Archive for April, 2012

April 25, 2012

Adobe CS6 content on the Education Exchange

With the announcement of Adobe Creative Suite 6 and the Creative Cloud, the Adobe Education Exchange is brimming with great new content produced by Adobe, Adobe Education Leaders, and other contributors. Much of this content is featured on a special page dedicated to CS6 for easy access. With CS6 and the supporting resources, you can be fully equipped to engage students in learning, unleash creativity, and prepare them for career success.

The materials cover an assortment of CS6 products and topics. For example, here is a video overview of the Flash Professional CS6 Mobile Content Simulator:

Rich, topical content like this is typical of what you will find in the Education Exchange. Here are some others:

 
There are also a variety of product-focused  technical guides to quickly get up to speed on how to use CS6 and links to other great content surrounding this new collection of professional software.

All you need to join the Education Exchange is a free Adobe ID. Anyone can contribute. Let’s go!

 

2:53 AM Permalink
April 9, 2012

“Please sir, I want some more.”

I have seen the future and it is a scary place, and many will indeed be saying, “I want more”.

Our school board is undergoing a major philosophical shift by adoping a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach to equipping classrooms with digital devices. Their intent is to;
- put their money into fewer and fewer computers, especially full classroom labs,
- encourage students to bring their own devices, thereby saving the costs for that equipment
- use more and more freeware as much as possible
- give students increased access to the internet, including Youtube which is now available to them
- buy school-based equipment such as laptops, notebooks and tablettes which will live on carts so they can be rolled to any classroom (and since the whole school is now a wireless zone cabling is not an issue) in order to offer this support to students unable to bring their own devices
- keep a few specialaized labs such as our two multimedia labs and two business labs, because of their unique technicala and ergonomic requirements

On the surface this is both scary and wonderful. I am heartily in favour of allowing students, even encouraging students, to work more independantly including using their own digital devices. The obvious downside is – they won’t have the “correct” software and there is no money for them to get it through the school. As budgets dissolve and needs increase this solution will be seen in increasing numbers all over the world. Yes, the school board has immediately recognized that they must, and in fact have, set aside money for laptops, notebooks and tablettes for the students who cannot afford them. And of course, those machines will be loaded with the required software. On the surface it looks very interesting. Score one for student and teacher freedom…. score one for budgetary restraint… not so sure about the rest….

The push to use more and more Freeware is also interesting, and problematic. On the positive side, every student will be able to now have the software used at school, and it will be free. You simply cannot get better than that, assuming it actually works, and that it allows sufficient growth for the students to buld their skill sets appropraitely. After exploring several free alternatives to Photoshop I found that both Sumo Paint and PixLr were kind of interesting. They really evoke the look and feel of Photoshop so using these tools now would still allow a student to transfer their skills to Photoshop at a later date quite easily, disarmingly easily. I was quite surprised at how similar they were. And no, they do not do it all. They are not the real thing. But they were surprisingly good. And they were free. As of this moment I have not seen a response from Adobe or from our provincial Ministry of Education regarding the modification of their province wide licences for Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 and or Premier Elements 8 and Adobe CS4 Web Standard such that students would be able to use this software on their own devices, versus the surrent status on school devices only. BYOD may demand that this arrangement be redefined.

There are many, many other areas of concern, but this at least recognizes a few to start. On the surface I am very interested, but under the surface I see many problems. I also see a re-arranging of the old world in which software companies will need to redefine how and where they make their money. Freeware is not great, but the students I know who use Open Office, for example, are very happy with it and their parents are delighted with the cost. Kind of makes you stop and wonder – doesn’t it.

6:17 PM Permalink
April 3, 2012

Adobe Asia Pacific Education Leadership Forum

Asia Pacific Adobe Education Leadership Forum@ Sheraton on Park, Sydney, Au.

Part 1 of 5

Being the first major Adobe event that I’ve attended I was not quite sure of what to expect. However, the surprises were to be all mine.

Arriving at the Sheraton after walking up from the Quay I found myself a little disconcerted at the number of ‘suits’ in attendance, the place seemed to be well stocked with the high end of town. With not a familiar face to be found, I grabbed a coffee, checked my mail and waited in the palatial surrounds of the Conference area.

I’d barely finished a coffee when Andy Sommer (Communications Manager for Australia and New Zealand) came up and introduced himself. We briefly discussed some of the glitch areas for IT in the public system and then he called across Jon Perara, (Vice President Adobe Education) who was crossing the floor nearby, and I had the pleasure of a brief talk with Jon before they both had to move on to prepare for other things.

Once inside the conference room it was obvious that the numbers were above initial expectations, very squeezy and cozy.

After an initial overview by the Peter McAlpine,MC for the day, Jon Perara spoke at length on a range of developments with technology in education.

Transformation of the Pedagogical Paradigm

The introductory push was provided via a video promoting a new tablet device that the government of India was distributing to schools at around $50 per unit. I found myself a bit dubious about the claims that it could do “everything a computer can do” given that it was contextualized within the confines of being able to connect to the Internet and handle email, and whilst the screenshots clearly indicated that it had quite a few apps on it, none of their functionality was mentioned. Nice….but I’ll stick with my iPad.

Perara is an impressive speaker. Obviously well prepared, knowledgeable, intelligent and articulate, he fluently and often humorously, addressed a range of developments and concerns around IT in education. What came out of it for me was the lack of preparedness there is here in the Australia educational arena to harness the diverse advantages afforded by the obvious onslaught of portable devices into daily usage. Perara pointed to stats demonstrating that over twice as many portable devices had shipped as opposed to personal computers this year and that students no longer saw computers as their primary device.

However the elephant in the room was the obvious lack of uniformity on policy, re- mobile devices in schools and districts in the US and the somewhat archaic approach to their access and use in Australia, particularly here in NSW under DEC policy. (This is my reading based on posts across a range of educational forums)

STEM vs STEAM

Perara went on to discuss the advantages offered to students by integrating mobile technologies in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) schools in the US. Although not an unfamiliar dialogue for me, I found myself musing on a similiar thematic posed by educators in the US, viz,. that there’s no STEAM in the STEM education model. Given that in a recent survey in the US, 80% of students cited creativity as a core competency, why aren’t the Arts included in the STEM model?

As an Art, Photography and Design teacher I find it easy for my students to understand the significance of creative thinking; it’s importance as a key contributor to social wellbeing, technological / scientific innovation and as the foundation for culture (Art, Music, Literature, Education etc.) How is it that the people who wield influence (Politicians, Legislators, Policy makers etc.), don’t get it?

Getting sidetracked? There’s a chance…

Back to the roundup. (I’m trawling 7 pages of unedited notes here) ..Perara went on to discuss a number of key trends including the global nature of work, the use of Social Media, Cloud based technologies and Touch devices. He spoke briefly about the work of “taking it global”, a student based initiative that used geo-technology to track deforestation, and the impact this was having on perception and policy.

Mention was made, that by 2016, 30% of Americans will own tablet devices and by 2015 60% of university data would be ‘Cloud’ driven. In relation to this, it was touted that Tablet and Mobile devices are identified as the ideal means to expose personal, corporate and design based creative activity to a wider audience. I can buy this, personally, as there are a significant number of publications and applications that I would never had looked at, subscribed to, been exposed to or used if I had not owned a tablet and/or mobile device. So for me there’s merit in exploring these avenues as enrichment.

The remaining part of the presentation dipped in and out of notions of ‘self service IT”. Apps such as ’LIveBInders’ , OnLive desktop, Adobe Edge, Acrobat Professional, Ideaopolis, Adobe Kuler, Adobe Collage and web based services such as ‘Edmodo’ (which now incorporates ‘Google Docs integration, and the recently launched Edmodo Platform and API) featured along with ‘FlavoursMe” (an online interface that allows you to organize display content from 35 or so services into one online presence).

A light was shone briefly on the possibilities offered by Cloud based rendering. Cloud based rendering is obviously a hot issue, but one that that still leaves me a little cold. Whilst nice for professionals and small studios, most schools would find themselves struggling with bandwidth issues where rendering video content was concerned. It also begs the question, what do you really need it for? If you are working in Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, InDesign, Soundbooth, LIghtroom, Dreamweaver, Audition, etc. why would you need to step outside the capability of you desktop or laptop to render out work produced in these apps. After Effects and Premiere Pro I can understand, but if you have a huge project wouldn’t you outsource a render farm or set up your school network to act as one? I’m not sure that I buy the idea.

An initiative that did fascinate me was one run by Globaloria……@ http://www.globaloria.org/, a US company working with disadvantaged schools and students who have never touched a computer.  They were training students to use Flash Technology with a view to providing students with a background for using Flash with high-end graphics as demonstrated in recent developments with the “Unreal” gaming engine.

And so ends the first tag of the day. The remaining posts on this will go to a new site. The URL for which I’ll post later if anyone wants to follow the rest of the story.

What I did walk away with after Jon had spoken was the sense of a real need to push the awareness of the Adobe Education Community out to Australian teachers. There is very little content on the site relevant to curriculum here in Australia and no doubt anything posted by Australian teachers would struggle to find relevance in the US or Canada. It would be nice to see Adobe plug this with the DEC. I’ll certainly be working from my end to get the message out there.

 

10:51 PM Permalink