My yearly camping trip came and went last week, and as always, it was full of laughter and good times. The “Excellent Adventure” (coined by my friend Tom Green) is now in its seventh year, and with this new year were some changes. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
45 minute, in-depth lecture/demo/workshop sessions presented by AEL’s in smaller breakout sessions.
The above lists are only samplings of the information-packed 3-day agenda. (Pssst, I can see you drooling…)
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.
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.
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!
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 OnlineUniversities.com. 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 Universities.com
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).
I’m so excited! I just received copies of my latest book on Adobe Fireworks. Hard to describe the feeling of seeing your words in print. But after months of conceptualizing, writing, re-writing, editing and revising, it’s finally here!
I had a wonderful editing team to work with on the Project. Sheri German, my friend and Technical Editor (2nd time in a row) for this book kept me on task and was did a great job of making sure steps were accurate and clear. I owe her so much for the attention to detail she paid to this book.
Linda Laflamme, my Developmental and Copy Editor, did an amazing job of getting into my head, helping to to flesh out details in an easy to understand, but concise and personable manner.
And of course, Valerie Witte, my Production Editor at Peachpit, was super-supportive, incredibly patient and always there when I needed her. She is a joy to work with.
I’d also like to thank my son, Joseph Hutt (himself and aspiring writer and creative individual) for allowing me to use photos I took of him in some of the exercises in the book. Likewise, thanks go to my very good friend Tom Green, fellow writer, teacher and mentor of mine, and his son Rob Green, for giving me permission to use photos of them in the book as well.
I am very appreciative of the fact that Peachpit Press recognized the need for text on Fireworks, where many publishers have not.
Thanks also to all those people whom I’ve talked with, griped with or who so generously shared with me their skills, opinions or sample art to use in sections of the book.
I’m very pleased with this edition of the Fireworks Classroom in Book. It’s the third CiaB I’ve written on Fireworks, and I feel it’s the best one so far. My goal with this edition was to rewrite as much of the book as possible, and refresh as much of the art work and exercise files as was feasible. I think I met my goal, while also adding completely new content and addressing feedback from previous editions.
It’s also a bit more of a personal book for me, because so much of the artwork – photos, interfaces, wireframes – are of my own creation. Many images from my yearly camping trip with Joe, Tom and Rob (and Marley, the camp mascot) appear in this edition, so while it’s an instructional text, it also contains memories for me.
For those of you who’ve not picked up a Classroom in a Book (CiaB) before, these texts are both reference and how-to manuals in one. Project based, they take users through an introduction to the software’s interface, and then get right into using the tools to produce content. In short, hopefully answering not just the how, but also the “why”, when possible.
While not a replacement for official documentation, it’s hoped you will glean ideas, workflows and tips from these books that you might not necessarily get from the manual.
If you’re interested in designing, wireframing or protoyping for the web, applications or even just doing more with your screen graphics for PowerPoint, I think this book gives you just what you need to use Fireworks effectively.
If you’re a teacher, I’ve also written a companion guide for the book to help you plan out lessons, and giving you summaries of what each chapter (lesson) covers.
If you pick up a copy, please let me know what you think. I would love to get feedback on the book.
It’s been some time since I last posted on my blog. Between writing a new book and preparing for the launch of Adobe Creative Suite CS6, life has been very busy. But a very important milestone has been met this week, and I wanted to take some time to acknowledge it.
Yesterday (May 24) marked the end of my first year as an Adobe employee.
Wow. This year has truly flown by! I’ve learned a lot in the past 12 months – chief among which is how much I still l have to learn. But it’s been an amazing year, filled with a great deal of travelling and presenting the Adobe creative tools to teachers, staff and administrators in the elementary, secondary and higher education sectors. I’ve been to more places in Canada in 12 months than I’ve been in 48 years – which, while very cool, is a bit of a sad statement on my vacation life.
I do miss teaching students, seeing the light appear above their heads when they truly comprehend something, but my interaction with faculty from all over Canada and my ability to share knowledge with them, softens that ache to a good degree. And well, there’s no marking in this job, so I must admit, I enjoy missing that facet of my life. Instead of marking on the weekends, I actually have time to do things around the house.
Unless I’m prepping for a customer presentation, or flying out of or back into Toronto. Ah, the glorious life of a Solutions Consultant! And I say that with a big smile.
Speaking of Solutions Consultants – OMG – what an amazing group of smart, funny, creative and professional people! My colleagues on the SC team for Education are a constant source of inspiration for me, and the wider community of SC’s that includes industry and government are equally talented and skilled. Every single one of these people that I have met are more than happy to share their expertise, offer (in my case, much needed) advice.
I can honestly say that, after teaching as a profession, this career at Adobe is the next best thing. And if you know me, and my love for teaching, you also know that says quite a bit about how I feel about this change in careers. And if ya don’t know me, trust me when i say, it’s a positive thing. :-).
Challenging? Hell yes. Fun? More often than not. I do like my job. I can’t wait to see what my second year brings.
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 »
It’s that time of year again. One I always look forward to. A time for renewal and reflection. A chance to take stock of your life so far, and appreciate what you have. My Christmas wish to all my friends and family is that you have a safe, happy holiday, and spend it with those you love and who love you, even if you can only do so in your heart.
Several years ago, I wrote a Christmas story. And to this day, reading it still gives me chills – in a good way. I think it’s probably the best story I’ve ever written. Everything just seemed to flow when I wrote it – and those are the best stories to write – the ones that just jump out of you and onto the page, almost like you’re re-telling about something that really happened. I’m not a particularly religious person, but this story – to me – just seems right. I’m sure some of you will just think it’s corny, sentimental mush, but regardless, my gift to you is Midnight Clear. It’s in PDF format, so feel free to download it and read it yourself, or share it with friends and family.
Before you download, here’s a taste of the story. I hope it tweaks your interest enough to click the link. Merry Christmas, all, and a very happy new year!
It was a night symbolic of December in the north. Quiet, and the air so cold you almost thought you could shatter it like a pane of glass. Of the four other cabins on the lake, mine was the only one with a welcoming light shining in the window.
Standing on the porch, I watched the slight breeze move my breath away from me in little clouds. Looking up I could see thousands brilliant gems sparkling on the black velvet drape of night. On the horizon, spirits from an ancient world reeled and cavorted in their colourful, mystical dance. The distant, lone cry of a wolf echoed across the lake. Then quiet again. On such a clear night, the moon cast a serene glow across the fresh blanket of snow. Giant spruce, whispering to me in the breeze, carved long shadows in the snow. The frozen sheet of the lake was also covered, but I could still make out the dip between the shore and water, however slight.
A beautiful night, to be sure, but special in more ways than these.
Tomorrow would be Christmas. Beth-Anne would be arriving before lunch. Christmas in the country . . . what could be better?
And that thought jarred me from my reverie. I was out here for a reason – the woodshed. The night was not going to get any warmer, after all. I clapped my hands together – a dull thud through my wool gloves – and pulled my show shoes off their resting-place. Slapping the latches in place, I grabbed the wood sack and made my way to the side of the cabin.
Walking in the shoes always makes the snow seem deceptively firm as if one is walking on the ground. Reaching down to open the lid of the woodshed quickly dissolved that illusion, though.
As I rifled through my heating supply, I heard a thud, like someone dropping a rock on soft ground. I stood up and craned my neck, looking as best I could for the originator of the sound. Listening intently, I heard nothing more and so resumed my search for some good, 4-hour logs. Probably just a clump of snow falling from one of the trees, I told myself.
Well there you have the opening to my story. Enjoy Midnight Clear with friends and family if you like, but above all, have a very Merry Christmas. Here’s to a wonderful 2012!
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 »