a standard Blackboard course. Adobe offers some great free tools to help users collaborate across great distances.
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One of the services provided by Adobe is called ConnectNow, which actually shares a lot of functionality with Connect Pro. You won’t be able to conduct an entire class with the service (as it only supports a limited number of connection per room) but you can share your desktop, take control of a student machine to work through a problem, and it includes rich whiteboarding and chat tools.
Couple this with Buzzword, Presentations, and other Acrobat.com tools, and you can easily conduct your course at a distance in the event of student or faculty illness. I’m fortunate enough to have a Connect Pro account and conduct all my office hours through that service.
Today’s faculty have a set of really robust, free tools at our disposal and should take full advantage of whichever ones complement our specific courses.

11:32 AM Permalink
September 19, 2009

How do I prepare my students for the Adobe Certified Associate Exam?

My students, their parents and our business advisory board are all very excited about earning the Adobe Certified Associate credentials. Of course I want all my students to be successful so I have been searching for resources that will provide my students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Here is a list of what I have found.
Study Guides
Did you know that Adobe has posted detailed study guides for each exam at: http://www.adobe.com/education/instruction/ace/ These are .pdf files with both written tutorials and the sample files for the lessons all wrapped up in one Adobe Acrobat file!
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Adobe Curriculum
Adobe has worked closely with classroom teachers like myself to develop curriculum that is aligned with the ISTE standards and teacher tested.
http://www.adobe.com/education/resources/k12/instructional/
Visual Design is a yearlong, project-based curriculum that develops career and communication skills in print production and graphic design, using Adobe tools.
Digital Design is a yearlong, project-based curriculum that develops IT career skills in web design and production, using Adobe tools.
Adobe TV
It is time that instructors learned about this incredible resource. Adobe has developed hours of fantastic instructional video resources and offers it free through the Adobe Media Player. Check out all that they have to offer at:
http://tv.adobe.com/channel/students-educators
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Learn by Video
This is the first resource that I have found that is specifically design to prepare students for the ACA exam. It has a easy to use interface, tutorials that you download to your iPod and well delivered content that will help your students prepare for the exam. I have really appreciated the book that accompanies this because it helps to explain the non-software specific topics covered on the exam. I also appreciate the test at the end of each unit both monitoring my students progress and helping them prepare for the type of exam questions they will face in the real ACA exam.
Classroom in a Book
Of course these books have been around for year providing a great resource for students and teachers. They provide great instruction on the application but you will need to supplement the lessons to fully prepare your students for the exam.
Online Software Training
If you or your students are looking for high quality online training on Adobe software then I strongly recommend the following resources:
Lynda.com: http://www.lynda.com/Member.aspx
Total Training: http://www.totaltraining.com/
Atomic Learning: http://www.atomiclearning.com/
Of course my own software workshops (free): http://www.mountsihighschool.com/directory/_dockeryj/conferences/index.html
Professional Development
Faculty workshops through Knowledge Network Solutions
Master education consultants from Knowledge Network Solutions come to your school to run workshops for faculty on how to use Adobe tools and effectively integrate them into their courses. Workshops are available to higher ed and K-12 institutions.
For more information about the Adobe Certified Associate Exam go to:
http://www.adobe.com/education/instruction/ace/

3:00 PM Permalink
September 18, 2009

Adding Buttons to an Adobe InDesign Document

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Adobe InDesign makes it extremely easy to add action buttons to your document. This is great if you intend on publishing your InDesign project to a digital format and want to “spice it up a bit” with some interaction. This tutorial will demonstrate how to add buttons to an InDesign project and publish the project as a Flash (.swf) file.
View Tutorial

8:13 AM Permalink
September 12, 2009

My High School Students are Certifiable….

ACA_headerHome.gifMy students are excited about the prospect of earning their Adobe Certified Associate credential this year. I work in a small school district in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. Being a small school district, we don’t have a bunch of money to pay for all my students to take industry exams. So we partnered with the eight other school districts within our regional consortium (NEVAC). This has allowed us to purchase a Certiport site license ($2,500) for the ACA exam at my high school. We are currently working on hiring one of our building computer techs to proctor the exam for a few Saturdays ($1,000) at the end of each semester.
By setting up a regional testing center and sharing the cost, we will be able to offer the exam to ALL of our students at a fraction of the cost. What is even more exciting is an idea that grew out of the sharing of resources. We are currently working on setting up Saturday teacher workshops and student study sessions that will culminate in the certification exam. This way, all our instructors can collaborate with each other to prepare both themselves and their students for this exam.
For more information about the Adobe Certified Associate Exam go to:
http://www.adobe.com/education/instruction/ace/

7:24 AM Permalink
September 9, 2009

Students get over 80% Off Adobe MAX Registration

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Hankering for a killer deal? For the first time ever, Adobe has decided to offer huge pricing discounts for students. Students can register for a full conference pass at the deeply discounted price of $199.00 (a $1400.00 value). If you can’t afford the time, you can also choose the day pass for $99.00. What a Bargain!
http://www.adobe.com/devnet/edu/max2009/

6:10 AM Permalink
September 1, 2009

Some reflections on the 2009 Summer Institute

3752774162_f8c5d80f92.jpgI’m finally back home from a fantastic week in San Jose at the Adobe Summer Institute. The Summer Institute is a 5 day conference/workshop event run by Adobe’s Education division for members of their global Adobe Education Leaders program. I was inducted into the AEL program last year but was unable to attend the 2008 event in San Francisco. This year I was determined to attend the San Jose event and I’m really glad I went.
When you do in fact know a fair bit about technology and how to use it, it becomes harder to find professional development experiences that challenge and extend you. One of the reasons I was so keen to attend the Summer Institute was that I felt it would push me to learn more and build on some of the knowledge I already have. Having been a Photoshop user for many years, and spending many hours inside programs like InDesign (and PageMaker before that) and having taught Flash and Dreamweaver to students, I’ve always been quite immersed in Adobe’s Creative Suite, but the nature of these tools always seems to be such that the more you know about them, the more you realise you don’t know.
The other AELs came mainly from all over the US, with quite a few from the UK and a handful from other places like New Zealand, Hong Kong and Belgium. I was the only Aussie. We started the week on Monday evening with a Welcome Party at our hotel where we got to meet the other AELS and some of the folk from Adobe. It was good to meet new people and make new connections.
Tuesday started early for me with a Photoshop exam. This was taken as part of the Adobe Certified Associate, a recognised certification for Photoshop users. Happily, I passed the exam without too much trouble. The rest of Tuesday was filled with meeting with the Adobe product teams, where we got to hear about future product roadmaps, learn about upcoming features and directions for the Creative Suite, and to offer suggestions for how we thought the products could be improved. Parts of the day were done under NDA so I can’t really go into details, but suffice to say there will be plenty of exciting new stuff coming from Adobe in the next year or two. Dinner that night was held at Saratoga Springs, a lovely camping ground in the hills surrounding Silicon Valley, and we had fun and games with some hilarious variations on team volleyball played with water-filled balloons.
Wednesday was filled with AEL to AEL sessions – workshops where we presented to each other many of the things we were doing in our own schools and districts. Watching these sessions, it really struck me what an intensely creative and passionate group of educators this was. Although not everything was directly relevant to my own teaching situation, I still got tons of great ideas from the sharing that took place. Collaborative projects, experimental ideas based on art, design and creativity, ideas for streamlining school administration, examples of how teachers do things in other parts of the world… we got all sorts of cool ideas from these AEL sessions. After a full day of learning from each other, we regrouped in the Adobe Cafeteria for a delicious dinner and drinks, where more sharing and conversation took place in a relaxed casual atmosphere. I was quite amazed as we watched the planes fly over the Adobe building, which was directly in the landing path of San Jose airport, seeming to clear the top of the building with only a few hundred feet to spare. A few of us kicked on to a bar in downtown San Jose where the conversations continued into the night, only louder.
Thursday was another full day of learning, with a intense session run by Adobe’s John Schuman. We learned many of the very cool features in the software tools, and in particular how to make them work together smoothly. Our project required us to integrate our work across Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, InDesign and Bridge as we roundtripped files between the various tools. In each of the applications we discovered lots of useful workflows and there were quite a few new concepts that I hadn’t come across before. The last part of the day took us into a project using Flash Catalyst, a relatively new product still in beta, that makes it much easier for designers to create interactive content. I’m still getting my head around Catalyst, but it looks like a great tool for rapidly designing interactive media without the need to know heavy-duty coding stuff.
Thursday night was good fun, with a night out to a local San Jose pool hall. By this stage we had gotten to know each other a little better, so it was cool to hang out, shoot some pool and have still more conversations about learning and life. The night finished while it was still young, as the pool tables were reclaimed at the stroke of 9:00pm. A few of us wandered across the road to another party that looked like it would be fun. I turned out to be an Open Source party, sponsored by Source Forge. With free drinks (free as in “beer” – I thought that was hilarious at an Open Source event), tatoos getting done in the basement (no, I didn’t get one), as well as Twitter stations, free T-shirt giveaways from the good folk at ThinkGeek, guys playing with Star Wars light sabres, people wearing infra-red night vision goggles, etc, it was a truly geeky event… I loved it!
Friday morning was the last day of the conference and I’d arranged to do another certification exam, this time in Dreamweaver. Although I’ve used Dreamweaver a lot in the past, I hadn’t used it much lately so wasn’t feeling too confident in my ability to pass this exam. However, I did pass, and since I had a bit of time to spare at the end I decided to have a crack at the remaining exam for Flash. This one I really wasn’t too confident about, since I haven’t used Flash much in the last 12 months and there are some big changes to the CS4 version. Even so, I surprised myself by passing the Flash exam too, so I was feeling pretty pleased that I managed to get my certification in Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash all in the same week.
The rest of Friday morning was a general wrap up of the event, with feedback and a debriefing session between the AELs and the Adobe folk. It was kind of sad to have it all come to an end, but we eventually said our goodbyes and all went our separate ways. The sessions were all recorded with Adobe Connect, as well as a ton of Twitter, Flickr and Delicious resources all tagged with ael09, so at least there is a decent electronic record of the sessions.
I didn’t have to be at the airport until quite late so myself and Saiqa, another AEL from London, decided to rent a car and do some Silicon Valley sightseeing. We dropped in on the headquarters of Apple and Google, then headed in to San Francisco for some last minute sightseeing around Fisherman’s Wharf before getting back to SFO airport for our late flights.
Overall, a great week and one I’d be keen to do again. Thanks Adobe for running and hosting the event, especially to Megan Stewart and her team who did a great job of making sure the program went off perfectly. Great conference, can’t wait to get back next year!

5:43 PM Permalink