University of Louisville prepares students for the digital economy with Adobe Creative Cloud

Univeristy of Louisville campus.

Technology plays a role in every career, from research to communications, sales to manufacturing. In this new digital economy, students entering the workforce need to understand how to use technology, communicate with people, and approach problems with a creative mindset.

“People have asked me over the years why creativity is so important,” says Neeli Bendapudi, president of the University of Louisville. “The digital revolution has transformed our world. The biggest differentiator between people and machines is creativity. We need to nurture student creativity to help them stand out, look at the world differently, and find solutions to complex problems facing communities everywhere.”

As the first Adobe Creative Campus in Kentucky, the University of Louisville (UofL) seeks to prepare all students for success with essential creative and digital literacy skills. All students are being provided access to Adobe Creative Cloud on all their devices. Having access to Adobe Creative Cloud applications and services for all members of the UofL community creates more opportunities to bring digital and storytelling skills into the classroom — skills that are in demand by employers.

“Adobe Creative Campus is an important equalizer for our students,” adds Bendapudi. “Our students come from all backgrounds. We have students from areas without broadband, and students who are the first in the family to attend university. As an Adobe Creative Campus, we can provide all of our students with the same tools and opportunities to learn skills that will serve them well now and in the future.”

U of L school seal.

Teaching students employable skills

Dr. Karen Freberg has long been an advocate for embracing technology and new approaches to storytelling. She spearheaded the creation and launch of social media classes at UofL. As professor of strategic communications in the Department of Communications, Freberg continues to incorporate digital literacy skills into all of her classes.

“Becoming an Adobe Creative Campus has been a game-changer for my classroom and for UofL as a whole,” says Freberg. “Our students have so many ideas and unique stories. With Adobe Creative Cloud, we can give graduates the right tools to tell their stories and learn digital communication skills that all employers are looking for.”

For a public relations and crisis communication class, Freberg and her 16 students were given the opportunity to work with the Breeder’s Cup World Championships, a series of high-profile horse races. Students developed a social media strategy for the races which included video. Freberg introduced her students to Adobe Premiere Rush to help them publish professional-quality videos much faster. Students captured races, crowds, and news as it happened, then quickly turned it into social-ready video on the go. The mobile-first editing platform balanced functionality with speed and ease of use, making it easy for all students to share their approach to storytelling.

Students gathered in a circle in a common area.

“Companies operating across Louisville recognized the talent that our students put on display thanks to Adobe Premiere Rush,” says Freberg. “It’s led to more partnerships with real-world clients such as Facebook, Chipotle, and Brown-Forman. More importantly, it had a huge impact on our students. Out of the 16 students in the class, nine were offered jobs based on their work with the Breeder’s Cup. I’m so grateful to Adobe for supporting these impacts.”

Now that UofL is an Adobe Creative Campus, Freberg is excited to teach a range of applications in classes. Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are standard apps that all students need to create strong visuals and proposals. Freberg is starting to replace other types of papers and presentations with Adobe Creative Cloud Express, encouraging students to create responsive, interactive, and visually compelling pages. The more variety of apps Freberg can work into her classes, the more skills she can give students for success in the real world.

Bringing digital literacy to General Education curriculum

UofL is eager to introduce students, regardless of academic focus, to Adobe Creative Cloud apps as quickly as possible. That’s why one of the first pilot programs for Adobe Creative Cloud involved the university’s Cardinal Core program — general education classes aimed at improving critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, effective communication, and the understanding of historical, social, and cultural diversity for all students.

“We were in the middle of a debate at UofL about where general education classes fit into our goals of teaching students critical, employable skills,” says Andrew Wright, assistant professor of Information Systems, Analytics & Operations and director of Learning Initiatives in the Digital Transformation Center. “But when we looked at how we could bring digital literacy into these classes with Adobe Creative Cloud, suddenly it all became a lot more relevant for students.”

Michael Hagan, professor in Comparative Humanities and a member of the Cardinal Core Curriculum Committee, chairs a subcommittee that works with cohorts of Cardinal Core instructors to incorporate essential creative and digital literacy skills into lessons. Instructors from across fields share inspiration about how they turn traditional assignments into digital ones. Rather than focusing on written papers, Cardinal Core classes could turn projects into interactive web pages, podcasts, or infographics. Apps such as Adobe Creative Cloud Express and Adobe Premiere Rush are particularly popular for their mobile-friendly operations. Many students who grew up with smartphones and tablets quickly understand how to create with these apps.

“Adobe Creative Cloud enhances the way that we conduct Cardinal Core classes,” says Hagan. “We have the chance to make these core classes about teaching and practicing skills that students can use throughout their academic and professional careers. Most students we talked to had never worked with Adobe apps before taking a Cardinal Core class, and they responded very positively at the opportunity to do something new and exciting.”

Student outside on a laptop.

Expanding Adobe Creative Cloud into more classrooms

The Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning is supporting adoption across the university with webinars and classes that help instructors understand the benefits of Adobe Creative Cloud and the importance of teaching digital literacy.

“Adobe Creative Cloud has always been available in our Digital Media Suite, but we only had 16 computers for all students,” says Jason Zahrndt, program manager for the Digital Media Suite at the Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning. “Becoming an Adobe Creative Campus has had a big impact, allowing us to reach many more students. We see a lot of interest from our health sciences classrooms, as there’s such a need to convey information to people in a way that’s easy to understand.”

The Delphi Center also plans to start a student ambassador program to reach students more effectively.

“Students are entering a workforce where people aren’t expected to stay at the same company for 30 years,” says Wright. “They need to be continually developing skills and marketing themselves to new employers. Adobe Creative Cloud enables students to learn how to build a presence and amplify their voices. We look forward to seeing how these lessons will help them prepare for jobs and impact the communities around them.”