I’m starting to learn Flash now. This is something I want to do, and I’m looking forward to having the ability to do more interactivity in my courses than just what I can do with html or even with Captivate. Things are a little slow for my job right now, so it has seemed the perfect time to get started. Flash really does feel a bit overwhelming to me; there’s just so much information and so many tools. I’ve tried a little bit of picking apart existing files, but this really is so new to me that I don’t even know where to start.
Therefore, I’ve decided that I need some help, starting with one of those 1000+ page books you see for every application in the bookstores. I’m using is Macromedia Flash 8 Bible by Reinhardt and Snow. It’s not a bad book; it has very comprehensive information and I’m able to follow the writing fairly easily even though the terminology is unfamiliar. I finished the first chapter on drawing tools today and realized that I basically just read it without actually doing anything in the program. No practice, just reading, learning terminology and icons and purposes. I flipped back to the table of contents and realized something: I won’t reach “My First Flash Project” until chapter 20.
OK, that’s not going to work. I’m going to need to do at least a little application of the new skills as I go along or there’s no chance that I’ll remember them by the time I get to chapter 20. Maybe I’ll just skip to that chapter and then refer back to the earlier chapters as I run into issues. The thing is, I really do think the information in these early chapters is valuable. I just wish it was in the context of more activities or tutorials or something.
So I made my own practice activity. Back in my corporate trainer days, I always ignored the “official” lesson for teaching drawing objects in our books. Frankly, it was lame; just disjointed shapes in a boring presentation. Instead, I copied and adapted the idea from another trainer to have everyone draw a house. It was planned out so they practiced using the different shapes and lines, plus duplicating, grouping, and aligning. We always had much more fun doing that, and sometimes I was fortunate enough to have some terrific artists in the class who shared their art.
Building on the same kind of image as my old PowerPoint exercise, here’s what I did in Flash today. For a first practice, I don’t think it’s too bad, especially since I’m just drawing with the mouse. Yeah, laugh at it if you want. I know it’s flat and simplistic and it looks like a 5-year-old did it, but it was fun. It gave me a purpose for using each of the tools, and I felt much more productive than simply reading.
It’s good to be in the role of learner for a while and remind myself how boring it is to just read content without applying it. Of course, that’s why I’m learning Flash–to give my students a better learning experience with more practice and interaction.