Back in November I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s Adobe Education Summit. I must admit it is a while since I have really used an Adobe product, beyond the obvious freebie ones and Connect, so I really just wanted to see what was happening with their suite of tools. Indeed, in the past, Photoshop and Dreamweaver were two of my most used tools, in fact I used to support art students in developing their capability in those tools. The focus on the day being largely being on the more artistic tools in Adobe’s suite, i.e. the Creative Cloud.
The event was the second held in the UK and was made up, as tends to be the way, between some official corporate messaging, user demos and thought leadership. The event was also, to an extent, a celebration of 25 years of Photoshop – a pretty amazing fact in-itself considering the way tech has changed in that time.
This looked at some of the big trends they seeing from a generational, digital transformation and education sector perspective. Nothing too much new in what was discussed but they did stress the rise of the Chief Marketing Officer in (higher) education and the impact competition and student demand is having. On the marketing front, the Adobe ‘Marketing Cloud’ empowers schools and companies.
In terms of learning outcomes there was a mention for Tony Wagner’s more transferable skills (aka survival skills) vs student demand to see clearly what the tangible skills they will get from their studies. There are clearly some crossovers here to capability education and assessment models that offer alternatives to the 1st/2nd/3rd model. Interestingly, Adobe are hiring on demonstration of transferable skills – the technical expertise can, they argue, be taught in house. With my L&D hat on this was obviously interesting to hear.
There were some interesting stats thrown in around the way, for example 72% of students surveyed wanted to be able to look at study options and information to help choose schools on their mobile. Adobe’s positioning through the student life-cycle looking to help with:
Attract > Engage > Empower
Within engage, they have performed multiple activities, including working with universities on interactive books and mobile apps. Meanwhile tools like the ‘Document Cloud’ can help organizations with their operations (including the digitization of forms).
Some organizational uses of Creative Cloud were considered, for example Uber’s phenomenal growth has been powered by ‘Creative Sync’ where head office can retain control over core marketing assets centrally, with different countries able to make use of them. The advantage being that any updates at HQ will automatically filter through to the websites. In the education space there was a look at Clemson Uni in the US who have taken the approach of “creativity as a competitive differentiator”, with digital creativity embedded across curricula and the whole organization (seemingly) working to this end. Some of the tangible ways this has impacted have included library space being handed over to students for video production and other products. Indeed students are expected to product an ePortfolio as a concrete piece of evidence beyond their resume.
I must admit that I had largely heard of a decline in use of Creative Cloud due to cost issues, however, growth numbers are apparently strong. Perhaps I need to look again! The ‘Digital Publishing Suite’ certainly looked an easy way to create mobile apps (no coding).
Finally there were plugs for the peer support available via the ‘Adobe Education Exchange’ and the value in some of the certifications available.
There were a few main messages from these:
- no longer just about desktop, more and more about cool mobile apps
- increasingly about to work on a project across device and switching between apps
- mobile apps aiming to be fun and easy but with real utility, especially when combined with desktop
The main apps to catch my attention:
- CaptureCC: capture traditional media for digital work (i.e. hand drawn to vector), a little like OfficeLens for creative types 😉
- Premiere Clip: video stories
- Comp CC: create a rough sketch of web layouts, creates styled widgets and then can populate with digital assets later. Those assets can come from elsewhere in your creative cloud so you can have a central store. Effectively this seemed to produce a drag and drop web authoring environment when combined with Muse but you can also send you layout to InDesign, Photoshop or Illustrator. I thought this was interesting in that it is a ‘creative’ solution to producing digital content in the same way that the eLearning industry have gone and produced their own tools (Articulate, etc) rather than there being a ‘go to’ HTML5 authoring tool.
- Slate: presentations in browser or app.
- Photoshop Sketch: not that I’m ever likely to be doing any drawing but the timeline feature is really nice. You can effectively branch a project from a base to create multiple different images or finishes from a standard starting point.
- Photoshop fix: use the healing tool on the go! The demo showed how you could use the ‘face tool’ to make the Mona Lisa smile!!
Sarah J Coleman (aka inkymole illustration) and David Butler (VP of Innovation at The Coca-Cola Company)
Sarah’s talk was most of interest to me in just seeing her mindset around digital tools, she uses traditional and digital media. However, there are some things she is known for (such as chalk-style effects) that she has only ever done digitally. It was also interesting to hear how her digital approach has changed over time, she was apparently a big user of MySpace for self promotion! There were certainly some lessons for those, such as me, considering the talk from a ‘learning’ perspective – not least “It’s OK to bugger things up as long as you had a go” (the kind of message that of course comes up a lot when thinking about learning cultures!). She has worked with others to produce a film, “Stupid Enough“, aiming to provide better advice to aspiring creatives from the likes of Gareth Edwards.
I had to leave before the end of the Coca-Cola presentation but it was looking how ‘design thinking’ has changed their business. From one which took decades to change or introduce new products it is now much more flexible and a “design driven company”. I particularly liked the point that we are now all designers and our organizations need to work to get us designing better. I’d argue we can see some bigger trends around this, if we thinking of data presentation (including infographics) the need to have an ‘eye’ for design is increasingly important (he says somewhat ironically considering the basic design I have opted for with this site). His approach to design being:
explore > simplify/standardize/integrate > scale
Within the above, you can design for agility by having fixed elements (like the coke ingredients) and recognize the flexible pieces (new productions, sizes, packaging, etc). For Coca-Cola this has led to three new billion-dollar juice brands in the last five years and increased growth in emerging markets (where the core product is fixed but distribution/sales models can be seen as the flexible elements).
A number of presentations, I had to take a few calls during these so did not see them all but they included:
- rllearning.com: presenter has worked with teachers at his school to digitize curriculum. He is also a Lynda.com author to help a wider audience, including students so they can help themselves. Justification for all of this was to “help changes lives!”. A very passionate speaker! It seemed like a lot was done via publishing to the ‘Adobe Content Viewer’ app.
- tipsquirrel.com: presenter focused on why he has students actively using their mobiles [yes it seems there is still a debate on if phones should be left on or not!] There was a lot of basic stuff on phone management in the room [the nicest idea was that they have phone breaks every 20 mins which also doubles up as a ‘brain break’]. The more interesting bit was how some apps are being used in the curriculum and by students, he mentioned: Capture, PhotoShop Light-room, PS Mix, PS Fix and Instagram for Photography. Cross-subject apps included Slate, Adobe Voice, NearPod, Edmodo and RefME.
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