How Digital Literacy is Driving Academic Success and Employability: Insights from Adobe EduMAX

by Karen McCavitt

posted on 12-18-2018

The Adobe Education team hosted EduMAX in October, bringing together 179 academic and administrative leaders from more than 80 educational institutions around the world. Attendees came to hear their peers and education thought leaders tell incredible stories about how they’re transforming curricula by fostering digital literacy across academic disciplines with Adobe Creative Cloud. The speakers highlighted the ways in which students who have digital skills are more prepared to achieve success in school and in the modern workforce.

As Adobe Executive Vice President and General Manager of Digital Media Bryan Lamkin said in his opening remarks:

“There are so many possible applications for Adobe’s creative tools in the academic world. Biology students can use Adobe Illustrator CC to create an infographic explaining the impacts of a public health issue. Business students can use Adobe Audition CC to create a podcast exploring a current topic in marketing or finance. And chemistry students might use Adobe XD CC to design a mobile app that teaches the principles of chemistry in the form of a simple game.”

Bryan explained that when students use Creative Cloud apps in academic contexts, they build digital literacy — and when they build digital literacy, they gain other essential skills. “They must be creative, think critically, solve problems creatively, and collaborate effectively.” Bryan also shared the results of a recent Adobe study in which 80 percent of educators who use Creative Cloud in the classroom said they believe their students are better prepared for the workforce.

Enhancing learning outcomes in English classes

Shauna Chung, a Ph.D. candidate and writing teacher at Clemson University, discussed the importance of “making space for digital creativity” in the classroom. When she began teaching, she was troubled to learn that her “digital native” students didn’t necessarily know how to create content. She set out to empower them to become “active participants in the creation of meaning.”

At Clemson, all students have full access to Creative Cloud, so Shauna is teaching her writing students to use the creative apps to develop their storytelling skills. She’s had success engaging her students and building their skills by having them create personal narratives using simple apps like Adobe Spark. Explore Shauna’s work on her Spark page.

Applying digital skills in and out of the classroom

A sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Valentina Arismendi is double majoring in media & journalism and English. She described how she’s reaped the benefits of starting to use Adobe Photoshop CC and InDesign CC in a high school yearbook class. At UNC, which also offers Creative Cloud access to all students, she’s continued to use those apps and many more in a variety of classes across disciplines.

For example, she recently used Adobe XD CC to create project mockups in a writing for business class. She worked with fellow students who’d had no previous creative or design experience, but she said that every student was able to dive in and start using the software, get up to speed quickly, and contribute their ideas.

Valentina said she thinks her digital literacy skills will give her an edge in the job market, because she now has a creative portfolio to show to potential employers. Her portfolio even includes a logo she created for a friend’s start-up business.

She says her creative projects show employers that she can think about things differently, and she has the tools to communicate with a variety of people in a range of ways. Learn more about Valentina by checking out her Spark page or her portfolio of creative work.

Using creative skills to get noticed in the job market

Washington State University graduate Jake Sirianni started out using Microsoft and Apple video editing tools in middle school and high school before making the move to Creative Cloud in college. He used his skills to create a video that landed him an internship on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” and he’s currently an assistant editor with Mustache Agency in New York City. Jake said it’s a huge benefit when schools have digital learning facilities and Creative Cloud apps available for students who want to explore their creativity and build their skills.

Fostering digital literacy in all students

Digital literacy and discovery are two pillars of the undergraduate experience at the University of California, Berkeley, so it’s no surprise that the school has provided all students with access to Creative Cloud since 2011. Now, the school is helping bring digital tools directly into the curriculum through the American Cultures graduation requirement. American Cultures courses (which focus on race, gender, and class) are taught by hundreds of instructors across 49 departments, so students from all different disciplines will use Creative Cloud.

American Cultures Program Director Victoria Robinson explained that course instructors receive assistance in building assignments around Creative Cloud that meet their teaching goals. Students also get training to offer peer-to-peer support. Robinson said apps like Adobe Illustrator CC and Photoshop CC “stretch students to engage” and develop the “intimacy with knowledge” that helps them succeed.

Why hiring managers love digitally literate graduates

Donna Morris, Adobe’s chief human resources officer and executive vice president of employee experience, knows a thing or two about hiring. In a fireside chat at EduMAX, she noted that Adobe is bringing around 500 interns and 500 new college graduates on board each year. She shared her perspective on the types of graduates employers want to hire:

“They’re looking for individuals who are highly adaptive, who are very comfortable with technology so they’ll quickly pick things up. They’re looking for individuals who are able to tell their story [and adapt to] new modalities — whether it be mobile, whether it be video, whether it be inserting content that’s rich and engaging.”

Donna went on to say that technology will change the nature of many jobs, but “what will remain unique to how humans can apply themselves is creativity and empathy.” She said that the strongest job candidates will be differentiated by their creativity, their interpersonal skills, and the fact that — by having become digitally literate — they’ve demonstrated that they have what it takes to be lifelong learners.

Learn more about the benefits of digital literacy and Creative Cloud.

Topics: Industry, Education, digital literacy,

Products: Photoshop, Illustrator, Creative Cloud