Trials and tribulations of learning Adobe Flash CS4

I’m trying to get my head around a new application – Adobe Flash CS4. Usually when I pick up something new I find it fairly easy to catch on to how it works. I use a blend of “play” with it, look at demo’s/tutes if available, and use the manual for reference – to find out about specific tools/aspects or check how to do something I’ve forgotten. From the start I like to work with something real – I loathe tutorials that give you a set-piece to work through because they never do what I want to achieve and usually give a simplistic view! When faced with these I usually try and do something of my own and just follow the recipe with different ingredients.

With CS4 I am having problems – I don’t find it intuitive. Think my mind works very differently to Adobe’s – probably doesn’t help that I don’t use other Adobe “stuff”. Have used Photoshop a bit but usually find that it is overpowerful for my needs (usually just a bit of simple pic editing). Also suspect I would find it easier if I was used to Macs – never used one – as I think maybe it was really developed for Mac. Also for me a major issue is that there appears to be no text based manual or help system. It doesn’t have to be printed/printable – but I really need a searchable reference text where I can look at an index or search for a term/tool and find out how to use it. I am finding the video tutorials are OK but limited in scope and not flexible in use. Without a manual there is no way to check on something you are not sure about other than to go through the entire video again (if you can remember wich one you need to revisit). If anyone knows of a basic user guide/manual for CS4 available online from Adobe and I’ve missed it I would be very grateful if you could let me know – and I will then grovel suitably!

I don’t find I learn very well when forced into someone else’s concept of how I should learn something. I feel that this is what is happening to me with CS4 and the “follow these steps” approach. I am more of an exploratory/discovery type learner then a learn by rote person. It also seems that part of the objective may be to encourage people who are trying to learn the application to spend money on additional resources to help them learn. While I feel that it is fine to produce as many additional training materials as required and indeed to sell them to those who need them, I do feel that it is unfair to customers to fail to provide a basic user manual in some form. I expected to find this on the second CD in the pack – however there are just “tasters” of training for a whole range of Adobe products. I also found that much of the internet available training material from Adobe shows a Mac screen not a Windows screen and is still heavily focussed on CS3 – there has been a major change in functionality from CS3 to CS4. I know I will eventually get my head round all the “how to’s” but at the moment it is very frustrating!

Virtual Classroom thoughts – part one what do I use?

Hmm! Wonder if I could get hooked on this blogging thing? I’m not much of a written reflector – these things usually happen in my head (often when driving to/from work) and not on the computer/piece of paper. So I thought maybe I would write about using virtual classrooms – as my role involves me in using vc as a lecturer and also in teaching and facilitating colleagues in using vc. However I have so much to say about these that it seems like a good move to write a series of posts. So – for those of you old enough to remember TinTin and Snowy you can look forward to the next thrilling instalment of Jo’s adventures with virtual classrooms at regular (sort of!) intervals!

Elluminate participant screenAnyway – just a bit about the VC I mostly use. This is Elluminate – it’s the one I use because here in Western Australia the Dept of Training makes it available for TAFE and as we are effectively paying for it, it makes sense to use it.

However for me there are also other reasons why I like Elluminate:

1) You can go in to a support linkand subsequently a configuration room and set up your system and also see what your screen will look like when you are logged in to a session (I just – today – tried to do the same with Adobe Connect and couldn’t find similar. It also told me I only had modem speed – I’m on broadband – but didn’t tell me whether that meant I couldn’t join a session)

2) I have accessed Elluminate help/support several times taking a ticket after accessing the self-help portal – mainly for student issues as every student has a different system configuration, and may have any connection (eg broadband, dialup, satellite, internal network). Elluminate support have always been extremely helpful and very professional – also they often can supply an answer overnight due to time zone differences

3) I am personally comfortable with the way it works – in common with all applications/tools there are things which irritate me but on the whole I am happy with far more than I am unhappy with.

Next post about Elluminate will look at some of the tools and the ways of using them that seem to work for me!!

Well I finally did it!

Started a Blog I mean! I have though about it on and off for ages and thanks to Sue Waters (and her original Mobile Technology in TAFE wiki) I actually know the difference between a blog and a wiki.

My main problem with starting this was what to write about. I didn’t think I could split myself in two the way Sue does and manage two separate blogs (Mobile Technology in TAFE and The Edublogger) with their associated sibling rivalry! So I decided to write about everything in one place and as my focus is “E-stuff” of all sorts E-verything seemed to fit the bill.

I am an educator in Western Australia currently lecturing in the Vocational Education and Training sector in a TAFE College (currently CY O’Connor) based in the WA Wheatbelt region. The Wheatbelt is a very large sparsely populated area so e-learning is becoming more and more important in providing learning opportunities for the people who live there. Many of our students are geographically isolated and often also socially isolated from their peer group on the same course. Mobile phone coverage is poor as is access to broadband. Thus we have an increasing focus on online learning (synchronous and asysnchronous) but with the requirement that we also keep it a simple as possible.

As well as my usual lecturing (mainly literacy/numeracy but also some IT and Business at low levels) I have also been fulfilling a professional development role in training and mentoring colleagues in their uptake of e-learning tools and strategies for delivery and assessment. This has included facilitating several Australian Flexible Learning Framework funded projects over the last two years.

Here you will find my thoughts (if and when I can organise myself to post them) about using various e-tools and strategies in learning contexts – including the trials and tribulations of getting my head around new applications for me (eg Flash).