Posts in Category "Events"

September 1, 2009

Some reflections on the 2009 Summer Institute

3752774162_f8c5d80f92.jpgI’m finally back home from a fantastic week in San Jose at the Adobe Summer Institute. The Summer Institute is a 5 day conference/workshop event run by Adobe’s Education division for members of their global Adobe Education Leaders program. I was inducted into the AEL program last year but was unable to attend the 2008 event in San Francisco. This year I was determined to attend the San Jose event and I’m really glad I went.
When you do in fact know a fair bit about technology and how to use it, it becomes harder to find professional development experiences that challenge and extend you. One of the reasons I was so keen to attend the Summer Institute was that I felt it would push me to learn more and build on some of the knowledge I already have. Having been a Photoshop user for many years, and spending many hours inside programs like InDesign (and PageMaker before that) and having taught Flash and Dreamweaver to students, I’ve always been quite immersed in Adobe’s Creative Suite, but the nature of these tools always seems to be such that the more you know about them, the more you realise you don’t know.
The other AELs came mainly from all over the US, with quite a few from the UK and a handful from other places like New Zealand, Hong Kong and Belgium. I was the only Aussie. We started the week on Monday evening with a Welcome Party at our hotel where we got to meet the other AELS and some of the folk from Adobe. It was good to meet new people and make new connections.
Tuesday started early for me with a Photoshop exam. This was taken as part of the Adobe Certified Associate, a recognised certification for Photoshop users. Happily, I passed the exam without too much trouble. The rest of Tuesday was filled with meeting with the Adobe product teams, where we got to hear about future product roadmaps, learn about upcoming features and directions for the Creative Suite, and to offer suggestions for how we thought the products could be improved. Parts of the day were done under NDA so I can’t really go into details, but suffice to say there will be plenty of exciting new stuff coming from Adobe in the next year or two. Dinner that night was held at Saratoga Springs, a lovely camping ground in the hills surrounding Silicon Valley, and we had fun and games with some hilarious variations on team volleyball played with water-filled balloons.
Wednesday was filled with AEL to AEL sessions – workshops where we presented to each other many of the things we were doing in our own schools and districts. Watching these sessions, it really struck me what an intensely creative and passionate group of educators this was. Although not everything was directly relevant to my own teaching situation, I still got tons of great ideas from the sharing that took place. Collaborative projects, experimental ideas based on art, design and creativity, ideas for streamlining school administration, examples of how teachers do things in other parts of the world… we got all sorts of cool ideas from these AEL sessions. After a full day of learning from each other, we regrouped in the Adobe Cafeteria for a delicious dinner and drinks, where more sharing and conversation took place in a relaxed casual atmosphere. I was quite amazed as we watched the planes fly over the Adobe building, which was directly in the landing path of San Jose airport, seeming to clear the top of the building with only a few hundred feet to spare. A few of us kicked on to a bar in downtown San Jose where the conversations continued into the night, only louder.
Thursday was another full day of learning, with a intense session run by Adobe’s John Schuman. We learned many of the very cool features in the software tools, and in particular how to make them work together smoothly. Our project required us to integrate our work across Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, InDesign and Bridge as we roundtripped files between the various tools. In each of the applications we discovered lots of useful workflows and there were quite a few new concepts that I hadn’t come across before. The last part of the day took us into a project using Flash Catalyst, a relatively new product still in beta, that makes it much easier for designers to create interactive content. I’m still getting my head around Catalyst, but it looks like a great tool for rapidly designing interactive media without the need to know heavy-duty coding stuff.
Thursday night was good fun, with a night out to a local San Jose pool hall. By this stage we had gotten to know each other a little better, so it was cool to hang out, shoot some pool and have still more conversations about learning and life. The night finished while it was still young, as the pool tables were reclaimed at the stroke of 9:00pm. A few of us wandered across the road to another party that looked like it would be fun. I turned out to be an Open Source party, sponsored by Source Forge. With free drinks (free as in “beer” – I thought that was hilarious at an Open Source event), tatoos getting done in the basement (no, I didn’t get one), as well as Twitter stations, free T-shirt giveaways from the good folk at ThinkGeek, guys playing with Star Wars light sabres, people wearing infra-red night vision goggles, etc, it was a truly geeky event… I loved it!
Friday morning was the last day of the conference and I’d arranged to do another certification exam, this time in Dreamweaver. Although I’ve used Dreamweaver a lot in the past, I hadn’t used it much lately so wasn’t feeling too confident in my ability to pass this exam. However, I did pass, and since I had a bit of time to spare at the end I decided to have a crack at the remaining exam for Flash. This one I really wasn’t too confident about, since I haven’t used Flash much in the last 12 months and there are some big changes to the CS4 version. Even so, I surprised myself by passing the Flash exam too, so I was feeling pretty pleased that I managed to get my certification in Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash all in the same week.
The rest of Friday morning was a general wrap up of the event, with feedback and a debriefing session between the AELs and the Adobe folk. It was kind of sad to have it all come to an end, but we eventually said our goodbyes and all went our separate ways. The sessions were all recorded with Adobe Connect, as well as a ton of Twitter, Flickr and Delicious resources all tagged with ael09, so at least there is a decent electronic record of the sessions.
I didn’t have to be at the airport until quite late so myself and Saiqa, another AEL from London, decided to rent a car and do some Silicon Valley sightseeing. We dropped in on the headquarters of Apple and Google, then headed in to San Francisco for some last minute sightseeing around Fisherman’s Wharf before getting back to SFO airport for our late flights.
Overall, a great week and one I’d be keen to do again. Thanks Adobe for running and hosting the event, especially to Megan Stewart and her team who did a great job of making sure the program went off perfectly. Great conference, can’t wait to get back next year!

5:43 PM Permalink
July 25, 2009

Reflections on the 2009 Adobe Education Leader Summer Institute

The 2009 Adobe Education Leader Summer Institute in now over and my intention is to document a few thoughts here while everything is still fresh in my mind.
About 80 Adobe Education Leaders from both K-12 and Higher Education institutions from around the world gathered at Adobe HQ in San Jose, CA for 5 days of networking, presentations, training, and corporate roadmaps. I’ve only been involved in this group since November of last year, so this was the first time I had personally attended this event. This is also the first year that Higher Education was formally represented.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so tried not to have any sort of pre-conceived notions of how the week would play out. One of the most beneficial aspects of the event was the constant networking going on – a perpetual idea mill and information interchange center. I’m sure that if I had passed up on the 4 hours of sleep I got most nights, those 4 hours would also be spent engaged in intense discussion with my peers.
Most days allowed us to explore San Jose, Adobe HQ (the less secure portions, anyway), and interface with a great number of Adobe employees through presentations, round-tables, Q+A sessions, and some very nice dinner receptions. I found a lot of these individuals to be surprisingly frank and quite receptive to any of the ideas and thoughts that were proposed to them.
Wednesday provided everyone with an opportunity to make presentations to the group. I gave a presentation on what the University of Denver is doing in regard to the Flash Platform focusing on our work on the CourseMedia™ project and received a ton of positive feedback from both Adobe and other AELs. A really great experience although I had to cut the demo portion short due to time constraints. The slides can be downloaded as a PDF and the recording should be available on AdobeTV later on along with 25+ other extraordinary sessions.
I was delighted to find that everyone was very amiable and even though I was one of the new people in the group- was treated with the utmost respect whether conversing with other AELs, product managers, evangelists, or anyone on the education team at Adobe. What a wonderful group of people to be a part of – I cannot wait to begin some of the many collaborations seeded at this event.
Many thanks to Adobe and everyone that was a part of the planning and execution of the institute this year. It will not be soon forgotten and I look forward to future events and hopefully seeing everyone again in 2010.

3:02 PM Permalink
May 4, 2009

Digital Learning Environments Events Series Update-Pittsburgh

The fifth and final Digital Learning Environment Event was held on April 28 in beautiful downtown Pittsburg at the City Center Doubletree Hotel. The keynote speaker for the event was Holly Jobe, the Project Manager for Classrooms for the Future (CFF), Pennsylvania’s high school reform program. Holly Jobe has been involved in all levels of education. Her interests include how education technology can reform education and fully engage student in taking responsibility for learning; and educational leadership. She has served in her current position with the Pennsylvania Department of Education since 2006.
Pennsylvania’s initiative goals are to transform the way high school teacher teach and how student learn. With 20 million dollars budget the plan was to equip classrooms in all curricular areas with enhanced technology, laptop computers, and other state-of-the-art resources. CFF provided funds over three years so that all Pennsylvania high schools could participate. Now in the 3rd year of the initiative, 143,000 laptops have been distributed for 500,000 students.
The important component of professional development is being addressed as well. $6 million in state and federal funds was earmarked for teachers and other staff to receive extensive training. Training includes methods that use technology to increase student achievement and ensure that students are ready for college and other demands of the 21st century. In order to support the teachers as they learn the new technologies and attempt integration into their curriculum, the CCF initiative has initiated on-site instructional coaches in each participating school. These coaches provide support and training to ensure that all school staff acquires the understanding and skills to integrate technology into their classroom instruction, use data to make informed decisions, and promote more individualized instruction.
The specific goals of CFF are;
• Improve teaching and learning in English, math, science, and social studies.
• Change classroom practice.
• Change student-teacher relationships.
• Increase student engagement.
• Students responsible for learning.
• Students developing 21st century skills.
• Increase Academic achievement
More specific information regarding the state’s CFF program can be found at:
As the 5 city DLE events come to a close, it is clear that the goals of Pennsylvania’s CFF are in line with the regional goals for education that we have seen demonstrated and discussed all around the country. It is encouraging to see so many committed educators embracing the need for systemic change in education. Together we can make change happen as we continue to move from the instructor centric towards the student centric model. The events have been opportunities to look at how a digital leaning environment can be the catalyst for teaching and learning in the 21st century. The hands-on opportunities have demonstrated to attendees how technology-rich learning environments not only enrich students’ learning experiences but also help them achieve their goals. Many thanks to all the partners and individuals who made this year’s DLE Events such a success!

7:50 PM Permalink
April 30, 2009

Summer 2009 Workshops for Adobe Visual Communicator

Learn how to create green screen student TV newscasts, classroom video projects and more this summer as Adobe Education Leader Rob Zdrojewski teaches the basic and advanced features of Adobe Visual Communicator 3. New this summer are workshops for existing users, where we will examine features like live flash web streaming and sharing your productions online.
Summer 2009 Workshop offerings:
-School TV Made Easy with Adobe Visual Communicator 3 (Beginners)
-Perfecting Your Adobe Visual Communicator Shows (Advanced Users)
-Using SchoolTube to Safely Share Videos Online
-Create Teacher Websites
Join us as hundreds of teachers, media specialists, and administrators have for an exciting look at using Adobe Visual Communicator for green screened school TV newscasts and more!
Learn more here:

9:57 AM Permalink
April 22, 2009

Webinar: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act & Adobe education solutions

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
10:00 a.m. PT | 1:00 p.m. ET

Join Jenny House, former educator and President of RedRock Reports and Adobe Education staff to get the latest updates on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and how Adobe solutions align with E2T2, Title I, IDEA and other new funding line items for 2009 and 2010. Adobe solutions cover technology integration across the curriculum, career and technical education with ISTE aligned curriculum and new certification as well as online professional development.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act & Adobe Education Solutions
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
10:00 a.m. PT | 1:00 p.m. ET
Register Now

3:20 PM Permalink
April 15, 2009

Digital Learning Environments Events Series Update-Boston

The third Digital learning Environment Event, held on April 2 in Boston, had the most participants of any DLE event so far this year. The day began with a review of Intel’s k12 Blueprint for success website: This site is an essential planning and implementation blueprint for any district considering one to one computing.
The jobs of tomorrow are here today. Future industries with high expected growth include:
• Renewable energy
• On-line Entertainment
• Medical Research
And employers say the skills essential for our future workers include:
• Science and math
• Critical thinking
• Self direction
• Communication
• Creativity
• Innovativeness
• Life long learners
The conversation then, is how do we instill these necessary 21st century skills in our students today? This is especially critical when all of the above, with the exception of science and math skills, are virtually impossible to test. Our traditional high-stakes standardized testing techniques can’t possibly test self-direction, creativity or innovativeness. In this era of No Child Left Behind, our focus as educators, for sheer survival, is on testable skills, and these are not necessarily the skills our students need for the 21st century. Our vision must be to educate our students with 21st century skills by providing them access to engaging technologies in collaborative, inquiry-based learning environments with teachers who are equiped and able to use technology’s power to assist them in transforming knowledge and skills into products, solutions and new information.
Here is where the rationale for full integration of technology begins. Technology can be the bridge that gets us to the goal of providing what our students need for the 21st century. And it isn’t just the success of the individual students that is at stake, the future of our country is at stake as well. President Obama, in his speech on March 10, 2009, stressed the danger in letting U.S. Education fall behind, saying the nation’s place as a global economic leader is at risk if we do not do a better job preparing and educating our students. Obama lists four major areas for education reform:
1. Early childhood programs
2. Tougher standards, assessments and accountability
3. Recruiting, rewarding, and supporting outstanding teachers
4. Promoting excellence and innovation in U.S. Schools
Creating the learning environment for the 21st century student requires a major shift from Instructor Centric to Student Centric teaching and learning. Student Centric environments will include tools that will extend learning beyond the school day and beyond the wall of our traditional schools. These tools include learning portals, online libraries, online classes, access to other educational institutions and online learning communities.
Cost efficiencies are making the goal of one to one computing a reality, not just a dream. Improved software and applications that fit the curricular goals are getting mo re effective and more affordable. Companies such as Intel, hp and Microsoft provide support and resources to help make the dream a reality. For more support and ideas for integrating technology visit these sites:
hp’s site: and
Microsoft’s site:

9:46 AM Permalink
March 29, 2009

Digital Learning Environments Events Series Update-Seattle

The second Digital Learning Environment Event, held on March 26 in Seattle, was kicked off with an inspiring keynote address by Dr. Barbara Grohe. Dr. Grohe is Superintendent of Kent School District in Kent Washington. Her dynamic address included highlights of the amazing things her district is doing in the area of technology.
Grohe began her address on the subject of 1:1 computing: Private schools are implementing this much better than public schools where leaders are still debating 1:1 adoption. Dr. Grohe says most of the world has passed up that conversation and already realize we need to have 1:1 initiatives. It’s happening now in India and Africa with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project.
Dr. Grohe’s vision and leadership have brought her district into national distinction as leaders of technology implementation and 1:1 computing. (In 1998 Dr. Grohe was honored as the National Superintendent of the Year) Kent educators believe that preparing students for future success means making technology an integral part of K-12 education. Funding for several projects (classroom presentation stations in every classroom, replacement of outdated student computers, teacher laptops, and one-to-one initiatives) was secured through the passage of a Technology Levy in 2006. Voters were promised; that with the passage of the levy, the projects funded would be focused on helping student achieve 21st Century skill sets such as digital-age literacy, inventive thinking, effective communication and high productivity.
Planning and implementing such an enormous task has been quite a tremendous undertaking. Dr. Grohe shared with the audience a few things that they have learned through the implementation process so far:
• Grohe says, “In times of crisis, you have to narrow the focus”
• If you don’t focus on the learning the best teachers won’t come along with you. Those teachers are concerned about how kids learn-they need to know how these new ways of teaching with the aid of technology will change teaching and learning to make it better.
• Focus on the curriculum. Curriculum becomes the beginning of the discussion as a result of having the technology available to them. Look at the way technology can change the very nature of curriculum to help you teach better, not just different
• It’s not about the “stuff”; it’s about how to make the teaching and learning more effective.
• Talk quietly, do everything step by step.
• Optimize the teachers you have on staff. Help them understand what strengths they bring to technology.
• Identify your “maniacs”. These are the incredible people with a mission. Get out of their way and they will help you get where you need to be.
• Identify the others who are determined that your plans will NEVER succeed. Having an enemy is a true asset because they, as Grohe put it, “will ask the question your friends won’t” They will be great assets when they are brought into the decision making process.
• Chart your course. Know where you want to end up. Staying the course is the hardest part. The job of the administrators and the boards is to keep moving forward-never go back.
• Understand your obstacles. The administrators’ job is to get those out of the way. Grohe refers to this as “rubble removal” – so the “maniacs” can complete the mission
• And finally, Dr. Grohe suggested that you then have an obligation to share with your colleagues your lessons learned and she directed us all to the Kent School District website for more information on their technology program and implementation.
The rest of the day included more classes for participants to cycle through four 50 minute “classes” which included Science, Math/ Language Arts and Professional development. The day culminated with a wrap up presented by representatives from Smart and a drawing for some amazing prize which included a Smartboard and an hp tablet laptop!
I’m looking forward to my next Digital Learning Environment adventure in Boston next week. If you are in that area, or if you live near Boston, Phoenix or Pittsburg, consider joining us at the DLE event in your city. Find out more here:

9:38 PM Permalink
March 22, 2009

Digital Learning Environments Events Series Update

The keynote speaker at the first Digital Learning Environments Event in Chicago on March 19 was Superintendent Steve Baule from District 201 in Westmont Illinois. Baule began his address by asking what we can do more effectively with technology. Answers included extending the school day with things like online encyclopedias and virtual courses, and using standardized testing like MAPS (Measures of Academic Progress) for higher reliability and faster results.
He mentioned these keys to successful technology use and planning:
• Focus on student learning and the districts strategic needs
• Create robust infrastructure
• Train everyone with adequate ongoing multi-level training and support
• Constantly Review/Revise/Supervise/Inspect
• Support your decision with data
In the area of data, Baule stressed that quantitative data is important for technology planning as well as new technology adoptions. He mentioned gathering data on the following:
• How often or long technology is used
• Changes in test scores or attendance rates
• Impact on family contacts
• Changes in graduation rate and grades
After the keynote address, participants left their “homeroom” and cycled through four 5o minute “classes” which included Science, Math/ Language Arts and Professional development. With 5 minutes passing time these participants stepped into our students’ shoes for the day. In my class, Language Arts, their behavior was good-I had no referrals for the day!
Lunch was a nice sit down meal at the hotel’s restaurant. I enjoyed dining with a high school teacher from northern Wisconsin. Although we teach in geographically different parts of the country, she in Wisconsin and I in California, we discovered our school districts had much in common and shared many of the same challenges including declining enrollment, shrinking state resources, rising transportation costs (we are both in rural environments) increased difficulty in meeting the rising requirements of NCLB. Although we were both feeling more challenged in our teaching careers than ever, we were both optimistic that in spite of these challenges our students will still learn and grow and that we and our colleagues will continue to give our all to help our students succeed.
I came away inspired, just like I am every time I have the opportunity to connect with professional, dedicated and talented educators around the country. I look forward to my next Digital Learning Environment adventure in Seattle next week. If you are in that area, or if you live near Boston, Phoenix or Pittsburg, consider joining us at the DLE event in your city. Find out more here:

7:47 PM Permalink
March 17, 2009

Digital Learning Environments Events Series

Hp and Intel are the major sponsors of the 2009 Digital Learning Environment Event Series. Adobe, Microsoft, Smart Technologies, Dyknow, KNS and PASCO are partners in the events. These are free, interactive one day events taking place in Chicago, Seattle, Boston, Scottsdale and Pittsburg over a 7 week period starting March 19. The purpose is to provide a hands-on experience for K-12 decision makers in the area of technology integration into the curriculum. Attendees will experience state of the art technology solutions in lab environments in the areas of Science, Math, Language Arts/Literacy and professional development. The major goal is to learn how technology-rich learning environments enrich students’ learning experiences and help them achieve.
As an Adobe Education Leader with over 10 years of experience integrating Language Arts and technology I have been asked to provide the training for these events in the area of Language Arts/Literacy. I’ve just arrived in Chicago and am excited about the first event which will take place Thursday. I will be demonstrating how technology can enhance the language arts curriculum using Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements along with other hardware and software solutions like Smart Technology’s Smartboards and Smartsync.
The Language Arts standards typically have 4 major components; reading, writing, listening and speaking. The tendency in most American classrooms is to focus on paper, pencil, and listening. This is understandable since reading and writing are heavily tested on our high stakes standardized tests. Teaching and learning with multimedia technologies can address the often overlooked standards of listening and speaking as well as deepening knowledge in the total core curriculum. Further,
Technology can be the hook, the spark that draws a student’s interest into the learning process. By its nature, technology embodies “active participation”. Students learn by doing, by exploring, by creating, and in the end, their creations are authentic outcomes that are valued and can be shared.
As I journey through these 5 events in 5 cities, I will share my experiences and observations. If you want to attend one of these events just register at:

8:38 PM Permalink
February 26, 2009

Reflecting on TCEA 2009

I have to say, the 2009 TCEA conference was the best of ‘em yet!
TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) continues to host one of the largest educational related technology conferences in the US. This year’s Texas-sized conference hosted over 400 sessions and workshops and a slew of panel discussions. The conference also had more than 400 companies exhibiting their products in over 800 booths!
While the economy was taking a hit, the conference certainly seemed to be faring well. Over 8,000 education professionals attended this year’s event, and most of those that attended ended up spending a large amount of time checking out the latest technology products inside the “vending area.”
The Adobe booth was very well attended. The Adobe software gurus did an excellent job “wowing” the crowd as they demonstrated how to create PDFs, edit video, build websites, and do amazing stuff with digital images and print.
I stayed busy teaching Adobe-centered workshops throughout the week. This year I taught five workshops – and every seat was full! I was most worried about filling pre-conference workshops, as the onslaught of conference attendees tends to reach its peak toward the middle of the week. However, I was pleasantly surprised that both my early-in-the-week workshops (Adobe Captivate and Photoshop Elements) were packed full of eager-to-learn educators.
Toward the middle of the week, I had the opportunity to host two Photoshop CS4 workshops and an Adobe Acrobat 9 workshop. The Acrobat participants were amazed (as I still am) at Acrobat 9’s ability to generate student portfolios. I also noticed ear-to-ear smiles as they learned how to run the Acrobat form wizard to effortlessly crank out interactive forms – simply amazing!
Photoshop CS4 is always great fun to teach. I had to chuckle when I heard the gasps of amazement as the participants learned how to stitch together a folder of images into a panorama (File>automate>Photomerge). One guy exclaimed, “This just made the conference worth every dollar!” (Tip – you can also run Photomerge from Photoshop Elements – New >Photomerge Panorama).
Perhaps the fact that my lovely wife was able to join me for the final two days of the conference added to this year’s enjoyability factor. She has been making an effort to integrate technology into her 5th grade math class and wanted to pick up a few more tips and techniques. She asked her principal if she could attend and he gladly granted her permission. Let her story serve as a lesson – sometimes you just have to ask.
By Thursday evening I had completed my conference commitments and was looking forward to enjoying some of the great food and entertainment that Austin, Texas is famous for. My wife and I joined a tableful of other people at MariaMaria restaurant for a fine experience that consisted of great food, superb company, and a wonderful atmosphere. Thanks Adobe!
Make sure to include next year’s TCEA Conference in your 2010 itinerary. You will learn a heap of great information and have a blast while doing so.

7:16 AM Permalink