I’ve been back in school for more than two years now, working on a bachelor’s degree for Web Design and Interactive Media. I’m enrolled at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division, and it’s turned out to be much more work than I thought it would be, and I’ve also learned a lot more than I expected to. I had started a degree back in the 80’s, but never finished it, opting to go straight to work instead.

The online school really works well for my life right now. Working full time and having a family, I can’t fit the hours to drive to and sit in a physical classroom. I’m able to work at my own schedule, when and where I want. I’ve seen people bitching online about the quality of the school and the programs, but most of that looked to be from people who dropped out or changed their major, so I think the problem was more with them not fulfilling their end of the commitment, rather than with the school. For me, it’s been a great experience, and two years in I don’t regret my choice at all.

I do have reservations about being able to pay back the student loans when I’m finished. I keep hearing about congress wanting to cut education benefits and Pell grants, which would screw me over royally. It just seems a shame that a quality education is becoming harder to get. We talk about being the world leader in everything, but if we make it harder and harder for kids to get through college, and then cripple them with massive debt right out of the box, well, that doesn’t seem like a good thing to me.

The classes I’ve just recently completed are Art History and Project Management, Today, I start 12 weeks of Flash and Actionscript with Interactive Authoring II and II, back-to-back.

I know that Flash has fallen out of favor in the design community in the past few years. The criticisms are that it’s clunky, slows down machines and browsers, and can be prone to deliver mal-ware. It does remain very powerful in what it can do, and even though I’ve seen some great advances with HTML5 and Javascript, I still think Flash is a very powerful authoring tool. Hell, Zygna has built quite an empire of farms and restaurants on Facebook using Flash. I don’t think my time in these classes will be wasted, and the principles of motion and building the animations will remain the same no matter how you do it. I’ve not done much with Javascript so far, but I hear it’s very similar to Actionscript, so that should give me a leg-up when I get to that part.

More later –