“Wow! That animation looks great! Ok. Now we’re going to take the animated Flash movie you just created and you are going to import it into Dreamweaver on your web page. Let’s all do this together! Ready?”
I am right in the middle of another great Digital Media Adventures course for kids at Stanford: Web Design and Flash. We are taking an in depth look at the Adobe Creative Suite applications: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Dreamweaver, and Adobe Flash. We are on the third day of the five-day course at Stanford University. My class just got back into the classroom from playing a crazy game of Slaughter Ball. It sounds scary, but it’s a lot of fun. Sort of like Dodge Ball. The kids in my class are a little out of breath from playing ball, but that’s to be expected at a summer camp. They came running in and jumped (literally) in their seats excited about their Flash movies they created just before the break.
While the kids are experiencing all the fun of a summer camp, they are also getting an unbelievable learning experience. That’s what makes this the full summer computer camp experience. They are learning the same pro applications we are teaching across the Stanford campus in our adult web design courses. The professional Adobe applications like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Flash are the real deal! The kids pick up the technology so fast. That makes it really fun to teach. It’s interesting how much better kids interact with technology they have grown up with their whole life.
Earlier in the week, the kids in my class had already designed and created their own logo and company business card design. Their custom business card had their picture from a photograph taken in the class. The graphics and effects they created turned out amazing. They had learned the ins and outs of the Adobe software and were creating a matching website to go with their cards and logo. They were now adding an animated movie they created in Flash to spice up their website design.
In the next three classrooms I can faintly hear the other Adventures classes. The kids in 3d video Game Design course are screaming about some new level they created trying to destroy their enemy. From the Robotics and Programming class I can hear cheers of two robots racing. I see the Film, Digital Movie Making and Effects class go by with all their cameras, mics, lights, and scripts to go act, film, and direct their next scene. I wish I’d been exposed to this when I was this age! This computer camp is the real deal.
As an educator, I try to enhance my knowledge every year during the summer with workshops. Most of the time I only get a few bits of useful information, literally only a couple of items that I can use in my classroom. I was very fortunate to be able to attend DMA’s workshop on Flash. WOW! I have studied Flash for the last 6 years, but I gathered so much from this one single workshop – more than I have from all the other workshops I’ve attended in the past.
The instructor was someone who had real experience in both the artistic and programming elements of Flash. I bow down to Michael Clayton! More importantly, he explained very difficult concepts in terms that were easy to digest. Programming is the hardest part for me. He also provided me some tips on how to teach these concepts to my students.
We were a small class of students – from an 8th grade student to the graphics designer for a company. He skillfully assisted each of us where we were at in our Flash knowledge and opened the door to new possibilities.
I am not an artist. Stick people are my forte. Clayton gave us tips on how to take our Flash projects to the next level. Specifically, I had my students create caricatures of themselves (just like the picture above) as we learned to use Flash’s drawing tools. My students had such great success with this project! The Technology Coordinator for my district saw the work and was simply amazed at what they created!
The students were so proud of their work, sending their finished projects to their family members and posting them on their personal pages. We then created our very first podcast, with animated mouths, which I learned from my DMA course. I’m really looking forward to taking the workshop on Photoshop and seeing how I can charge my creative juices!
First class all the way. What set Digital Media Academy apart from the rest was that they offered courses at world-renowned universities that were taught by industry-leading professionals. Every instructor had at least one assistant to ensure every question would get answered. The staff was very professional, down-to-earth, and just fun to be around. It was a learning environment I had yet to experience.
The digital adventure I had partaken in was simply amazing, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a great digital learning experience! Every student learned on equipment that was the latest and greatest. And I have to add that the computers were generously upgraded in the RAM area as well! Let’s just say that I had no problems with lag-times or the like. The computers had the most up-to-date versions of every program a student and professional could want.
I speak for myself when I say that it was a “technerds” dream come true! I really can’t wait to do it again. I think this time around I might have to give DMA on the Sea a try! I signed up for three classes in summer 2008: 1) Introduction to Web Design with Adobe CS3 – Dreamweaver, Flash & Photoshop; 2) Advanced Web Design Techniques with Adobe CS3; and 3) Creating a Website with Flash and Actionscript. The skill set I honed in those three courses made me much more competitive in the work force. I can say that I am more successful today after spending three weeks at DMA than the semesters I spent at my local community college. Not only were all my questions answered, but the DMA instructors made sure to guide me in the right path after completing my courses.
Even though it’s been nearly six months since I attended DMA, I still am in touch with my instructors, asking them questions and getting answers. Like I said: First class all the way.