Art spaRks Some ideas about using Adobe Spark Pages

The experiment

This is part of an experiment. Teachers are finding it harder to engage in professional networking and sharing so new generations of teachers will need to find new ways to develop self supporting communities. These teachers are digitally literate and confident users of social media. Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram YouTube, Vimeo etc. have been and still are useful. But they are all limited and cannot provide a rich professional narrative. This experiment is to find out if Adobe Pages and Adobe Voice can provide a simple easy vehicle for professional sharing.

These notes contain a few ideas about using Sparks Pages. They emerged through discussion as we created some Art Sparks pages for ourselves. Eileen Adams and Dan China

Rules

Not exactly rules

  • These online presentation programmes are essentially designed to be image led, which is good for art educators. But it imposes its own discipline and limitations. It is different to old professional writing in which images usually played a secondary role. Here the image contains the key messages and the text is in a supporting role. This particular piece is, the exception to this rule. But it interesting to note that it is probably OK to publish simple text content as well.
  • Sparks pages seem to be appropriate for quick short pieces. Make sure the subject matter is appropriate: if not write a paper, or make a video.
  • It seems as if there should be a self imposed restraint concerning the length/content of Spark pages. Perhaps no more than 10 key images. After that it gets a bit confusing/boring. These things seem to be meant for quick consumption - fast food, rather than the full tasting menu.
  • This is only going to be useful if it is genuinely easy to do. The very strictly controlled templates mean there is no need to worry about formatting and the quality of the final presentation. It will be good (or good enough if you are picky). This reduces the demand on the teacher creating these pages - just focus on content.
  • Now that digital images are commonplace through the use of smartphones it should be easy for teachers to gather the relevant pictures that they need to tell the story. It is easy to upload images and the finished pages are available immediately. These pages are easy to share.
  • Remember the self discipline learned with PowerPoint? This seems to be true here. It seems to be a bad idea to use every type of formatting option. It leads to confusing indigestible pages. It seems to be better to stick with a couple of options, breaking away from these only if there is a clear need to do so. For instance these pages only use a couple of the options available.
  • Although each Art Spark is probably best as a short succinct piece, it is easy to use direct links within the pages to create a series or sequence of pages.
Building a series or sequence.
Rules can always be broken if there is a good reason.

Technical stuff

  • It will save time if photographs are reduced in size. Large high resolution photos take a long time to upload. For standard photos a width of 800 pixels seems to fit and a resolution of 72dpi should be OK. Perhaps a photo that will be used full width of the screen could be a bit wider, if there is a need for the best resolution.
  • Photos should be cropped before uploading as the programme does not allow images to be cropped once uploaded.
  • It is only possible to embed video from YouTube, Vimeo and Spark Voice directly into Spark pages, using the 'embed' codes from these online hosting services. It is not possible to upload video directly from a computer or tablet.
  • It is possible to use Spark Voice as a narrated slide show embedded in these Spark Pages.
  • It is possible to create pages directly on an iPad and smart phone. This is almost easier than via a laptop/desktop computer and it supports the idea of these pages being simple and convenient. Adobe Spark automatically reconfigures itself for viewing on a smartphone.
Conclusions ?

Not exactly conclusions

Just thinking based on experience so far. This will only be useful if it is genuinely easy to use. Teachers don't have the time or patience to spend too much time learning, creating or reading these pages.

  • The format and workings of this online software (Adobe Spark Pages) does seem to be interesting and appropriate for professional sharing. It includes opportunities to include links, credits and copyright information. The formatting of images and text, although fixed, does provide an opportunity to present information logically, and sequentially using the analogies of chapters and sub-heads etc.
  • It is image led which provides a particular way of presenting information. But this is fine for art education.
  • The limitation of strict templates is fine if you work with them. They are well designed. It makes shaping content quicker and easier.
  • It is easy, free and simple to do and takes up little time. As far as possible it avoids the frustrations and hang-ups of having to learn complex new software and systems - although there will be a short learning curve, however.
  • The Spark pages suggest a formula which is quick to create and quick to read. However, the fact that links can be built in to the pages provides an opportunity for sequences and series to be created easily. This would enable deeper and more extended content to be presented across a sequence.
  • The experiment began by developing some trial content to find out if it was possible to use this programme for professional sharing. It was assumed that it was unlikely to be used for a student audience due to the constraints of organisational firewalls. However, it is tempting to speculate that some teachers might find this a very convenient way to archive projects so that they could be used to support learning by next years' students.

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