Posts in Category "Digital School Collection"

February 28, 2010

Digital Learning Environments Events Series Update-Las Vegas

The second DLE was held February 25 at beautiful Lake Las Vegas, 7 miles off the famous Las Vegas strip. The keynote speaker for the event was Leslie Wilson, President and founding member of the non profit One-to-One Institute.
The mission of the One-to-One Institute is to “increase student achievement through the development of learner-centered 1:1 programs that to serve as an international information clearinghouse for those interested or engaged in technology rich education programs. engage personal, portable technology. Our goals are to facilitate the personalization of learned and
Leslie began her message by stressing that 1:1 programs are NOT just laptops for kids but are about teaching and learning-transforming the learning environment from teacher centered to student centered. She shared pictures from classrooms that covered the decades of the 50s until the present that showed how teaching and learning have changed little over that time. Much of the instructional time in classrooms in spent like the decades of the past in what she terms, “Instructional approach 1” where the teacher is the master and students are organized, usually in rows, to perform tasks assigned and directed by the teacher.
In “Instructional Approach 2” a more personalized and student-centered educational experience is offered to students. Teachers facilitate and provide “just in time” instruction that support the standards and objectives of the lessons. Technology tools are used when appropriate and are also used for feedback and assessment. Class environments are flexible and can appear chaotic to outsiders as students collaborate and are engaged in a variety of tasks.
The ultimate goal to provide students the ideal environment for developing 21st century skills is “Instructional Approach 3”-an approach that finds student in complete control of their learning. In this environment individualized long term projects are the norm. Students find themselves immersed in virtual realities such as Second Life and other augmented realities. Teachers act as advisors and provide personalized direction. This is a true mobile environment that projects outside the 4 walls of the classroom via the power of technological connections and environments.
Instructional Approach 2 and 3 are major paradigm shifts that empower students to take responsibility for their own learning. They are encouraged to take risks. Practioners of this method note that students are motivated learners when they have choices in HOW they learn.
Leslie concluded her address by outlining the keys to successful 1:1 teaching and learning programs including a reference to “Project Red” a national research and advocacy plan that promotes the need to “revolutionize the way the U.S. looks at technology as part of teaching and learning. We believe that technology can help us re-engineer our educational system. Through the efforts of Project Red and our partners we believe that technology will transform learning, just as it has transformed homes and offices in almost every other segment of our society.”
Following Leslie’s keynote the participants broke into groups and cycled through classrooms. One group was treated to presentations in several disciplines that highlighted how technology can be integrated into the curriculum in powerful ways that propel students toward learning 21st century skills with Instructional 2 and 3 techniques and another group of IT decision makers looked at solutions and ideas for cloud computing, wired and wireless networking, as well as network security.
I’m looking forward to my next Digital Learning Environment adventure in San Diego on March 11, 2010. If you are in that area, or if you live near Atlanta, Boston, Washington DC, Indianapolis, Denver, Minneapolis, or Raleigh, please think about joining us at the DLE event in your city. These are amazing, FREE event. Find out more and to register for the events, visit:

8:12 PM Permalink
September 23, 2009

Adobe Photoshop Elements & Premiere Elements 8 – New Features

Adobe announced the release of Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 8 today. The release included a bundle of great new features that are sure to help jazz-up your fall and holiday photographs.

  • Recompose photos to any size without distortion – This feature is amazing. You’ll have to see it to believe it.
  • Combine multiple exposures into one perfectly lit shot using Photomerge
  • People Recognition – find specific friends and family members in a flash.
  • Manage your photos and video in one place – the fully featured new Organizer!
  • Sync your photos and video on multiple computers using “Automatic Syncing!”

-Want more? Take a deeper dive into Element’s amazing new features.

1:24 PM Permalink
August 21, 2009

Integrate with Stop Motion

Stop motion animation is one of the best ways to build digital communication skills and team work into any curriculum. You don’t need fancy equipment or temperamental actors, just some craft materials and the digital cameras from your friendly librarian.
The really great thing about stop motion animation is that it can be used effectively with any subject and at most age levels. I have worked with students that successfully animated subjects from science (life cycle of a butterfly), social studies (scenes from Lewis and Clark), math (slope), and of course language arts with any dramatic or comedic narrative. Check out some examples at:
Pre-Production (planning)
Stop motion is a great way to integrate writing and decision making into your curriculum. Planning is a critical step in the process of creating any story. I start my students out with a simple treatment that helps them focus their story by making some simple decisions about the target audience, objectives and other basic parameters of the project. ( Then we plan each scene out with a storyboard, but first we talk about shot variety and do a quick exercise with our digital cameras. ( Storyboarding is an communication skill that is useful in most disciplines so the time spent creating and reviewing storyboards is very valuable. ( ) I keep a handful of three ring binders in my room so each group can keep all this planning materials together and the group will always have it even if a member is absent.
Team work
One of my favorite things about stop motion animation is that it brings students together in such a natural way that you will see amazing results. Throughout the process there are multiple jobs that take different skills and abilities. During the planning process you will have those that prefer to write the script while others prefer to draw the storyboards. Next, some of the students will naturally gravitate to building the sets and creating the characters while others prefer to set up the cameras, lights and computer. During the actual animation process we usually have one student run the computer, one on the camera, one handling the lighting, and two animating the characters. Then once we have shot all the scenes and move into the post production process we usually have a couple students work on editing the rough cut while the rest work on sound and graphic design. No other activities I do brings students closer together than stop motion animation.
Digital storytelling
Stop motion animation is a powerful communication tool that students can control better than any other digital medium. They can use a either a digital still camera or digital video to express their stories through unique camera angle and composition. I prefer to hook up a cheap digital video camera to a computer and use Adobe Premiere Elements to capture our images. The reason I like this method is that the software provides us with a couple invaluable tools:
• Onion skinning – this is the ability to see a ghost images of the last couple moves you make when shooting your scene. This makes your shots smoother and easier to shoot.
• Preview and delete – this is the ability to watch a sequence of shots as a video clip to judge the pacing and smoothness of your shots. If you accidentally got your hand in one of the shots you can easily delete just that one frame.
• Save as video clip – this is the ability to save a sequence of shots as a video clip that you can then apply effects and adjust the speed to easily.
• Editing environment – once you finish shooting you have a powerful video editing environment that allows you to work with up to 99 video tracks and 99 audio tracks!
I just have one twelve foot firewire cable for each pod of four computers in my room. This gives the students enough room to setup their camera and set, but is close enough to work with the computer operator easily.
One of the cool things about stop motion animation is that your students have complete control over the small world they will be shooting within and it will cost you very little! We usually use three sides of an old card board box as our set and either legos, clay or pipe cleaners for our characters. For lights we simple purchased the 8 inch clamp light for around $10. This really makes your colors and images pop and allows the students some creativity with shadows.
Post Production
This is where those digital communication skills come into play. I usually break up the group into three parts. One group is the editor(s) that will put the scenes into the right order, adjust the speed of some clips and usually adds titles. Another group is the sound designer(s) that will create the voice overs, sound effects and find copyright free music or create their own if it is called for. The final group is the graphic designers that will create the movie posters, DVD labels/covers or invitations to the movie premiere.
Once you and your students have made your stop motion animation master pieces make sure to share them with your community. Ask your local theater if they will have a special showing, make DVD’s for the families of your students or post them online at web sites like School Tube. Last year a few of my students earned an award of excellence at the Northwest High School Film Festival for their stop motion film “Kichinjo”. Enjoy.
Getting Started
Now it is your turn to get out there and have some fun with stop motion animation. I have posted a bunch of video tutorials that will walk you and your students through the process at:

9:59 PM Permalink
April 30, 2009

School Musical DVD Project Made with Adobe Products

This year Amherst Middle School’s musical was written by our own creative team of music teachers. This gave us the ability to record and sell it on DVD as a fundraiser. It was titled, “It’s Middle School…The Musical” and was a big hit!
The “Collector’s Edition” DVD our kids produced was absolutely phenominal! It contains the entire recorded performance shot with 2 camera angles, a slideshow set to the show’s music, and a 30 min documentary containing cast interviews and bloopers.
There were 8 Adobe products involved in this project, to learn more and view sample footage, visit my blog site here:–behind-the-scenes-of-our-2009-school-musical.html

9:46 AM Permalink
January 19, 2009

Not Too Late! National Film Festival for Talented Youth

It is not too late for budding filmmakers (22 and under) to submit their work to the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY). NFFTY “is the only film festival that provides young filmmakers a “full feature” festival experience with state-of-the-art venues, access to industry professionals, broad public exposure, and an inclusive atmosphere.”
You can still submit under the WAB Extended Deadline – January 30, 2009.
Eligibility Requirements:
•22 years or younger at completion of filming
•Films must fit into one of the seven categories
•All music and other copyrighted material must be original or filmmakers must have obtained permission from the owner
•All films must be in English or subtitled in English
•Music Video
•International (outside US)
For details visit

7:30 AM Permalink
October 28, 2008

Geek Squad Project: Teaching Teachers to Use Technology

The Clemson University Geek Squad: Teaching Teachers to Use Technology is a project designed to provide undergraduate education majors with opportunities to learn fundamental and advanced concepts of instructional technology, engage in authentic classroom teaching experiences, and train and assist classroom teachers to effectively integrate technology into their classrooms.
The ten undergraduate students participating in the Geek Squad project during the 2007-8 school year were either early childhood or elementary education majors. Each demonstrated a genuine interest in instructional technology even though they were not considered “experts” when they joined the squad. The Geeks were willing and able to learn and practice using technology with minimal guidance and then use their newfound knowledge to teach each other, K-12 students, other pre-service teachers, as well as classroom teachers how to effectively utilize instructional technology.
During the spring 2008 semester the Geeks chose to focus on learning two Adobe products: Photoshop Elements and Visual Communicator. They chose Photoshop Elements mainly because they were excited about its potential to help K-12 students learn and write creatively. The Geeks participated in a 3-hour PS Elements workshop developed by two Adobe Education Leaders, Ryan Visser and Chris Peters. Their skill-set and their sense of classroom integration was enhanced by the tutorials and lessons found on Adobe’s Digital Kids Club site.
Once the Geeks felt comfortable with their knowledge of PS Elements, they were able to hone their teaching and newfound PS Elements skills with students enrolled in Club 2:45. Club 2:45, an after-school program at a Title I elementary school, stresses cross-curricular technology integration to provide underprivileged students with opportunities that they would not otherwise have. At the same time, the Geeks were provided an opportunity that they would not otherwise have – teaching experience.
The first Geek-led project at Club 2:45 integrated Photoshop Elements 6.0 into a lesson on outer space. The Geeks demonstrated the process of selecting oneself from one image and then copying and pasting the selection into an image of outer space. They then asked the students to try it for themselves.
The Geeks were pleasantly surprised at how well the lesson was received, considering that none of the students, nor their classroom teachers, had ever seen this technique. The students loved the activity. Even more satisfying was that the classroom teachers who observed and enjoyed the activity asked theGeeks to train them so they could replicate the activity in their classes. It was at this point that the Geeks realized their impact. Not only could they engage students in a meaningful learning activity, but their enthusiasm rubbed off on teachers who were not known for incorporating technology. Since this PS Elements experience, the Geeks have trained many more classroom teachers and have even been asked to train some of the local districts’ technology coaches and coordinators.
The second Geek-led project at Club 2:45 took place toward the end of the semester and focused on Visual Communicator 3.0. Visual Communicator is a program that was wholly unfamiliar to them until they saw it demonstrated. However, once they saw it, their excitement and interest could not be denied. What especially appealed to the Geeks was that Visual Communicator offered a host of roles that could engage almost any personality: producer, director, script-writer, actor, technical director, among others. In order to learn the basics of Visual Communicator, the Geeks used an instructional DVD developed by another Adobe Education Leader, Rob Zdrojewski.
The Geeks decided to develop a “My Favorite Place” activity that could be carried out in three 45-minute sessions that would provide opportunities to develop a script, rehearse, and record. In the first session, the Geeks explained the project to the students and showed some examples of the end result. The students were asked to type a paragraph that described their favorite place. Then, once they finished writing, they were asked to exchange papers for peer editing. Once their paragraphs were edited, students were asked to find from the Web an image that depicted their favorite place. The Geeks then loaded all of the student-written paragraphs and the corresponding images into Visual Communicator.
On the second day, the students took advantage of Visual Communicator’s rehearsal feature and were able to see themselves on screen, become familiar with the built-in teleprompter, and get accustomed to projecting their voice.
The third session was spent recording the students, showing their movies, and documenting their reactions. Statements such as, “I love seeing myself on the screen!” “I love the green screen because I can be anywhere!” and “Can I do another one?” conveyed the students’ overwhelming enthusiasm.
This enthusiasm was not restricted to the K-12 students. Here is an excerpt from a reflection written by the Geeks:

It can definitely be very intimidating to use a program that you know nothing about. It is almost a guarantee that you will run across a few bumps in the road here or there. We did. But every problem that gets in your way ends up helping you learn something new about the program. Visual Communicator creates projects where everyone involved can feel very proud.

The Clemson Geeks Squad is a fabulous project for many reasons, not the least of which is the genuine enthusiasm that the Geeks bring to instructional technology training. They were able to teach each other, their pre-service peers, elementary students, classroom teachers, and even the project directors, lending a real-life example to the old adage that cash can buy, but it takes enthusiasm to sell.

Ryan Visser, an Adobe Education Leader, is a clinical faculty member in the School of Education at Clemson University. A member of the South Carolina Center of Excellence for Instructional Technology Training, Ryan teaches pre-service and classroom teachers how to use technology and researches instructional learning environments.

Wanda L. Calvert earned her Ph.D. in Elementary Education with an emphasis in literacy and technology at the University of South Carolina. Currently, she is the Professional Development Schools Coordinator and a clinical faculty member in the School of Education at Clemson University.

4:09 AM Permalink
May 30, 2008

Don’t Get Caught with Your Digital Pants Down – Add a Watermark in Acrobat

Nobody wants to get caught with their “digital pants” down. Unfortunately there may be times when you accidently send out a document to the “big cheeses” while it is still in draft form. Stamping “Draft” on every page of a document can help save you the embarrassment of sending the wrong file…and possibly your job!
If you choose to use the stamp tool you will have to tediously visit each page of the document. Imagine having a 50 page document that needs a “Draft” stamp on each page…not much fun. However, adding a “Draft” watermark to the document would be far more efficient method of adding the document’s review status.
1. Open the document in Adobe Acrobat
2. click Document > Watermark> Add
3. Type “Draft” in the text area
4. Adjust the opacity of the text using the Opacity slider
5. Add a bit of Rotation using the Rotation radio buttons
6. Click OK
To remove the watermark click Document > Watermark>Remove

10:31 AM Permalink
May 22, 2008

Create an Acrobat Print Button

I have to admit, for a long time I thought that Acrobat was a boring (but useful) application. Acrobat sat on my computer like an obedient dog and, on my command, turned my Word and Excel documents into PDFs. Boring…but useful.
As I started to learn more about Acrobat I realized that it contained a slew of “hidden gems” under the hood. I also learned that you can make a button in Acrobat that can do just about anything.
– Submit a form via email
– Print button
– Open a file
– hyperlink to a web site
– Play, Pause, and stop a movie
– and more…
To get you started here is a simple tutorial for creating a print button:
1. Open or create a PDF document
2. Click Tools > Forms > Show Forms Tool Bar
3. Click the button tool (the “OK” button)
4. Drag out a button onto your document, the Button Properties dialogue will open
5. (General tab)Name the button – this is not the label that will appear on the button
6. Click on the appearance tab and select desired colors
7. Click on the Options tab and add a label – this is the text that will appear on the button
8. Click on the Actions tab. Make sure the “Select Trigger” dropdown displays the “Mouse Up” value
9. Make sure the “Select Action” dropdown displays the “Execute a menu item” value
10. Click the Add button and choose File>Print
11. Click the OK button and click the Close button.
12. DONE! Test the button by clicking on the Hand Tool (it looks like a white glove)
13. When the end user clicks the button the print dialogue should open, just as if they clicked File>Print

8:25 AM Permalink
May 5, 2008

Enable Typewriter Tool for Acrobat Reader

For some reason, educational institutions don’t like to take the time to run Form Field recognition before publishing PDF forms. Adobe Reader users will not be able to digitally fill out the form unless the form has had the fields added in Acrobat. Using the Form Field Recognition tool is ridiculously easy (Forms > Form Field Recognition).
If you don’t take the time to run FFR, at least activate the Typewriter tool for your Acrobat Reader users (Full-blown Acrobat users can activate the Typewriter tool anytime). The Typewriter tool allows text to be typed anywhere on a document.
To activate the Typewriter Tool for Acrobat Reader users:
1. Open Adobe Acrobat 8
2. Click Tools > Typewriter > Enable Typewriter Tool in Adobe Reader
Useless bit of information – The longest word that can be typed using only the top row of alphanumeric keys is “typewriter.” (I know your testing it out…now get back to work!)

2:08 PM Permalink

Extracting Non-Sequential Pages from PDF’s

I often find it necessary to single out various pages from a PDF document and combine them into another. For example, I may need to combine pages 3, 5, and 10 from a fifty page document into a new PDF.
Acrobat provides an “extract pages” option that allows you to extract a range of pages, but this option does not allow for the combination of discontinuous pages. However, you do have a couple of options.
Option 1 – Use the “drag and drop” method as described by the Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog.
Option 2 – Use the “Create PDF from Multiple Files” option using the directions below (my preferred method)
Directions for Option 2
1. Open Adobe Acrobat 8
2. Click on the Create PDF button
3. Select the “From Multiple Files” option
4. The Combine Files dialogue box will open. Click the Add Files button
5. Find the PDF file with the pages you wish to extract and click the Add Files button
6. The PDF will appear in the Combine Files Dialogue, now to select the specific pages.
7. Click the Choose Pages button
8. The Preview and Select Page Range dialogue box will open. This will allow you to type in both a range of pages and non discontinuous pages. For example, if you wished to include pages 1 through 5 and pages 10, 11, and 15 you would simply select the Pages radio button and type 1-5,10,11,15. Cool!
9. Acrobat also provides a Preview tool to help select the correct pages.
10. Click the OK button.
11. The Combine Files dialogue will open and provide an overview of the pages that you selected.
12. From here, decide if you want to combine pages from another document or proceed forward by clicking the Next button.
13. Make sure the Merge files into a single PDF button is selected and click the Create button.
14. Sit back and watch Adobe Acrobat works its magic!

11:26 AM Permalink