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5 Golden Tips to Draw Better in Adobe Illustrator

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Can’t figure out why your illustrations doesn’t look as good as other illustrators? Don’t fret as I am going to reveal you 5 golden tips to help you achieve better drawing skills in Illustrator.

1. Master the Pen Tool

Learning to use the pen tool effectively is the most important aspect to create great looking vector graphics. A lot of beginners failed to grasp the basics of using the pen tool. I will suggest you to get some tutorials on drawing shapes with pen tool. The more practice you put in, the smoother your shape will get. Illustrators took years perfecting the pen tool. It is a skill you will improve over time. So don’t give up on it.

2. Using Less Anchor Points

A lot of beginners make the mistake of using too main anchor points for drawing shapes. This usually results in a jaggy shape. What I will suggest is to use as little anchor points as possible. One tip I will give is to add anchors only on direction changes or corners. The less anchor points, the smoother the shape. Once you get a hang of it, you will know where to add anchor points intuitively.

3.Using the Smooth Tool

Smooth tool is one of the fastest way to smooth out uneven paths. Just draw along the paths you want to smooth it. If you have a Wacom tablet it will be easier and faster to smooth the edges. Go through the edges a few times to make it perfect. It is a very useful tool to clean up your final artwork.

4. Drawing with the Grid

The grid is one of the best guide to help your draw accurate objects. Learn to use the grid effectively and you will have no problem drawing awesome icons, maps and diagrams. Remember to turn on snapping so that you can snap your lines and shapes to the grid. It will give you more accuracy.

5. Use Pathfinder Smartly

Some illustrators prefer to use pathfinder to build their objects. To be able to do that, you must learn to break complex shapes into basic circles and squares. First you will need to build your basic rough shape by combining these basic shapes to create your initial object. Next, refine the edges and corners of your rough shape by using the pen tool or smooth tool. This is a fast way to build complex shapes.

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Source by Tony Soh


The Meaning of the Inverted V-Sign Around the World – Learn the Meaning of Hand Gestures

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The inverted v-sign is a version of one of the most popular hand gestures: the v-sign. It is done by raising and parting the first and second fingers are, while clenching the remaining fingers and keeping the palm facing the speaker. The palm can face inwards or outwards which can alter the meaning.

A popular theory regarding the inverted V-sign goes back all the time to when England and France were at war. The English longbowmen were very feared and considered to be the best archers. When English archers were captured the French cut off the index and middle finger of the hand in order to render them useless as archers should future battles occur. As a crude form of psychological warfare the English Longbowmen showed these two fingers to the French before battle in order to show that they were able to kick their ass on the battlefield.

Let’s have a look at different countries and what the inverted v-sign means in different countries:

Australia – grave insult

Canada – grave insult (rarely used)

China – Not used.

France – Two.

Germany – Generally means peace (rarely used). In Freiburg and Black Forest region the V-sign with the palm facing the speaker is an insult and considered very vulgar to use.

Greece – Two.

Ireland – grave insult

Italy – Not used.

Japan – Common sign used that is intended to portray an acceptable level of cuteness when posing for photographs.

New Zealand – Another rude sign for the fingers (middle finger). Commonly seen used by drivers out the side window when someone has forgotten to indicate, and accompanied by the horn and some unmentionable words.

Russia – Many people would understand this as ”victory” (because of western films etc), but they don’t use this sign.

Spain – Victory, achievement.

Sweden – Not used.

Turkey – Not used.

United Kingdom – grave insult

USA – Peace. Palm-facing-inward is more ”hip-hop”.

Please note that meaning of gestures varies among various parts of countries and also among cultural groups and between generations.

Happy travels!

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Source by Peter Siljerud


Drawing in Adobe Illustrator

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Ever since I was little I’ve been drawing and being creative. I’ve always enjoyed creating creatures and characters on paper with my pencil. Currently I’m into graphic design, illustration, and photography. Graphic design is what I’m in school for. In this article however I’d like to tell you about the way I create cartoons in Adobe Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator is a vector based program which basically means your artwork can be sized up or down without loss of quality.

Some digital artists use programs such as Photoshop or Corel. Well I enjoy using a combination of Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. Adobe has created a plethora of software; which can be used for most any digital media, such as photography, videography, illustration, print design, T-shirt design, or web production.

The way I create my artwork is to sketch out the character, you can do this either with pencil and paper or you can use a tablet such as the Wacom Intuos series. Once you’ve completed your drawing scan it in to your computer if you drew it on paper. Once in the computer open Adobe Illustrator and put your sketch on the art board on the first layer. Now I would create a new layer so I can start illustrating. I created a new layer so I can turn of my sketch layer off and see my progress as I go on.

Generally I start with the outlines of the character, which would include all the facial features or whatever the object or character consists of. Once your done with the outline, make a new layer for the fill colors. When I’m adding the colors I usually make different selections. I mean like if your coloring the face and neck I keep them two different objects, so I can make one darker than the other for something like a shadow.

Once your done adding all of your details and such, you might want to go back to the outline layer and make the outlines a little darker than the fill color so all the outlines aren’t just black. Okay now I would bring all of that into Photoshop and add a light texture, but that depends on your taste and what you prefer. Once your done save it as a JPEG or PNG and upload it to the web. If you have a website that is good but if you don’t you can use sites like Deviant Art or Flicker.

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Source by Jacob C Reid


Modify Clipart for Unique Results

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Clipart is nothing to be ashamed of. While some graphic designers may be wonderful illustrators, a lot of them are not. That is when clipart is most useful. There’s no need to spend hours trying to create illustrations when clipart can meet your needs. However, it’s not a wise idea to use clipart images straight from the web or a CD without modification.

Modifying clipart makes it look professional, unique, and interesting. Here are a few ways clipart can be modified to enhance its appearance:

1. Colorization – there’s a lot of great black and white clipart available. One of the best things about black and white clipart is that it’s often easy to colorize. And if you’ve got a black and white image, colorizing it will make it uniquely your own. But how can you colorize clipart? Isn’t that impossible? No, it’s not. All you need is a program which allows you to edit graphics.

Two popular graphics editing programs are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Either of these programs allow for the modification of clipart. But no matter which graphics program you use, it should be relatively easy to colorize black and white clipart.

The easiest method for colorizing clipart is to use the fill tool. On most graphic editing programs, the fill tool is symbolized by a bucket. Simply click on the clipart you want to colorize, and fill with the color of your choice. This method does work, but may not always yield desired results. If your graphics program offers a magnetic lasso tool, that may be a better option.

The magnetic lasso tool allows you to select specific parts of the clipart. The result is that you don’t have to color the entire image the same color. Magnetic lasso properties can be altered to fit your needs. However, you must be familiar with the lasso tool in your particular program.

2. Delete or add objects – Clipart often consists of many pieces joined to make one object. Because of this, you may come across a piece of clipart that’s just too busy. But all is not lost. If you only want parts of the clipart, you can simply delete the parts you don’t want.

If the graphic is a vector image, it will be a snap to edit. Open the clipart image in your graphics editing program, select the area you don’t want, and hit delete. It’s that simple. However, bitmap images pose more of a challenge. You’ll have to use the eraser tool and manually delete parts of the image. Or if you want to delete a section of solid color, you can use the magnetic lasso tool and press delete.

Adding elements to clipart can also produce pleasing results. Let’s say you have an image of a house that you think is boring. By adding a sunburst behind the house, you can produce a unique new look. The possibilities are endless. Just be aware that clipart can be as plain or exciting as you choose.

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Source by Andy Eaton


Create Your Own T-Shirt Design – For Beginners

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In this article we are going to see how to create your own t-shirt design from scratch. We are not going to go into much details as this is an article to get you familiar with the software and tools to get you started.

Before continuing we first should briefly see what it takes to create a custom t-shirt on your own:

  • PC software for vector graphics
  • Vinyl Cutter
  • Heat Press

Oh and also some imagination! The good news here, is that there is a free software to help you design your vector designs. It is a very stable and promising software called Inkscape. Download it and install it. For the other two pieces of equipment we will talk later in this article.

Remember that before you learn to walk you should first learn how to crawl. So for your first designs keep it simple! Try simple designs and then continue to more complicated. So how do you draw in Inkscape? The simplest tool to start with can be activated using SHIFT+F6. You can also enable this tool by clicking it on the menu on the left. It is called ‘Bezier Curves’. By clicking on your canvas once you can start a shape by a simple point. Then you continue by adding more points to form the shape you want. By aware that if you click the mouse button pressed you will create a smooth curve. If you play around with it you will see what I mean.

Remember that you create vectors. Those will be the paths that the cutter will follow and cut a line on the vinyl. If you need an idea to get you started, draw a sports t-shirt with your name on the back. Draw a basketball ball on the front! It is an easy shape.

Now that you have created your vector graphics is the first step for your own custom t-shirt! The next steps are more difficult and require you to own a bit of expensive equipment. But do not worry! Save your vector graphic to a file a take it to your local custom t-shirt printing company. If you do not have one near, there are companies that do this online. You can go to http://www.fanelaki.com and send them your design and they will deliver the t-shirt to you.

Creating your own t-shirts is really fun and satisfying when you wear them! Express yourself, create your own t-shirt and enjoy them.

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Source by David Arakea


10 Ways to Make Cool Graphic T-shirts

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1. CONFUSE. Create a graphic t-shirt design that forces people to look again. It can be a simple design, but one that is just too silly to not look at one more time, or something so difficult to decipher yet catchy enough that people keep looking at your torso while they speak. The graphic t-shirts that have most caught my attention are those who have large lettering to get you to start reading, but contain a kicker in small letters that you must read from up close to figure out. Treat graphic t-shirts like billboards in the subway: if people don’t somehow feel confused they probably won’t try and figure out what the rest of the tee says. Another way to confuse people is to use a graphic design that just makes no sense. One t shirt I saw showed a triangle trying to escape from between rows of bars – multi-color bars. It just made no sense, but definitely forced me to look at it.

2. FUNKIFY. Make graphic t-shirts that have funk written all over them. Not literally. It is a trend for now, but it is an effective way to making tshirts that are cool. Take a cartoon image – say of an astronaut listening to a boom box – add some colors behind him, with an 80’s touch to it – and you will have a funky-looking graphic tee. Curvy lettering, hot colors, simple designs all can give you a funky feel. Design your graphic t shirt while you listen to some Maceo Parker and that should help too.

3. GO RETRO. Take it back in time with a graphic tee design that reminds people of another epoch. Right now, the 80’s are hot. Until recently, it was the 70’s. What does this mean? Plenty of overuse of multiple color schemes meant to bring out lettering, 3-D effects, rock star band t-shirt designs, and Madonna. American Eagle has been using a lot of retro-looking designs in its shirts, using distressed screens to print some of them so that they have an old look. Their designs are getting old though, now that graphic t-shirts are cooler when they look like they’re from the 80’s.

4. BE IRONIC. Design a tshirt that is simple enough that people can interpret and that is incongruent with the situation. The surrealists were the masters of this. Follow Duchamp’s lead and design a graphic t-shirt that says something that is clearly untrue or that just makes no sense. Retro-irony used to be funny, but is now being used less often. By retro irony, I mean an old advertisement that has a new meaning today. Some graphic t-shirts still have these designs.

5. BE UNCONVENTIONAL. Take a common graphic t-shirt design and do something else with it. Take a design that people are accustomed to – say a rainbow – and make it drip like wet paint. Take unicorns and show them having sex. Just whatever it is, make sure it pops with creative thought. Your tee should send a message that is not lost in translation, that breaks some barriers.

6. BE SILLY. Design a graphic tee that will put a smile on everyone’s face. A bunch of fingers on a hand visit their injured partner the thumb, a bear watching TV in the middle of the forest, telling stupid raisins to stay out of your cookies, and two lemons helping another lemon cut in half, carrying him on a stretcher… (lemon aid). Silly graphic t-shirts get messages across easily and effectively, often without offending, which is a good quality to have. It is all too easy to make offensive graphic t-shirts.

7. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Simplicity in a graphic t shirt can sometimes be the most effective tool to convey a message – that is, if you have one. Graphic tees can be made just to look cool, and not to pass any kind of message at all. A giant circle with splotches of paint around it, or just common vector images that do not really say much more than “I like colors.” Sometimes one or two words will do the job. Being vague is important in graphic t-shirts to draw interest and simplicity is the key to being vague.

8. TALK ABOUT YOURSELF. Graphic t-shirts that ridicule others are easy to design. However, what is more interesting is to ridicule oneself. I have seen some funny variations on the idea. There are many tshirts out there that make drunk jokes about the wearer of the shirt. Of course, you can always wear graphic t-shirts that says something about you without doing so directly. If you wear a skull t shirt, it could signify that you are into gothic.

9. USE 3-D. Three-dimensional graphic t-shirts are part of a return to the 50’s with an extra dose of Warhol. These graphic tees don’t necessarily work if you wear 3-D glasses but sure look like you need to in order to understand them. The main use of this type of graphic tshirt is on gangster-type tees that show explicit scenes that are better left in 3-D.

10. CALL TO ATTENTION. You can get someone to look at your graphic t-shirt in various ways. You can draw their attention with an arrow, because usually that means you are pointing something out around them that they may be able to relate to. You can address them by using “You” in your graphic t-shirts. In any case, it must engage your viewers in some way.

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Source by Al Keser


Facebook Marketing Strategy – How to Use Facebook For Business

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We’ve all heard the buzz about Facebook and if you’ve been around for a while you’ll have heard how easy and how essential it is to have a social media marketing strategy for your company. After all, with over 300 million users on Facebook it must be easy to find a handful of customers almost each and every day, right? Wrong.

It’s far from simple and you only have to speak to a few different people who have tried to build a successful marketing strategy on Facebook and you’ll realise that the vast majority of marketers pushing their products on the Facebook platform are making few if any sales from their ever increasing activity. Why is this? In short, no clear marketing strategy. This article will provide you with the knowledge to develop a simple yet effective marketing strategy for Facebook. Here goes;

1. Branding

Know who you are, who you are not and where you are going with your business in the next five years (or at least where you plan to go) before starting out on Facebook. This will allow you to create a strong brand which tells your potential customers and business partners exactly who they are dealing with.

2. Networking

Decide on a plan to network in specific areas. Draw up a list of groups in your niche that you can find quickly each time you go onto Facebook in order to add value, comment on and share content and information within the group discussion board and network with other group members to build relationships and exchange ideas.

Find a few business pages of leaders within your industry and become a fan of the page. By doing this you will be able to see exactly what your competitors are up to on Facebook and also who else is a fan of your business rivals. In addition, you can also comment on updates made by the fan page administrator which will be seen by everyone who follows the page, offering you free advertising in the process.

Add relevant contacts to your list by carrying out a quick search of the Facebook platform to see what type of people are out there talking about your industry. This is really simple to do but very powerful; simply type in your chosen keyword or search term into the search tab at the top right hand side of your Facebook profile page, hit the search symbol and then work your way through the results column on the left hand side of the page,, providing you with search results from a range of different sources across the Facebook platform.

3. Sales

The final frontier in many ways and an increasingly difficult place to arrive at when using social networking sites to build your business but if you get this part right it can pay off big style. As the saying goes, if you don’t ask, you don’t get and Facebook marketing is no different. The best way to make a sale is to plan for it and with a little modification to your user profile you can set up a unique opt-in form on your profile page to offer people the chance to subscribe to more information from you about your product or service. If you want to go one better, then why not set up a Facebook page for your business and add a shopping cart facility to allow people to buy straight from your door, without ever having to leave the great land of Facebook?

Whatever you decide to do when marketing on Facebook for your business, remember the one rule of thumb; people don’t frequent social networking sites to be sold to, so don’t sell them on anything and you might be surprised how many sales you can actually make!

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Source by Neil Ashworth


Edit Digital Photos – Explore Your Digital Photography Software

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The mechanism of how any digital image is formed is quite interesting. Multiple image snaps are captured instantly and are pasted over each other to form the resultant digital photograph. The instantaneous capturing of these multiple image phases and pasting them together to one single image is called the work flow process of digital imaging. The set of activities like copying the contents of the digital camera to the system, inspecting the photographs, modifying the photograph and grouping them in to folders for further use and publishing the photograph are all the various milestones of digital editing.

Photo editors are computer programs that are specifically designed to manipulate digital images. Though the code of commands is available under different labels the principle of operation can be grouped under raster, 3D or vector imaging. The code or the photo editor programs can be used to create new images that seem to be shot from a real life situation or it can be used to modify already prevalent images.

The image component to be edited should be marked or selected before any editing activity could begin. The selection of this image processing site is accomplished via many soft tools available in the market. The manipulation of any image data is done after the exact portion of the image to be modified is selected. The selected image is further modified in layers. Image editing steps consist of masking, edge detection and composting activities. To sum up, the final output of the image is a constituent modification of the pixel color value underlying the layers.

Layers are the cornerstones behind the optical illusion of any image. The multiple layers pasted over each other is skillfully manipulated by the digital work flow mechanism. The manipulation is such that the onlooker senses the final image as a single stamp image rather than an over lap of multiple layers of images. Such a patched arrangement of the layers becomes very useful in preserving the original identity of the layers. During the process of photo editing a 3D image a particular layer can be edited without affecting the overlying and underlying areas. Thus the original layer of the image is preserved. This nondestructive editing methodology helps retaining the originality of any edited image rather than resaving it at every stage or editing.

The modification or altering of the size of any image is called scaling. The increase and decrease of the size of any picture conforms the scaling activity. The scaling activity does not dissolve the basic resolution quality of the explored image. It has something to do only with the pixel identity and the pixel ratio between the original and modified image.

Certain portions of the digital image would require deletion or working over in small portions by minor cut and replace activities. This combined process of this image manipulation which involves selective cutting and replacement is called cropping. The cropping process chips out unwanted digital composites. It has nothing to do with the pixel ratio. Though is has some role in changing the layer composition. The many undesired portions of any image can be thrown off the image using cropping technology. Though cropping has nothing to do with pixel ratio directly, the layer alteration induced due to cropping process causes some change in the color intensity.

Digital editing can be done by thousands of methods. All the methods cannot be explained in a single article. This article series will speak of other techniques in the oncoming follow up tutorials.

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Source by David M Peters


The Perfect Tri Fold Brochures

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If your looking for the perfect tri fold brochures online, here are some things to consider when looking for them. Consider creating them yourself, this way you have more control over the end product. Not creative? Don’t worry about that, you can utilize templates to help you in the creative department. All you need to do is embellish it and personalize the template to make it your own.

Customizing it will consist of you entering your own information and adding your personal photos into the designated photo boxes or photo areas. You can also add to the template design if you want to by inserting some additional clip art or vector illustration.

The best looking tri fold brochures templates are those that offer you a front and back design in full color. This provides a whole design presentation and adds to the professional appearance in the end. You are likely to find templates with very simple designs with modular looking graphics. If this is the look you seek, than they will be a perfect solution for you to get started.

Note that not all tri fold brochures are created equal. Make sure you know what you are looking for and what you want. If you are unsure, then do your search and get ideas with the brochure designs you find. Then formulate your need based on that.

Templates for tri folds generally run under $40.00, and will allow you to edit all the text boxes. You can find letter, legal, or even tabloid sizing. The larger the tri fold, the more text you will be able to get into that. Also keep in mind that the cost will increase for the larger sizes.

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Source by Carole Galassi


Starting Your Own Desktop Publishing Business

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Desktop publishing is a money-making industry. From simple computer applications in 1985 when it was first introduced to the highly-sophisticated and advanced layout systems today, this field offers huge possibilities: you can become an artist, a graphic designer or a self published author. Whichever your chosen path, there are many ways to make an income in this exciting field.

Before the advent of home computer based publishing, people had to hire professionals to use huge machines to design brochures, newspapers, magazines, books and newsletters. Needless to say, design and layout were only for the skilled few. But today, virtually anyone can do design and layout as competently as any professional who works for big publishers thanks to the advent of desktop publishing!

There are a number of programs that allow you to design with ease and some training. These desk top publishing software packages are constantly evolving and coming out with new and more advanced features.Today, there are a number of desktop publishing programs that cater to various publishing needs. There are those that are designed for professionals and artists and limited capability programs that are designed for small businesses that want to layout their own brochures, newsletters, logos and flyers.

Some of the big name desktop publishing programs include Adobe InDesign, Quark XPress and Adobe PageMaker. InDesign and Quark are professionally geared software programs that allow multiple designers to work on the same project at one time, but are also used by artists and indie and small self publishing houses. These software packages require computers with fast processors and a large amount of memory to handle big projects. PageMaker, another graphic design package is geared more to the home user. It’s an excellent tool that is intuitive and user-friendly and can be used to design brochures, flyers, newsletters and other projects. Getting the right software package will make all the difference in your desk top publishing career.

Speaking of careers, you can make lots of money with desktop publishing. You can develop your aesthetic skills and become a full-fledged artist or become an independent graphic designer who designs printed and electronic designs for various clients. Of course, if you want to take this path, take a course on how to make big money running a desktop publishing business from home. You can attract a local clientele or build a web site that attracts clients from all over the world.

There is so much you can do in this dynamic and thriving field. All you need is to experiment, get your creative juices flowing and of course, learn the business end of desktop publishing.

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Source by Laura Ramirez


The Aspiring Artist

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The artist today reaches his or her audience, produces work that is meaningful, and stays true to his or her own vision. The combination of being successful in these three areas can be difficult. This is true for all artists, but especially for the sculpture, the potter. How do you reach an audience but not give in to the foolish expectations of society? Plus, how do you use a medium that is three dimensional, unlike a two dimension painting?

Perhaps an aspiring artist should begin to work with simple designs first. In many ceramic classes students are first taught to make dishes, like bowls and plates. This gives them the opportunity to be creative while working on an easier project. The clay art plates these students create may not impress any New York City critics, but it gives them the opportunity to express themselves while first learning basic sculpting techniques.

Clay is an amazing material when creating art. The basic dish can be made from this earth material, and detailed polymer clay art can also express an artist’s view. The artist who is able to move from the simple to the difficult will also be able to produce meaningful work. He or she will develop three dimensional pieces that are true expressions of life and art as he or she sees it. Mosaics or ornate sculptures can show what an artist intends to be his or her vision.

The vision of an artist can be completed with the proper two dimensional covering. A good artist will use his or her painting ability while applying a glazing, and using the more complicated overglazes will be second hand nature. A glaze can set a ceramic piece apart from other art work, or leave it among the mundane. A strong artist will take the almost final sculpture and turn it into a masterpiece with proper application of glazes.

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Source by Alice Lane


E-Learning Using Semantic Web and End-User Programming Techniques

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Introduction

Although there are web modelling tools available it still needs considerable effort to adapt these tools for educational use. Research is needed into creation of Semantic Web models for educators to use in order to create learning objects and models. This educational modelling research should focus on the creation of a web based knowledge management system, and migration of simple models that are normally created in spreadsheets to a shared learning environment.

With the development of technologies under the broad terms of Semantic Web and Web 2.0 there are opportunities to establish a highly interactive web based learning environment. The constructionist approach to understanding problems is to learn about them by modelling them. This approach can be used in combination with research into enabling end-user programming techniques in order to provide an environment for non programmers to model their problems. Visualisation and interaction provide rapid feedback that gives a powerful representation of the environment to be modelled.

Many people would like to make greater use of computer technology but are hampered by the need to learn programming languages if they are to fully interact with software. Instead they are limited to the use of certain features that are provided for them. A further constraint is the cost of software, and it is important to develop free software and encourage a community of end-user developers, and modellers.

The aim should be to create a software development environment that enables people to customise their own software solution. This is an alternative to provision of software as a finished article that can’t be changed. The e-learning software can be customised without requiring programming expertise.

Methodology

A Semantic Web modelling infrastructure could be created to be the basis of future research in learning systems. In order to achieve these aims it is important to examine applications that assist in model building and critically review them. The system we could be used to promote engineering to a skeptical public who see the profession as poorly paid and dirty, ‘House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology report science and society’ [1], and remote from the public [2]. The aim of this research is to try to bring together the areas of E-Learning, End-User Programming and the Semantic Web.

Since Engelbart’s Augment [3] there have been attempts to create systems to aid learning. Papert [4] and Smith [5] built on the Augment research to develop a method of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) that can be applied to e-learning. These systems were defined prior to the Semantic Web. It is important now to re-examine and apply this research using Semantic Web/Web 2.0 tools and techniques. Some examples are available [6], more information about the history of end-user programming is available [7].

Mechanisms of Web 2.0 [8] applications include Google web spreadsheets [9]. These applications are increasing in popularity, and can provide modelling capability over the Web, the use of Web 2.0 for public policy is examined in [10]. The advantages of open source collaboration are that as well as allowing researchers to co-operate and work together where they share an interest; it also allows the untapped potential to be developed of those who do not have an official research position. This includes students, people employed outside the academic environment, retired people and amateurs who have useful expertise. Astronomy, for example, has harnessed skills of this very diverse range of people to make new discoveries. The expertise provided by anyone involved can be applied to feedback on usefulness, or ease of use of software, as well as actual involvement in software development. This means feedback would be sought from users of software even if they were not software experts. Researchers would benefit the community by providing education tools online and for libraries. This is different from other open source communities in that the intention is to make the software easier to use and develop, and so involve those who have not previously been capable of participating in software development.

An E-Learning and Modelling tool could bring together experts in science, engineering, systems modelling, computing, web development, and Human Computer Interaction. In any location there are likely to be several researchers examining a different part of a related overall subject, such as web based systems. This means there is a need to co-ordinate researchers, in computing and engineering in a project to link together work on information management and visualisation for modelling and decision support.

Many people who are experts in their domain want to create software models. Scaffidi et al [11] show that most people who develop software are end users not professional programmers. End-user programming is particularly important in this research to make it possible for people who do not have a programming background to create their own educational tools. Semantic Web tools and techniques can be used to create a web based end-user programming environment, these aims are also explained in [12]. People can then use this to create their own software. This software could allow interactive visual modelling of information. This corresponds to the type of work normally undertaken using spreadsheets for modelling, and web editors for knowledge management.

Semantic/Web 2.0 Web Tools

The need is for an alternative way of representing these models, which does not require the user to write code. The tool created must make it practical to interact with and change educational models and to share information with others. Such a project can involve use of editing tools such as wikis [13][14][15], blogs, and semantic web editors [16][17][18] to allow discussion and explanation of the models.

There is an urgent need for Semantic Web tools to illustrate the benefits this technology can provide for education, ‘EASE: The European Association Semantic Web Education’ [19] explains this need. Some Semantic Web tools are available, explained by EASE and in the Jena User Conference [20] or being developed at present, but they are still difficult for people to make use of as they require a good deal of development expertise. REASE (the repository of EASE for learning units) [21] provides a way to find and create learning materials for industrial applications of Semantic Web technologies.

The key problem is enabling a Semantic Web infrastructure that will be the basis for future research in learning systems. To achieve this, a modelling environment needs to be created in order to allow people to customise their own models. This environment can be created using an open standard language such as XML (eXtensible Markup Language). As the high level translation this infrastructure would depend on tools developed in order to assist the user, provide an interface and manage the user interface. This is why tools should be used such as Protégé [13], Amaya [16][17][18]. Until recently XML has been used to represent information, and programming languages used for actual code. Semantic languages such as XML can be applied to software development as well as information representation, as they provide a higher level declarative view of the problem. Semantic Web techniques should be used because they can facilitate computer based communication. Berners-Lee defined the Semantic Web as ‘a web of data that can be processed directly or indirectly by machines’ [22]. Flexibility is essential when different people are not all using the same systems. To achieve this flexibility ontology languages such as the open standard OWL (Web Ontology Language) [23] can be used. OWL can be searched using SPARQL [24] because it is based on RDF (Resource Description Framework)/XML, and can be searched and accessed using XQuery [25] and XForms [26].

End-User Programming

An end-user programming project could involve co-operation with the Institute for End User Computing (IEUC) [27]. Other End-User Programming Consortiums are End-Users Shaping Effective Software (EUSES) [28] and Network of Excellence on End User Development (EUD.Net) [29]. An end-user programming environment can make use of ‘Program Transformation’. Program Transformation allows for writing in one representation or language, and translating to another. This is particularly useful for language independent programming, or for high level end-user programming that can then be translated to a language more easily understood by computer systems. This research is influenced by the theory of constructionism explained in [30] and the use of Logo for teaching [31] and [32]. This research could be particularly focused on the web environment, as this is cheap to support and allows for distributed modelling, and learning [30].

Human Computer Interaction

Use of the Semantic Web is to be a means for open standard representation of learning material, transformation into different representations as required, and for provision of a high level interface as a tool for model creation, and translation to educational objects. To achieve this is necessary to create a translator that converts the diagrammatic representation of a problem into e-learning objects. Translations could be performed into any programming or meta-programming language or open standard information representation language, the visualisation of the model created could be displayed on the web. A two way translation is needed between human and computer, and between different software environments. This definition used by Simons and Parmee [33] explains the aim “a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect on each other. The idea of a two-way effect is essential to the concept of interaction, as opposed to a one way causal effect”.

This communication strategy improves opportunities for end-user programming, sharing of information, and education of both users and computer software. The analogy of educating computer software to do what the user intends is called programming by demonstration in ‘Watch What I Do: Programming by Demonstration’ [34]. The user has the role of an educator of the software which acts as an apprentice to learn what is required. Learners are thus able to instruct the software and so program solutions, using an adaptive modelling tool. The education is then a two way process of the user learning from computer based software, and the software learning to do what the user requires. In order to enable understanding of the models and e-learning objects it is essential to visualise them and allow interaction. The visualisation can be depicted in various ways. Two examples are: as a tree (that can be colour coded to represent different types of information) and as an interactive SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) diagram of a component to be modelled. SVG is an XML based syntax so can be searched and modelled as such. Examples show a tree based representation of engineering components [35], and how a tree based representation is converted into an interactive diagrammatic representation [36]. Transformations are performed between a taxonomy representation of information into many different visualisations and software representations. This process converts an abstract representation of a problem to a concrete model created with the aid of two way communication between the user and the modelling tool.

Highly interactive web pages that act like programs to provide a user interface can be used to provide an interactive User Driven Programming environment. These interactive web pages can be based on visual programming languages such as Alice [37]. Interactive web programs can also be created using scripting languages and XML combinations such as AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML), which is an overall name for techniques to create highly interactive web pages. Ajax techniques for creation of interactive web models will assist computer literate end-users in programming tasks on the web [38].

Collaborative Modelling

Huhns [39] and Paternò [40] both explain that alternatives to current software development approach are required. The need is to translate from a model-based visual representation understood by users to software. Johnson [41] explains that successful interaction requires mapping between levels of abstractions and that translation between these abstraction levels required by users and computers is difficult. He explains that this problem often means systems are created that make the user cope with the problems of mis-translation. The representation of rules and information can be illustrated diagrammatically. It is possible to describe algorithms through concrete examples rather than abstractly. Models must be designed and visualised so that they convey to users a representation of a problem that assists with their vision of it. This subject is explored in [42] and is the basis of our visualisation techniques that enable users to create and understand models, which are translated into software representations.

Conclusion

Advantages of this research are : –

– Creation of an open standard online e-learning environment that is usable by non-programmers.

– Enabling of creation of e-learning objects by non programmers.

– Enabling widespread dissemination and sharing of models over the web.

– Provision of an educational resource for students, scientists, engineers, software developers, arts, and business.

– Increased user involvement in e-learning development to allow savings in cost and time taken for this development, and enable greater creation and use of educational tools.

– Availability of e-learning models and interactive visualisation of educational objects much more widely using browser based software.

– Enabling many more people to program.

– Opening up opportunities to people currently outside formal education.

This research can bridge the gap between computer literate people and e-learning software creation. This can give a practical illustration of the benefits end-user programming and Semantic Web techniques could provide for e-learning.

References

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Source by Peter Hale