Butler Community College stands out as the first Adobe Creative Campus in Kansas

Image of Butler Community College.

Butler Community College prides itself on creating a dynamic learning environment that supports all students’ goals: from high school students or recent graduates looking to build their careers to older students trying to change or advance their careers by building new skills. Located in El Dorado and Andover, Kansas — just down the road from the city of Wichita — Butler must compete against dozens of higher educational institutions in the Wichita area to attract students.

Butler stands out from many surrounding institutions by offering strong academic programs tailored to the many ways students today need to learn. The college is known for the quality of its signature programs, including nursing, education, and IT. It is the only Kansas institution with an Early College Academy program that allows high school students to earn associate degrees by the time they graduate from high school. The MyButler Laptop program also increases access to technology with its low-cost laptops available to students who study at Butler for at least three semesters.

Butler recently distinguished itself further from surrounding institutions by becoming an Adobe Creative Campus. As a Creative Campus, Butler is cultivating the importance of digital literacy and fluency for all its students so they can graduate with the essential digital skills employers value.

“Butler’s goal is to create equal access and opportunities for students to elevate their skills,” says Dr. Kimberly Krull, president of Butler Community College. “As the first and only Adobe Creative Campus in Kansas, we’re demonstrating our commitment to giving our students the best opportunities. Whether they move on to a four-year university or start their careers right away, Butler graduates can develop digital skillsets that help them succeed.”

Students at Butler Commmunity College.

Creativity encourages better student outcomes

Butler always looks for new ways to embrace innovation and align education with the latest business and industry needs. And in today’s digital age, that means teaching all students how to thrive in a digital-first world.

“When you look at job postings, companies are looking for people in all positions who understand how to use digital tools for social media, marketing, and all sorts of communications,” says Dr. Tom Nevill, vice president of Academics at Butler. “It doesn’t just impact artists and designers, but also accountants, welders, and nurses. We want to encourage students to grow and become more innovative, and that means offering enhanced learning and skills development for students, faculty, and staff with Adobe Creative Cloud.”

Nevill cited research from Adobe, Civitas Learning, and LinkedIn that demonstrated higher engagement, student retention, and academic outcomes by bringing digital tools into the curriculum. Critically for Butler, these results carry over into career outcomes. Demand for hires with creative skills has grown 78 percent in the past two years, and new grads with those skills earned up to 16 percent higher wages. The study also showed that professionals across all industries continued to see benefits of creative skills on their career trajectory, with two to three times higher salary increases compared to professionals without creative skills.

Butler encourages students to get started with Adobe Creative Cloud through integration with the Canvas learning management system. Students already visit Canvas regularly to check grades, submit work, and review class syllabi. Now they can also find a link to obtain Adobe Creative Cloud licenses, making it easy to access and download Creative Cloud apps.

Butler also integrated Adobe Express directly into Canvas. Express is a unified task-based, web and mobile app with drag-and-drop technology included with Adobe Creative Cloud for Education. Express makes it easy for all students to quickly start creating. Students can use templates to easily make stunning graphics, flyers, presentations, videos, and web pages, boosting confidence and building digital literacy skills. The Canvas integration means that students can work with the online design app directly through Canvas, making it even more accessible.

Heather Rinkenbaugh oversees the high school programs, including students taking the professional development course. She uses Adobe Express assignments to help high school students learn early on how to create presentations that are informative and engaging.

“We ask students to research a topic and teach the class about it,” explains Rinkenbaugh, dean of Online, High School & Community Learning at Butler. “Adobe Express gives them another option for how to share what they’ve learned. We want students in all disciplines to see that they can communicate quickly and creatively using the Adobe Creative Cloud tools at their disposal.”

Students walking through the Butler Community College campus.

Multimodal learning for language students

Dr. Kelsey Harper first heard about Adobe Express from an elementary school teacher who was impressed by how easy it was to use.

“Multimodal learning is especially important for language classes,” explains Harper. “Language doesn’t just exist in writing. Students need to learn to understand language by listening to audio, interpreting graphics, or creating something original.”

Working with Adobe Express, students can pick from the included templates and immediately start adding content. They don’t need to worry about fiddling with layouts, learning to add images, or struggling to get captions aligned just right. This allows students to focus on developing their ideas and learning to embrace clear visual communication.

For one Intermediate Spanish assignment, students were asked to create an attractive page in Spanish that invited people to visit a location in the United States. Student Emily McKay wrote about Beaver Creek, Colorado. Her page took a personal approach, describing a family trip to Beaver Creek complete with personal photos of the family in front of Beaver Creek’s snowy vistas. Addison Russell wrote about Albuquerque, New Mexico with a page that conveys the color and excitement of the city’s annual hot air balloon festival.

“Nowadays, students need to be digitally literate,” says Harper. “It’s a necessity in the job market across multiple fields. Adobe Express is so easy and readily available in our programs, giving students an opportunity to develop digital literacy in ways that they wouldn’t otherwise.”

Bringing industry-standard apps to design students

Darryl Runyan is a long-time Adobe Creative Cloud user, both personally and in his teaching career for the college’s Interactive 3D, Digital Media, and Web Development department. “One of my big focuses is making sure that classes teach the current standards expected in the digital media industry,” says Runyan. “That includes teaching Adobe Creative Cloud apps. As an Adobe Creative Campus, we remove cost barriers for students by covering the cost for them.”

Runyan introduces Adobe Photoshop as part of a design fundamentals class, teaching students how to composite images and design basic logos. Adobe Illustrator is a core part of the digital media class where students apply design principles to posters and logos.

Students participating in Runyan’s user experience and user interface fundamentals class learn Adobe XD for rapid prototyping. They quickly learn to create basic wireframes, develop interactive models, and create UI for games. One project asks students to research a local business and create a webpage, mobile app, digital sign, or other type of interface that can address a user experience for the business. Adobe XD works equally well for any type of digital experience students want to design.

“Digital literacy is the key to our future,” says Runyan. “There are so many digital experiences that happen in person, online, or in the metaverse. It’s important to teach students to evaluate what they’re looking at and find the best way to communicate it to others, whether through type, images, sound, or motion. Adobe Creative Cloud apps provide multiple ways for students to explore digital design and communication.”

Students sitting on benches on the campus of Butler Commmunity College

Supporting learning for faculty

Butler supports its strong academics by starting with the faculty. The faculty development team works closely with faculty to help them become innovators and difference-makers for students. The team touches base with faculty regularly throughout the year and upon request to support professional development.

Mark Jarvis, director of Faculty Development, makes a point of using new apps and teaching methods in his communications and training. The team’s digital newsletter includes video clips taken from Adobe Stock to add dynamic imagery, and recent newsletters have even been distributed as Adobe Express pages.

“We’d like to start taking live trainings and putting them online so that faculty can review them at any time,” says Jarvis. “Adobe Express enables people to be more creative. It helps support bigger initiatives to encourage creativity across fields.”

The Adobe Advocate Group includes about a dozen faculty who actively experiment with Adobe Creative Cloud apps. Their goal is to use peer-to-peer training to drive innovation in curriculum. Jarvis is also exploring how Adobe Acrobat Sign can transform how electronic signatures can remove the friction of paper-based processes in a digital first education experience at Butler.

“Adobe support has been excellent,” says Jarvis. “Adobe provides a lot of workshops and opportunities for faculty to learn and grow.”

Find out more about the Adobe Creative Campus program.