Friday, September 26, 2008

Seashore and Nvu

Web 2.0 has greatly minimized the need to teach web authoring tools in the mainstream classroom. To emphasize a constructivist classroom, I would train students in Adobe GoLive and Photoshop in the "olden" days. With a blog or a wiki (or even iWeb), that training can be cut to nothing, which means more time spent on the actual curriculum.

However, I taught English. There is still a place for web authoring tools in the specialized computer applications and digital art classes. Web design still remains one of the fastest growing occupations which involves a lot more conceptual technology knowledge than just creating a blog. And yes, Photoshop and Dreamweaver (GoLive bit the dust Adobe's purchase of the program) are still excellent, robust, professional-grade programs. The problem is cost. Outfitting several labs in a school with the Adobe Creative Suite can cost as much as a mobile lab of laptops.

Enter into this two freeware programs, Nvu and Seashore. Both programs are free, downloadable, open-source programs. Nvu is a website building program while Seashore is a Mac-based photo editing program (for Windows, try GIMP or Picasa). Now, neither one are as robust as Adobe's offerings, but they are close. They give the essential tools to a beginner and intermediate level. The tools are standardized, so learning marquee, lasso, and cropping in Seashore will transfer over quickly if a student were to pick up Photoshop in college. Plus (and this cannot be underestimated) I've seen quite a bit of mis-teaching of Adobe in the classroom. Simply put, too much emphasis on bells and whistles, not enough on technology being a tool to help learning. I've also seen students become overwhelmed with palattes galore on Adobe.

The obvious benefit is that it frees money. You can make any lab into a digital lab with these programs, and the money can be reinvested into additional computers. It is worth taking a look.

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