Posts Tagged Teaching the Concepts
Hi! I’m Ben Jaffe, one of the instructors for Digital Media Academy’s Adventures Program. I want to give you a closer look at Multimedia Fusion 2, one of the primary software packages we use in the class to create dynamic and exciting games.
There are several computer programming languages that programmers use to communicate with computers. Learning how to program is very similar to learning a new language. You also have to learn how computers “think,” so you can give the computer instructions effectively and efficiently. Teaching a programming language to 9-13 years olds would be difficult and possibly boring to many of the kids; teaching the main concepts is much more fun. That is what Multimedia Fusion 2 (MMF2) allows us to do! We can teach our students the main concepts of game design. If they pursue computer programming at a later age, they’ll already understand many of the concepts of programming from this class.
The window pictured below allows the students to visually lay out the graphical elements in the game. This is one of the two main windows in MMF2. This is where the students choose the graphics, design the game’s levels, and tell the objects how to move (bounce, walk/jump, etc).
In every game, there are graphics and objects that move around the screen. Normally, a programmer would have to write code to get an object to move in any way, but our students can focus on the concepts instead of grappling with writing code. In MMF2, there are several movement types to chose from. In this example, we’re telling the ball to bounce around like a bouncing ball.
The Event Editor is the other main window in MMF2 (pictured below). This is where you program the “brains” of your game. The Event Editor lets you program without writing a single line of code. Technically speaking, you are creating “conditionals” in this window. Whenever “this” happens, do “that.” For example, line number 9 says “If the number of lives reaches 0, then restart the application.” By creating lists of these conditionals, we can create complex and interesting games that our students can be proud of! Multimedia Fusion 2 games will run on any Windows computer.
I’m very excited to be teaching MMF2 again, and I hope I see you all at DMA this summer!
Hi! I’m Ben Jaffe, one of the instructors for Digital Media Academy’s Adventures Program. I want to give you a closer look at Adobe Photoshop CS4. We use Photoshop for image creation and modification in our Web Design class.
Photoshop is the industry standard for image manipulation and creation. It’s even become a verb! “That looks Photoshopped!” Usually we use that term to describe photographs that look like they have been modified. Photoshop is good for many other purposes too. In this case, we’re looking at a simple header for a website that we’ve created in Photoshop.
A header goes at the top of your website. Often, it is an image that includes elements related to the site. For example, if we are making a site about different kinds of ducks, we might make the header image look like a pond and put ducks in it!
On the far left of the above image, we can see our tools stacked vertically. We cover all the tools, but focus on the most important ones. On the right, we have several panes where we can modify the image in different ways. There are also pop-up windows that you can access in various ways, shown below.
This can all seem very overwhelming. Photoshop is an extremely deep application, which is why it is the standard for image manipulation in several industries (film, photography, print, etc). As complex as it is, with the proper guidance, it can be easy to learn even for young children. It’s much like a car. For example, you don’t need to know how to change the oil or replace the tires in order to get gas at a gas station. And you don’t need to know how to install a spark plug in order to change the oil. As with most things, people learn Photoshop modularly, piece by piece.
There are always different ways to accomplish things in Photoshop. Everyone I know takes a slightly different approach. We teach the kids several techniques for getting different effects, and with guidance from us, we let them take the route that is most fun for them. Your child can learn basic and some intermediate techniques in Photoshop, create graphics for an incredible website, build the website, and add animation, all in a week at DMA!
I hope to see you this summer!
Hello! I’m Ben Jaffe, one of the instructors for Digital Media Academy’s Adventures Program. I want to give you a closer look at Adobe Dreamweaver CS4. We use Dreamweaver for creating the web site layout in our Adventures Web Design class.
Dreamweaver is what we call a “WYSIWYG Editor” (stands for “What You See is What You Get”). This means we get to see our design as we create it. Before tools like Dreamweaver, we had to write HTML markup to create web sites, and didn’t get to manipulate it graphically. Here’s the Design view in Dreamweaver:
The Properties bar (across the bottom) is where we set up links, text styles, bold, italics, and change the sizes of items like images and tables. The panes on the right are for managing files, uploading to our website, and managing the CSS. When we edit in Design View, Dreamweaver is actually writing the HTML code for us.
At the very beginning of the class, we teach the kids some basic HTML. We actually build a simple webpage, coding it by hand! This helps the students understand what is going on behind the scenes, and how to fix things manually if anything goes wrong. It’s good to be able to look at the code to see what’s really going on. This is Dreamweaver’s Code View:
That HTML code is what our computers actually download when we are browsing the web. They read the code, and render out a graphical page for us to read.
After covering HTML, we talk about site design, then start on our own websites. As we create graphics in Photoshop, we integrate them into our sites. We also create a Flash animation, and add that to our site. Some students might even build a Flash animation to use as the header. (The header is the bar across the top of the page, with the website’s title).
After we build our site, integrate our graphics, and add our Flash animation, it’s time to test our sites and upload them to the internet. We test the links on our pages to be sure they all work, and upload their web pages to DMA’s web space, for friends and family to see.
After this course, your child will know how to use Photoshop, how to make simple animations in Flash, and how to put it all together into a web site. At the end of the class, the students go home with a web address for their website, and a DVD with all of the original files they used to make their content. This means that if they get access to the software (perhaps through their school), they can continue work on their web site!
I hope to see you this summer!