Archive for December, 2011

December 28, 2011

Introduction and ponderings on James’ Tar Pit

Hello James et al.  A very interesting and thought provoking commentary on our ever changing quest for knowledge, albeit Canadian.  I suspect that most teachers in western countries feel much the same. I pondered responding directly to your Tar Pit piece James but thought that an introduction was in order.

Before commenting, I would like to first introduce myself, mainly to contextualise my response.

My name is Deb Whittington and I am a Lecturer in vocational studies in the Printing & Graphic Arts Training Package at Central Institute of Technology in Western Australia.  Training Packages have been created for all core industry groups at a National level in Australia in a partnership between Learning Providers, Industry and the Federal Government, and constitute minimum knowledge and skills required by industry.

They are at once both simpler and harder than traditional curriculum, and contain units of competence, each with their own elements of competence with criteria.  Students are assessed both on-the-job and/or in a simulated workplace, as competent or not yet competent.  There is no pass mark.  Pure and simple – you can either do it, or you can’t.  You either have the knowledge, or you don’t.  The acquisition of knowledge, understanding and competence is overseen by workplace trainers and assessors with significant, high level experience and knowledge.  I occupy that position with tenure.

Training Packages do not replace traditional high school, though many schools are now opting to deliver simulated workplace training and assessment as a vocational alternative to traditional, academic studies.

I must first say that I am by no means a traditional academic!

People talk about life long learning.  I have been blessed with a moderately high intellect, and have been greedily learning all that I could on subjects that have fascinated me since I was 3 years old.  I am now 57 and I still feel that I am in a lolly shop full of knowledge and there is not enough time to explore and learn all that I would like.  But like many young people today, I need a better reason to learn than that it is “what is required”.

I’m fascinated by Jungian type theory and it’s role as a potential tool to understanding and nurturing aptitude and talent, with particular regard to left-brain/right-brain balance skills such as graphic technologies.  In terms of MBTI and Keirsey’s Temperament Theory, my own preferences are towards INTP with balanced I/E, moderate preferences for T over F and P over J, and very strong preferences for N over S.  I have no S preferences on testing.

With your indulgence I will later post some of my observations, hypotheses and discussions over the past 10 years relating to learning, technologies, design and type (as in typology) preferences.  I believe there are some very interesting correlations between the epidemic, modern diagnosis of AD/HD and Dyslexia, and aptitude for learning, technology and creativity.  This has been supported in discussion with a number of learning gurus.

In response to your piece James, there is a plethora of information available as a result of the technologies of today, BUT I believe our role as educators and trainers is to provide guidance through that minefield of often insufficient or inaccurate information, to teach students to question everything, have faith in themselves, to have the joy of curiosity (or as noted Nobel physicist, Richard Feynman’s book suggests – “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out”), and to synthesise and provide context for their learning rather than pursue the old rote learning those of my age were often subjected to at school.  We need to teach them to make informed decisions from a sound understanding.

At the beginning of each semester I ask my students who is there for the piece of paper, and who is there for the knowledge and understanding.  Interestingly, to me at least, those who say they want the piece of paper, frequently do not achieve it.  Those, however, who aspire to the knowledge and understanding, are often their own worst taskmasters, and rarely fail at achieving the piece of paper.

We must return I believe to where knowledge and understanding, and provision of sound reason for methodology, are again the prime target of we educators and trainers.  The other will follow.

10:22 AM Permalink
December 9, 2011

Connecting with Teachers

A few weeks ago one of our teachers I had trained came up to me at a science curriculum meeting and asked if there was any training planned for Adobe Connect Pro.  She had been in one of my training courses over a year ago and quickly became one of our most avid users.  Her IB class met for reviews before tests during after school hours and often collaborated with teachers and classes at other schools around the country.  She had colleagues at Suncoast High School (one of the top public high schools in the country) that were interested in learning how to do the great things she did with her classes.

Participants with cams test the system.

Participants with cams test the system.

I told her I would create one and invite other schools and departments that had expressed interest.  Within a couple weeks I had a class of 17 coming from diverse backgrounds and needs.  My class is run online through our Moodle installation, but the actually training is done completely through Adobe Connect Pro.  Participants log into the system and I use the desktop share to immerse them in the program as they learn about it.  It increases their comfort level immediately when they see how easy it is to get started.

Before our third class an IB Economics teacher in the course called me with some questions about Connect.  As we talked, she expressed that she wasn’t sure how she might use it in her class.  I told her about my favorite use, bringing guest speakers into the class via Connect.  We talked about contacts she had and found that a friend of hers works in the Federal Reserve.    Suddenly, the lights went on in her head and the excitement in her voice told me that her class would be doing many field trips through Adobe Connect Pro.  Recording a session like that can make the experience available for other classes and schools any where in the world.

A little over a week ago I was doing a short presentation about Adobe Connect Pro at another local high school.  I mentioned the free app for Connect and within minutes several teachers were raising their IOS and Android phones in the air showing the online meeting.  They were amazed that students that were out of school for extended illness or attending events could still participate in class with nothing more than a smartphone.

While Adobe has so many great products, I really feel that Connect Pro is the best educational tool in their arsenal.  With it you can demonstrate any program as we often do with our AEL meetings.  You can bring in guests to speak from any where in the world and excite students about topics with collaborative projects.  Adobe has also made some very great pricing structures for K-12, making it a bargain in tough economic times.

5:50 PM Permalink
December 6, 2011

Students shine with Adobe

Thought I’d throw a link to the HSC Visual Art submissions of our Yr12 students (aged 17-18) here at Wyndham College, Australia. Sixty four students submitted works for assessment with the Board of Studies along with over 9,000 other Visual Art students across the state. Four were subsequently selected for the states prestigious ArtExpress exhibition. Over 80% of our students submit works that are developed and refined using either Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, Premiere or a combination of these. Other media areas in this years group include painting, drawing, print and mixed media.

This image (part of a series of seven) created using Adobe Illustrator.

View the slideshow here

10:48 PM Permalink
December 5, 2011

Learning Graphic Art Using Adobe Connect

I wanted to give everyone an update on how learning Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are going using Adobe Connect.  I am so excited now!  Judy Durkin and Rio are spending twenty minutes a week together learning about gradients, layers, grouping, and scale using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.  The magic of this arrangement is how I created an Adobe Connect Meeting Room called, “Judy and Rio’s Art Room” opened it up and started the recording for them both.  Rio and Judy have learned how to share their screen, request control of the working space together.  I just start the recording and walk away as Judy teaches Rio thirty miles away.  Rio has gone back to the recording several times during the week to go back over what he learned from Judy.  Rio has been working on gradients, creating Jelly Fish with a blend of red and orange.  He has learned the different between rasterizing and grouping.   I can’t believe how a fourth grader can pick up on Photoshop and Illustrator so quickly.  We may have to start a self portrait of Rio soon, another great idea from Adobe Education Leader Mike Skocko.  I would challenge any parent out there who wants to help their son or daughter learn graphic art from home, webbing in some great art teacher.  Maybe you can have your own web fairy art mother or father for your son or daughter?   Adobe Connect is the tool of the future for education!

Dave Forrester

Adobe Education Leader, Connect Shaman

3:36 AM Permalink

Lens Correction and more in Lightroom 3.5

One of my favourite features in the current version of Lightroom is the ability to apply automatically detected lens profiles to make corrections to images. After years of manually correcting barrel distortion in Photoshop, I can now make these corrections with one click. An incredible time saver for myself and my students.

Each year our photography students produce a photo book using Blurb Books as part of their final year portfolio. The workflow between Lightroom and Blurb’s desktop software is now tighter than ever. Some while ago, Blurb released a plugin for Lightroom that allows you export directly to your book template from within Lightroom. You can also re-edit your images directly from Lightroom and see the updated changes in your Blurb template. Added to this you can customise your layout, change your image order, edit text, and make two-page photo spreads from inside Lightroom. For our students this makes Lightroom the ideal companion for their book projects. Combining this with soft proofing using Blurb’s ICC profile in Photoshop, (whilst a round trip out of the workflow) can yield good results on calibrated monitors.

See lens correction samples  here

1:08 AM Permalink