Archive for October, 2010

Rome wasn’t built in a day

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Adobe Rome was officially launched this weekend, with a free public preview. It integrates features found in Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash and other Adobe software into an awesome, creative design tool that can be accessed online or as an AIR app.

I first saw Rome in a video from Adobe MAX 2009, then in January I was privileged to meet some of the Rome engineers and discuss some of the features of the infant product. Over the past 9 months I participated in the Rome beta and witnessed how the product evolved through feedback from the many educators and professionals involved in the beta process.

Now, Rome is here for all to see. It boasts a range of tools and features that opens up the creation of animation, websites, online documents and multimedia to a brand new audience. In particular I can see Rome being a popular tool for education. Teachers can use Rome to integrate different media to create engaging lessons, while students can create coursework with a whole new dimension of interactivity. Adobe have even created a special preview just for education.

Rome may not have been built in a day, but that’s because it takes time to make something this good.

Categories: Adobe

3D Vision

October 22, 2010 Leave a comment


©_zand (Flickr)


The world is going mad for 3D. Cinemas are offering 3D movies, Sky covered the Ryder Cup in 3D and Nintendo will launch their Nintendo 3DS console early next year.

How can education use 3D and, in this age of austerity, do it on a low or non existent budget?

A couple of technologies I’ve been experimenting with lately are 3D anaglyphs and augmented reality. Both of these can be achieved with open source or free software, and I’m already integrating them into my classes by teaching students how to make multimedia content with these tools.

3D Anaglyphs

These are 3D images created from two images and viewed through glasses with different coloured lenses. Using a digital camera and some image editing software e.g. Adobe Photoshop or GIMP, 3D anaglyphs can be created quickly. The procedure is very straightforward, and a tutorial on making 3D stereoscopic images with Photoshop can be found on Adobe Education Exchange. Suitable red/cyan 3D glasses can be purchased readily from several websites and from E-Bay. They can also be found on the cover of several kids comics and also in 3D books in your local bookstore.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is a bit more complicated and some experience of programming is required. I’ve used Adobe Flash along with a set of other tools to create my examples, but other tools such as Adobe Flex are free to education and can be used in a similar way.

The example below was created using Flash CS4, Papervision 3D, FLARToolkit and Blender.


October 17, 2010 1 comment

Today is REBELS Day. The day for Reforms from Educational Bloggers Links of Educational Suggestions.

So here are my thoughts on education reform.

Parents know their children out of school, and not as students. Politicians have no idea about students, they don’t live near students and have never met them, or at least in nothing more than stage-managed visits. Senior management in schools and educational organisations don’t know students, for most of the same reasons as politicians. Educational quangos are in the same boat as most politicians, but at least some of them have met a student. In fact, noone knows students better than their teacher.

It stands to reason that the best people to reform education are those that know it best – the students and the teachers.

What are the challenges to be faced if students and teachers lead the reform?

  1. Risk – who will take the risk of handing over reform to the students and teachers?
  2. Budgets – who will happily release their control of the educational budget to students and teachers?
  3. Participation – what happens if the teacher or student doesn’t participate?
  4. Failure – what if it doesn’t work?

These are massive risks, and risks that I don’t think anyone currently in control would be happy to take. The only reform that is likely to take place is in microcosm, where a teacher or teacher-student partnership takes control of whatever happens in the classroom. Wide scale policies can’t work due to inconsistency amongst the teaching populace and the student populace. No two schools are the same, no two teachers are the same and no two students are the same.

For these reasons, the politicians can talk about reform all they want, but it won’t work. Any reform will work for some, but exclude others, on a massive scale. The only reform that can work, without causing massive harm is in the individual classroom, where individuals take risks, innovate, reflect and adjust their practice.

Change comes from individuals, not policy, and by individuals selflessly sharing with others.

Categories: teaching

Games Contest

October 13, 2010 Leave a comment

As part of the Games Design unit the students have to play and analyse games, writing about various aspects of the design such as narrative, characters, gameplay and interface.

This week we held a contest with the game SSX Tricky. Each student’s name was pulled from a hat and played against another random student. Each winner went through to the next round, and then there were semi-finals and a final.

The contest was great fun, and we had a surprise winner, Kirsty, who fended off all the competition, taking first place in most of her races and also setting several course records. Well Done!

Photo Update

October 8, 2010 Leave a comment

The weather was beautiful for our class photography trip to Edinburgh and many great shots were taken around the Royal Mile. Here are some of the shots.


Don’t Hide Your Light

October 8, 2010 Leave a comment

I just had a conversation with my HND Visual Communication students about expanding their horizons, getting their work seen and their names known, and preparing for the big bad world of work.

In the past I was lucky enough to gain work experience through Channel 4’s Ideasfactory, and several similar schemes are currently in operation offering advice and opportunities for those working in the creative arts.

© Muhammad Adnan Asim (Flickr)

I would certainly suggest registering for all and any of the opportunities available as you never know where it may lead. After working with Ink Animation on a Channel 4 project in 2005 I was asked to be a mentor on a further design related project with TV production company Eyeline Media. Many years later the company contacted me looking for students to act as ‘runners’ for a film shoot they were doing in my local area. Two students subsequently helped on the set and gained some great work experience and something worthwhile mentioning on their CV.

So, my advice is not to hide away, but get out there and seek out as many opportunities as you can – especially in these tough times – and gain some experience to make yourself shine out in the crowd.

Integrating core skills – numeracy

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

With Curriculum for Excellence there’s a move to embedding core skills more appropriately within subjects, and it’s something I’ve been looking at for some of my own classes.

Details of some of the tasks we undertook can be accessed on my Tutorials website, however I’ve summarised them here.

In my games design class I’ve been looking at integrating some numeracy skills. During one of the first lessons we conducted a poll to determine which students owned different types of games consoles. We discussed why the games industry may be interested in this information and also how this type of information might be used for planning and marketing.

The raw data was recorded in a spreadsheet and some simple SUM and AVERAGE functions were used to determine the average statistics for several classes worth of data.

The raw data is fairly interesting in itself, however there is more information to be gleaned by further analysis. We then created a Venn diagram of the three main home consoles, and each student added their name to the appropriate part of the diagram to show which consoles they owned.

Venn diagram of console ownership

Venn diagram of console ownership

The next step we took was to make a visualisation of the data to show which consoles were most popular and which were played most often. We constructed a Balloon Race diagram to show this.

Balloon Race visualisation of games console ownership

Balloon Race visualisation of games console ownership

This is a fairly simple example of integrating numeracy skills into a specific subject, however it does cover a number of core skills areas including Working with Others and Communication as well as Numeracy. In the process of analysing and visualising the data the students also picked up some software skills in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop, which will be useful in other areas of their course.

Categories: Uncategorized