I spent the week before last taking a pile of courses in London, and I seriously do not remember the last time I had a week that intense. So much formal learning crammed in, in structured classroom type ways, in looser project-based ways, and in lecture-style ways. It was so refreshing to not work at my own pace for a change – learning independently has a lot going for it, but like anything it needs to be balanced. Fortunately I’ve got myself a few nice projects ready to jump on to get busy consolidating the masses of information precariously balanced between my ears.
Photoshop training was great. I’d already played around with it quite a bit, but in very haphazard & inefficient ways. My workflow’s much more deliberate & effective as a result. I’ve still got a long way to go in terms of actually knowing my way around automatically and being able to problem-solve within the application, but so far so good.
As for projects to help build up my skills, there’s always the constant need to build custom bits and pieces of graphics for websites, but the one really close to my heart is restoring all of my old family photos. The cheeky-looking little girl in the before & after photo here is my great-aunt Bettye. She was a lot older than my Papa, and this particular shot would be pushing 100 years old, so of course I only knew her as a hilarious old lady. Aside from being a hilarious old lady, she was something of a keen family archivist – something my mum has picked up and run with. It’s really nice to be able to contribute to that process and give the ongoing project a bit of a boost.
The two days of WordPress customisation with Alex Shaw was amazing. I’ve obviously spent a fair bit of time before playing around with the platform, doing bits and pieces of theme chopping and using plugins, but again in a relatively haphazard & single-purposed way. Alex took me through the basics of building online content from code before attaching the WordPress elements, making static content dynamic through snippets of php code, and then on the back end, making some really powerful plugins work together in streamlining the daylights out of a site. As a result, I can be much more efficient and deliberate in putting a site together in a way that’s going to be robust & reliable. In 2 incredibly packed, challenging days I learned plenty, and it seems to have stuck. I’ve got a few sites to build over the next little while, so keep your eyes peeled. My big project is going to be a blog network for schools that harnesses the CMS and UMS powers WordPress offers as a professional learning resource bank, with curriculum area, teacher and student blogs built in. I’m looking at Moodle & Google Sites integration as well. Big job, lots more research to do, but it’s fun and exciting.