This review reflects the observations and experiences of independent teacher volunteers, and is provided as a service to Education World readers. The review in no way constitutes an endorsement of the product or its manufacturer by those teachers or by Education World.
Adobe Photoshop Elements, from Adobe Systems, Inc., is a student-friendly version of Adobe Photoshop, the well-known professional digital imaging tool. Elements allow even inexperienced users, working with photographs from digital or traditional cameras, to straighten and crop pictures, remove red-eye, fix over-exposed areas, adjust tone and color, and then prepare the edited images for print, e-mail, or Web posting.
Recently, Education World asked five reviewers, all teachers or educational technology specialists, to check out Adobe Photoshop Elements with real students in actual educational situations. Each teacher was asked to use Adobe Photoshop Elements with his or her students for a period of at least one month; note specific strengths, weaknesses, and/or quirks of the program; record personal observations or suggestions, both positive and negative; and rate the software on a scale of 1 to 4.
The results are in -- and this is what our reviewers had to say!
Click here to see educators' reviews of other products including Kidspiration, Timeliner, Graph Master, more!
"I would recommend that our District Tech Center purchase this software for our School Webmasters and Junior Webmasters. They are purchasing a copy to review themselves. We have had other teachers (who are not Webmasters) interested in using Photoshop who were unable to because of our limited Site License. This program would be excellent alternative for them. I had planned on using Photoshop Elements with my Junior Webmasters for two weeks. They talked me into four and would gladly continue with it. We will, however, continue to use it for graphics editing and for saving to the Web!"
"This program could be very useful in an art class that focuses on graphics and for students and teachers who work on Web pages and multimedia projects. It would be a very motivating tool for students, especially those interested in art and media, and would provide very polished results for various student projects. The teacher would need to be very skilled at using Photoshop Elements, however -- both in using the application itself and in knowing how to integrate its use successfully into the curriculum -- to make sure that the program is used as a tool and not as a 'toy.'"
"This program is extremely user-friendly for the average person just being introduced to graphic editing. The features are easy to access and to use."
"Photoshop Elements is much less expensive than Photoshop -- and performs the basic graphic tasks."
"An excellent program."
"The documentation is about what you would expect from a rather complicated program. The manual is not the type you read from cover to cover -- it's much too detailed for that -- but it is adequate for looking up a tool's use or finding detailed instructions."
"Our Junior Webmasters (talented fourth, fifth, and sixth graders) found the Filters and Effects fascinating "Makes no sense but looks neat!" Colin remarked in response to using the filter Add Noise. Other comments included, 'Ours is cool!,' 'I like the Smear Effect!,' 'Look at what I did! I changed the background!' and "Oh, this is cool; I made the edges light up!'"
"The online tutorial is good but rather time-consuming. I liked being able to download additional recipes to complete a task. The Hints section gave a too brief definition of each tool. I felt it could have been a little more descriptive."
"It would have been helpful to have more examples with screen shots or photos in the User Guide. I went to the online tutorials, which were very similar to the printed manual. Some Web sites have short video clips (QuickTime movies) available for training. It would have been useful to be able to go to the Adobe site, click a section that demonstrated how to use one of the higher end tools, then go back to the program and try it myself. A small, two-page (four sides) Quick Reference Card, which was very helpful in referencing toolbar names; viewing, selecting, and moving objects; painting; editing type; and other commonly used steps, was provided with the software."
"The learning curve was very high for some sections of this application. I have taught students how to use the tools on Adobe PhotoDeluxe, the simple photo application that came with the scanners we use and have used Graphic Converter successfully with interested students. Photoshop Elements is quite a bit more sophisticated than either of those programs."
"I demonstrated a few sections of the program to students, including using a class photo to apply a variety of effects and filters. Students could make connections from the results of the altered photos to artists and styles they have learned about in art class."
"Actions from the toolbar, such as Resizing, Paint, Sharpen, Type, and Paintbrush, are common in many programs, so they were easy for students to understand and use. They also enjoyed learning how to utilize several higher-level features, such as Filters and Effects. Other features, such as Palettes and Layers, were quite challenging. I found the organization and use of the tabs rather confusing at times."
"I would very much have liked to learn to use this program in a course taught by an experienced teacher who could demonstrate the features and answer questions along the way."
"Some students had difficulty managing the tools, although personally I thought they were fairly intuitive. Once the students mastered the idea of levels (and patience -- ours are not the fastest machines!) they were impressed with the results. One student reported, 'I really liked creating panoramic images. That feature came in handy for a track meet picture.'"
"Online program upgrades are available and easy to download. The program automatically downloads upgrades and then lets users choose the programs and plug-ins they want."
"The only bug I found in the program was probably one that could have been avoided -- I just didn't have time to investigate. I used the excellent layers tutorial to demonstrate to students the advantages of this program compared with graphic editor programs that do not support layers. They were fascinated with their ability to make a layer disappear and to rearrange layers. Every time we changed something on the image, however, the Layers palette would disappear, and I would have to reopen it. This was a nuisance."
"I have used Adobe Photoshop for several years and the similarity to this program made Elements easier for me. My junior high students had a little difficulty, especially those who are more timid about technology."
"This program is an excellent alternative to the full version of Photoshop, which is cost prohibitive for most school districts. Elements has most of the features any school Webmaster or students who work with Web pages would need. I personally miss the pen tool for making cutouts, but the eraser or magic wand can do the same thing. The Save to Web feature is fantastic for today's high-resolution digital cameras and for students and teachers who do not understand the importance of small file size. I think anyone who is interested and motivated in creating graphics and producing creative artwork for the Web will find this program very useful."
"An art teacher at the elementary level could use Photoshop Elements to illustrate art concepts to younger students (grades two and three) and to teach older students (grades four and five) how to use it themselves."
"Our curriculum does not include graphic manipulation technology, so the students who used this program did so as members of the school yearbook and newspaper staffs. The software met their goals and performed all necessary tasks."
"We did not require technical support to work with the program, so I don't know how readily available it is. There was an accompanying CD that contained Adobe Acrobat Reader and some artwork for supplementary materials. An interactive Help Tool with an index is available and very useful."
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