For the fifth year in a row, I was privileged to recently attend and participate in a truly awesome Adobe-sponsored education event; The AEL Summer Institute.

What is an AEL, you ask?

Well here’s a bit of info (admittedly not in my own words):

The Adobe Education Leaders Program highlights the contributions of innovative educators in higher ed and K–12 who are effectively using Adobe tools and applications to promote excellence in the classroom.

Adobe Education Leaders are dedicated to enhancing creativity and collaboration and improving the teaching and learning experience. They share their expertise through workshops and conferences and help develop standards-based curriculums that are used worldwide.

As Adobe updates it products and develops new ones, Education Leaders provide valuable input through beta programs and focus groups. They are among the first to use new technologies in the classroom and establish learning objectives around them.

Through the Education Leaders Program, a network of outstanding educators inspire each other, share ideas, and collaborate. The program provides the leadership and professional development to help administrators and faculty think in new and creative ways.

Now, having been an AEL for several years before joining Adobe,  I can say this: This group of teachers is passionate, innovative, and dedicated to educating both their students and their peers. They thrive on learning as much as teaching and are incredibly talented at what they do. They are inspiring, because they inspire and energize each other. And they are just plain wonderful people.

What is the Summer Institute?


I can also say that in my opinion,  hands-down, this event is one of the best things Adobe does for education.

Bringing together 100+ faculty from Higher Ed and K-12, this is a global event;  faculty from the US, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Turkey, the Netherlands, Vietnam and even China,  all sharing ideas, techniques and many, many laughs. The overall feeling at this conference is one of passion and inclusiveness. There are no egos, just a genuine openness to learning from and sharing with each other.

Discussing Design and Publishing workflows with Jim Babbage.  #ael13

Discussing Design and Publishing workflows with Jim Babbage. #ael13

They also brought their concerns, and were not timid in asking Adobe some tough, thoughtful questions. And to their (“our”, I guess) credit. representatives from Adobe did their level best to answer those questions. Trust me, copious notes were taken by Adobe staffers, during workflow roundtables, product demos and general sessions.

The general flow of this event is a combination of peer-to-peer presentations and Adobe-led (but teacher-inspired) sessions. AEL’s get an opportunity to talk directly with Adobe executives, engineers and product managers and are exposed to some cutting-edge, uber secret projects that Adobe has in the works. The peer-to-peer sessions shed light on techniques and concepts that teachers are actively applying in the classroom to help their students or engage other faculty at their schools. From the energetic, fun and ingenious “5 minutes of fame” presentations each morning, to more in-depth 45 minute explorations or explanations of technology and best practices, AELs gather inspiration and ideas they can use or build on in their own teaching.demos and general sessions.

Who rocks the #ael13? Claire and the gang at @AdobeEdu

Who rocks the #ael13? Claire and the gang at @AdobeEdu.

Talking with many of my teacher friends at the Summit, one common thread was this conference was one they waited for all year long. In some cases, the Summit is their main external Professional Development event. It’s rewarding on so many levels and I say that as both a teacher and an Adobe employee. The sharing, networking, open and respectful dialog are so very inspiring.

I could blather on saying wonderful things, but instead, I want to share some snippets from the event:

5 Minutes of Fame presentations

AEL’s sharing a singe idea or technique or technology with the entire group in 5 minutes or less. A few of the many presentations included:

  • International photo and imaging exchange using Photoshop Touch
  • Using Edge Animate to teach Common Core outcomes in math and science
  • Easy time-lapse effects using Photoshop and Lightroom

AEL to AEL sessions

45 minute, in-depth lecture/demo/workshop sessions presented by AEL’s in smaller breakout sessions.

  • Creating Interactive Widgets with Edge Animate

    5 minutes of Fame. #AEL13 @magrelacanela

    5 minutes of Fame. #AEL13 @magrelacanela

  • Photoshop Touch for kids of all ages
  • International Collaboration
  • Responsive Web Design for Teachers
  • The Evolution of an App: A DPS story at SVA
  • EPub Essentials for InDesign rookies
  • Feel the History: Creating Historians by Creating History Documentaries
  • Gamified Curriculum Delivery system
  • Adobe, Project based Learning and the Flipped Classroom
  • Using Captivate to Develop and Deliver Faculty Continuing Education
@openclssrm @lukasengqvist You rocked the #unAEL13 Unconference! Thanks for hosting it.

@openclssrm @lukasengqvist You rocked the #unAEL13 Unconference! Thanks for hosting it. #ael13

Adobe-led sessions

  • Adobe’s Education Vision and Future
  • Product/Workflow roundtables on Design and Publishing, Video Production, Productivity, and Responsive Web Design
  • Design Team workshops – How would you design a school where students felt empowered to create.
  • Sneak peeks from Next Generation development team

The above lists are only samplings of the information-packed 3-day agenda. (Pssst, I can see you drooling…)

A very special workshop

From Monday to Wednesday, The AEL’s were broken up into Design Team groups, each of which had very specific tasks. Over the three days, about 10 hours were slotted fr these teams to interview subjects, then discuss and brainstorm ideas for their assigned topic. I participated in a group who interviewed a student, to learn what kind of school we could design that would give her free will and desire to be a creator.

These sessions were wonderful! So many amazing ideas and suggestions and doubly amazing in that even when we worked in sub groups, we often came up with three or four similar ideas (as well as many others that were unique to each sub group).

In the end, each team had to build a prototype that visually described their goal/assignment. While I haven’t seen all the photos, the ones I did see looked great, and it was obvious the groups had a great time assembling their prototypes. This was an excellent example of inclusiveness, open-thinking and sharing of ideas.


Battling robots with @TomGreen at San Jose Tech Museum after #AEL13

Battling robots with @TomGreen at San Jose Tech Museum after #AEL13

Of course this event wasn’t all work and no play! The time between sessions is just as valued. Conversations are continued, new friendships made and a much-needed time to decompress from all the amazing learning of the day.

From sponsored networking events like Tuesday night Bocce Ball, and the Wednesday night closing party at the San Jose Tech Museum, to the spontaneous gatherings in the hotel lounge, group dinners, Salsa dancing, geo-caching and early morning (And I mean EARLY – I was there) city walks, it’s all part of a truly unique experience that is the Adobe Education Leader Summer Institute.

Engaged, Inspired, Exhausted!

With the #AEL13 gang at the Fairmont in San Jose. I live for this week!

With the #AEL13 gang at the Fairmont in San Jose. I live for this week!

Everyone leaves this event energized and at the same time, exhausted. But it’s a good exhaustion. It’s the tiredness one feels after a job well done, or an experience well earned. I know this group values each others ideas and contributions and are just chomping at the bit to try out something new in their own classrooms. And of course, counting down the months and days until the next AEL Summer Institute.

You can read proof of this excitement just by picking at the Twitter feed, which ran non-stop from Sunday to yesterday. Have a peek at the hashtags #unAEL13 and #AEL13 to see what I mean.

And speaking of Twitter, rather than relying on my own photos, the images you see here were all crowd-sourced from those twitter feeds (many thanks to all the contributors!). It’s great to have eyes everywhere!

Bocce Ball networking event

Bocce Ball networking event


Written on August 2nd, 2013 , Adobe, Conferences, Education, Learning, On the Personal SIde, Teaching

While doing some research today about technology in education, I came across a cool infographic.

My research trip started – as it often does these days – with a post on Twitter:


This tweet led me to a very interesting article, inspired by the 2013 Horizon Report on Higher Education.The report is hugely informative and enlightening. If you’ve not read the report, and you’re involved in higher education, I highly recommend reading it.

I found many informative resources in the Horizon report, one of which led me to the infographic you see below. The infographic was created by I think in many ways, the most telling information comes from the Owner’ Opinions, about 2/3 of the way down the chart. That information really speaks to how popular tablets are among students.

Infographic courtesy of Online

Teaching With Tablets

Written on February 14th, 2013 , Education, Learning, On the Personal SIde, tablets, Teaching, technology Tags: , ,

Recently, Video2Brain released my newest training title, Getting started with Muse. I’m very pleased, through this blog post, to talk a bit about Muse, the title itself and share some video excerpts from the training (just to whet your whistle).

Read the rest of this entry »

Like many students, I learn best when I understand the reason for what I’m learning, or am really engaged and curious about how I can achieve a vision of my own. This goes back as far as I can remember, but one example has always stuck in my mind, is my grade 10 math class. Read the rest of this entry »

Written on January 10th, 2012 , Education, Learning, On the Personal SIde, Teaching, Writing

I dropped by my former stomping (er, teaching) grounds last week to say hi to my many friends at Centennial College’s School of Communication, Media and Design. And while chatting with the Dean, Nate Horowitz, about my role at Adobe, he suggested I call on Debbie Gordon, the Director of the KidsMediaCentre at Centennial College. Debbie and I had a great chat about digital readiness in public schools and she shared with me the KMC’s new blog, just hot off the digital press last week. Read the rest of this entry »

MAX 2011 and pre-MAX sessions such as the full-day Education Summit gave educators many opportunities to learn from the industry, from Adobe and from each other.

The room fills up quickly as doors open for the first keynote
The room fills up quickly as doors open for the first keynote

Having been a teacher in Higher Ed for 20+ years, it’s natural for me to look at events like MAX with an educator’s eye. This is a perspective I hope I never lose, to be honest.

While MAX is a great networking occasion for professional designers and developers, it also gives teachers a chance to some important networking as well. They have the opportunity not only to learn new tips and techniques, but to talk to the people working in the industry, learning what skills are used, and what ones may be lacking. I think this is invaluable information; gaining this knowledge can help immensely when planning new courses, or updating existing ones to be more relevant. Read the rest of this entry »

I just discovered a site that links to a great deal of Fireworks tutorials and was pleased to see that many of my videos are on the list! Pretty cool if I do say so myself.

Spinelink appears to be a listing of tutorials that feature Adobe products. It seems pretty new as a site, but already has a comprehensive list across the Adobe family. This could become a great go-to site for teachers, students and professionals.

Speaker badge for D2W conference

D2W Conference

D2W is a designer/developer mobile workflow conference, it’s goal being to improve communication and share workflow ideas between designers and application developers. Now in it’s second year, it’s definitely gaining in popularity and has attracted a great range of presenters, including yours truly.

If you book the conference before April 1, 2011, you’ll receive a $95 Early Bird discount on conference registration.That’s right, until April 1, the conference fee is only $200! After April 1, the registration fee increases to $295 (still a great deal), so you’re saving practically 30% by confirming by the end of March.

And if you’re looking for more in-depth sessions, D2W has them as well:

These hands-on sessions will run on Thursday July 14 as a pre-cursor to the conference, which begins on Friday. What a great way to whet the digital appetite!

So if you’re a digital professional and you’re hankering for a fantastic way to network and learn at the same time, reserve yourself a spot at D2W this July.

Today my latest tutorial went live on CMX. It focuses on the advantages of Fireworks Button symbols, how to create them and how to edit them. And because design doesn’t exist in a vacuum, the article also covers how to use various tools in fireworks to create the custom artwork for the symbol, as well as how to expand an existing prototype design to  hold this new content. I packed a lot into this piece, so if you want to learn more about Button symbols (and Fireworks in general) be sure to drop by Community MX and check it out.

If you are using Adobe products in your curriculum (or for yourself) please check out the Adobe Education Exchange. It contains a continually growing list of resources and curriculum from educators across the globe, including some from yours truly.

Currently there are over 1,500 resources and more than 5,000 members. Resources include tutorials, course outlines, lesson plans and modules, tips and techniques, even sample files.

To visit the exchange, go to:

You will need to create an Adobe ID to get to the curriculum, but getting an Adobe ID is free and well worth the few minutes it takes to sign up.

Written on February 17th, 2011 , Adobe, Adobe Fireworks, Education, Learning, Teaching Tags: , , , ,

Jim's home on the Web is proudly powered by WordPress and the Theme Adventure by Eric Schwarz
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).

Jim's home on the Web

My thoughts and musings about photography, teaching and technology