Archive for May, 2009

Moodle training for teachers and students

Published by | Friday, May 29th, 2009

Chris MattiaThe world of academia is abuzz this month with the recent announcement that Blackboard, the leading commercially available course management system (CMS), is acquiring competitor Angel Learning. The current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Volume LV, Number 37, highlights this discussion with a front page article ‘Blackboard Buys Another Rival, to Customers’ Dismay.’ The article notes that many colleges are considering a shift to open source course management systems such as Moodle and Sakai, but the primary stumbling block is training and support for their faculty and students. 

This week, lynda.com is releasing two titles in the Online Training Library® specifically for teachers and students using the Moodle open source learning management system. As the Educational Technologist at Art Center College of Design, I work very closely with the great folks at lynda.com to provide training and support to our entire campus community. Art Center has recently launched our own campus implementation of Moodle and the response from our faculty and students has been so positive that I just had to share this experience with all of you by creating these two titles at lynda.com.

If you’re making the jump to Moodle for your campus, or even if you’re already using it, my goal with Moodle Essential Training for Teachers is to quickly bring you up to speed on everything needed to build courses in Moodle.  The companion training, Moodle Essential Training for Students, was designed to get all of the students at your institution a leg up in learning to efficiently use the latest version of Moodle. We’re looking forward to hearing what you think of the courses, and hope you’ll share your experience using Moodle or other open source learning management systems.

Making data dance: A peek into the new Drupal course

Published by | Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Tom GellerTom Geller here, author of lynda.com’s Drupal Essential Training, which I posted about in my blog. The success of that course suggested that we bring out another—but on what subject? We decided to try a new direction, and the result is Drupal 6: Online Presentation of Data.

“Presentation of data… isn’t that what Drupal does already?” some might ask. “Doesn’t that describe every Web site?”

Well… yes and no. Every page, blog post and comment is, technically speaking, data. But beyond such narrative text is a world of other applications that enliven both business and personal Web sites—and that Drupal does exceptionally well. Consider collections of data such as membership lists, photo galleries, catalogs, and maps.

Each of these applications is a collection of entries (called “nodes” in Drupalese): people, images, products, and locations, respectively. Each node contains multiple fields: For example, a point on a map might contain not only its latitude and longitude, but also its street address, name, image, and description of why it’s important.

In Drupal 6: Online Presentation of Data, I’ll be showing how to assemble these “atomic” pieces of data into useful, engaging, and attractive forms. Mostly this was done through two add-on modules for Drupal, called Content Construction Kit (CCK) and Views. But I also get a chance to show off how to plan such applications from the beginning, and some advanced techniques for creating calendars and charts.

As with Drupal Essential Training, it was a blast to work with lynda.com producer Kirk Werner and everybody at the lynda.com office. I look forward to its release later this summer, and to creating the next one!

Photoshop CS4: Blend Mode Magic already a hit

Published by | Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Live for just a day, Michael Ninness’s new lynda.com course, Photoshop CS4: Blend Mode Magic, has already been receiving great feedback from members:

I find Michael Ninness the best contributor I’ve experienced here so far. His training is clear, moves along at a good pace, and offers invaluable tips.  -isabelle g.

Great series. I’m a longtime Photoshop user, but it showed me some new tricks and reminded me of some techniques I had forgotten.  -rita p.

Take a look at Photoshop CS4: Blend Mode Magic and let us know what you think.

Things iPhoto thinks are faces

Published by | Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

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My favorite new feature of iPhoto ’09 is Faces–a combination of face detection and face recognition technology that lets you sort and organize your iPhoto collection by the people who appear in your pictures. Faces also provides behind the scenes improvements in activities like slideshows, making sure your subjects’ faces stay onscreen if you’re using effects that incorporate zooming and panning. If you’ve used previous versions of iPhoto and have been frustrated when your slideshows zoom in on people’s feet instead of their faces, you know what I’m talking about.

Using Faces is a simple matter of letting iPhoto detect the people in your pictures and typing in their names. iPhoto then goes through the rest of your library, finding other pictures of those people and tagging names to them. And for the most part, it does this incredibly well. You do have to coach iPhoto by letting it know when it’s put the correct or incorrect name to people, but in my testing and real-world use, iPhoto has surprised me with its accuracy. It can tell the difference between twins, and recognize people wearing sunglasses or with other parts of their faces partially obscured.

But if you’ve been using Faces, you also know there are times when iPhoto sees faces that aren’t really there, and those instances can range from making you scratch your head in wonderment at iPhoto’s tendency to find faces in hubcaps and rock formations, or laugh out loud when iPhoto sees a face in a ball of cookie dough or offers a photo of a baseball as a match to one of your friend’s faces.

I was so amused by these quirks in Faces, that I started a flickr group called “Things iPhoto Thinks Are Faces.” I thought it would be a fun way for my friends to share the times when Faces misfires, but it seems to have struck a nerve among iPhoto users and the group now has hundreds of members and submissions. You can check it out here:http://www.flickr.com/groups/977532@N24/

When iPhoto finds faces where none exist, I see it as a reflection of how we as humans are pattern seekers–seeing faces and formations where none may have been intended. As you check out the photos in the gallery, you might be surprised at how many of iPhoto’s finds actually look like faces if you squint or stare at them for a while. In much the same manner as we look to other applications to speed up our work by performing repetitive tasks faster than we’re able to do on our own, iPhoto has become an efficient pattern finder–locating things that look like faces that we might not have noticed on our own.

If you’re a Mac user and haven’t checked out Faces in iPhoto ’09 yet, be sure to give it a spin. It’s surprisingly addictive to go through your library tagging names to faces. And be sure to check out Derrick Story’s “10 Things to Know about iPhoto: Faces” to learn more about how to take advantage of this awesome feature of iPhoto.

-Garrick Chow

lynda.com title featured on Apple’s startpage

Published by | Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

If you were wandering the web and happened across Apple’s start page on Saturday morning, you may have noticed Derrick Story’s new lynda.com title in the Hot News Headlines section, iPhoto to Aperture: Going Pro. If not, one of our editors noticed it and caught it in action:

iPhoto to Aperture lynda.com title featured in Apple's Hot News Headlines.

iPhoto to Aperture lynda.com title featured in Apple's Hot News.

 

lynda.com author newsworthiness

Published by | Monday, May 25th, 2009

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Hi, I’m Megan, the Author Relations Manager here at lynda.com. From time to time, I’ll be sharing author news, interviews, and articles that our awesome authors have contributed to. Here’s the first batch of goodies!

Jen Kramer McKibben, author of “Joomla! Advanced CSS” and “Joomla! Creating and Editing Custom Templates”, is highlighted as a Joomla! instructor and community leader who does it all! Check it out here:

http://community.joomla.org/blogs/community/829-jen-kramer-mckibben-helps-others-learn-about-joomla.html

The Joomla! Community Portal recognizes the recent Joe LeBlanc and Jen Kramer McKibben courses on lynda.com:

http://community.joomla.org/featured-articles/740-joomla-training-titles-on-lyndacom.html

Below is a really interesting interview with Maria Langer, author of “Twitter Essential Training”, “WordPress.com 2.7 Essential Training”, “Self-Hosting a WordPress Site”, and “WordPress2.5 Essential Training” who discusses the Twitter experience, and suggests ways to not become annoying online! Ha Awesome!

http://www.macvoices.com/wordpress/macvoices-971-maria-langers-newest-video-course-helps-you-learn-to-twitter-effectively/

Derrick Story, (author of MANY iPhoto & other digital photography courses) interviews printing professional Joseph Stefanchik on his site the Digital Story, and gets some cool insight on making really cool prints!

http://thedigitalstory.com/2009/05/inside_a_pro_printin.html

Hope you enjoy!!

-Megan

John Derry at lynda.com to record Painter 11

Published by | Sunday, May 24th, 2009
Painter table of contents on the white board!

Painter table of contents on the white board!

John Derry was here this week recording Corel Painter 11 Essential Training, due in the library in a few months. The white board scribbles lend a hint of what to expect from his new course!

John Derry is a pioneer in the field of digital painting and was one of the original creators of Corel® Painter™, long before Corel owned the product. Since 1985, he has leveraged his background in drawing and painting to advance the look and experience of traditional art-making tools on the computer. John received a master’s degree in painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and co-patented two inventions relating to expressive digital mark-making. John is a regular contributor to AfterCapture Magazine, Rangefinder’s publication focusing on photographic post-production work. He teaches expressive photographic interpretation workshops in the U.S. and abroad. John is Corel’s Painter Ambassador-at-Large, and is a practicing artist and photographer. John can be found online at www.pixlart.com.

There is no one who knows Painter better than John, and we’re very proud to include his training in our library!

Jay Nelson recording QuarkXpress 8

Published by | Saturday, May 23rd, 2009
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Jay Nelson spotted in the lynda.com recording booth, recording a new QuarkXpress 8 Essentials course!

Had a few chances to visit with Jay while he was out here recording, having traveled from Boulder, CO to overcast Ventura, CA. Jay is celebrating the 17th year and 201st edition of Design Tools Monthly, his newsletter about all things graphics.

Jay continues to use and recommend QuarkXPress as his favorite page layout tool. He’s especially excited to share some of the newest features, such as new intuitive ways to lay out pictures boxes by dragging, twisting and rotating, the sleek and fun new interface, the new fluidity of the pen tool, and item styles, where an item can be saved as a style and replicated easily throughout a design. He’ll also be showing how to create Flash (!) and web sites using Quark. The project is super ambitious, taking two full weeks to record, and covering more in one video course than what’s available elsewhere in any format!

Catch Jay at his How Design Conference session, or speaking at the Institute of Newspaper Technology conference. We’re proud to have Jay in the library – thanks, Jay!