Three Edublogs webinar overviews – e-publish, Serendipity, don’t lose data!


Three overviews in one this week. At the moment I seem to have no time for anything and so once again the previous two week’s webinar overviews were postponed.

(For the link for live webinars and info about the times and topics scroll to the bottom of this post).

E-publish or be e-damned!

In this recorded session Phil  led us through some of the tangled web of e-books, beginning with some discussion on what they are.

From the plethora of formats (file types) and different publisher standards that Phil told us about, it seems that the world of e-books/e-publishing is at that stage in development where the publishers are attempting to “lock in” both writers and readers to their particular format. They are fighting to corner the market so that eventually almost everyone will be working with one format – that of the “winning” publisher who will “own” that format!

Phil moved the discussion on to consideration of e-books/e-publishing from the perspective of the author looking at factors around: saleability, preparation format – prepare in a common format and convert or author directly in the format for publishing. We also took a look at deciding on a publisher/format.

Producing a great (and successful) e-book is not just about having great ideas and content. Understanding the medium, having some knowledge of mark-up languages, presentation and marketing are all  important and the whole process can be hard work!

A great session which certainly made me much more aware of the ramifications of e-publishing and also very conscious that many e-books are not presented or sometimes even written particularly well. Perhaps e-books are currently in a similar stage of development to that of Science Fiction as a genre in the era of the “pulp” SF magazines last century!

Serendipity – what are, and how we use, wikis

This was a very lively recorded session with lots of audio and text chat interaction and not much on the whiteboard, though we did share some wikis and blogs through AppShare.

Initially we tried to get some clarity on wikis. I remember my own early confusion with wiki and Wikipedia when I first came across wikis and this is potentially even worse now with a multitude of online projects prefixed by the work “wiki” giving a variety of different impressions of what wikis are about.

Discussion then moved on to uses of wikis in a teaching contexts with some sharing of wikis and later blogs by participants to show how they are being used. There was a lot of side discussion ranging across many related topics particularly with reference to blogs. I think that the functional crossovers between wikis and blogs make it almost inevitable that if you discuss one you will also include the other.

A true Serendipity session with lots of serendipitous discovery as well as the chosen topic exploration.

Don’t lose your data!

As always we recorded this session and my personal opinion is that this is a “must” for anyone who has ever lost any data – and that means all of us! Again this session was led by @philhart who gave us fantastic insights into risks to our data and some of the ways to combat these. When Phil is not involved in edu activities he is a computer consultant who works with a variety of personal and business clients often advising on data preservation strategies as well as developing software.

Phil kept us busy throughout the session starting with a few questions to get us thinking about what we understand by the terms “data”, “risk” and “consequence”. We then moved on to consider the possible impacts on ourselves of losing data with consideration of where we keep our data and what risks we ourselves see.

Then Phil moved on to discuss some of the detail of what he sees as the three primary risks to our data: theft, loss and corruption. The risks can’t be eliminated entirely but we can control them to some extent. We need to do what is effectively a cost/benefit analysis where we balance the likely “cost”, not necessarily in material terms, of data loss against the “cost” of backing up.

Phil asked us what we do for our own data security – for most of us the focus was on some degree of backing up to reduce the “loss” element of the risk without much upfront consideration of the other . However it was interesting that when Phil shared his own strategy this was a blend which addressed all three areas of risk much more broadly!

To finish Phil asked us what we might do differently in the light of this session – for most of us this seemed to be a variation on the theme of find out more about what we already have and do more backups!

I found this session incredibly useful – despite living with “a backup obsessive” ie Phil it still opened my eyes to more risks that I need to consider!


Three fantastic sessions! I enjoyed all of these as always. I particularly enjoy sessions where someone else is the main facilitator. If you have something to share please let us know (add a comment to this post, or Tweet us – @JoHart or @philhart) and then join us to facilitate a session about your e-edu passion! If you are not familiar with BlackboardCollaborate we can help you plan how best to do your session so it works for you.

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session where we invite you to suggest your “hot” topics for discussion – we then select the topic by poll.  Join us on Thursday September 13th at 23:00 GMT/UTC the time for you will vary depending on your timezone (check yours here) Thursday afternoon/evening in the USA, late night Thursday in Europe, and Friday morning September 14th in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.

Edublogs Serendipity webinar overview – reading to dogs, why great apps close, mismatched expectations


Again a Serendipity session where we didn’t vote on a topic! When we are only  very small group as has been the case often lately it works well for us to briefly visit several topics. This week we looked a “reading to dogs”, “why great programs/apps close” and 2stC expectations in a digital age. As always we recorded the session.

(For the link for live webinars and info about the times and topics scroll to the bottom of this post)

The session

This was an interesting session starting wih a look at “reading to dogs” a fascinating topic shared by @jofrei about “Reading Assistance Dogs” who help reluctant readers with reading aloud by being non-judgemental listeners. Jo shared a number of links, and this caused us to widen our thoughts into other animals as “assistants”

We then moved on to consider some possible reasons why what we feel are great programs/apps disappear or are changed beyond recognition by being taken over.

An offshoot from this included thoughts on the proliferation of new apps many of which seem to be very similar in purpose and which often don’t last long. My own leanings are towards using Open Source apps maintained by the community. This is because it appears to me that anything small and commercial that is good is immeditely a target for takeover by one of the giants in the field. It is then either shut down because it was a competitor or changed beyond recognition in the name of re-badging. These closures of good apps also raise issues about loss of personal data that has been uploaded and/or the complexities of removing it and transferring to a new platform. This provides a strong argument for having everything backed up in the “down here” and not just up in the cloud.

Our final very briefly visited topic was about the continuing existence of 20th Century expectations/methodologies being applied to assessment of learners who are learning using digital technology. This raised questions about: the time spent teaching the students how to use the tech tools instead of working with content; and the fact that students no longer need to learn and regurgitate content but must instead be able to evaluate information that they source from the Internet and make informed judgements on its reliability. This is definitely a topic for a full Finefocus session in the future!


As always a fascinating session – we almost forgot to stop at the finish time! These flying visits to several topics in a session are fun, and they work well with a small group.

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session. In this session Phil Hart (@philhart) will take us on an introductory look at e-publishing in “E-publish or be e-damned”.  Join us on Thursday August 23rd at 23:00 GMT/UTC the time for you will vary depending on your timezone (check yours here) Thursday afternoon/evening in the USA, late night Thursday in Europe, and Friday morning August 24th in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.

Edublogs webinar overviews – catching up on three!


Once again I must apologise for my slowness in posting webinar overviews. I hope that from now on I will be back to posting after each session. The project that has taken almost all my time and energy for the last few months is complete! So I hope I will now have a little time for my PLN.

These three sessions were:

  • a Fine Focus – about using Symbaloo pages to help students keep on track in our online adult literacy course
  • a Serendipity in which we talked about and explored Pecha Kucha about which we knew very little at the start and much more by the end of the session
  • another FineFocus session – this one was delving a little deeper into some of the storymakers we tried out a few weeks ago through sharing stories and how we made them

 Online students staying on track

This session, recorded as always, was a look at one aspect of my now completed project where we have been trialling a new delivery strategy  for our online adult literacy students while also working to improve digital literacy and online study skills..

Issues that often arise with all students when using the Internet are those of: getting “off track” and becoming “lost in the surf”. These issues are a particular problem with online students as the teacher/lecturer is not “surfing” the physical room and so is unable to see when this might be happening and offer guidance.

The use of a project based approach with online students also has implications for teacher/lecturer time as students researching completely independently may all choose different websites of varying quality or even ones tht are not relevant to the task so the teacher/lecturer has to evaluate many sites.

This session looked at the combined strategies of “chunking” activities into “daily tasks” to help maintain focus, and then managing the links that students used by using topic based Symbaloo pages and colour coding the tiles for the different student levels and activites. Ownership was also provided through individual student choice of tiles for some activites.

I enjoyed this session – inevitably I think – because it gave me a chance to talk about the project that has been such a great success for the students and that I have enjoyed facilitating so much. Once my “mental dust settles” I intend to post more about the whole experience.

 Serendipity – What is Pecha Kucha?

This was a Serendipity (recording here) that “just happened” there was no vote on the topic which arose out of the chat before the formal start of the session.

The topic arose because one of our participants was considering submitting to present at a conference and the required form was Pecha Kucha. None of us knew very much about this as a presentation format (including the person considering using it). We were all interested to learn more!

This session was mainly audio and some textchat, with the whiteboard being used for occasional ideas and for some links about Pecha Kucha. We shared our preconceptions and then did some exploring individually to find out a little more about the method to enable us to discuss it more effectively.

Our discussion was wide ranging as we considered whether we might choose to use this ourselves and if so in what sort of context. There was some agreement that there were advantages for  some presentation where it could provide opportunities to “taste” several topics and then spend more time is Q&A with the presenter of the preferred topic. However this could be very frustrating if an attendee hd strong interest in more than one – or from the presenter perspective if all attendees focussed on one topic.

There was also some discussion about the merit of Pecha Kucha more as an art form than as a presentation strategy – an intriguing and appealing thought with which to end this great discussion!

Story Sharing

This recorded FineFocus session was a “spin off” from one a few weeks ago in which we took a look at some online story making tools in one of our “quick and easy tools” explorations.

In this session we shared stories we had made. The star of our show was @jofrei who is a great storyteller! See her stories about Sprite et al  She hadfantastic examples from Storybird, Storyjumper and LittleBirdTales for us. Phil and Sandra also shared stories. Sharing the stories provided opportunities to talk in more depth about the pros and cons of each tool and also to share experiences in storymaking generally. I was guilty of not doing my homework but shared a great story created by one of my students.

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday June 21st at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday June 22nd at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic.

Webinar Overview – Imagine Your Image

Our most recent recorded webinar was a “Techie How To” in which we looked at some of the tools in a simple free image editor – PhotoFiltre. I use PhotoFiltre a lot because I rarely need the more sophisticated features such as layers. This was one of those sessions where I did the presentation as well as facilitating. I always find it more difficult to write an overview for these as I feel too close to the content to be as objective as I should be. I always welcome comments on any of these webinar overviews but particularly so when I have presented the content and thus am not sure about my own objectivity!

The Session

I very much enjoyed doing this session – as I was able to show one of my favourite “e-toys” (PhotoFiltre) through the medium of another (Elluminate). We began by finding out where we were all coming from on image file formats and editing, followed by some quick thoughts on why we and our students might want to edit images.


Size changing and cropping (used most by my students, my colleagues and myself) were both suggested several times. We then moved on to consider briefly the features of a basic image editing application that we would consider most important for ourselves and for our students. Easy to learn and free topped the polls.

Next we took a quick look at the accessibility and functions of some of the most frequently used tools (all on drop-down menus). Size is one of the most significant items that we all often need to change to suit different contexts so we looked briefly at some common sizes we might use and also at the impact of when we make the change on file sizes and consequent download times. Other tools briefly reviewed included cropping, adjusting colour balance, brightness/contrast and filter effects.

Then it was time to play! I shared PhotoFiltre from my desktop and invited participants to try out some of the tools on some pre-loaded images by taking control of my desktop. Using application share in this way has some limitations – for example there is an inevitable lag in response when the mouse is being controlled remotely. However I feel that it has great benefits from the interactivity point of view and is more effective than simply using the sharing to demonstrate. I would love some feedback on this! We finished the session as usual with questions and feedback.


My personal liking for PhotoFiltre is because it is easy to use and free to download and is thus a good option for my students who are literacy/numeracy students working online. They often have both limited access to computers and limited IT skills. I have also suggested it to many of my colleagues as they rarely need sophisticated editing capacity such as layers and they also find it very useful for basic cropping and size changing especially of images they intend to upload into the Learning Management System. If you do need features such as layers then you could take a look at GIMP also free.

Next Webinar

SerendipitybsmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs Serendipity – unconference session so bring along your hot topics and burning issues (what makes you spit with anger or thump a tub with passion) and throw them into the melting pot for the poll to choose our topic in the first ten minutes.

Join us on Thursday July 8th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (7pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday July 9th at 1am CEST,7am West Aus, 9am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room


Webinar overview – Feed Learning With a Hot Potato


This session (recorded here)  was great fun! Despite loss of Internet at our end in the early stages. Our system (ie that of myself and Phil Hart) has been so reliable for the last couple of years that I had become a bit complacent and was out of the habit of automatically giving someone else Moderator status in case of problems.  Suffice it to say that our connection came back up just as Phil was starting our backup satellite link. We returned to the session where everyone, with great confidence in our imminent return, had continued chatting. I instantly gave Moderator status to another participant. As a result of this I will make a big effort to revert back to my former practice of giving  someone else Moderator status in each session. In the early days of these sessions I tried to rotate the extra moderator around fairly regular participants. I think that doing this is very good practice anyway as it gives people a gentle introduction to the role and an opportunity to see the extra tools that are available to Moderators.

Overview of the webinar

Hot Potatoes (download from here) is a free easy to use application for developing simple interactives. These can be saved in one or more of several different ways including SCORM compliant and webpage formats. It is one of several free applications that I use regularly to create activities that I can upload into our Learning Management System (LMS).

I followed my usual practice at the start of trying to get a “feel” for where everyone was “coming from” on Hot Potatoes. On this occasion it seemed that most people were relatively unfamiliar with it. I also made a brief comparison with two other freely available applications that I also use: ARED (downloadable from here ) developed several years ago with Australian Flexible Learning Framework funding; and eXe (available here) developed collaboratively in New Zealand.

We had a very brief look at the types of activity that can be created.


Then we moved on via a Web Tour to our (mine and Phil’s) Moodle playground where we had uploaded some activities (taken from those I use with my literacy and study skills students). This gave everyone the opportunity to try out a few activities from the student perspective by logging in as “Guest” and accessing them through “Hot Potatoes 101”.


Having seen some activities from the student perspective we moved on to make an activity. The consensus was to collaboratively produce a quiz. For this I used Application Share – shared part of my desktop, started the JQuiz Hot Potatoes quizmaker and gave volunteers control of the application to write a question each.


As we reached the end of the session there was lively discussion in text about the features of Hot Potatoes; the potential for use in different ways including giving students opportunities to create activities themselves and a brief consideration of whether the application does anything you can’t do with pencil and paper. This has given me food for further thought and has generated a discussion topic to form the basis for our next Fine Focus session in 2 weeks time.

Despite the messy start due to the Internet glitch the feedback was positive and I was reminded yet again how much people like the opportunity to try things out in the session. This, as always, reinforces my desire to keep “improving my act” and thinking of more ways to include interactivity in webinars.

Next week

SerendipitybsmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs Serendipity – unconference session so bring along your hot topics and burning issues (what makes you spit with anger or thump a tub with passion) and throw them into the melting pot for the poll to choose our topic in the first ten minutes.

Join us on Thursday April 15th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (7pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday April 16th at 1am CEST,7am West Aus, 9am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room


Webinar Overview – Teaching With Moodle

This week’s Edublogs Webinar (recording here ) presented by Tomaz Lasic was a terrifically informative session that opened my (and I think many others’) eyes to the myriad ways of using Moodle in teaching.

The Webinar

This was a well attended session with our usual global mix from Australia, the USA, Canada, South America and Europe. There was also a variety of Moodle experience ranging from none to very experienced, with almost half of us falling into the “novice” group.

Tomaz began with a look at the principles underlying Moodle …

PrinciplesOfMoodle… and two questions to ponder during the session.

He then moved on to take us through the processes involved in building a course. This part of the session was packed with information! Tomaz used examples throughout from a course developed in his recent teaching role, showing us how the learners had become part of the development process and thus shared ownership of the course. A superb teaching strategy and fascinating to see how it can be implemented with Moodle – a huge contrast with the way many people use Learning Management systems (LMS) of any type ie as a repository for documents. To my relief (as a Moodle novice) most of the questions arising in text chat were ably fielded by the more experienced Moodle users in the audience. This meant that Tomaz was able to maintain the flow and his train of thought giving us a fascinating insight into the thoughts behind the development of the course. As a couple of people said at the end it would have been nice to see the options in action, but there would have been the inevitable trade-off in terms of covering less ground. If Tomaz had done this the focus would necessarily have been on a far smaller part of what is available and we would not have had such a clear picture of the many options available in Moodle.

To take us full circle at the end of the session Tomaz returned to the underlying principles of Moodle and the questions he posed at the beginning. He invited whiteboard comments on several aspects of using Moodle including how best to approach teaching with Moodle.

BestApproachFinally there was some excellent and extremely positive feedback. This was a great session all round with much food for thought and exciting strategies shared.

Next week

SerendipitybsmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs Serendipity – unconference session so bring along your hot topics and burning issues (what makes you spit with anger or thump a tub with passion) and throw them into the melting pot for the poll to choose our topic in the first ten minutes.

Join us on Thursday April 1st at 23:00 GMT/UTC  (7pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday April 2nd at 1am CEST,7am West Aus, 10am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room

Also next week I am also doing a webinar on Wednesday March31st at 09:00 GMT/UTC (5am USA EST, 10am BST, 11am CEST, 5pm West Aus, 8pm NSW) depending on your timezone. This is  “E-blends and Regional/Remote Students”  in the LearnCentral public webinar room

This will be an interactive session aimed at exploring some of the challenges (and some possible solutions) of using e-learning blends for flexible delivery to a highly diverse and geographically scattered student group across four AQF levels of literacy, numeracy and study skills.

  • Context – where is this happening?
  • Who are the students?
  • Blending the learning – how and why
  • Some of the challenges.
  • Meeting the challenges.
  • Where to go next?
  • Feedback

Although this is under the banner of eT@lking in the Australia Series it is likely to be of interest to anyone working with distance learners wherever they are in the world.

Give ‘em a piece of the action!

The second of two related posts about using Application Share (App Share) in Elluminate sessions. The reason for this post is to cover some of the “nuts and bolts” and briefly touch on some of my personal strategies in using Application Share. These were not covered in detail during the Elluminate session “Share and Share Alike” or the related post.

If you have been in Elluminate sessions you have probably experienced Application Share. It is often used by presenters to show a website or application to participants and sometimes is used as the basis of an entire presentation. In my personal opinion using a WebTour is more effective for websites, however it is not possible to WebTour if you want to show a password protected site.

Many people use App Share very effectively to show sites or applications but this can be a bit “teacher centred” and occasionally can turn into something similar to “death by powerpoint”. It is also very easy to fall into the trap of using App Share to show participants a document you want them to read. My advice would be “don’t do it!” Every time you scroll the screen will be refreshed for all participants – it will take different lengths of time to refresh for each participant. Some will be impatient because they have finished what is visible, some will be frustrated because they are never able to read any of it before the next refresh. File Transfer is much more effective – participants can then read at their own pace. There are also alternatives if you must put up one copy for all to see. Either take the time to pre-prepare by using the editable text tool on the whiteboard to create a series of whiteboard sized “chunks” to be displayed successively, or take App Share “snapshots” and place on whiteboards. This last can also be useful to substitute for direct sharing if you have participants with slow updating.

I use App Share myself occasionaly for a very quick, “off the cuff” show and tell. However I use it mostly to share applications interactively ie to enable participants to work with the content directly on my desktop by giving individuals control of my desktop. Secondarily I use it to troubleshoot problems for remote students by requesting control of their desktop.

There are several alternatives for sharing your desktop in Elluminate. It is possible to share your entire desktop. This is something I do extremely rarely as there are some risks in relation to privacy. You can also share specific applications – the app you plan to share must be open before you begin the share. Also if you have two screens make sure that it is “seen” by Elluminate. The sharing that I use most frequently is to share a region of my desktop. This is a personal preference and I find it easier all round as I can set aside a piece of screen and just move applications or anything else I want to share into that space.

Sharing a region is fairly straightforward.


Once you reach the “Host Applications” menu …


My favourite aspect of App Share is the potential for giving someone else control of what I am sharing. This is closely followed by the fact that a participant can give me control of their desktop so that I can demonstrate something directly on their computer or troubleshoot a problem for them. There are several reasons why I really like using these options including the following:

  • I like to keep sessions as interactive as possible – it is all too easy for people to “switch” off in a virtual room & I don’t see their body language to tell me they are bored.
  • Giving control to a specific individual enables me to ensure “taking turns” this is often an issue for me in face-to-face situations because many of my students are Youth at Risk and they often lack social interaction skills and will “talk over” their peers or teacher.
  • If I give control to an individual this enables me to see that they are able to use specific tools in an application – in my context where assessment is often observational and/or evidence based it gives greater validity.

Giving control of shared applications is very simple:

  • Highlight name of the participant to whom you wish to give control
  • Go to “Tools” and select “Application Sharing”
  • Select “Give Control of Shared Application”
  • You will then get a message indicating that you are giving control, “OK” this
  • The shared area will now have a pink border
  • Keep your hands away from the mouse – otherwise you will be fighting for control of the shared region
  • To regain control use “Ctrl+Space”

It’s a good idea to leave your microphone on throughout (unless you have someone else needing to speak). Although you can control the mic with Ctrl+F2 this may “jump” Elluminate to the front so that it covers the shared region – this occasionally happens to me even when I have resized my Elluminate screen to avoid covering the shared region.

I feel it is really important that students have the opportunity to practise remote control of my desktop and that this is done in a friendly and supportive group context. For the initial tryout and practise I use icebreaker type games, at first with a simple task untimed. As the participants become more confident and competent at dealing with the inevitable lag in response when working remotely I sometimes time them in completing the task. However the great thing with Elluminate is that if someone is really struggling we can always blame the technology and thus avoid damage to self esteem.

There are too many interactive App Share type activities/strategies to cover in detail here – some of those I have used successfully include:

  • Icebreaker and team-building activities for developing positive group dynamics
  • Students work in pairs/small groups in breakout rooms (you don’t need to be the moderator in order to share your desktop), completing collaborative tasks on one person’s desktop or peer tutoring
  • A moderator moving with a student into a breakout room and using sharing for troubleshooting, individual support or assessment
  • Learning and practising an App by taking turns to use a tool/achieve an effect with support and feedback from the rest of the group
  • Coaching an individual through a new task/activity while the rest of the group watches as a demo, or having another participant coach someone through a task/activity.

These are just a few of the possibilities for interactivity with App Share in an Elluminate room. As usual I have written far too much, so it’s definitely time to stop. Hope you have fun giving participants “a piece of the action”.

Elluminate – missing tools?

An occasional issue that I have found arising with Elluminate is when one of the tools or modules doesn’t work properly. If this happens you may find that emptying the Java cache solves the problem. This is also a potential solution to any situation where Elluminate seems to be “behaving” oddly. I have found it to be a good initial troubleshooting activity when students encounter any problems as it is quick and easy to accomplish.

To empty the Java cache (from a windows operating system), close Elluminate if you are currently in a session.
i) Go to Control Panel (switch to classic view)
ii) Find Java and open the Java control Panel
iii) Select the General Tab
iv) Ensure that the space for temporary file storage is set to 1000 MB
v) In “Temporary Internet Files” select Settings
vi) In “Temporary Files Settings” click on Delete Files
vii) Ensure that:
Applications and Applets
Trace and Log Files
are both ticked
viii) Click OK

ix) Close down and then restart the computer – it may take some time to reload all the Java files when you restart and re-enter Elluminate.

Installing Java to use Elluminate – Dialup

If you (or any of your students/participants) have a dialup connection then installing the Java so that you are able to use Elluminate can be a slow process – taking 1-2 hours or even more if you are unlucky.

On a slow connection for the installation one of the issues that can occur is a brief temporary loss of the internet connection. If this happens and you have chosen the online installation option then you may find that the Java download and installation fails. When this happens and the Java Web Start Installer hits an error when attempting to install, it stops the installation and shows an error message. This message will give an indication of why the download has stalled. The most common messages include:

  • Insufficient permissions to install software
  • Insufficient disk space to install software
  • The computer does not meet the minimum system requirements
  • The computer is not currently connected to the Internet

Elluminate recommends that you always use the offline installer. When you reach the Sun website to download your Java for Elluminate make sure that you select the offline installation option and follow the instructions carefully. You can access the latest version of Java here. Remember be sure to select the offline option.

Choosing the offline installation enables the Java download to restart from the point it had reached when the connection was interrupted. Once the download is complete you then install from the local version on your computer. With the online installation the process simply stalls at whatever point it has reached and has to be re-started. If you are on dialup and have a slightly “noisy” telephone line you may never succeed in a complete install if you use the online option.

Good luck with Elluminate!

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!