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Acrobat in Education

As I pay attention to the strategic and tactical moves of the major players in computing -- Microsoft, Apple, Google, Adobe, to name a few -- there is no question that the struggles to be the dominant provider in a cloud computing world is far from settled.

With their proprietary approach to the runtime outputs from their various tools (e.g., Flash) coupled with what they're delivering to mainstream computing with PDF, for example, it's been interesting to watch the continued evolution in tools and capabilities surrounding all of these companies, but Adobe stands out in education, especially in the area of PDF and how they've extended it to the cloud.

When I first saw a technology called "Carousel" at the Federal Office Systems Expo in Washington, D.C. in the 1990's -- which later shipped as something called the Portable Document Format or "PDF" -- I was thrilled to see a cross-platform, runtime file format that would make it extremely easy to deliver a digital document to others that would retain the formatting and fidelity intended by the creator of that document.

We know the positive results of the PDF format, right? But did you know that there have been major strides in the free Adobe Reader software that is perfect for education? 

What version of Adobe Reader software is currently deployed within your district or school? Sadly I've seen too many school computers with Adobe Reader version 6 on it, and the capabilities of Adobe Reader 9 -- reading Flash videos embedded inside of a PDF; e-portfolios called "PDF Portfolios"; free Adobe Connect screensharing/presenting for up to three people; integration with Acrobat.com, the free online service; and much more.

Steve Adler, Learning Systems Integrator for Northern Valley Regional High Schools District, recently refreshed the Adobe Education blog and is writing about all sorts of Adobe goodness on it and is worthy of your attention.

A post from December 3rd was entitled, "Acrobat is alive and thriving in education!" and discusses e-Portfolios, and other goodness for K-12 education, adding these links toward the end which will give you a glimpse in to the value Mr. Adler is cramming in to this blog:

There are some great papers from Educause on portfolio trends. One that is very informative on Accessing trends in ePortfolio Adoption is written by Michael Reese and Ron Levy at Johns Hopkins University.

A white paper by Alan Foley at Syracuse University on using ePortfolios to demonstrate growth and assess learning is also very useful.

A recent customer success story on the use of Acrobat 9 for portfolio development at the California State University at Monterey Bay is located here.

Acrobatusers.com has a great compilation of all things Acrobat. Here is the link toportfolio tutorials, video, and articles.

Sample PDF portfolios from Adobe using Acrobat 9 can be downloaded here.

Lastly, Adobe has joined a new international organization that seeks to focus discussions on experiential learning and assessment through the use of portfolios.http://www.aaeebl.org/. Check out their site and get involved.

I'd recommend reading this Adobe education blog AND ensuring that you have the latest Adobe Reader 9 installed on all of your district and school computers.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Accelerating Change are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.