Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Getting hands-on

There are times in this faculty life where the students simply inspire you to get out of bed and face another day. This usually happens after we stumble to our coffee cups, mentally start ticking through the tasks of the week/day, and realize we are overwhelmed. The crushing sense of panic begins: the research deadlines have been screaming at you, there may be un-analyzed data collecting dust, emails from students must be answered, there are meetings that require your participation, collaborative projects insist on your time. In short, faculty-life creeps like a fog over all of your life, becoming part of your thoughts, and your focus is never fully shifted elsewhere...

Until those amazing students come snap you out of it with their energy, ideas, and dedication.

I take strength from my students' presence. I know they are worth every effort and yesterday they buoyed me up as I face those (insane) September deadlines. As the faculty advisor for a student club, I am constantly rewarded by students and their desire to work. Yesterday the officers of our club met and I was reminded, again, how important it is to give students true trust and work---they can handle it! They are clamoring for hands-on activities and willing to push their learning beyond the campus.

As faculty, we should not only encourage this, but also facilitate it! It doesn't take much time to help students find a forum for all of that energy. It might be a regional or national research project, or a simple undergraduate research day (see previous blogs, "renewed by student research" and "undergrad research during fiscal cuts" ), or you can go further and embrace a community event or competition. We host a lot of community outreach activities and the students learn about their majors, their communities, and themselves with hands-on efforts. Whether it is a spoken word poetry event in town, a 5k charity walk or competing for the College Television Awards, I push my students to go beyond the college classroom.

One competition that I am encouraging all of my students to explore is the Adobe Imagination Challenge. This is a student-friendly contest with several deadlines (the first opened last week and continues through 9/3 while others are:9/4-9/17, 9/18-10/1, and 10/2-10/15.

What do they have to do? Simple! They embrace their creative side and use the Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Student and Teacher Edition to craft a project which Adobe says should "take our breath away." What incentive do your students have? There are 5 chances to win $10,000 and 36 chances to win $550. Let your students, regardless of their discipline, take time to work hands-on in this great challenge. Plus they can vote, visit the galleries, and get inspired by other students. What a great way to expand the walls of your classroom while fostering hands-on experience for students!

Are your students missing out on Adobe products? Then try out the free 30-day trial on Priemier Pro, Photoshop, Firewroks, and Illustrator or encourage your students to take advantage of the awesome student discount.

Let's see what they can create when given Adobe's CS5.5 tools and a little faculty encouragement.

Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post Lora! I have been myself a fan of Adobe technologies for years. My students always made comments about the cost of such softwares, so I suggested to them getting into Inkscape (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_KY1sxE-K8&feature=related / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inkscape).Creativity seems to have no boundaries; here are some examples within the openclipart library http://www.openclipart.org/. This platform is used by newbies as well as professionals; offering their contributions to the community, since inkscape is for free.

    Have fun drawing!