Posts in Category "Creative Suite"

May 28, 2009

New exam study guides for Adobe Associate Certification (ACA)

Adobe just released free exam study guides to prepare students and educators for the new Adobe Associate Certifications. In addition, Adobe Press has released three new offerings in the Learn by Video series.
The free exam study guides include:
– Web Communication using Adobe Dreamweaver CS4
– Rich Media Communication using Adobe Flash CS4
– Visual Communication using Adobe Photoshop CS4
Versions for the older CS3 are also available.
The Learn by Video series includes:
– Learn Adobe Photoshop CS4 by Video: Core Training in Visual Communication
– Learn Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 by Video: Core Training in Web Communication
– Learn Adobe Flash CS4 Professional by Video: Core Training in Rich Media Communication
See details>

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October 13, 2008

Building an Accessible Online Curriculum with Captivate 3 & the Creative Suite

by Katherine St. Amant
Now that students have discovered the benefits of completing classes and degrees online, schools are faced with a growing number of students demanding course access via the internet. Since most online students do not have access to campus and student services, online disabled students are often at a disadvantage. For example, English is a second language for deaf and hard of hearing students. On campus, they are provided with an American Sign Language (ASL) translator. Blind students are provided with CD recordings of their books and direct interaction with their instructors. Challenged learners have tutors, and English as a second language students have on-campus communities for support.
Because Santa Monica College strives to provide the highest quality of education for all, our Workforce Development and the Computer Science and Information Systems departments combined to develop and build the college’s first course providing value-added class material for global accessibility. For this course—CIS 1, Computer Concepts with Applications—the user interface encapsulating the material achieved our goal of global access and mutual understanding of the curriculum in our professional development and college credit courses.
Utilizing the seamless integration of Adobe tools allowed us to build this dynamic globally accessible online college course, which our disabled students can control at their own pace. Targeting the deaf and hard of hearing may have been the original intended audience in the original class design, but as we built the class, we realized the powerful results empowered students with other disabilities and situations as well.
The team included specialists from our disabled student center to test our course and ensure we were attentive to the needs of all of our centers’ students. Incorporating keyboard shortcuts designed to work with JAWS, a screen reader, the blind user is able to navigate through the course. The user may choose to listen to the streaming audio or they may access the full script and image description to be read by JAWS. The course was also tested with a head control mouse with success.
The captioning has proven to be extremely helpful for English as a second language students and the ability to control the pace of the course has been popular with our slower learning students.


We began by working with a few organizations dedicated to providing workforce training for the deaf and hard of hearing. From our meetings we came to understand the needs of our targeted audience. The key issue: to provide clarity to the large amount of technical terminologies.
Flash Streaming Video
Our team decided that video of ASL translators, fully captioned, would be the best method for instilling clarity into our online lectures. Our decision was based in part on the ease of building and deploying Flash Streaming Video.
Lecture Design
The team devised a curriculum design that incorporated individual slides including a title, an image, a content summary, a video of an ASL translator with audio and captioning, and a full script for screen readers. The slides were grouped into various lecture topics. Students are able to control the video and the navigation between the individual slides independently with a mouse and/or keyboard.
Course Building – Captivate CS3
Captivate CS3 was chosen as our main development tool for its ease of creating and customizing the user interface combined with the ability to embed Flash Videos containing a separate navigation set. The small.swf file would embed in our course management system, eCollege, without complication. The Flash video would stream from our Flash streaming servers. Captivate CS3 comes with a very strong set of audio and captioning tools that relate to each slide in the project. Our audio narration and captions had to be incorporated in each Flash Video to synchronize with the ASL translator, so we did not utilize Captivate’s captioning tools for this project.
The Course
CIS 1 – Computer Concepts with Applications is one of Santa Monica College Computer Science and Information Systems Department’s most popular computer courses, covering the broad use of personal computer concepts, beginning word processing, an introduction to Windows, and internet concepts. We refer to this class as CIS1 Hi-Tech reflecting the new technologies used to produce it.


Script Writing
We started by writing the scripts for the audio and American Sign Language translators’ videotaping. We planned to cover the material in four books. Utilizing a voice to text program made this job a bit easier for the professors writing the scripts, and gave the scripts a more natural feel. The books were broken down into lectures, each containing from one to 12 slides. There are a total of 385 scripts, one script per slide.
The scope of the project showed itself when we completed this phase. The production of 385 slides required: 385 scripts, 385 images, 385 raw and edited audio files, 385 raw and compressed videos, and 385 captioning files, etc. The huge number of files required a comprehensive file management system. Figure 1 shows the folder and file structure for one slide, from one of the computer concepts books. The Stream folder contains files for the caption program MAGpie.
Figure 1. File structure of the project .png
Graphics – Photoshop CS3
We created all of the images necessary for the project in Photoshop CS3. They include three background images, book names, the custom navigation button set, and all slide figures. The items that remain static throughout the project, the Santa Monica College logo and CIS 1, were designed into the background images. The main content template page (Figure 2) includes a placeholder for the video, a space to include the book name graphic, title, and content.
Figure 2. Photoshop with the content background design  .jpg
Captivate CS3 templates were built utilizing our assets. We created one main template, and from there built templates relating to each book, section, chapter, topic, etc. So, each “lecture” had its’ own topic built on the chapter template, which was built on the section template, and so forth. The design allows the student to know exactly which book, chapter, and topic is being reviewed on every slide (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Template for the Computer Concepts book  .jpg
Constructing Custom Course Navigation
Figure 4. Constructing Custom Course Navigation.tiff
Figure 5. Captivate CS3 Button Properties dialog box.jpg
Figure 6. Kathryn recording scripts .jpg
Audio Recording – Soundbooth CS3
Kathryn was the voice and audio editor and Fariba was the producer. The recordings were performed in an empty classroom. Soundbooth CS3’s extensive toolset allowed the audio process to proceed smoothly. The audio for each video was recorded then immediately edited and processed.
Video Shoot – Capture – Premiere Pro CS3
Another commandeered classroom served as our video studio. Careful logging of all shots on site allowed a quick capture in Premiere Pro CS3 with appropriate naming conventions.
Figure 7. Shooting ASL Translator  .jpg
Video Editing, Compiling, and Rendering – Premiere Pro CS3 + Adobe Media Encoder
Figure 8. Editing team and flowchart  .jpg
In Figure 8, some of our Premiere Pro editing team members are working on our 20 laptops. The complexity of keeping track of the output when you have eight editors concurrently compiling 385 ASL videos, text/audio caption files, and the final Flash Video output, is shown on the whiteboard flowchart in the background.


Flash Streaming Server
With the video uploaded to our Flash Streaming Server, the end product was encapsulated in the course management system, eCollege (Figure 9), flawlessly. The first two sections of this course were offered in our spring 2008 semester. Student feedback has been extremely favorable and encouraging. All the students, even those who are not disabled, benefited from the extra materials. Having so much value added content is helping to transform the virtual classroom into one that is much closer to the live on campus with a professor experience for everyone.
Figure 9. eCollege shell and one slide of the course  .jpg
Figure 10. Accessible Curriculum Project Flow Chart.jpg

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