Tag Archives: Photoshop

Fun is the essence of learning

A few days ago, I sent an e-mail to the students who will be in the feature writing course Fred and I are teaching during fall semester. This time around, we’ve added a photo component to the course — hence, Fred’s participation in teaching. It seemed wise to remind the students that they’ll need to have access to a camera.

With a few weeks until the start of class, I didn’t expect immediate responses to the e-mail; in fact, I apologized up front for interrupting their last few weeks of freedom. Of course, if they’re working, they may see a return to school as freedom.

Within just minutes, I received a response from one student thanking me for the heads-up. His only question was “will we have fun in this course?” Hmmmm. Had to ponder the best way to answer that question….was the point of the course to learn feature writing skills or was it to have fun? My mind backtracked to my days in college with Mary Ann Sullivan and Linda Suter, two of my English profs. Did we have fun?

It took just a few minutes to realize that of course, we’d had fun. That had been a crucial component to learning. Since I was an English major, the courses with the two of them were small — usually fewer than 10 students. Class sessions were filled with laughter, freedom to talk, discuss, argue — and learn. In grammar class, we stood at the board to write out sentences. We learned parts of speech, of the sentence, and mechanics of grammar. Okay, that sounds boring. But for us, it was fun.

Our lit courses were usually held in a small room where we sat around a table, chewing over the meaning of whatever we were reading. Over cans of pop, we argued, discussed and ultimately, we learned.

So…back to the question posed by the feature writing student. Yes, we’ll have fun. We’ll work, we’ll do a lot of writing and rewriting and more rewriting. We’ll take photos and learn to enhance the written word with the visual. We’ll learn the basics of Photoshop and its place in the world of journalism today.

We’ll laugh, we’ll argue, but most of all we’ll learn…all while having fun. Mary Ann and Linda didn’t spend all those days teaching me the importance of fun in learning without the hope that I would someday share that secret with others.

Ramblings on why technology rules the roost

I wonder sometimes if it’s possible to have too many computers. Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s possible, and in our case, probable. But I try to rationalize this by reminding myself that we don’t have a tv in every room…in fact, we don’t have tv in any room. So technically, our technology is still on the limited side.

So…here it is only Wednesday and I have managed to conquer a new laptop at work and a new netbook at home. Both have Windows 7 operating system — which contrary to what our techies told us is not “just cosmetic” in its differences. Well, maybe it is cosmetic, but since I find cosmetics decidedly short of simple, it’s been a challenging week. Just figuring out how to recreate my signatures for e-mails took at least an hour.

Back to the home front. The husband recently traded his mini-Mac in for a super-duper Mac — actually, a business necessity. This presented a few problems. The old Photoshop and InDesign didn’t cooperate with the new system, which meant purchasing new versions. The new system also messed up the husband’s e-mail, and required some fancy footwork by daughter number 1 and Ryan, our Icon tech guy. Here’s a secret — my husband is Mr. Organization except when it comes to his e-mail and Facebook. Both flummox him. Don’t tell him I told you this.

Aaaanyway, just when the new Mac was up and running, the 10-year-old Macbook decided to kick the bucket. This, in itself, is nothing short of amazing in that Macbooks don’t usually last that long. Not willing to give in, the husband ordered a new battery. It arrived, was installed and Bingo! The Mac popped back to life…for 10 minutes. This meant that it was time to start considering the purchase of a new Macbook. Why? Because, otherwise, our marriage would become a short-distance commuter marriage because he would be in the basement working most of the time and the only time we’d see each other would be for a 30-minute supper break with Laverne and Shirley.

As it turns out, the Macbook comes with a complementary iPod Touch. The husband’s eyes crossed on that one. He can’t even manage my simple Nano, so clearly, this will be my toy. Sure hope the kid can come home soon to teach me how to use it.

In the middle of the Mac fiasco, I decided it was time to get myself a little netbook. After consultations with the university techs and a few friends, I chose an Acer that weighs less than 3 pounds. Fits in my purse. Perfect. In fact, it’s a perfect fit for my three fingers that aren’t working quite right now. The keyboard is so tiny that the fingers don’t need to stretch nearly as far.

Despite the fact that I’m feeling just a tad guilty about all of these techno purchases, I just realized something. While we don’t have a tv in every room, we just about have enough computers that we could watch all of our old favorite shows on hulu.com. In stereo. If only we could quit working long enough to watch.