Swinburne University unlocks digital literacy skills with Adobe Creative Campus

Photo of four students smiling. The background is a purple block colour with graphic clouds.

For the past two years, staff and students at Swinburne University of Technology have been given access to all Adobe products for both on-campus and personal device use. As the first Australian university to become an Adobe Creative Campus, Swinburne is on track to reaching its mission of preparing for a digital-rich future.

The initiative focuses on Swinburne’s commitment to embracing innovation, boosting digital literacy and building employability skills, aligning with the university’s long-term, strategic goal to bring people and technology together to build a better world.

The partnership also offers staff the chance to apply for an Adobe Innovation Grant (AIG). The Adobe Innovation Grant Program supports staff in taking risks with their teaching and learning, using Adobe programs to experiment and play across all disciplines. The program has been so successful that it won the Vice Chancellor’s Innovation Award at the end of 2021. “What’s exciting about this award is that it means Swinburne really supports innovation and risk taking, especially in our teaching and learning,” says Associate Professor Clare Dyson. In 2020, ten grants were awarded, providing a five-month professional development program to support 13 teachers innovating with digital literacies in the curriculum. In 2021, the program supported 23 projects and 46 teachers, with eight new projects being supported in the first half of 2022. To date, the AIG program has impacted over 8500 students with innovative student-centred projects focusing on digital literacies.

“The Adobe Innovation Grants have helped support our staff to explore creative new approaches to learning and teaching,” says Sarah Maddison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Education, Experience and Employability. “Embedding digital literacy skills into the curriculum helps our students develop employability skills for a tech-rich future.”

A survey mapping the digital literacies confidence of recipients before and after the AIG program showed improvements across all areas, with an increase of 4 percent in Information Literacy, 3 percent in Critical Literacy, and 27 percent in Technology Literacy.

The survey also highlighted that staff felt braver to experiment with Adobe programs. Student confidence in digital literacy also improved. Swinburne’s partnership with Adobe has also focused on staff and student engagement. Swinburne’s Adobe Education Exchange (EDEX) boasts the First Global Creative Cloud (CC) curated page, including free lessons, activities, and projects across a range of disciplines with personalised resources, enabling students and staff to practice, learn and play.

“Traditional learning practices can be difficult to retain student engagement, especially during the pandemic and remote learning,” says Maddison. “There was also a lack of confidence amongst staff and students about their digital literacy skills.”

Disciplines outside of what is typically thought of as traditionally creative subjects have also benefited from innovative learning methods using Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Mathematician Emily Cook created stop-motion animations using LEGOs to aid her student’s understanding of concepts through visualisations of linear algebra. Foundational concepts in chemistry and mathematics were also taught by creating interactive resources using augmented reality. This helped to engage students by utilising exploration and experimentation, assisting with the visualisation of complex concepts in order for students to fully understand them.

Image created by Swinburne students with Adobe Creative Cloud

Image created by Sylvio Abisha – Master of Design, Media Design and Early Childhood Swinburne graduate.

“With the wide array of applications, I have the ability to push myself in order to advance my skills. Instead of relying on what would be considered the "fundamentals" for graphic designers, e.g., Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. I’m able to explore creating in other applications, for example, bringing my designs to life by using After Effects or Dimension,” says Emily Gittins, a Gumbaynggirr/Barkindji student and Adobe Digital Coach.

Studying a double degree in Communication Design and Marketing, Emily is familiar with Adobe programs, such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, however, the Creative Campus has allowed her to explore and test her creativity. “There's definitely programs I would never have thought to use before, such as Xd, Dimension and even Character Animate. I'm finding even in my business units there's a call for knowledge in digital literacies and I can confidently say that in the workplace I'll feel not only prepared but also confident in my digital literacy skills,” says Gittins.

As Swinburne University heads into a new year with face-to-face learning, Adobe’s grants and collection of tools and resources are helping to create an engaging environment for digitally fluent individuals.

“We’re so happy to be back on campus to continue experimenting together and exploring how Adobe Creative Cloud can continue to develop students’ Digital Literacy and employability skills,” adds Maddison.