Marty Daniel has been teaching computer skills since the early 1980’s. Her passion to assist teachers as they integrate technology into their classrooms is contagious. She has a keen appreciation for classroom technology use. She taught at Rice University and The Rice School and currently teaches advanced coding to middle school students. All of this while serving as Webmaster for a number of entities as well as providing workshops to teachers and parents.
Our group of twenty plus educators posed a bit of a challenge to Marty Daniel. Several of us had literally never attempted to use the Adobe Flash product while others were strong suited and looking for tips and expanded information. We all had a common interest…we wanted to animate something.
Marty began the class by explaining the similarity between an old fashioned “flip book” and the drawing placement we were going to simulate in Flash. To summarize; Flash is a tool used to create animation. Generally speaking students enjoy seeing and utilizing animation. It helps keep presentations interesting and entertaining. Users can implement Flash applications with pictures, sounds, drawings, special effects and videos. Flash files are typically small because the program uses vector graphics which do not take up a lot of storage space. Vector graphics are represented by math formulas. Of course this fact makes the use of Flash even more pertinent to education. Showing students how math is relevant to their entertainment can help keep them interested in learning.
By the second hour my head was swimming with new terms and uncertainty as to how much more I could possibly learn. Still I had two bouncing circles in different colors which served to verify the persistence and direction Marty provided. We were each supplied a comprehensive step by step handout to help us walk through the process as we sit in our home or class room next week honing our new skills before introducing them to our students.
Utilizing team building techniques Marty enlisted the strong suited members in our class to assist those of us who felt somewhat overwhelmed by the unfamiliar data. Collectively we learned many Flash animation program basics. We learned how to use the template features of the drawing tools, how to assign our drawings as symbols and which actions to take as “tweens”, or the action between the place markers of the drawings. We learned a bit about layering and how to take short cuts to simplify the time line and how to duplicate our time lines. Marty had an assortment of books and websites suggested for additional information should we need help after the class. She also reminded us that a key word search was likely to capture dozens of helpful sites to assist our learning more about Flash.
Flash is a powerful application. The applications add movement to graphics and allow the user to take control of the motion path. One of the primary objectives is to keep the movement smooth and believable. Marty spent time explaining the relationship between the timelines, the key frames and the rate at which the frames would travel relevant to the path assignment we selected.
Animating a drawing can be time consumptive, but it is also fun. The possibilities are endless once the basics are mastered. I think I would have learned more had I had more experience with the program before taking such a powerful class. Thanks to Marty and her helpful tips, I hope to have my graphics bouncing steadily along in the very near future.