Author Archive

April 28, 2013

Adobe Forms Central and other worlds.

For some time now I’ve been looking for ways to reduce the hard copy side of my administrative workload. Whilst the obvious solution had been staring me in the face for some time, oddly enough it was only on a whim some eight weeks ago that I stopped into Form Central and began to investigate how I might streamline attendance and truancy compliance, which in our school is a nightmarish entanglement of checks and crosschecks amongst databases that don’t often talk to each other all that well, followed by a paperchase involving hardcopy handling by at least four people with no means of monitoring who had done what with what and leaving no long term record of actions taken for myself.

I have to say that I could not believe how simple it was to put an extensive form together from scratch. Reformatting our current truancy form, testing, debugging it, and sending off the first form to the respective recipients took less than fifteen minutes. There were some initial glitches but these were ironed out quickly.

So fast forward several weeks and it’s everything from student surveys to gauge the effectiveness of programs to individualized data collection for students requiring Special Provisions for Preliminary and HSC exams. Next stop, trying to show those higher up the food chain just what it is they are missing out on.

In other news………

Today also marks the official launch of ALIEN, the Adobe Leaders Information Exchange Network. It is envisaged that this network will enable Adobe Education Leaders in both K-12 and Higher Ed to connect and share ideas, information, resources, post event notices, moderate discussion forums, create networks and groups, post and link to content, create individualized pages and blogs, stream WordPress, post appropriate photographic and video content, share thoughts on rainy afternoons in a secure environment and more. Given the wealth and diversity of experience amongst the AEL community it felt like the time was right to step up and get this happening and contribute to growing the connectivity in the community at no cost to the users.

So step on board, it should be a good journey.

To submit a request for membership simply sign up and provide a link to your AEL profile.

alien

 

8:31 AM Permalink
September 15, 2012

Adobe Education Leader Summit 2012 Sydney

 

 

Day 1 (Orientation and Presentations)

iphone 6×6 panorama

The first AEL Summit to be held in Australia took place at the Kirribilli Club in Sydney over the 12th, 13th and 14th of September. It was an extraordinary gathering of new and existing AEL’s from across the country and included identified leaders drawn from the ranks of Teachers, Principals, Deputy Principals, ICT Co-Ordinators, Regional Advisers and Project Officers.

For me this truly became the most significant and valuable Professional Development event of my teaching career.  The opportunity to focus completely on the planning and development of curriculum support material aligned to the emerging standards for the National Curriculum and develop strategies and projects to support professional development for a range of identified stakeholders within the teaching profession with such an incredibly dedicated and talented group of people was a paradigm shifting experience.

Firstly a big vote of thanks to Matt Niemitz, Donna Magauran, Anna Mascarello, Peter McAlpine, Michael Stoddart, Paul Burnett and the ever-effervescent Brian Chau for the quality of support and/or organisation provided over the three days of the Summit.

To the AEL’s (Vincent Albanese, Susan Bell, Daniel Rattigan, Megan Townes, Jason Carthew, Brett Kent and Pipp Cleaves) who presented at the Summit, what more can be said?  Inspiring and accomplished; it was an honour to present alongside you.

Not much spare time in my day. Just wanted to put this up to acknowledge the quality and commitment of the new AEL Australian team. It’s not often that being a part of an organisation or team inspires a sense of pride for me, but it certainly has in this case.

And so……

Some of the impressive new stuff for me that’s not under NDA was Adobe Tutorial Builder for Photoshop. Very impressed with this plugin from Adobe Labs. I’ve downloaded it already and will be adding this to the tutorial work-flow as of now. Also taking a closer look at Edge Preview; some nice developments on the horizon here as well.

Adobe Configurator was another tool that has slipped my attention. Hiding in Adobe labs this little gem will enable me to configure workspaces for Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign with unbelievable ease.

There are some real surprises in store for Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements users on the horizon. Keep your ears to the ground for version eleven releases. Nice work Adobe.

See more here

 

 

 

2:07 AM 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
March 11, 2012

Extraordinary work from NSW Art students

In New South Wales, Australia; students who study art in their senior high school years have the opportunity to have their assessment submissions displayed at a number of prestigious galleries, notably the New South Wales Art Gallery and other galleries such as the Armory at Newington, Hazelhurst Gallery, Newcastle Art Gallery, University of Western Sydney, Wollongong City Gallery to name a few. The exhibitions are chosen from selections of works that were at the top range of the marking scale. Students whose works were pre-selected are then placed into a pool of works from which gallery curators make their selections. The Arts, and in this case Visual Arts are a valued part of the educational curriculum in NSW. Out of the approximately 80,000 students that sat for this years HSC (Higher School Certificate) 10,000 or so chose Visual Art as one of their HSC subjects and submitted Bodies of Work as part of their assessment. Of those 10,000 about 200 were chosen to have their works exhibited across a number of Galleries and exhibition spaces in Metropolitan Sydney and regional NSW. There isn’t anything comparable to it anywhere else in Australia or on the planet. This is certainly a model for Art education that should be looked at seriously by any country that wants to give their high school students a rich and immersive experience in Visual Art. As an art educator and an AEL it’s so pleasing to be a part of this extraordinary process and; last but not least, spot where Photoshop and Illustrator feature in the student works.

“ARTEXPRESS is an exhibition of bodies of work by secondary school students submitted for the Higher School Certificate examination in Visual Arts in New South Wales, Australia” @Board of Studies NSW.

View my post at R.E.W.I.R.E.D

Images courtesy of ArtExpress @ Art Gallery of NSW

8:41 AM Permalink
March 3, 2012

Photoshop Touch

I’ve just spent a few days taking Photoshop Touch for a serious run. Touch is only recently available for IOS users, a long wait, but a worthwhile one. Obviously Adobe have done their homework. Photoshop Touch performs well beyond what one would normally expect from an image editing app designed for tablet use. My only wish list (not really connected to reality) for Touch is a modest increase in the output file size and the addition of some functionality that mimics ‘add structure’ as opposed to ‘sharpening’.

I found being able to work with most of the layering capability of Photoshop a real pleasure, not because it replaces what I would normally do in my editing workflow but because I can work on ideas in ‘abstentia’ and make editing decisions on the go, then refine and finalise them for either printing or uploading to web galleries at a later point. The ‘scribble tool’ is a stroke of genius and the ability to refine the selection without stepping out of the tools functionality makes working with selections a real pleasure. Last but not least (amongst a host of features) is the ability to add and edit a layer directly from the camera. This means that I can paint directly into an image with a light source; combine that with the ability to paint that into a selection and blend via ‘layer modes’ and one might be able to do some light painting aka Peter Solness without having to step out into the bush in total darkness armed with only a torch. Aggh…. at least I can dream

I did some comparison tests converting a colour image to black and white using Touch and Nik’s SilverEffex Pro 2 plugin for Photoshop. Photoshop Touch performed admirably. You can read the post and see the images here

 

11:20 AM 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

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