Since the Adobe Max Conference in 2008, and the buzz around a product code-named “Thermo,” I have been intrigued with the possibility of creating interactive designs with the click of a mouse. This May, with the launch of Adobe’s Creative Suite CS5, the pipe-dream once known as Thermo, was released to the public as Flash Catalyst.
Soon after CS5’s release, feelings ranging from being overwhelmed (*sigh, another application to learn?), to being excited (Another application to learn!!), to being unsure (why would I want to spend the time to learn this?) crept into my mind. Winning out, however, were the thoughts of excitement and possibilities. Creating things I never dreamed possible, will soon become reality. One minor problem though…I don’t know how to use the program.
Books, blogs, podcasts, trials, reviews, classes, online training — There are a lot of ways to learn something new, and everybody has something that works particularly well for them. I’d be willing to bet the one thing that always seems to be a sticking point, no matter what avenue of learning you choose, is time. Setting aside the time to investigate something new can be a priority too easily pushed aside among other day to day tasks. Let’s face it, equal parts commitment, drive, interest, curiosity, and support all play a critical role in a successful learning process. Without making learning a priority, it just won’t be accomplished.
My plan to learn Flash Catalyst
In my quest to learn Flash Catalyst, I plan to spend an average of 30 minutes per day in a combination of all the training channels listed above. Why 30 minutes? Anything more and my mind will probably start to wander. Also, when trying to absorb all of the new information, 30 minutes seems to be about right for me without having to worry about half the information going in one ear and out the other. The one thing I desperately want to avoid is having this become more of a job than a fun exploratory personal project. Lastly, in the evenings, I can schedule my “Catalyst Time” between television shows if I choose to.
Beginning in June, I plan to give a weekly summary of my progress. I think the first step will be to spend at least the first couple of sessions seeking and listing out resources that I can choose from. I will also probably have to invent a small pet project to work on, so I can apply the new information in a fun and meaningful manner. I’ll be sure to post links and screen shots for the one person out there who may be following along.
Actually following through
Having a plan and sticking to it is a bit easier said than done. I’m a very goal oriented person. I didn’t run my first marathon to say I ran a marathon. I did it for the time directly in between deciding to run and actually finishing the race. It was the training I was looking for, it was an excuse to get myself into better shape. As I have been reflecting on that experience, I thought it would be good to apply the same process in my quest of learning Flash Catalyst.
So what exactly is the marathon of learning? In my mind, it’s teaching. With that, I contacted the local Technical College, and have just been approved to teach a beginners course on Flash Catalyst in September 2010. Beyond learning the application, this will also be the first time I teach an organized class. Not only am I expanding on my skill set with this commitment, but I’m also stretching outside my comfort zone. It’s a bit overwhelming, but also extremely exciting at the same time. And just like that, I have no choice but to master the application.
Stay tuned to follow my progress as I experiment with and learn the new Adobe release, Flash Catalyst. If you have any good resources, be sure to share them with me, I’ll need all the help I can get!