Adobe tools for the computing curriculum

Michael Gove may be gone, but the 2014 computing curriculum lives on, replacing traditional ICT lessons with a more practical (and, let’s face it, more useful) focus on problem solving, computational thinking, and coding.

We’re big fans of this development, but a lot of the schools we deal with have mixed feelings. Staff like the computing curriculum in theory, but don’t think they have the skills or equipment to teach it effectively, especially when it comes to integrating coding into the rest of the curriculum.

Luckily, there’s no need for you to start crowbarring turtle graphics into GCSE art lessons. There are tools out there that can help you give your students a more technical understanding of creative technology, without taking the focus entirely from art, design or whatever else you’re trying to teach – and if you’re using Adobe software, you may well have most of them already.

Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Edge and Muse
Of Adobe’s current crop, the programs you want to focus on for teaching creative coding are: Dreamweaver, which allows students to design and publish web pages; Fireworks, for prototyping and optimising web and app designs for different devices; Edge Animate, a tool for animating Photoshop and Illustrator-created graphics using HTML5; and Muse, a simple, mostly drag and drop interface for creating simple websites.

All of these programs are intended to help non-technical designers, which actually comes in really handy when you move them to the classroom. The focus of the lesson stays on your subject, rather than it becoming a fully-fledged IT lesson, students who are less technically able can use the shortcuts in the software to ensure they can still participate fully, while those who are more confident can use CSS3, HTML5, JavaScript and PHP to push their designs further, or use this as an opportunity to focus on user experience design and usability and how this should inform their IT work. Here are a few of the goals we reckon Adobe can help you hit…

Working with a range of applications and devices
The holy trinity of InDesign, Fireworks and Dreamweaver all contain tools that’ll let you remodel work for different screens, browsers, tablets and phones. This is a great starting point for conversations about responsive design and the changing IT landscape – how are people accessing content? What new things do students need to consider, as developers, as a result of that? How do they make sure they have a design that is simple enough to translate, but still engaging and interesting? Do they know how to build swipe functionality into mobile versions of their content?

It also means that when you send them out into the working world, they’ll be used to taking these (very important) factors into consideration, and have experience with a wealth of devices to draw on – both great pluses for any job-seeking student!

Creating, re-using, revising and repurposing digital artefacts
The interoperability of all your Adobe software makes this one a breeze. Images you’ve created in Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign can all be added to web pages using Dreamweaver or Fireworks, and you can encourage students to repurpose their content for different devices. For example, they can create a web page for desktops, a mobile version that anyone on a smartphone can see, and an app version (complete with touch controls) for anyone who’s looking at the content on a tablet.  You can make this even easier by using Edge Animate to create a series of templates that students can work with or modify, or encourage them to create and share their own.

Self-expression and developing ideas through ICT
“Design and build a web site” pretty much hits this on the head, and that’s what Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Muse allow students to do. They can combine creative work they put together in Photoshop, InDesign, Flash or Edge Animate with functionality they’ve developed using CSS3, HTML5 and jQuery tags in Fireworks and Dreamweaver to create a fully featured, multi-platform project with as much functionality as they can pack in, with tools like W3C validation on hand to make sure they stay focused on creating user-friendly, accessible pages that meet professional standards.

Practically applying IT skills to a range of creative projects and media
CSS3, HTML5, JavaScript/jQuery and PHP are all used throughout Adobe Dreamweaver, Edge and Fireworks, so students can practise working with a range of languages and optimising that content for different devices, browsers and screen sizes. Adobe’s preference for very visual interfaces that offer a code-free way to edit page elements means that students who are less technical can get a clearer idea of which parameters affect which page elements, then tackle the code itself once they’re more confident.

So how so you plan these lessons?
One of the best things about Adobe’s education offering is that it includes access to the Adobe Education Exchange. This is an online portal packed with training programs, curriculum advice and lesson plans to help you get the most out of your Adobe software.

Both Adobe experts and other teachers can contribute, so it’s a good way of gauging how other schools are embedding technical and creative skills across the curriculum, and the resources are guaranteed teacher-friendly. You can even download sample files showing how to complete different types of project, such as creating your own textbooks or building multi-page apps.

It also includes resources for the 10 week Adobe Train the Trainer course, a series of self-paced lessons that act as continuing professional development for Adobe users.

 

Just want to code? Here are some of our top apps to try…
Cargo-Bot (Two Lives Left, free) – This former Jigsaw24 App of the Week teaches programming by asking students to create simple routines to activate a robotarm. Great for gauging pupils’ coding skills when they enter KS3!

 
Codea  (Two Lives Left, £6.99) – The programming app used to make Cargo-Bot, Codea allows you to create apps, games and simulations directly on to your iPad. It includes visual editors as well, so is perfect for beginners who want to grasp the basic concepts before moving on to more complex coding.
 

Scratch 2 Games (David Phillips, 69p) – If you’re using the web version of Scratch to teach students coding, these video tutorials on game creation are a must for teachers and students. 
 

Codeacademy’s Hour of Code (Codeacademy, free) – This app encourages pupils to work through the vocabulary and grammar of coding as if they’re learning a language. They take on one small step at a time, building on previous knowledge, and are introduced to the concepts and terminology behind their favourite apps and websites.
 

Want to know more about your Adobe options? Get in touch us on 03332 409 333 or email adobe@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest education info, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.  

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Liz
Liz
Call us: 03332 409 306

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