Posts in Category "Digital School Collection"

June 4, 2013

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Knowledge: Exploring the use of Augmented Reality in Education

I have a lab dubbed “The Knowledge Garden” where I jump, feet first, into the unknown with my students. Change comes so fast in the Technology landscape that waiting until I have a demonstrable grasp of the subject matter—enough to tailor assets tied to predictable learning outcomes—seems completely at odds with the lay of the land. Instead, the classroom is flattened and my role shifts from being an authority on a technology to being a co-explorer with a few more notches on my belt than my students. Typically, we wade into Beta environments where documentation is scarce to non-existent. There are few signposts and worn paths in these environments and even fewer materials. This allows my students and I to experience a just in time or JIT learning paradigm. What we explore, we map, document, demonstrate, illustrate and publish. It is a form of informal, applied research. My students and I then curate the collective knowledge gleaned from these explorations into a learning repository that is hosted on a course WIKI and made searchable and usable by future groups that may wish to repeat what we did or expand the horizon of discovery in some area that we did not previously investigate and, so, in this fashion, we put our collective shoulders to the task of moving the ball further up the hill.

Last year my students explored mobile publishing on a beta deployment of Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite and, for the very first time, my students and I had produced learning assets that pre-dated the public release of that software by one month! This meant that we had moved from JIT to BIT learning (BEFORE ITS TIME)! This was a very exciting proof of concept that demonstrated how student-based research could be an extremely valuable mechanism for pushing the exploration of new technologies in education.

Testing triggers for Augmented Reality

Testing triggers for Augmented Reality

After my students finished their explorations, we then teamed up with interested faculty members to mentor them on using these technologies in their own teaching practice. This resulted in the production of our school’s very first App on the Apple App store and stood as a use case for integrating the power of the Adobe DPS system as an internal communications vehicle. This has spawned several knowledge transfer workshops to other stakeholders in the school that included using the platform for Academic Publishing at our Institute Without Boundaries ( Students from the Knowledge Garden are providing leadership in the transformation of how we do things by actively promoting and mentoring the use of the technologies that they have explored.

This sort of knowledge transfer represents a complete inversion of the original educational hierarchy. This winter we worked on using two Augmented Reality products called Aurasma and Layar to support an interactive exhibition on The History of Game Design. Students used Adobe After Effects to produce short, 2 minute documentaries on seminal games in the evolution of game design. These videos were then “bound” to “Trigger” images that were vinyl cut and displayed around the halls in our new School of Game Design. This content was then geo-located on a GoogleMaps API within an Aurasma channel titled “The History of Game Design” and then socialized for discovery. Interested users can “Follow” our channel or perform location-based browsing that indicates that there is content nearby. Once they have subscribed to our feed they are given thumbnails of all the visual triggers or “auras” so that they can look for them on location. Exhibit goers used smart phones and tablets to access this video content by pointing their devices at the triggers  or Auras (Aurasma). We also produced a printed catalogue for the exhibit that a person could read in the conventional manner, yet when they scanned its pages, their devices pushed the video content to their  devices (LAYAR).


It was amazing to see throngs of people actively engaging in learning that had exploded beyond the traditional confines of the boxed classroom. One student lamented “I wish we could learn like this.” To which I added. “That is the point of this exercise. This is paving the way for new models of delivery.” It allows us to rethink the locus of learning as well as our conventional notions of time and place. The learning is always there, waiting for the intrepid explorer to find it and uncover its bounty. The notion of geocaching learning invites comparisons to a treasure hunt. Exploring the hallways of our school with a smart device is a little bit like having those X-Ray specs that they used to advertise on the back of popular comic books years ago. Our space is bristling with information you just have to know how to look!

Below is a sequence showing short introductory sequences that we shot against a green screen then rotoscoped in After Effects. We created pixelated avatars of each team member as our trigger images and matched up the video so that when the user pointed at the screen (see image above) the video image of the person would dissolve in over the avatar and tell the viewer what that video game that person first played and what they were currently playing. CLICK below to learn about MY gaming habits!


Below is a short student sequence documenting their interaction and impressions of the medium.

student ar interaction with AR

Below is a sample of one of the documentaries produced by one of my students Evan Gerber.

Mini Doc on Halflife game

If you are ever in the Toronto area, please drop by the George Brown, School of Game Design at 241 King Street East, 5th floor and discover the learning that silently and invisibly clings to our walls!

I am currently working with a small group of Design and Fashion faculty to share what we learned on our journey into AR. I am assisting them with creating short demonstration videos and tying this trigger images that they will be able to post up in their labs.

I would like to hear from anyone else who is using this technology in a teaching and learning context.



4:23 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)


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……@, 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
January 5, 2012

Self expression is healing

Self expression is healing . I know this because my students show me how true this is every year when they make their films.

For the record, not all of their pieces are like this, thank you! But every year there are students who come forward to tell me about their Adobe Youth Voices projects and I am frequently moved to tears by the hardships they are experiencing. There is the young lady whose aunt is an alcoholic – with unpleasant consequences, and the student wants to talk about this in an audio podcast and poster. There are the two students who discovered they had both been subjected to emotional abuse for years and they want to make a film about this. Then there is the student who cannot live at home – mom is a “bit of an addict” and dad – well, living with dad is simply not possible. She lives with a friend.  She is considering doing a piece about this experience. I am moved in ways that reach deep into my soul. I am overwhelmed that so much hardship goes on around us, in good old middle class Canada. And then I am honoured to be trusted such that they would want to talk about these issues with me and that leaves me feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of seeing these projects through to fruition while also asking constantly… “Are you comfortable sharing all of this with the world?” because the students must also be protected.

I think about the software we use – Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 and Adobe Premier Elements 9 and I wonder if the software engineers ever think about what their programs address and create. If they were to see what goes on in my class as these projects gently unfold and grow, I suspect they would be amazed and perhaps, overwhelmed. It is truly awesome to watch and to nurture and mentor this whole process. I bet they never talked about this in engineering class. But this is what they are helping to create through their software. Thank you to all the engineers – you make great things possible. And out of some of that, comes healing. The healing that can only emerge from the release from some of your troubles and issues. It is a very neat journey. If any engineers read this, please be sure to pass it along to your comrades. And smile at what you help make possible. As for me – I am delighted that all of this is going on. I can’t change their pasts but I can certainly help to change their futures, and isn’t that what education is all about?

10:04 PM Permalink
July 11, 2011



There is a dark side to our digital world and it is called cyber-bullying. Our intervention is required.

Cyber-bullying is lethal but I did not appreciate the depths of this reality until I looked it in the face and saw the upset and nightmares it creates. I had read the articles about cyber-bullying. I had watched a video. I thought I was aware but I was wrong. It was only when it faced me directly, when one of my students was taken down that horrible path, that I fully understood what it is and why it must be addressed. It is the dark side of our digital world.

The student in question is a very quiet, intelligent, accomplished person, with wonderful friends and a bright clear future. When this student was away for many classes, I worried. The Guidance department then sent out a note to the student’s teachers explaining that medical issues prevented this young person from attending school and since it was near the end of the year would we each please contact mom and help the student to complete the year successfully, understanding that the student was not capable of doing everything normally at least for the time being.

I called mom – and learned the horrible truth. Her child had been the victim of a vicious cyber-bullying attack. This wonderful, quiet, young person was talking about suicide. Not as a “drama queen/king”, but quietly, intelligently… and that is when mom and dad sought emergency counselling and started round-the-clock care so their child would never be alone. When I was on the phone with mom she completely broke down. She was in tears, I had tears running down my face, and it suddenly was all too real. When I suggest that “lethal” is the only word to describe cyber-bullying, I truly mean it.

When I called mom I had a game plan in mind. I do house calls. I don’t do them very often, and I always have parental permission before I “drop in” and it occurred to me that this was the time for one of those visits – if the student could not come to me then I would go to them and the family agreed to this. It is very difficult to explain what it is like to see a warm, caring young person who used to look so good now looking like they were in Hell, but that’s what faced me. I said I was there to provide support and to show that their child meant the world to me. I didn’t care about the academics – they had a fabulous track record in my class and further work was not needed. I had taken the time to come over to prove that this teenager was a very important person and had every reason to live. That was why mom allowed me to come over. That was my whole message. The visit lasted about an hour. There were warm hugs all round, many tears were wept, some anger was vented, some details were shared. And I learned at point blank range just how destructive and horrible cyber-bullying is. Not “can be”, not “could be”… “is.” Period.

Teens don’t have a lot of inner resources with which to deal with life’s challenges and their executive function – well – it’s just not at an “executive” level yet. They depend heavily on their friends and peers for their identities and the internet is a large part of this. Watch some teens on their phones and you’ll see how distraught they become when they miss part of an online texting conversation. Not all teens do this at this level, but many do, and cyber-bullying preys on that vulnerability and dependence.
We do amazing things with amazing kids and it is a privilege and an honour to be a part of their world. Being allowed into someone’s home is an even greater honour and for that I offer a heartfelt thanks to that family. Thank you for letting me in. I am glad I could help in some small way. Like the title says, there is a dark side to our digital world and we must address it directly. It is time to create a curriculum that helps to undo the dark side. Please send your thoughts and comments – I would like to hear what you are doing in this regard.

Fortunately, there is also a bright side to our digital world. It is called student success. Here are a few examples from my past year of teaching.

Working in multimedia is wonderful and each year there are moments when we see kids succeed in ways that only these media allow. One young fellow has many learning challenges. Doing academic work is difficult for him. He tries but it’s not usually very successful. He was bailing on all of his classes, including mine… and then he completed his music video. What a breakthrough! He worked with a few friends and put together a movie using Premier Elements 9.0 and suddenly the storyteller that is locked away inside this young man was revealed. The video was far from perfect but it was a fabulous statement from him. I love Premier Elements because it does so much and is so accessible. Another student worked with her partner to tell the story of a monster that stole people’s dreams. Hours and hours of filming and scripting and editing (again in Premier Elements 9.0) finally came together in their labour of love. They were justifiably proud of their accomplishment. Over and over again I watched students tell stories and comment on their lives through the videos and posters they were making. The power of multimedia was very much in evidence all around my classroom lab. It was a joy to see the tools of our trade being used to create healthy, productive projects. As I look back on the year I was reminded that most kids in most situations do indeed do the right thing. When I was dealing with the cyber-bullying situation I needed to remember this.

My year ended on a strong up note when the bullied student showed up at school on report card day (they were back!!!) to say a very warm and deeply felt, thank you. It doesn’t get any better than that. I hope your year has been as warm and nurturing.

6:37 PM Permalink
June 30, 2011


An ultimate exam – can there be such a thing? If it is in a high school senior design class is the Adobe Digital School Collection up to the task? ABSOLUTELY – on both counts. My classes did it and the results were fabulous.

Our principal explained she needed a favour. She was the volunteer chair of our school board’s United Way campaign for 2011-2012 and she needed new posters for the campaign. The posters would be printed and distributed throughout the board (no small deal – we are one of the largest school boards in Canada) . I love authentic tasks. Having spent 20 years in ad agencies and design firms before moving into teaching I know the difference between textbook work and “real” assignments and this opportunity was incredibly real. Each year I have several students who are move into the design field in post secondary programs and for them to have first class published work in their portfolios would be fantastic.

To make it interesting I chose to do the posters as the final exam project in my senior design classes. Our provincial ministry of education allows us the freedom to create our final exams in whatever form best suits our courses and students and for me that always involves a practical design assignment. After all, we are a project driven, student centered creating, solving, building, testing and evaluating class so why not get the students to do exactly that as part of their exam. The challenge built in to this, however, is that because the poster assignment was being presented as an exam I would not be able to offer all of the feedback and assistance I would normally offer in a regular assignment. But – I had promised fabulous posters for my principal to use for the campaign. Would I be able to deliver as promised?

The software we use is the Photoshop Elements 9.0 (with Premier Elements 9.0, and Web Standard CS4 – Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Flash Pro). My senior students have repeatedly confirmed that this version of Photoshop is more than up to the task. So many tools and functionalities have been carried over from the CS4 version that it has become a powerhouse of its own. A full slate of layers functions – layer blends, clipping masks, layer masks – plus a broad range of colour functions and selection functions as well as a full range of filters means that there isn’t much you can’t do in this version. Obviously it is not the same as Photoshop CS4 or CS5, but it isn’t a pale junior version either – it holds its own and produces wonderful results. For high school classes getting into digital design I find it is a very accessible and accomplished tool.

A quick side note, should you chose to do this type of assignment – I helped many of the students with the words for the posters. We are not a creative writing class, we’re a design class, so helping them with the text really eased their concerns and allowed them to focus on what was important – their designs. Photos came from only – it allows users to use the images in almost any way imaginable and that was important to me since the school board was printing and distributing the posters and copyright issues could not interfere with this process. As part of this assignment the students also had to learn and meet the requirements of logo use for both the United Way and for our school board – yet another authentic element built into the project.

So – how did it all work out? My grade 11 classes created two posters each – one for an adult audience and one for a student audience (their choice of age range – elementary, middle school or high school). The grade 12’s did a similar assignment but had three posters to do – they also had to create a poster using typography (no illustration or photo). In all 200 posters were created – and I was delighted by the results! I presented the top 21 designs to our principal and she was totally blown away. She wanted to use all of them! Our superintendant was equally impressed and I was delighted. It had worked. A real task with a real client and a real deadline and real requirements. THIS was an ultimate exam – and in a few weeks I will learn which posters the committee has chosen so they can be prepped and printed.

One last important note. Like every other teacher I have students who bail part way through a course. It happens and sometimes you can try to overcome this but…. Well – apparently word got out to all of the students, including those who had not attended regularly, because every single student participated in the exam assignment. AND I am very pleased to say that included in that group of the top 21 designs were designs from the peripheral students. A couple of them had really come through and their work was exemplary. And isn’t that why we do what we do in our classrooms every day?

10:52 AM Permalink
October 6, 2010

Announced: Premiere Elements 9

Adobe Premiere Elements 9 top new features for educationLinda Dickeson, Adobe Education Leader and Distance Learning Coordinator, Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, NE

From an educator’s perspective, I have been anticipating the release of the new version 9 of Premiere Elements. For several years, Premiere Elements has been a popular movie making solution for education. It’s an intuitive video project environment for students from upper elementary school age through high school (and beyond).

At younger ages, students arrange media clips on a Sceneline, similar to creating a storyboard or slideshow. Older students move into using a Timeline with multiple video and audio tracks; keyframes for animation; and professional quality effects, filters and transitions. These experiences position students well to move into using Premiere Pro, Adobe’s professional video editing solution.

So why should educators be excited about Premiere Elements version 9 release? Among all of the various new features, here are a few of my favorite:

  1. The TOP of my list is that now Premiere Elements is available for Macintosh! For school districts or institutions supporting both platforms, having cross-platforms solutions that look and operate the same makes support and training much easier.
  2. You can share a final project by creating a Web DVD, which makes a Flash-based movie for the web including the easily created interactive disk menu (scenes and chapters). Upload the Web DVD to your own web site or for sharing, making the project available to a much wider audience.
  3. Premiere Elements has enhanced support for HD video and supports video from newer camera types (Flip, DSLR, etc.).
  4. There are lots of new professional quality filters and effects.
  5. New Themes give you more choices for Instant Movies, DVD menus or Title clips.

There are great resources at Adobe’s new Education Exchange—successful lesson plans, activities and tutorials for multiple curricular areas shared by educators (sign up for your free account). Adobe TV has free video tutorials on every product.

If you don’t have Premiere Elements 9 yet and want to take it for a spin, download the trial and get started! Premiere Elements can be purchased individually or bundled with the new Photoshop Elements 9. It also is a part of the Adobe Digital School Collection.

5:19 PM Permalink
June 24, 2010

Using Adobe Youth Voices to Reach Teachers

Today’s Web 2.0 digital media is encouraging teachers to prepare their students to become video producers. But how do we, as teacher educators, first motivate and then prepare both our students and ourselves for this new world of digital video? At Western Michigan University, we are exploring ways to combine newly emerging video digital technologies with the ancient art of storytelling to motivate and prepare pre-service students and veteran teachers to help their students use reflective experiences and share digital media share their stories.
Given ever-expanding content and technology choices, from video to multimedia to Web 2.0, there is an extraordinary need to understand how to involve the learner, the teacher, curriculum, and school environment (Marshall, 2002). Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) emphasize the importance of technology tools as an integral part of education, not merely classroom equipment. According to a DOE report on teacher quality, only 52% of the four million teachers working in public schools feel comfortable using the technologies available to them (NCES, 2007). Since over half of public school teachers feel uncomfortable with technology (NCES, 2007), and many teachers report moderately low levels of computer competence, we’ll need new ways to improve teachers’ confidence and competence.
One of the best ways to build confidence and competence in computer skills is to provide examples. Well-produced and explained models can both inspire and inform. In a study of how students are now teaching their teachers to use technology, Jonathan Milines, (2007) clams that, “teachers will never be as computer savvy as their students.” He rejects the idea of sending teachers to regular cram courses, but says instead they “should allow their pupils to take the lead in using technology.” He adds, “Teachers can evaluate students’ use of new technologies, and can teach about how those technologies fit into life and learning.”
Adobe provided photo- and video-editing software and online training for teachers at selected schools where students are producing videos for the Adobe Youth Voices (AYV) Project. In these videos, many Adobe Youth Voices students blend their own life stories with a relevant social issue. I recently conducted a workshop for teachers focused on better ways to provide their students with 21st century digital communication skills, encouraging collaboration to use technologies to express their students’ unique life and learning. This approach puts much of the burden of learning new software skills on the students. I asked each of the 35 teachers enrolled in two different emerging technology seminar graduate courses to view and report upon at least three different Adobe Youth Video (AYV) clips. They were given the following instructions:

Adobe Youth Voices is a program that encourages the use of video, multimedia, digital art, web, animation, and audio tools that enable youth to explore and comment on their world. Please review at least three videos from the Adobe Youth Voices program, and write one to three paragraphs on your reaction to the use of these tools by students and how they might be used in your classroom. Links to these videos can be found at
The degree of reaction and expressed motivation to use the AYV model was unexpected. Here is a sampling of the results:

“Wow! I want the software and media devices that will allow me to create videos in my classroom. I’m seriously considering trying to get my hands on some more video cameras and software. The videos that the students made were fun to watch. I could tell that they enjoyed making them and I can see how much pride a student could feel over developing a video project like some of the ones that I saw. I don’t know many teenagers who don’t enjoy seeing themselves on camera and hearing their own voices. The finished projects looked and sounded so professional. Even students who normally don’t like to express themselves in front of other people seemed to enjoy the projects.”

Here are links to the three Adobe Youth Voices videos that this teacher selected: Could you call this home? Be the Difference What has this World Come to?
Adobe also provides details on how teachers can use the model. A free download of the curriculum used by average classroom teachers for these summer AYV workshops can be found at Another teacher summarized well what many of the teachers had to say:

“The videos on this web site showed powerful messages from today’s youth. These videos are very well done and show that our student population has something to say. The videos would connect well with our students because they were made by other students who are just like them. I would recommend this site to anyone looking for videos on social issues. These videos really inspired me. Not only to be able and see how other lives can really affect people in so many good ways, but also how it changes others from top to bottom and inside and out. I thank everyone involved in this site for helping the world. I watched five videos and each affected me. I have been around so many different people in my life and through so many difficult situations, but they still do not seem to compare to what others are enduring. It helps me work to better myself and quit complaining – even about little things. ….. Life is short, but feelings, memories, and love last forever. These video stories are the proof of that.”

These detailed responses from the teachers in this seminar course may also be helpful to other teachers looking to use the AYV model to teach in various curriculum subject areas.

The videos that have been presented on Adobe Youth Voices tend to be more about social issues, but I could see students in my science class using them to talk more about environmental issues. I have a unit where students learn about the environment and how changes in the environment, whether by humans or other organisms, can drastically alter the ecosystems as a whole. I can imagine students creating a video about a particular ecosystem showing the different organisms living within it and how humans have affected it, or how humans can help restore the ecosystem to its original state.”

“The AYV Model has focused primarily on working with inner city kids during summer workshops. Teachers from non-urban schools could also think about using the AYV model during the regular school year.” Here is what another teacher said:

“The students could post videos that were made for the whole world to see. This type of site would have a great impact on students who were making these types of videos. Not only would they be able to see other students work, but they would know that their work could be seen. If I had these tools in my classroom, the students could make these incredible videos. The impact on education would be great due to the amount of cross curricular projects your students could do.
I can see how making these videos would be extremely motivating to students. Not only is there a world audience, but many of the videos are real works of art. Because the target students for the Youth Voices initiative seem to be the at-risk population, these students have been given a unique opportunity to share their world. Having said this, I know making videos would also be motivating to my students, only an extremely small percentage of whom could be considered “at risk.” I have several ideas for videos that my students could produce (I just have to take the plunge and try it.)”

Another high school teacher reported on inspired ideas for her English Literature classes:

“I can see endless possibilities for this in my own classroom. For example, right now we are discussing The Giver, a story about a world with no colors. I could see my students using some of the video effects, combined with some poetry or music to express their opinions on the topic. In my Teen Literature class we are reading The Outsiders. We have done a lot of self exploration in this class along the lines of friendships, relationships and making life-changing choices. Making an Adobe video would be a great way to allow the students to express themselves. I have several students who love to skateboard, play guitar, play basketball etc. We don’t have any official sports teams at our school for them to showcase these talents. Making a video would be such an awesome way for them to showcase these talents. I could see several of my students buying into my teen lit class, if they were allowed to make a video about skateboarding. I could tie in literacy standards by having them write a script and incorporate themes, poetry, literature, history etc. into their videos. Bravo! Adobe, Bravo! How do I get this stuff into my classroom?”

The largest concern for adapting the AYV model by these classroom teachers was the perceived high cost. As one teacher reported “The price of the Adobe software is much more of an expense than my school would ever approve!” This is a theme that I heard over and over again, that this would be great to use with classes, but for the high cost of the Adobe software. Here is an example from one of the teachers, “I did notice that on the side of the screen that you could see what software the students used to create their video. When I checked the price of the Adobe Creative Suite 4 Premium I about had a heart attack. $1,699 will never fly in a public school.”
Another teacher detailed her concern related to cost:

“Regarding the issue of school implementation, one thing that really stood out for me was the price of the software used in most of these videos (Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium), it normally costs US$1,799, but it has also a special education price of just US$599, which, while being a pretty good discount, is still quite expensive, and that is just the software. There’s also the cost of the licensing for the use of the software in different computers, which depends on the version of the program and the number of computers, and while Abode gives many options to choose from and is certainly interested in supporting the education field, it’s hard no to think of trying to do something similar with a less expensive program or even with the free (and really basic) video tools that come bundled with most OS’s (Windows Movie Maker for Windows and iMovie for Macs: don’t know about Linux users).

A breakdown of this group of 34 educators, show that they included 4 administrators, 2 educational technology coordinators and 30 teachers, including 3 that were currently lay off from their teaching job. A further breakdown of the 30 teachers shows that 18 taught K-8 students and 12 taught high school while 8 were from high-risk schools. In many ways, they represented a typical population of educators. However, they differ in that they were all seeking a graduate degree in educational technology, and thus could be said to be more knowledgeable and interested in the use of technology in the classroom.
In a follow-up survey, 34 (100%) of these educators said that viewing the AYV samples had inspired them to think about using the AYV model in their schools. However, 32 of the 34 also said that cost was the greatest impediment. When asked if they knew the cost of Adobe volume licensing for their schools only two (6%) had the licensing information. When asked if they would consider using the Adobe Elements (Premiere Elements and/or Photoshop Elements) as a less expensive alternative for implementing an AYV-like project in their school, only three reported yes. No one said they would not use Elements, and 29 said they did not know differences between Premiere Pro and Premiere Elements for video editing. Two participants in the survey did not respond to the question. When ask to rank other alternatives, the most common response was the freely available Microsoft Movie Maker for PCs, followed by iMovie for Macs.
While it is not possible to generalize the results from this small sample of Michigan educators, this study does suggest that using AYV samples can inspire educators to think about using video and video editing software to create AYV-like videos in their schools and classrooms. However, the perceived high cost of Adobe software remains as serious impediment. To use AYV to inspire the general population of educators, Adobe may want to consider funding a separate group of students to use Elements for AYV projects. The results could also provide less expensive models that would more likely motivate teachers to include student video projects as part of in their curriculum.
In conclusion, AYV projects can provide classroom teachers with the inspiration and motivation to trust their students to teach them how to use video in classroom for meaningful, relevant, and engaging learning. As one of the teachers in this study said, “It would be great to try something meaningful (an AYV-like project) that related to the students lives while tackling a specific topic from class. It is not just using engaging technology, but using it for a purpose, with a reason that can support the time, effort, and money invested in technology for student learning and achievement.”
Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and
school. Washington, D.C.: National Research Council.
Marshall, J.M. (2002). Learning with technology: Evidence that technology can, and does, support learning. San Diego, CA: Cable in the Classroom.
Milne, J. (2007, April). Technology? Teachers can’t keep up. The Times Educational Supplement,(4734), 30. Retrieved April 16, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1271024301)
National Center for Educational Statistics (2007). Teacher quality: A report on teacher preparation and qualifications of public school teachers. Washington, DC.: NCES.

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May 9, 2010

AIR- Tight! The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Continue reading…

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April 16, 2010

Digital Learning Event, Washington, D.C.

A feeling of anticipation was in the air on the morning of April 14, 2010 in Northern Virginia as participants at the HP/Intel Digital Learning Environments conference ate their breakfast and sipped their coffee. They listened to how HP and Intel have invested millions of dollars into education all over the world, as have their partnered-sponsors including Adobe, Microsoft and Vernier. Participants were just a keynote address away from seeing how these investments could affect them, their schools and, most importantly, their students.
The keynote was given by Dr. Elizabeth Hoover, the Executive Director of Technology Services for the Alexandria Schools System. Ms. Hoover has had classroom (K12 and higher ed) and technology-administration experience, a desirable combination! She focused her presentation, entitled Journey to 1:1, on the story of how the Alexandria Cite Public Schools developed and implemented a 1 computer to 1 student initiative. The initiative had its challenges but has since grown into a successful program, which can serve as a model for others.
There are 12,000 students in the high-needs Alexandria school system. Due to the large number of international families in the D.C. area, there is a large percentage of English Language Learners (22%). Many students (54%) are on a free or reduced lunch program and they have their fair share (15%) of special needs students. Despite these challenges, they, over a 7-year period, have had experienced a lot of success. The schools have secured a filtered student network, new infrastructure, online testing, student help desks at EVERY school…etc.
These successes, however, did not come without trials and tribulations. Of course there were financial difficulties – building a new school that was “smart” was costly. Financial burdens were to be expected, but other issues were overlooked in the beginning. Early on in the initiative, in 2003, students frequently brought their laptops to lunch in order to download music (Napster, anyone?). Students would use laptops in class, but rather than taking notes or staying on task, they would covertly be playing games. Students often forget their laptops, and of course, battery life was an issue. A lack of projectors was a sore spot for teachers, as was the lack of in-class, laptop management. Moreover, community neighbors would “borrow” the unsecured wireless network, thereby significantly diminishing the available bandwidth.
Changes were needed, and eventually made, but simply instituting new rules would not be the answer. A change in culture would be critical for success. Otherwise, existing problems would continue and, eventually, the novelty of having the technology would wear off.
To ensure the laptops and other hardware was not simply acting as a dust collector, instructional technologists were brought in to help the teachers use the technology in effective ways. Later, they developed a high school technology integration project, and subsequent to that, they bolstered their strategic plan for ACPS. In my opinion, this is a point that should be stressed. They did not rest on their piles of technology laurels; instead, they strived to continue to look forward, develop and implement new ideas via input from teacher-based and student-based focus groups. Perhaps most importantly was the decision to provide ample opportunities for professional development.
The professional development for teachers sounded like it ought to – it was job-embedded, needs-driven, differentiated, was comprised of year-long-strands, it was instructionally focused, and was rooted in literacy and technology. Professional development, in their eyes, was critical; if the teachers were unable to model the technology, student impact would fall short.
One of the most exciting things, in my opinion, is that, due to a continuous lack of communication between the Information Technology and Instructional Technology divisions, ACPS decided to merge the two. Are you envious yet? This merging has resulted in a much smoother operation and teachers appreciate it, as you can most certainly imagine.
Success stories that have arisen from the program are plentiful: 84% pass rate on the state reading test; 77% for Algebra 1 and 2, & Geometry tests; and 84% of ACPS’ 2009 graduates went to college. Their success has been somewhat attributed to the technology, but it’s truly the planning and dedication of the teachers and administration. They kept their collective eye on the prize; they fought through the mishaps and hardships, resisted contentment, continuously sought improvement, and provided opportunities for teachers and students to be successful!
Adobe Training Sessions
It’s difficult to label the 4 50-minute sessions I gave as “training” considering I presented both Photoshop Elements AND Premiere Elements in that short time period. I find that I can barely teach Photoshop Elements, alone, in a 3-hour session!
Therefore, given the time constraints, I was only able to give an overview of each program, showing the some 120 participants several low-threshold, high-impact ways in which each program could be used in the classroom. The majority of participants, comprised mainly of teachers and technology specialists, were excited to see how easily effective products could be created.
A few noteworthy things I noticed during my sessions were:

  1. The participants were happy to receive the Digital School Collection trials
  2. The participants’ interest in the various cloud computing tools that Adobe offers, especially Lots of note-taking during this part in the session.
  3. The genuine excitement about the Guided Edit component within PS Elements.
  4. Many of the participants had used either Movie Maker or iMovie and they all nodded in agreement when I said “if you know either of those programs, you can surely transfer your knowledge if you move to Premiere Elements and, what’s more, gain much more power in doing so.”

All in all, a great event! I look forward to my next DLE event in Minneapolis!

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March 3, 2010

Summer Workshops for School TV Production

Back by popular demand–School TV Summer Workshops for teachers will take place June 28-30th and July 14-16 2010.

Learn how to use Adobe software products to create affordable green-screened school TV newscasts, classroom video projects and more!



Participants will learn how to begin or improve school TV newscasts on any size budget, and create student video productions that have the professional look of network TV. Any classroom can now be used as a professional ‘green screen’ recording studio, thanks to the Adobe Digital School Collection and Adobe Visual Communicator software. Join Adobe Education Leader Rob Zdrojewski for an inside look at the Amherst Tech TV Studios, serving as a showcase model school TV program exclusively using Adobe software products!

Visit for complete details:


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