Author Archives: Jsade Stephenson

Practice Makes Perfect

Okay I’ll be realistic, practice may not make you perfect but it certainly will make a dramatic improvement to whichever skill you intended to improve.

Many schools are implementing a method of learning which is sometimes referred to as ‘blended learning’. The idea is that, in addition to the time spent in the classroom engaging with an interactive tutor, the students are also required to spend 1-2 hours a day practicing their academic skills online. This is the primary reason the majority of schools have created a virtual learning area online, this is simply a website designed for the purpose of students being able to practice their academic skills.

Some of you may say ‘Wait, hold on a minute! This is nothing new, students have had to do homework for years’. This is true, but the different between doing your ‘homework’ online rather than by traditional means is that the student is able to receive instant feedback & immediately alter any incorrect habits. This would not be possible by traditional methods as they are slow & sluggish in comparison.

This blend between e-Learning & classroom based learning has achieved vast improvements in the students results.

It is common for people to learn a new skill but as a direct consequence of a lack of use & practice they ‘forget’ them just as quickly.

So, using the above logic it is clear to see the importance in practicing ones skills. I have found that a great way for graphic design & web design students to practice & hone their skills is to complete some of the numerous tutorials which can be found online. This is not only an excellent way to practice your newly learned skills & prevent them from becoming rusty but you will also find that it is a great way to get your creative juices flowing. As an added bonus you will gather a healthy collection of free resources (brush sets, stock images, fonts, etc.) which you will be able to use for your own projects.

I have completed both the Adobe Photoshop CS5  Introduction & Adobe Photoshop CS5: Next Step course at Futuretrend. However for years I only seemed to use Photoshop to resize, lighten or darken images. Nothing more, the majority of the skills I had learned were not being utilized, instead they were being dumped into the recycle bin of my mind.

I decided to follow the instructions in a cool tutorial I found & I managed to create these:

My Completed Tutorial Poster.

My Personalised Tutorial Poster

My Personalised Tutorial Poster










I will admit it wasn’t all smooth sailing, some things in the tutorial didn’t seem to work as they were supposed to so I had to use my problem solving skills & find another way around it. That’s one thing you do learn about expansive software such as Adobe Photoshop there is usual at least 2 or 3 ways to do the same thing. Anyway I digress, once I completed the tutorial & achieved a similar result to it’s creator I had an extremely satisfying sense of achievement & that feeling reignited my creative spark.

So Don’t Let Your Skills Die! Get Creating! Get Practicing!

Why you should learn HTML5 and CSS3

HTML5 Powered with CSS3 / Styling, and Semantics
Love it or loathe it, technology will continue to march on and HTML5 is proving to be the new standard for HTML. The evolution of HTML into the HTML5 specification offers new ways to visualise and engage with information and media. If you are a web designer or developer it’s worth considering investing the time to learn html5… it is the future.

You can use HTML5 to display video including the ability to take a snapshot out of a video,show snapshots of each frame, overlay a video on top of another video, and using a canvas element, to rip a video apart and let each piece continue to play. Very cool stuff, indeed.

Prior to the <video tag, third-party plug-ins had to be installed in order to view streaming video. Now, using modern browsers video can be played “right out of the box.” No “update your flash” messages, no extra downloads, No plug-ins or any kind of messing around is required to watch video.

Then there’s the new canvas element for 2D drawing. This  provides all sorts of design options and richer environments for creating animations, games and presenting information. You can create very cool animated images using vector graphics and the canvas elements.

Do you love creating rounded corners, drop shadows, adding a slide or fade effect to a drop-down menu in your web site designs? You can now do this without getting bogged down in Photoshop.
By learning CSS3 you you will find this is much quicker and easier to implement.

The other good thing is that HTML5 and CSS3 is readable by Google and therefore a whole lot more SEO friendly than our old friend Flash.
With Flash the content is embedded in the file so Google and other search engines see nothing.   With the Introduction of HTML5,CSS3 and all the  advancements in Web 2.0 Technology, many websites have now stopped adopting flash into their websites. HTML5 will is set to become the defacto web animation standard.

The major concern is with the many internet users still using web browsers that don’t support HTML5. Anybody using less than IE9 (all Internet Explorer on WinXP) won’t get a lot of joy viewing of HTML5 content.

However, the HTML5 standard will soon be properly supported by not only browsers but across many platforms.

An approach to doing DipFA coursework assignment…that really doesn’t work!

When we sign up for qualifications like DipFA which take about 9 months to complete we have every intention of getting stuck in, working our hardest to get through it in flying colours and progress on to a career as a financial advisor. However, life and it’s various curveballs get in the way and somehow, despite our best intentions reality can be very different from how we pictured it.

the not so dilligent dipfa student

Last minute Larry labours over his coursework

Stage One – 12 weeks from deadline

I have just received my coursework from the IFS. A massive manual to read! I flicked through a few pages… interesting? – not! Anyway I have plenty of time to get this assignment done. I’m back to back with office work at the moment. I really don’t need to worry about it.

Stage Two – 8 Weeks from deadline

Hmmm, maybe I should get started on my paper, but not right now. I just don’t feel like reading that boring manual right now. I have so little time to myself. I’ll get started later. I don’t need to worry.

Stage Three – 4 Weeks from deadline

Wow, I didn’t realize that this assignment was due so soon. I’m just going to finish watching Eastenders and then I’ll get started on reading that huuuge manual… but then…ah, there’s also Jason’s party happening. Well, one needs a social life too! I’ll start reading the manual tomorrow. I’ve still got time.

Stage Four – 2 Weeks from deadline

I have read the manual twice now. There are still many things I don’t understand but I don’t need to worry about it. I’ve written a few paragraphs. I still have plenty of time to get the work done, especially if I burn the midnight oil in the next few days. Who needs sleep anyway? I spent most of my time propping up the student union bar whilst at Uni but still got a 2.1 I’ll be fine.

Stage Five – A few days before deadline

OMG… I have so much work to do! Why didn’t I do this earlier? All I want to do is go to sleep, but I’m never going to get all of this work done. This is ridiculous; why does the IFS DipFA Coursework require us to produce so much information and yet there’s so little time to get it done?

Stage Six – Right after deadline

I cannot believe I got all that work done. I will never ever, ever, ever procrastinate again. That was not worth all that stress, and now I’m so tired I’m not sure I even did a good job on that paper. Next time I’m going to get started right away. I will be a better student.

Stage Seven – Two months later

I’ve just received my DipFA Factfind exam material. I’ll get started later. I have plenty of time anyway; the exam is not due for four more weeks.

Restart stage one.

If you are taking the DipFa qualification we hope this person doesn’t resemble you. Working in a frenzied and hurried fashion at the last minute is not the best approach for scoring maximum points. Ultimately, it could mean a fail and the possibility of having to do it again. and that’s a scenario best avoided.

“Exploring the Global Dimension” Free Workshops

Window on the World (WOW)

Enfield Community Learning Service is offering 2 of our  learners an opportunity to
participate in an international workshop in Enfield along with 20 other adult
learners from Europe.
The theme of the workshop is the global dimension and will raise awareness of
global issues focusing on the Millennium Development Goals, the
interdependent nature of the world, the connections between different countries
and peoples, sustainable development, trade, social justice, diversity, how
these things impact on their daily lives and ways in which they can contribute to
a more sustainable world.
The workshop will also help participants improve their intercultural awareness
and develop skills in active citizenship.
Date of the Workshop: 11-15 June 2012, Venue: Theobalds Park Conference Centre,
Cheshunt, Hertfordshire
Target group: Unemployed adults who would not normally have the opportunity to meet
and learn together with their European counterparts.

If you are interested in applying to attend the workshop, please contact Martin on
02084432888  for more information.

What to Look for in a Mortgage Advisor

The purchase of a buying a new house?home represents, by far, the largest single investment that most of us make during our lifetimes. Most of us, similarly, require a mortgage loan in order to make that purchase, and the importance of accurate, impartial mortgage advice cannot, therefore, be underestimated. Individual mortgage brokers, or the companies that they represent, must be authorised by – and therefore bound by the rules and regulations of – the Financial Services Authority (FSA). They must, for example, provide you with so-called `Keyfacts` documents, which clearly illustrate the main points of any service or product that they may offer you.

Types of Mortgage Advisors

Independent mortgage advisors are divided into two categories,  `Independent Mortgage Advisor`and Tied Mortgage Advisor`. These descriptions are, unfortunately, rather similar so, for clarification, the former offers independent advice on the whole of the market, including protection insurance; this can be useful if you need advice on other products relevant to your property purchase. A Tied Mortgage Advisor, on the other hand, offers advice on mortgage products but is  limited in the number of lenders, and products that they can offer. Any such affiliations should be made clear to you in the `Keyfacts` document relating to mortgage services, so make sure that you are aware of the range of products on offer.

Mortgage advice, inevitably, costs money, but there a number of different ways in which you can pay a mortgage advisor, or broker. for example, most will  offer you option of paying him, or her, by fee, rather than commission, in order to avoid bias on his, or her, part towards one mortgage product over another. Commission – a fee paid by a lender in return for selling a specific product – is, of course, another alternative, and a combination of part fee, part fee commission, may also be possible.

Qualifications & Experience

Mortgage advisors should be suitably qualified, in the eyes of the FSA, which means that they should have undertaken recognised qualifications, such as the `Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice` (CeMAP® ) and the `Certificate and Diploma in Financial Planning`, from the `Chartered Insurance Institute` (CII), before being allowed to offer advice. If you need to check the qualifications or a mortgage advisor – and the advice that he, or she, is authorised to offer – the FSA operate a consumer telephone helpline.

In addition to `paper` qualifications, experience in the industry – for example, counselling, or advising, individual consumers on their own, specific, financial needs – is also important. Don`t be afraid to ask an advisor for whom, or for how long, he, or she, has worked in the industry, and how his, or her, experience relates to his, or her, current job. Any mortgage advisor worth their salt will happily discuss these details with you, as well as leading you through the myriad of fixed rate, variable rate and flexible mortgage products available.

Public Informal Adult Community Learning consultation findings published

The views of thousands of people on the future for informal adult and community learning have been published in a NIACE report of a public consultation, commissioned as part of a wider government consultation on further education.

6,306 individuals and 227 groups from diverse backgrounds across England responded to the consultation. They said that:

• people want to learn a wide range of different topics and most prefer to learn in a class with a paid tutor;
• most people who can afford to pay are willing to pay fees if they think they are fair and affordable;
• most people agree with using fees to cross-subsidise learning, so that people with higher incomes pay more and those with low incomes pay low fees or nothing;
• over a quarter of people who replied are keen to help organise learning activities in their local area or workplace or to get involved as learning champions; and
• most people who replied believe that local people should be involved in making decisions, but disagree with ‘tokenism’ – they want a real voice and influence in decisions about the learning in their area.

Review of Informal Adult and Community Learning – Download full report

courtesy of
Elina Kumpina
Curriculum and Quality Co-ordinator
Enfield Community Learning Service
Enfield Council
1st Floor Marsh House
500 Montagu Road
N9 0UR

More help for those struggling with IFS DipFA Assignments

You’ve been busy going about your normal business. Times are tough enough at work and like everyone else it’s all hands the pump to keep things ticking along.
Suddenly you remember that one thing you’ve been pushing to the back of your to-do list for weeks now. Your DipFA AFA coursework!
Oh yes. It’s imminent and can no longer be pushed aside with only 6 weeks  till the submission deadline.

How does one get started?  Where will you find the time to do all the research required let alone begin to write the 2000+ word essay. The  panic really starts to set in!!

Fortunately,  salvation is at hand.
Futuretrend have just launched a new coursework assignment service. If you are struggling with your DiPFA AFA  Coursework assignment and don’t have time to attend classroom training then this distance learning altenative may help.

Please find out more by visiting the website or by going straight through to the page


New courses:WordPress + PHP, HTML5, Systems Design, Business Analysis Training

2012 is going to be a full on year as we launch a number of new courses.
Look out for our new and improved WordPress + PHP course starting soon.
It’s not the run of the mill WordPress course as we add PHP basics to it.; Learning a little PHP goes a long way with WordPress.

With the demise of Flash,  HTML5 is aspiring to be the new “kid” on the block . As there is a trending away from Flash type design (not helped by Adobe’s discontinuing their mobile browser plugin support) and equal richness can be found in HTML5/CSS3; we are looking to be able to deliver this from March 2012.

We are also developing Systems Design and Business Analysis Training courses which a lot of folks that have studied Software Testing/Project Management with us have been asking about.

So exciting times here at Futuretrend. Watch this space for launch dates and news on more courses.