Adobe in Education: Cutting-edge creativity today. A competitive edge tomorrow.

For many years now, Adobe have evolved and grown within the education sector providing valuable software to help students grow and build on critical skills that can enable their future success. 

To understand Adobe’s vision within education and its successes, we had the pleasure of interviewing John Arboleda, Head of Primary & Secondary Education at Adobe across EMEA. John has worked within the education sector in both Europe and the United States for over 20 years. In 2019, John joined Adobe to expand their contribution as a trusted industry partner – supporting schools, policy makers, educators and students as they introduce and integrate digital and creative literacy into the curriculum, teaching and learning experience. See below what John had to say on a range of questions:

What is Adobe’s vision within Education?

Adobe’s vision is to empower students with future digital and creativity skills – we want to be recognised as a valued and trusted educational partner among schools, school leaders and teachers.

We’re partnering with schools to support their digital strategies and develop the digital readiness capabilities for their students and their teachers, which is even more relevant especially now in this COVID-19 environment.

We also understand that ‘human skills’ such as creativity, critical thinking, complex-problem solving and creative thinking are recognised as essential for tomorrow’s workforce. There is a growing need to enable creativity in schools, as supported by the recent Durham Commission on Creativity and Education and the OECD’s report on Fostering Students’ Creativity and Critical Thinking.

Considering the importance of developing digital capacities, future skills and creativity in schools, we know from experience that Adobe’s Creative Cloud is successfully supporting and complementing the teaching and learning experience. As a result, we want to partner and support school leaders, governments and policymakers who are working to enable and equip the current generation for what’s coming tomorrow.

And, as education is constantly changing and now disrupted, schools are going to rely on trusted partners who can adapt and respond to those changes. I think that’s more relevant than ever and we’re confident that our customers are recognising how we’re responding to the current situation that we’re facing.  Reassuring them that we can respond and support them today, and as they navigate a new reality going forward.

 

What obstacles do you foresee in achieving this vision?

One of the biggest obstacles we face is having educators see us more than just the PDF company or for creative professionals. We’re proud of our existing reputation and what we’ve achieved as a global industry leader across every sector. We are working to expand the awareness around our Creative Cloud applications and how they allow educators to introduce an exciting and engaging experience, while helping students develop key skills and capabilities – regardless of subject matter.

Additionally, students will also become proficient using Adobe applications that are used every day across industries in various professions that will also increase their future employability.

I think one of the other obstacles that we’re trying to work on is teacher adoption. One of the things that we let school partners know is that the level of experience you have with Adobe doesn’t matter. We offer a variety of free resources to help educators learn how to use and apply Adobe’s applications and be inspired about the possibilities available for their classroom. You can start at a very introductory level and work your way up, developing your skill level – regardless of experience, content or grade level.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud is successfully supporting and complementing the teaching and learning experience.

Which products best link in with the current curriculum – especially since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the need for remote learning?

Because of COVID-19, remote and distance learning have become important to maintain a level of continuity in teaching and remaining connected to students.  Adobe responded in several ways to support schools. One of the things that we did was remind people that there’s Adobe Spark, that we offer at no charge to educational institutions. There’s been a big reception of Spark because it’s really helping educators and students stay engaged and while supporting distance learning. We’ve also seen that parents are using it to engage with their children at home, discovering shared experiences as they explore their creativity.

The other product that has been helpful to schools is Adobe Connect. We provided free access to Adobe Connect, allowing teachers to create a virtual classroom. And, with Adobe Scan we’re seeing students scanning or taking a picture of their homework with a mobile device and sending it to their teachers.

We also knew that many existing customers were using Adobe Creative Cloud licenses that only gave students and teachers access in labs at schools. To support distance learning efforts we offered existing customers access to named user licensing so students could access Creative Cloud from home. One other products that educational institutions found helpful has been  Adobe Sign, which is a cloud based e-signature solution that replaces paper and ink signature processes.

We have been very happy with the response from schools expressing how Adobe’s COVID-19 support has contributed to continuity in teaching remotely. Moreover, it’s been the ease and accessibility that we hear from our customers that’s been appreciated during this period. We have a responsibility to help bridge the digital divide and ensure that all students, teachers and parents can continue and support learning during these unprecedented times.

 

Why is digital literacy so important?

We already know that today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce and we live in a digital world – our students have been growing up in a digital world. But in schools, how do we connect with students in a way that’s exciting, engaging and relevant to them while preparing them for tomorrow? We know that many students will be creating their future jobs and must be enabled and equipped to navigate their careers. Thus, digital literacy is more about digital readiness and capacity, so they’re ready to work in whatever industry or sector, or part of the world they will find themselves in. Today’s reality is highlighting the importance that digital literacy is a necessity.

We must also consider digital literacy or digital preparedness not just for students, but for teachers as well. They now need to incorporate digital into the teaching experience which goes beyond just using a device, and in a way that complements their teaching and outcomes. It’s requiring schools to rethink their own digital readiness and how they enable their teachers to effectively introduce and use digital tools and software in the classroom.

We have a responsibility to help bridge the digital divide and ensure that all students, teachers and parents can continue and support learning during these unprecedented times.

How does Adobe support education in relation to Accessibility?

Accessibility is key for us and we wanted to break the entrance barriers when we made a commitment to work and invest in the education sector.

We started with reducing Adobe’s Creative Cloud price offering – we offer a named user licensing approach for schools, which means that each individual user, whether you’re a teacher or student, can use it at home or at school, and it’s £5 per licence, per year. This allows schools an affordable opportunity to purchase Creative Cloud and make it available to their entire community.

Secondly, we launched Adobe Spark. We say it’s free, but if you wanted the premium version you have to pay for it. But we offer it at no charge to all educational institutions. It is also a great starting point especially for primary schools, or those institutions that have not used Adobe. As a matter of fact, we see many schools soon upgrade to Creative Cloud because they seek its full range of offerings and possibilities.

Lastly, we wanted to make our applications accessible while providing the support to use them effectively. As cloud-based software, we’ve ensured our products can be accessed regardless of one’s location, so whether you’re at school, at home, or elsewhere – we put forth our best effort, so our products are available anywhere and accessible on a variety of devices. And, regardless if you’re a maths, science or history teacher, Adobe’s offering is applicable to any curriculum.  We also offer educators access to the Adobe Education Exchange to support teachers by providing them with resources how to best use and integrate Adobe in their classroom. This includes, no-cost professional development webinars, course content and access to a community of fellow teachers.

 

Adobe has forged a significant relationship with Microsoft. What are the benefits of this to an educational institution?

We’ve always had a great relationship with Microsoft as we complement one another. What we’re seeing now, for example, is there are several schools that are using Office 365 as their main platform – managing their day-to-day operations in the school and within the classroom. Adobe Creative Cloud integrates very easily, allowing for seamless workflow and usage. Microsoft as well as Adobe are committed to providing ease and efficiency for our users, and also have a shared commitment in preparing students for their futures.

Digital literacy is more about digital readiness and capacity, so they’re ready to work in whatever industry or sector, or part of the world they will find themselves in.

What sorts of jobs/roles do you think students equipped with Adobe skills will be doing in the future?

I’ve been in education for over 20 years and I believe students will be having multiple careers going forward. Students realise there are limitless possibilities and I think one of the best things that we can do is enable, equip and empower them with the right tools. But, it’s not just about the tools and software, it’s how you use them to develop and demonstrate one’s creative capacities that employers seek. Students learning with Adobe’s Creative Cloud – which is the industry standard used in various professions across sectors – will increase their future employability, as well as their creative thinking, critical thinking, collaboration and storytelling skills. These skills will continue to be in demand and Adobe’s offering contributes to developing them over the course of their educational and career journeys.

 

What has been Adobe’s biggest success within Education?

Adobe has been making inroads into education globally across different markets and regions with positive feedback from educators and students – I think that’s a success already. The response from educators using our software and its impact on student outcomes and attainment is another signal of success.

Recently, Wales was the first country in Europe that’s adopted Adobe Spark across all their schools – enabling over 500,000 teachers and learners. We’d say that’s a huge achievement for us, why? Because in order to do that, we partnered with Ministry-level stakeholders and educational leaders across the Welsh Government. We worked closely with them to ensure alignment with their digital learning strategy as part of their curriculum transformation with an emphasis on digital and creative literacy.  We are proud of our country-wide partnership with Wales and look forward supporting them.

I believe there are also successes that we’re not seeing and are probably under the radar, yet are having a transformative impact. We enable a lot of creativity with our applications whether you’re a student who is top of the class or you’re a student with a learning disability – it doesn’t matter. We’re providing tools that allow students the opportunity to express and share their school work, their thoughts, what they do and reveal how creative they can be. I believe that’s a big part of our success that we need to share more.  And, it’s in line with our vision to empower students with future digital and creativity skills.

Students realise there are limitless possibilities and I think one of the best things that we can do is enable, equip and empower them with the right tools.

Adobe are best known for their creative apps like Photoshop and Acrobat. What other applications are you seeing being heavily used in the education space? And what value do you think they’re offering?

Several of our Creative Cloud apps are being used widely across schools and they include Adobe Premiere Rush (create and share videos), Adobe XD (design and prototype websites/mobile apps for school projects), Adobe InDesign (create page layouts for print/digital campus flyers, magazines, and eBooks), and Adobe Fresco which allows for drawing and painting on your device. I believe some of my prior responses have highlighted the value of Adobe’s contribution to education, and would encourage schools and educators to visit the Adobe Education Exchange for classroom use examples.

Moreover, the collective value of our 20+ Creative Cloud applications is inspiring educators to use them to innovate and engage students in new ways, therefore students are demonstrating their creativity in their coursework, projects and expressing their voice. It really is quite exciting!

Have you listened to our Adobe in Education podcast yet?

As we increasingly adopt technology in everyday life, the skills that employers are looking for are constantly changing.  The employers of the future will be looking beyond just digital literacy skills, they will want their employees to be competent at complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity – creative soft skills.

These skills can be often hard to incorporate into the curriculum, but with the use of innovative applications and a creative approach, educators can start to instill these skill sets in their students – Preparing them for their futures.

Listen to our podcast as we are joined by John Arboleda (Head of Primary & Secondary Schools at Adobe), Tacy Trowbridge (Head of Global Education Programs at Adobe) and Kristy Hill (Education Learning Consultant at Phoenix).

Listen now

Phoenix Software is an Adobe Elite Partner for Education out of just 30 in the world. If you have any questions about Adobe’s offerings or any of their software, please get in touch with Phoenix today so one of our Adobe experts can reach you.

 

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