how would I teach Photoshop??

In class, we have been introduced to Photoshop by way of demo and then practice on our own. Being a person brand new to Photoshop, I am trying to soak in as much as possible. I am finding that by being a newbie to the program, I am able to learn as my students may learn. This way I can have a very personal experience from a student perspective in order to help shape my future teaching habits and lesson plans for programs such as Photoshop. And it is my goal of this school year to learn Photoshop.

*I would also like to note, that at this same time, I am taking a Digital Screenprinting class where we utilize Photoshop to make slides for printing. This class teaches us Photoshop for very specific purposes for the specific art we are making and is not meant to be a general introduction to the program of Photoshop. HOWEVER, my teacher is wonderful and understands my intimidation with the program and is therefore very patient with me and has vowed to help me learn in and outs of Photoshop above and beyond what we are using it for in the classroom.

I am personally a BIG notetaker. I find that runs a bit counter-intuitive to working with a computer. But for me, I find it helpful to write down notes and step-by-step directions and hints to have alongside my computer keyboard for referral. Last week’s class gave us the opportunity to play around with some of the basics of Photoshop- using the brushes to create images. Below are my first two creations.

1st Photoshop image

I feel fairly happy with what I created, although I feel there is a sense of hesitation in the work, most likely due to my own fear of the program itself. I found my biggest challenge was actually not utilizing the HISTORY screen to go backwards and instead kept pressing COMMAND + Z to “undo”. I found that this only worked for one action, and then remembered that Photoshop runs by that HISTORY screen. I found the brushes fairly easy to use, but I cannot believe how many specifications you can mess with to get an exact mark or stroke.

I think that when I do go to teach Photoshop, I won’t need to be a complete expert and know every nook and cranny of the program. Because it is so extensive and because there are a million possibilities I think part of the purpose of students learning about the program is to feel free with it to explore the extent of its capabilities and how they can best utilize all of its properties for their own purposes. I think teaching basics and then allowing students to make their own discoveries is best. Teaching too much might make them feel like they can only stick to what they’ve learned and they won’t feel led to explore outside of what is taught. But teach too little and they will feel overwhelmed by the program and that it can’t help them.

But…how do you know when you’re teaching too much and too little? I think so much of it has to do with your audience. For example, in our Digital Media class, there are a couple others like me with no experience, there are others with some experience, and there are others who are pros at the program and were completely bored and almost insulted with the instruction to “play with the brushes in the program”.

As a teacher, you will rarely have classes where skill and competence levels are all equal. Part of the challenge of teaching is working to accommodate diverse learners. Knowing your classroom has got to be your first task. Surveying your learners to find what they do and don’t know and to get an idea of what they’d like to know at the end of the lesson.

My strategy for teaching a diverse audience is similar to a workout class where the instructor may give you the basic step and then also a more advanced version for those who are ready for that information. In this way I could not only reach both the beginners and more advanced on their own levels, but this might both inspire the beginners with the possibilities in the future and act as a reminder to the more advanced students of the “back-to-the-basics” approach that may clear up bad habits they may have formed.

After I would get to know my audience I want to make sure that I am teaching the technology in a way that is dynamic and interactive in order to keep attention of all learners and to work for auditory, visual and tactile learners. I would make sure that I am clearly narrating my steps, careful to leave out any jargon. And giving clear visuals on a screen that is accessible to the learners and being careful to not move my mouse to quickly over the screen. In class, our teacher has noted that it is a good idea to teach everything via longhand as opposed to teaching with Shortcuts. I agree. I think this helps most students to learn where, how and why something happens on their screen. Also, I do think having lots of hands-on time is important because lots of learning with technology is the process of trial and error and discovery of manipulation.
For me personally, when trying to soak up something new, I do turn to instructions via YouTube videos often. Here I have learned how to fold a fitted sheet, french braid my hair, and most recently, how to create a podcast. Below are some resources I have found to help out with learning Photoshop.

Adobe’s website:

Adobe’s YouTube channel:

My Favorite, “You’re Adobe, Not a Dummy!”:


About Maybe It's Time

yogi-runner-artist-gardener who is a food-lover and cooking-enthusiast, while teaching art and being a parent of two pups, spending free time camping and studying urban homesteading.

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