Adobe Rolls Out New Digital School Collection

Adobe has introduced a new version of its Digital School Collection, a suite of creative and productivity tools geared specifically for K-12 education. The new suite includes a significantly enhanced version of Premiere Elements, with expanded podcasting capabilities. Adobe has also brought Photoshop Elements back to the Mac (with education pricing) in the new version 8 release.

The Adobe Digital School Collection comprises five core apps for producing digital media: Photoshop Elements, Premiere Elements (video editing and podcasting), Soundbooth (audio editing/mixing), Contribute (Web content editing), and Acrobat. But beyond these apps, the suite also incorporates curriculum and teacher resources, ranging from tutorial for using the software to sample lessons and information on assessing creative content.

In the latest incarnation of the collection, the most significant upgrades can be found in Premiere Elements 8 and Photoshop Elements 8. (Both of these new versions were announced last week, including a new Photoshop Elements for Mac OS X). It also includes updated resources and lesson plans for educators.

Premiere Elements 8
Of the various upgrades in the suite, Premiere Elements 8 seems to have received the most attention. The new version has inherited several advanced tools from its elder sibling, Premiere Pro, and has gained a number of new features to help facilitate digital media creation.

This includes some improved audio editing and mixing tools and podcasting features. Among these are:

  • Automated audio mixing features, including automatic fade-in and transitions;
  • The addition of ducking (automatically reducing the volume on background sounds during narration);
  • Audio quality improvements; and
  • Podcast publishing with Podbean.

There are also several improvements in the categories of video editing, content, and disc-based media authoring. These include:

  • Motion tracking (analysis of footage to allow one element to follow along with the movement of another element);
  • Smart Fix, a new feature that automatically corrects for camera shake and color and lighting problems;
  • Smart Trim to help suggest footage that should be edited out;
  • Smart Mix for improving the quality of audio;
  • New movie themes;
  • Enhanced InstantMovie feature with expanded customization;
  • Output to DVD and Blu-ray;
  • More complex green screen and blue screen options;
  • New transitions; and
  • A new royalty-free content catalog with Flash content.

In terms of workflow, version 8 adds a new multimedia hub, a central repository for content shared between Photoshop and Premiere. It supports the ability to launch into editing in Premiere Elements directly from the organizer. It also automatically analyzes content and automatically tags it to help users find relevant content. (Manual tagging is also supported.) Content can be previewed full-screen from within the organizer, and it can be synched across multiple systems.

Photoshop Elements 8
The most significant change in Photoshop Elements 8 s its availability on the Mac platform, although, as yet, the complete suite remains available only on the Windows platform as one of the key components--Premiere Elements--is not yet available for Mac OS X. Adobe has not said one way or the other whether it will make a version of Premiere Elements available for Mac OS X as the company did with the professional version of the software, Premiere Pro.

In terms of features, Photoshop Elements 8 adds Photomerge Exposure, which includes the ability to merge bracketed photos (photos of the same subject using multiple exposures) to create a final image with better details in shadows and highlights.

It also adds content-aware scaling, called "Recompose" in Photoshop Elements, inherited from Photoshop CS4. This feature lets users stretch layers with minimal distortion to objects within the scene.

A few of the other new features include:

  • Quick Fix for color, contrast, and lighting adjustments ;
  • Export to FTP and Photoshop.com; and
  • Support for netbooks with small screens.

The Mac OS X version also includes one additional feature: Scene Cleaner. This feature allows users to "brush away" background elements in a photo (such as cars) by using elements from multiple images.

Expanded Education Resources
Adobe explained the the new Digital School Collection is focused more heavily on 21s century skills and teacher resources in this latest release. Representatives said the developers developed resources with P21's Framework for 21st Century Learning and ISTE's NETS-S in mind.

With the Digital School Collection, teachers receive a DVD containing sample lessons to help exemplify best practices across subject, grade level, and product. Other resources include:

  • An exploration of digital assessment methods;
  • Tutorials from Lynda.com on the use of the software and from Atomic Learning on the use of the software in the context of classroom learning;
  • 24 lessons (up from six in the previous release);
  • Additional assets;
  • A repository of videos and images from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Sanctuaries (rights-cleared materials for use on class projects); and
  • Additional resources on Adobe's education portal.

Education Pricing
Single-license education pricing in the United States is as follows:

  • Adobe Digital School Collection: $149 (Windows);
  • Photoshop Elements 8 and Premiere Elements 8 bundle (K-12 student pricing): $99 (Windows);
  • Photoshop Elements 8 and Premiere Elements 8 bundle (regular education pricing): $119 (Windows);
  • Premiere Elements 8: $69 (Windows)
  • Photoshop Elements 8: $69 (Mac OS X or Windows).

Volume licensing is also available. Pricing varies.

The new Adobe Digital School Collection and upgraded individual products are available now. Further information about the Digital School Collection and individual products from the suite can be found on Adobe's education portal here.

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