Posts in Category "ePortfolios and Acrobat X"

June 24, 2012

My Campus, My Classroom & Me

The connected world is such a wonderful thing! As an educator, it keeps you in a constant state of excitement plus some trepidation thrown in.

The thoughts are always there….Will I try to implement this software in my classroom because I know it will work? Will I try this new Web 2.0 tool that I found on the net? Will I try & use this in my classroom with the chance that it will be an epic fail? And the answer is predominately YES!!

Currently our campus is going through a massive focus reshift as we no longer have any externally based assessments to teach to (the NSW School Certificate in particular). We are now moving into a realm of certification and this is going to be really exciting (for me at least) but there are some who will not be as excited to let go of years of emotional attachment to content & the way in which it is presented. We are trying to move our school to a healthy mix of Assessment of Learning  & Assessment of Learning. In our rapidly changing classroom environment, I believe they both need to coexist for students to be able to learn at their best.

As we are all aware, IT Education needs both (learn to use the software so you can implement it into your classroom & the same for students). Our Year 9 students have classes in using their laptop that the DEC issued them term 1 as part of the Digital Education Revolution. These classes have been enormously successful as the devices have a massive amount of software on them, including the Adobe Design Premium Suite of software. The devices are in a ‘locked down’ environment (specified by the department) and that has more benefits than drawbacks (less troubleshooting time involved). This means that we can maximise the student usage of the devices in the classroom & minimise downtime for all concerned. 

We are in a phase of restructuring with plans in place in 2012 for our refocus to kickstart in 2013. We are putting into place training for all of our year cohorts with the ideal situation being that they all receive an IT accreditation each of the 4 years that they attend our campus. Our staff are currently also in the training phase, with initially interested teachers being targeted with the idea of all staff being involved after the evaluation of the 2013 pilot program. Our students will all have globally-recognised IT skills & abilities that they can use to further their education or gain employment. And that for me, as an IT educator, is extremely gratifying.

At the heart of this new certification age is the use of Adobe Acrobat Pro X &, in particular, ePortfolios. As it is pre-installed onto the device, all content created on the device can be easily converted by Acrobat by the students, and then either submitted for assessment ( we use Moodle at our campus), or archived ready to be added to later or taken with them when they leave our campus. We extensively use Microsoft OneNote at our ca mpus and our students submit their notebooks for assessment each term by creating a PDF and submitting for content approval, a lso done in Acrobat with the use of Comments & stamps. The majority of the content is brought together in Acrobat and directions/instructions are put on each PDF, which speeds up availability of content.

Acrobat Pro X is the glue that binds our digitallly-based, paper-free, IT courses together.

I will keep you updated throughout the semester with how our students, staff & administrators are moving towards the next exciting phase of our journey.

Thanks

Ross

 

 

10:57 PM Permalink
April 3, 2012

Adobe Asia Pacific Education Leadership Forum

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

Part 1 of 5

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

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

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

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

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

Transformation of the Pedagogical Paradigm

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

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

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

STEM vs STEAM

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

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

Getting sidetracked? There’s a chance…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

10:51 PM Permalink
May 4, 2010

Does Data Based Decision making ignore Qualitative Research?

There is a strong push in educational administration to use data driven decision making. On the surface, it looks to be a very sound concept. What are the test scores, what subsections are strongest, what needs to be improved? In the test driven educational environment, it is difficult to argue with those priorities.
Yet as educators, we know there are always two faces to tests. There are the hard scores, ideally (But not always – see Texas ) based on non-politicized, well researched questions, and there is the story of the individual students, some of whom make heroic gains while struggling against incredibly difficult home lives to make substantial gains.
We have always known about this in education, and consequently, research has branched into two widely respected fields, quantitative research, (by the numbers) and qualitative research (by the case, or individual). My concern and the concern of many is that we have gone too far to the side of numerical analysis, and over reliance on test scores, and have ignored the qualitative aspects.
So why write about this in an Adobe blog? Because Adobe provides a tremendous amount of qualitative support options for education. Acrobat’s ePortfolio capabilities provide educators a chance to look in-depth at what students are doing, how they are doing it, and how they reflect upon that process. While it is not the only tool around for doing this, it is certainly an effective one.
When looking at the Adobe product line, there are many, many tools that assist in the achievement of higher order thinking skills, and 21st century skills and few that contribute to quantitative analysis. This is because it is harder to measure higher order thinking quantitatively, not because of any lack in the toolset. As I have mentioned elsewhere, the new digital divide emerging, one where rich kids go to school to learn how to tell the computer what to do, and to create, and one where poor kids go to school, and learn how to take orders from the computer, and how to do worksheets in a computer.
What experiences would you like your child to have? What products have they produced this school year?

8:09 AM Permalink
June 23, 2008

Create ePortfolios with the Amazing Acrobat 9

sadler.jpg
by Steve Adler
Steve Adler is Learning Systems Integrator for Northern Valley Regional High School District in Demarest, New Jersey. You can get more resources and contact him at his website www.steveadler.net.
When we think of a traditional portfolio used in education, we may think of a collection of related papers, photos, pamphlets, or brochures organized in a folder or binder. Perhaps it’s a collection of materials that we compile over time to reflect progress and achievement. Now imagine if we add an electronic spin to the traditional definition and focus on the idea of a PDF portfolio; one that you could use to easily weave content together in a portable file format to use, share, and print whatever you need when you need it. That is the essence of the Acrobat portfolio.
Electronic portfolios have gained popularity in education as a means of presenting collections of documents and resources. Electronic portfolios can assist in recording and archiving an individual’s projects, interests, and accomplishments over a period of time. They can also be used to compliment professional development and career advancement.
Electronic portfolios also demonstrate one’s competency in technology integration and effective communication by illustrating the author’s ability to create a customized experience for readers. In traditional electronic portfolios an author is usually restricted to a one-size-fits all approach. This may be an HTML, PowerPoint, or MS Word style portfolio, each with its own features and limitations.
The New Acrobat 9 ePortfolio
Think of the PDF portfolio as an electronic wrapper that can house all types of files. Acrobat 8 introduced this concept with PDF Packages. Now with the introduction of powerful rich media support and Flash, Adobe has renamed these packages portfolios to reflect their unique capabilities. Files can be organized into logical collections and linked together in a way that makes it easy to navigate, find, and interact with the contents in a variety of useful and creative ways. What’s even better is that all of this can be shared with anyone using the free Adobe Reader 9. Anyone on any platform can interact, participate, and save changes. (I would clarify what “participate” means here.)
How do I get started developing my ePortfolios?
To begin this process, you need a plan. You will gather and organize your portfolio materials (assets). These assets probably fall into one or more of categories: digital, paper, web, or rich media. You want to prepare and organize them prior to assembly.
Collect as many source files as you can. You can combine and customize your course materials later. You will use these files in your portfolio either in their original format or by converting them into the convenient PDF format. You may want to include legacy documents for your portfolio—(add in a dash instead)paper documents that do not exist in any other form. You will scan these documents and convert them to a PDF right within Acrobat.
Collect and bookmark useful web pages in your browser ahead of time so you can use Acrobat to link to them live or capture them and convert them into a PDF for viewing offline. Each page will be complete with links, graphics, and Flash animations.
Pictures, sounds and videos speak volumes and really enhance your written materials. Collect your movie and audio files and place them in a separate folder for use in your PDF portfolio. You can integrate these media files into your lesson in a number of useful ways. For best interoperability with your rich media files, save them as an FLV (Flash Video) or H264 Video. There are many ways to do this.
Acrobat 9 Pro Extended includes encoders that will allow you to convert your files into these formats. Acrobat 9 Pro allows you to add these directly. For playback of your rich media portfolio, all Acrobat 9 applications, including the Adobe Reader include a Flash Runtime Player, which means a smoother media experience for everyone without the need for additional software.
How do I create my Acrobat ePortfolio?
Choose a portfolio layout and develop a welcome page
portfoliopic2.png
How do you want to present your portfolio? Do you want a basic layout or one that is more artistic? Acrobat 9 offers some cool new Flash-based portfolio templates. Choose from a variety of portfolio layouts or create your own using Flash’s Action Script, giving you even more control over your viewer’s experience.
You will want to decide on a welcome page layout that introduces your portfolio and its contents in a way that makes sense to your audience while reflecting your own style. You may want to add pictures, video, sounds, as well as a header with detailed information to your welcome page. Acrobat 9 gives you the flexibility to decide.
portfoliopic3.png
What can I do with my content in a PDF ePortfolio?
Lets look at some of the new and improved features that Acrobat 9 brings to the education community and how these enhance, elearning, and communication:
Add, trim, and control rich media
Easily add video, audio, and Flash media (including SWF content from Captivate and Presenter), creating powerful eLearning instruments for instruction and assessment. Imagine being able to include and control your media so that it’s just right for your audience.
Capture web pages and snippets
Websites are increasing in complexity and content. Acrobat 9’s web capture engine has been upgraded to capture modern web layouts more accurately. Entire pages as well as individual portions can be linked or converted directly into a PDF complete with links and media. Web page PDFs save time and reduce the requirements needed to provide web content in the classroom.
Scan and OCR paper documents
Acrobat 9’s Portfolios incorporate scanned source materials that are searchable and crisp using advanced OCR scanning techniques. These scans can easily be re-purposed for use in other projects and are perfect for including primary source examples or artifacts for assessment, archival, and the tracking of performance outcomes used in a variety of educational settings.
Trim and add comments to your videos
With Acrobat 9 Professional, you can add video to existing PDF documents or convert them into separate PDF files right within Acrobat. Assign comments to a specific frame in your video, allowing participants to jump to specific points for efficient discussion, analysis, and collaboration.
Include interactive worksheets and forms and collaborate online
If your portfolios contain eLearning units or administrative meeting packets, then integrating interactive worksheets and forms add real functionality. Acrobat 9 has powerful form recognition and workflow tools that make creating, distributing, and collecting data simple. You can use the free Acrobat.com service to host your forms and data or you can choose to manage your data in-house using shared folders or FTP. You can collaborate in real time or asynchronously. Either way, all participants and users can interact with your portfolios in the way you design. The possibilities are enormous. Here are a few ideas:

  • New teacher orientation and welcome portfolios
  • Board of Education meeting portfolios
  • Professional development portfolios
  • Teacher lesson unit portfolios
  • Student eLearning portfolios
  • Student end-of–year archival portfolios
  • Club activity portfolios
  • Instructional portfolios
  • Lesson plan portfolios
  • Best practices archive portfolios
  • Evaluative portfolios for staff
  • Reflective professional portfolios
  • CV and resume portfolios
  • Student growth portfolios
  • Presentation portfolios
  • Assessment portfolios

In this article I have only scratched the surface describing the potential of Acrobat 9 in education and eLearning for schools, colleges, and professionals. From pre-service preparation at schools of education to development of effective communications skills for learners of all ages, Acrobat 9 delivers a unmatched set of versatile tools.

8:20 AM Permalink