Creativity in the Hunter


The Hunter Valley in NSW is not only famous for its wine and beautiful beaches, it also has lots of great teachers and I had the pleasure of working with a number of them this week.

On Thursday 24th November I flew from Melbourne to Newcastle then drove to Maitland High School in the lower Hunter Valley where I spent a couple of hours with a group of teachers who were keen to know more about the Adobe Creative Cloud applications that the NSW Government had centrally purchased for them. They were particularly keen to know more about video production options, so we focused on how to do simple video editing with Adobe Premiere Pro.

I showed them how a $9 bit of cloth from Spotlight can be converted into a very effective green screen in any classroom. Using Premiere Pro, we built a short video story using the footage we filmed in the classroom with footage provided in Adobe’s most recent Premiere Pro tutorial their help & support site –

The next day I spent a couple of hours with about 25 Hunter Valley teachers from a range of NSW Catholic schools.


Andrew Cornwell and Christine Chapple from the NSW Catholic Schools Office helped organise this event and began the session outlining how each NSW Catholic school is able to get access to Adobe’s amazing Creative Cloud software.

I gave them all an overview of the Creative Cloud  applications that are being used by educators & students around the globe. My resources for this session can all be found via –

Then we spent some time getting familiar with Premiere Pro and showing how this professional video editing tool can be used by students to build great video stories and help them to creativity construct their learning.


Christine Chapple and I have already started thinking about the next Adobe Edu events in the Hunter region of NSW.

Join the Australasian Adobe Professional Learning Group on The Adobe Education Exchange to say in touch with Adobe in Education

Alfie Kohn in Australia


On Monday 14th November, I had the pleasure of attending an event hosted by Templestowe College in Melbourne that featured US author, lecturer and controversial education thought leader and change maker Alfie Kohn.

This was the first time Alfie had been to Australia to personally share his wealth of knowledge on human behaviour, education and parenting. Aflie has written 14 books including:

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing


The Case Against Standardized Testing: Raising the Scores, Ruining the Schools


The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and “Tougher Standards”


Some of the key (research based) statements/points Alfie made during his presentations that really took my attention included …

  • Rewards are counterproductive in learning
  • The best teachers do a lot of active listening rather than talking
  • The average US Classroom is excellent preparation for the really world, if you are planning to live in Nth Korea
  • Students need more of say in what they learn andhow they learn
  • Standardises testing is cramming forgettable facts into a test with little educational benefit.
  • Students learn to make good decisions by making decisions not by following directions.
  • Engagement is not being really compliant
  • One of the primary barriers to giving students a voice in their learning is the teacher’s need to be in control
  • Curriculum should be based around the individual students in your class and learning should be organised around the students own questions
  • An interdisciplinary approach in the classroom that features the Arts and effective Technology is always preferred.
  • Formal assessment criteria and rubrics are boring. Stuents should have a say over theior assement.
  • The best teachers have teethmarks on tehir tong.
  • More than cover the curriculum it’s about discovering ideas.
  • The opposite to a collaborative classroom is a competitive classroom
  • Praise and reward can be a thinking stopper
  • Praising & criticising is about judging
  • Being a facilitator, doesn’t mean making things easier
  • You are going to need to know this for the test/exam/the future, is not a valid context or purpose for learning
  • Memorising the definition of terms doesn’t encourage thinking.
  • The best classrooms we interested in meaning not rigour
  • The best teachers rarely need to use tests
  • Text books should only be used as a resource, not as the curriculum
  • Reducing a student to a letter grade or number is actively descructive to all age groups
  • Students will choose the more challenge task if no grade is the outcome
  • No research has ever found any benefit to any kind of homework prior to High School
  • Homework may be the greatest extinguisher of the love of learning that exists


Alfie says progressive schools do:

  • navigate by student’s interests;
  • focus on deep understanding, not just knowing facts & figures;
  • encourage student to spend their time making meaning around ideas;
  • focused on interdisciplinary learning, based on projects, emphasis community not just self, look after others, cooperative and cross age opportunities are the norm; &
  • give students a lot of say about what is happening in the school and play a role in the design of the curriculum.

Alfie says progressive schools do not:

  • focus on standardised testing;
  • use text books, excepts as a resource like a dictionary;
  • use grades or marks;
  • use punishments, rewards and awards; &
  • do homework.

Tempelstowe College’s Co-Principals introducing Alfie Kohr

Special thank you to Templestowe College which is standing out in Australia as a progressive school which proudly aims to follow much of Alfie’s researched based philosophies. Check out the Ted Talk by Templestowe College’s Principal Peter Hutton.


What’s New at Adobe

A number of announcements were made at  Adobe Max in San Diego that will interest many of you. As a result, we have organised two special events titled What’s New at Adobe that you can attend (if you live in Melbourne) or watch live or later.


Dec 5 at Swinburne University, Hawthorn (4PM to 6.30PM – Melb/Sydney time)

More info & registration via –

Live feed (Dec 5 only) via –

3PM (Brisbane), 1PM (Perth/Singapore) 6PM (Auckland) Sun 4th Dec 9PM (San Francisco)


Dec 12 at Photography Studies College, Southbank (4PM to 6.30PM – Melb/Sydney time)

More info & registration via –


These sessions will focus on developments in digital publishing, video, app design, animation, photography, print, web and lots more.


  • To help HED & K-12 Educators understand what to teach when preparing students for the modern digital design & media communications industries.
  • To demo new features of Adobe applications as shown at Adobe Max 2016.


Join these free education professional learning events to hear from Adobe about the latest developments that have come out of Adobe Max 2016 and how they link to education in all sectors.

 Planned agenda

  •  Panel session – Where is Digital Media now and where is it heading?
  • The value of Adobe’s Creative Services, Creative Resources and Mobile apps
  • Print, Web & Touch Publishing demos with …
    • InDesign,  Acrobat Pro, Dreamweaver, Muse & Adobe Experience Design
  • Video Production & animation demos with …
    • Premiere Pro, Character Animator & Adobe Animate (formally Flash Professional)
  • The move of Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) to Adobe Experience Manager (AEM)
  • The Adobe Spark family of apps
  • Future road-map

Adobe Day @ St Mary’s, Geelong



St Mary’s Geelong is a small Catholic Primary School about 1hr south west of Melbourne. I first met a number of the St Mary’s students, and their wonderful Deputy Principal Sarah Kelly, at the DLTV Digital Learning Showcase at RMIT early in September. Sarah was keen for all of her Year 5 & 6 students and teachers to enhance their digital communication skills with Adobe’s software, so she invited me to run an Adobe Day with a focus on video production.

The aim of the day was for the students to work in groups with their iPads, Premiere Clip, Spark Post & Spark Page to produce a web page that featured a video about their passions.

The teaching staff at St Mary’s were very keen to explore ways of using the iPad to create products and construct learning rather than having them predominately as a consumption tool.

I was very impressed with the way the students worked with the software and each other to produce some very creative work. I explained to the students that video is now considered a literacy and encouraged them to further develop their video literacy skills to help them creatively communicate in the future.


It was great working with DP Sarah Kelly

After school, local Adobe Campus Leader Andy Hair joined me to run some Adobe workshops with the teaching staff.

Andy ran a session focused on creating with Adobe Illustrator and sharing with Adobe Spark Post & Spark Video. I ran a workshop on video production with Clip, Spark Post & Spark Page.

Prior to the workshops, I shared with the teachers the value of enhancing creativity. We looked at some of the work of Professor Mitch Resnick from the MIT Media Lab who said in a past Adobe webinar …

Success in the future – for individuals, for communities, for companies, for nations as a whole – will be based not on what we know or how much we know, but on our ability to think and act creatively.


It was great catching up with Andy following a major bike accident earlier this year which has resulted in some major changes in his life. He is about to start working with the University of Canberra on some national research on the value of Physical Education in the curriculum. I’m looking forward to finding out more and possibly linking Adobe’s great communications tools to help share this work.



Photoshop at Wodonga


I had the pleasure of visiting Wodonga Catholic College this week in northern Victoria to run some Adobe Photoshop sessions for Year 10 & 11 photography and media students.


I had the opportunity to see how many of the students are working with Adobe’s Creative Cloud applications to produce a wide range of outstanding multimedia productions.

My main message to these senior secondary students was to develop their media literacy skills to help them stand out from the crowd and have the ability to brand themselves in creative ways for future employment and study possibilities.

Some of the most popular Photoshop techniques I taught the students included content aware fill, the liquify filter, the clone stamp tool, perspective warp and puppet warp.

A great resource to help improve Photoshop skills is the free Adobe Support Site …

I also spent some time showing them the value of a range of the other Adobe applications that they were able to access as part of the Victorian Catholic schools enterprise agreement with Adobe.


A personal highlight for me was seeing my sister Lisa Mason in action and meeting many of her students. Lisa is one of the media teachers at Wodonga Catholic College.

Drone projects at Yarra


Phil Callil, the Director of IT and eLearning at Yarra Valley Grammar School in Melbourne’s east, has been working with some very talented Year 7 & 8 students and a very cool drone. He invited me to spend the day with them today to help the students make videos on their iPads with Adobe Premiere Clip and Adobe Spark Post and put their productions together with Adobe Spark Page.


The students have been researching the history and various current uses of drones. They also predicted future uses for this type of technology. The aim of the day was to express the results of this research into a short video documentary style presentation.


The students worked in small groups to script their dialogue. They gathered a range of footage and still images that was previously filmed with the drone and their iPads and also recorded a series of pieces to camera. I showed them how to put their various video asserts together with Adobe Clip and was very impressed with how quickly & creatively they worked with the software.

On a personal note, it was lovely to catch up with Phil who was President of VITTA (Victorian Information Technology Teachers Association) while I was Vice President. In 2010, Phil encouraged me to apply to become an Apple Distinguished Educator which was an instrumental precursor to the work I am now doing with Adobe.