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News & Views from the Education team

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Adobe & ConnectED Interview with Akilah Willery

As the Program Director of Instructional Technakilah3ology in the Aldine Independent School District in Texas, Akilah Willery sees herself as a listener, a facilitator and a uniter. A former high school teacher and technology specialist — as well one of the first recipients of a Master’s degree in instructional technology from the University of Houston — Akilah brings a special perspective to her work and emphasizes collaboration, innovation and creativity as top priorities. With a team of 74 technology specialists working in schools throughout her district, she’s always on the lookout for ways to support teachers’ and students’ innovative ideas with the right tools and resources.

When we spoke with Akilah, she shared her vision for her district and her efforts to bring creativity and eLearning tools to all Aldine schools.

Q: What inspired you to start a district-wide Adobe & ConnectED program?

A: In Texas, we’ve always had a big focus on accountability. Now we’re emerging from an era where everything was about numbers, and we’re redefining accountability to include a more holistic view of the child and what he or she needs to experience and attain. Our goal is to create a more collaborative and creative environment that allows both teachers and students to have a voice in defining the learning journey.

Adobe & ConnectED came along at the perfect time. It gives us an opportunity to offer great tools to kids and teachers so they can explore what they want to create. Instead of telling teachers what to do, I can give them a tool and they can tell me how they can use it as part of their curriculum. I also hope our kids will feel empowered to use these tools to create whatever they want, even without guidance directly from a teacher.

Q: What recommendations might you give to other district leaders considering Adobe & ConnectED?

A: Don’t pigeonhole the possibilities by only offering the software to the “creative” disciplines. Make it available to all and gather feedback from teachers to get a sense of what their content areas are demanding, and how you can help them use the new tools to fill in any gaps. Also, take advantage of the free training resources on the Adobe Education Exchange. Free software is great — but the training resources are what will help teachers understand how the software can fit their needs.

Q: What are other ways you’re promoting creativity and innovation in your district?

A: We’re in the process of trying many new things. For example, we’ve partnered with Code.org to integrate computer science tools into traditional curriculum at our K–6 campuses. Teachers are coming up with different ways to use the tools and they’re saying the program is a great way to promote problem-solving and critical thinking. We’ve also been doing some cross-curricular professional development by teaming up our visual arts and science teachers. Together, they’re developing ways visual arts can demonstrate principles of chemistry.

We’re also getting creative about teacher professional development. We offer face-to-face workshops and online webcasts on a variety of topics so teachers can tune in and discuss new instructional strategies. We also support teachers as they explore their own professional learning networks through social media. We give professional development hours for both participating in and hosting Twitter chats with other educators.

I think it’s important to note that teachers and iTechs throughout my district initiated all of these projects. Folks come to me with great ideas and I do my part to connect the dots to make them happen, and then support ongoing experimentation and iteration.

Q: What’s your greatest challenge in your role? How do you work to overcome that?

A: My biggest challenge is maintaining the shared vision. Aldine is a really big district with a large and varied team. Reshaping our district vision means we need to change our teaching practices, and that makes people both nervous and excited. And, as much as we’re asking teachers to step out the box, we’re expecting the same of our kids. We’re creating a culture that makes room for mistakes. We want kids to try and fail and try again until you they get the outcome they desire.

This is an open and ongoing conversation in our district. Previously, decisions were made from the top down. Now we’re reversing it and asking for feedback from our teachers and students. It’s a richer discussion when everyone has a voice. In five years, I think things are going to look really different.

 

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Find out more about the Aldine Independent School District  and the Technology and Curriculum Conference (TCCA)  in Aldine — the largest free technology conference in Texas. 
As part of President Obama’s ConnectED InitiativeAdobe is donating over $300 million in software and professional development services to schools across the United States. 
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Adobe Students #MakeThis with Marvel at SDCC 2015

San Diego Comic-Con. 130,000 fans of comic books, film, and TV all came together for one 4-day immersive experience. Fans of all shapes, sizes and colors, many in full costumes. And in the center of it all was Marvel Comics and its booth on the immense SDCC show floor.

This was the scene on Thursday, July 10, when the Marvel + Adobe Avengers comic was officially released. While SDCC attendees lined up to pick up their free copies, students Hayden Sherman, Alexandria Huntington and Chad Lewis signed their work for fans, and then got private portfolio reviews from top Marvel editor Tom Brevoort.
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Through a partnership with Adobe & Marvel these students got the career-making opportunity to design and illustrate an original limited-edition Avengers origin story comic. With creative guidance from the team at Marvel and the flexibility to seamlessly take their work from hand-sketched beginnings to completed digital illustrations using Creative Cloud each of them illustrated a different Avenger in their own unique style.

You can get a free digital copy of their Avengers comic here and you can start your own comic book illustration career origin story by following this brand new tutorial on Creative Cloud Learn.

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Turning Free Tech Into New Opportunities in the Palm Beach County School District

April is here, and it’s not just tax season — it’s test season. Across the country, students and educators are focused on the often-debated standardized tests that increasingly drive decisions about curriculum planning and resource allocation.

“Much of our resources are tied to programs that will produce measurable changes in student achievement. That’s our reality, ” says Kim Cavanaugh, Technology Programs Specialist for the District of Palm Beach County in Florida. “This creates a critical gap in what we can offer students. Some of the knowledge and skills they need most to succeed in the future will never appear on a standardized test.”

Group Of Students Working At Computers In ClassroomCreative expression, visual communication, critical thinking and problem solving are among the essential skills that Cavanaugh believes are being missed in our rush to quantify student progress. However, through President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, Cavanaugh has found ways to create more opportunities for students and teachers to explore and practice these skills despite budget limitations. For example, nearly half of the Title I schools in his district have already taken advantage of the free creativity and eLearning software offered by Adobe. According to Cavanaugh, using Adobe software to create rather than just consume digital media has proven to be a great motivator for many students.

Cavanaugh has also been able to significantly expand the use of Prezi professional accounts through ConnectED. “Prezi allows students and teachers to think in a more holistic, human way with big ideas and small ideas that relate to each other.” Additionally, the district has been able to offer Autodesk’s 3D technologies to its high schools, allowing teachers to find new ways to use project-based learning and encourage design thinking.

To make programs like these successful, Cavanaugh starts by working with school leaders to make connections between the new technology and the issues that are most important to their teams. “In our district, aligning instruction to the Florida standards is always a primary goal, so I make sure to clarify how new programs tie back to the standards.” Once the programs are linked to the school’s priorities, it’s easier for teachers to commit their scarce prep time to learn the technology and integrate it into their lesson plans.

Cavanaugh recommends that districts offer a mix of professional development opportunities — like online/on-demand workshops and face-to-face trainings — and that they take advantage of resources from software companies like Adobe, such as those on the Adobe Education Exchange. The best training programs, according to Cavanaugh, provide actionable project examples that teachers can take back and immediately implement in their classrooms. “We have to keep in mind that when learning new technology, teachers become students, too. Scaffolding is just as important with adult learners to help build their confidence.”

As President Obama noted in his recent State of the Union address, “Millions of Americans are working at companies that didn’t exist 10–20 years ago” and “no one knows for certain what industries will generate the jobs of the future.” Cavanaugh hopes that providing access to industry-leading technology through programs like ConnectED will not only prepare students for the workforce of the future, but also inspire them to become the innovators and influencers that will shape the future.

About Kim Cavanaugh: Kim Cavanaugh is an Adobe Education Leader, teacher, author and instructional designer with more than 15 years of experience in the integration of digital design software across the K–12 curriculum. He leads the ConnectED programs in The District of Palm Beach County, one of the largest districts in the U.S. with 180,000 students and 100 Title I schools. Reach out to him to learn more about his work.

As part of President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative, Adobe is donating over $300 million in software and professional development services to schools across the United States. 

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Adobe Design Achievement Awards Winners Go Far

image3Donica Ida and Bing Zhang are at the beginning of promising careers six months after they each took home an Adobe Design Achievement Award (ADAA) at Adobe MAX.

Donica was completing her MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York when she submitted her Interactive Media Grand Prize winning piece, “North” to the ADAA contest. The ADAA experience changed her perception of the creative world. “The opportunity to meet and spend time with the other finalists was my favorite part of the experience. Sharing our insecurities about our respective future careers and our mutual excitement for inspired lectures at Adobe MAX made the creative world seem much smaller and less daunting.”

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“At Home with the Night Marchers” by Donica Ida

Donica has completed her internship with Pentagram and is now working as a full-time freelance Senior Visual Designer at Critical Mass. Her recent illustrative work explores the theme of life journeys. Donica added, “I think it’s important for creatives to look at projects from other disciplines, and push themselves towards experimenting with varied mediums. Different experiences and design vantage points, can only lead to a broader source for inspiration and unexpected creative delivery.”

Bing Zhang was studying at California State University Long Beach, when he was honored by the 2014 ADAA judges for his digital publishing entry “Crossroads, A World War II Story”, a narrative piece to view World War II history from numerous perspectives. Bing intentionally creates through many mediums, including web design and photography.

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“Crossroads, A World War II Story” by Bing Zhang

Bing Zhang is currently employed by Walt Disney Studios, working on projects that challenge and inspire him through motion graphics design and post-production.

Bing noted, “Being at Adobe MAX was very fortunate for me. Despite the short period of time, I made good friends whom I am still in contact with. They really inspired me to do more. They remind me that I am a creative individual and I still have my vision to share. And my current employer has noticed, so we had a small celebration as well.”

We look forward to watching the successful careers of Donica, Bing, and all ADAA honorees of the extended creative community for many years to come.

Donica Ida on Behance

Bing Zhang on Behance

Submission deadline for ADAA 2015 is June 19, 2015 at 5pm PST. For contest guidelines, categories, and prize information, visit: www.adobeawards.com. Follow the ADAA on Facebook or Twitter @AdobeEDU and @AdobeAwards for the latest news and contest announcements.

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Creativity Tools Put Dreams Within Reach for Middle School Students

IMG_0173Could cultivating creative passion be the key to keeping students motivated? That certainly seems to be the case at Tomlinson Middle School in Lawton, Oklahoma. “A lot of students here are at the age where they will drop out of school unless they find something they are excited about,” says Vanessa Perez, who teaches digital literacy, multimedia, and web design at Tomlinson.

In 2014, knowing that many of her students had big dreams of becoming graphic, video game, or web designers, Perez became determined to create a curriculum that challenged students to go beyond the basics of digital literacy. She also wanted to equip her classroom with tools that would both engage and inspire her students. Unable to afford these tools, she applied for free creativity software through Adobe and ConnectED and received a lab set of Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Premiere Elements, and Adobe Captivate.

So far, eighth graders have used Photoshop Elements for a “Design Your Own Species” project, in which they digitally combined images of several different animals into one. Perez plans to expand her curriculum with Premiere Elements. Each spring, students will create a video memorial about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

 Perez says her students’ confidence has soared since she brought Adobe software into the computer lab. “By having access to industry-standard software, students can discover what they really love to do and make their dreams more realistic and achievable.” says Perez.TMS Logo

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Powering Creativity, Confidence, and Potential

“Do you want to buy us new drums?” That’s what the very clever musicians and video storytellers at Lawrence County High School (LCHS) recently asked in the Zildjian “My Pit’s the Pits” video contest.

IMG_0228[5]LCHS, a school of 640 students in Moulton, Alabama, was one the first Title I schools to receive free creativity software from Adobe as part of President Obama’s ConnectED initiative. Shortly after receiving their software, LCHS students went to work using Adobe Premiere Elements to tell the story of a talented drum line in need of new instruments.

Students in Gina McCarley’s Multimedia Design class worked collaboratively with the band members on their digital storytelling project. They set a compilation of individual student assignments to music and other audio created by LCHS musicians. The result was a sophisticated video that wowed Zildjian and won the grand prize — $10,000 in new percussion equipment.

That wasn’t the only big win for the students, according to McCarley. “As a teacher in a Title I school, I can’t overstate how important it is to give students creative outlets,” she said. “With the software from Adobe and ConnectED, my students are discovering talents, learning new tools, enjoying class, and getting access to software we otherwise couldn’t afford. Gaining skills using Adobe software opens students’ eyes to new career possibilities and—even more important—gives them hope.”

Red DevilLooking to the future, McCarley plans to expand beyond video and introduce her students to the other tools LCHS received through the Adobe and ConnectED donation, including Adobe Photoshop ElementsAdobe CaptivateAdobe Presenter, and Adobe EchoSign. Next up is photo editing and stop-motion animation—topics of keen interest to McCarley’s students.

We can’t wait to see what the talented students at LCHS produce next!  Read more about Lawrence County High School.

 As part of President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative, Adobe is donating over $300 million in software and professional development services to schools across the United States. 

More information and apply for a ConnectED grant from Adobe here.

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What’s On Your Mind?

By Renee Lance, Solution Consultant, ANZ

Sydney locals paint with their minds using Adobe Software.

Late in 2014, Masters students at The University of Sydney – in partnership with Adobe and acclaimed international lighting designer Bruce Ramus – produced Mind Paintings, an interactive digital art installation that lets people paint with their minds by interpreting brain waves. The project was launched in November at Sydney’s Central Park, and is the first digital art project of its kind in Australia.

Mind Paintings was conceived a year ago with inspiration from The Souls’ Journey, a book that looked at the idea of the mind being able to control things beyond the body. When visiting the University of Sydney’s Design Lab early this year, the wheels started turning and the students thought it would be a good time to kick-start the project.

The students’ reaction to the idea of tapping into people’s thoughts to create art was interesting: They were excited, but they also had that ‘how on earth are we going to do this?’ feeling. However, they were keen on the challenge.

The project is a way to expand the creative opportunities for students by offering them a completely different sort of canvas. It’s really about building a partnership and engaging more intimately with the people that use our tools.

The installation was designed around Mindwave wireless devices provided by Adobe, with the wearable headset measuring the electroencephalogram (EEG) electrical signals in the user’s brain. The readings show the attention and meditation levels of a person and are translated into abstract digital paintings using algorithms and Adobe tools including Photoshop, Flash, After Effects, Premiere, Audition and Dreamweaver.

Bruce Ramus felt that that collaboration had given the students a different perspective on design and what can influence it. “Using sophisticated technology, as well as a lot of hard work and self-examination, the students created a beautiful suite of works that not only enhanced the public space at Central, but will encourage people to express themselves creatively.” He added “With this project, Adobe has shown a new way forward for large creative companies to forge meaningful collaborative relationships with artists and students. It’s an encouraging model that points towards a future where corporations and individuals can coexist to creatively serve our communities,”.

During the course of the project we developed a close relationship with Dr Caitlin de Bérigny, lecturer at the Design Lab, and with the students in the Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Art. The students also had exposure to Adobe‘s specialists, including Computer Scientist Dmitry Baranovskiy, who conducted a workshop on Javascript and SVG, and Solution Consultant Richard Turner-Jones, who showed students how to get the most out of Flash and After Effects.

Creating concepts and stories around the artworks was one of the project’s early challenges and the students looked at their own stories for inspiration.

What do you think about the project?

More details on this project:

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Building the Next-Gen Workforce: Does Creativity Matter?

screenshot_168The entire notion of career is shifting and so are the requirements for students entering the workforce. What are the core competencies that future generations need for success? Does creativity matter? How can schools prepare students?

At SxSWedu 2015, I plan to bring together a lively panel of experts to explore these questions and share their diverse perspectives. We’ll discuss key skills needed for success in the future, how job seekers can demonstrate these skills, and the gaps that exist in preparing the next generation.

Sound interesting? Vote for our panel: “The Next-Gen Workforce: Does Creativity Matter?” at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/38912. Submit your vote by Friday, September 5.

Our Panelists:

  • Devin Fidler analyzes impacts of emerging technologies at the Institute for the Future. His publication, Future Work Skills 2020, makes sense of emerging trends and disruptive forces transforming the world of work. He has identified key skills for the future workforce including:
    • Novel and adaptive thinking
    • New media literacy
    • Design mindset
    • Virtual collaboration
  • Omar Garriott, a Senior Product Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, focuses on products for students and universities.
  • Lisa Reckis directs University Talent for Adobe. She and her team hire students from top universities for roles across all technology and business functions at Adobe.
  • Tacy Trowbridge, panel moderator, leads Adobe’s Education Programs to help the next generation of students become creators and not just consumers of digital content.
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Adobe Education Exchange – 2013 in Review

AEE in Review2013 was an exciting year on the Adobe Education Exchange. The highlight was watching you engage with each other, share mind-blowing content, and exhibit your power as a creative force within Education. We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to share top trends, themes, and highlights from the past year. As we reflect on a wonderful 2013, let’s make 2014 even better!

Creativity

Like no other theme, creativity captivated AEE members this year. Sparked by the need for creative ideas to solve global challenges, you showed you’re up to the task of preparing students to meet these challenges. You flocked to our Creativity in Today’s Classroom workshop series and digital creativity courses. You discussed how to promote creativity in classrooms and how to teach creative thinking. Thank you for all the creative teaching ideas and we look forward to more on this topic in 2014.

Professional Development Launch

In February, we launched a new Professional Development portal with twenty self-paced workshops, three MOOCs, and a wide variety of online and in-person events. More than 19,000 of you completed a training activity including the 350 of you who finished the Train the Trainer course to become credentialed Adobe Education Trainers. The momentum is building so expect expanded opportunities in 2014.

Technology Integration

You continued to share ideas for integrating technology into the curriculum in 2013. Just a few of our many favorites include creating Instagram profiles for historical figures, a collaborative spoken word animation project, and combining math and 32 pictures to create an average visual of an interest. We’re excited to see the ideas you have up your sleeves in 2014. 

Gamification

From gamifying the classroom to earning points and badges on the AEE, gamification was a winning theme in 2013. You explored ways to incorporate gamification into the classroom and a group of you is collaborating on a gamified curriculum delivery system. Gamification on the AEE allowed you to showcase an impressive amount of activity. You earned more than 150,000 badges and over 1 million points in 2013!

Tablets and Smartphones

With the exponential growth of mobile devices, it’s no wonder you were interested in how they affect both the way you teach and the need-to-know design skills to respond to this trend. You discussed the best use cases for integrating devices in the classroom and wondered what Adobe software on a tablet would be like. There was also a growing interest in the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite and web tools like Muse, Edge Animate, Edge Reflow, and PhoneGap for creating device friendly content.

As we begin 2014, thanks for joining us in the mission to change the world through creativity. With each resource you find, question you ask, connection you make, or new skill you learn on the Adobe Education Exchange, you can spark ideas and creativity in others. We promise to continue to support you as you ignite creativity at your institution, colleague, or in your students.

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Congratulations to the Winner of the Adobe Creativity in Education Pin to Win Sweepstakes!

EDUsweepsI am pleased to announce the winner of our creativity sweepstakes that called on educators and parents to showcase creativity in education through a Pinterest board. Megan Bonner, an educator from Downingtown, PA is the lucky winner. Her amazing board included 127 pins ranging from student’s work to inspirational imagery and quotes. You can check it out for yourself here.

To better understand her inspiration and creative process, we sat down with Megan (virtually) and asked her a few questions. Check out the interview and let us know what inspires you.

Adobe: Why is creativity important in your classroom?

Bonner: In a lot of classes, there are only right and wrong answers, leaving little room for creativity. Kids are so creative if they are given room to explore their ideas. In my computer art and ceramics classrooms, my students can be creative, think outside the box, and test out their ideas while developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. I want to see what my students are capable of and want them to develop their own viewpoints and styles.

Adobe: Where do you look for creative inspiration?

Bonner: Pinterest! It should really be called “Pinspiration” (at least for me). Pinterest is a great place to find ideas from other art teachers, see finished work, and go from there. Innovation comes from necessity. So if I see something I don’t like, an outdated or ineffective logo for example, I will turn that into a lesson where my students create a new and improved version.

Adobe: How do you inspire your students?

Bonner: I tell my graphic design students that I taught myself all of the Adobe programs that I teach (except for Flash and Dreamweaver) and didn’t have any sort of instruction. When I was in college, computer art was just starting to become popular, and I focused on more traditional art. I learned how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign by using books, magazines and online tutorials. I encourage my students to look for online tutorials and read magazines to find out how to do what they want to do, look for inspiration, and learn new techniques.

I also look for contests for my students. I enter my students in as many as possible to get their artwork out in the community. And even if a contest has passed, they are often a great way to find new ideas for projects.

Adobe: What advice would you give to other educator’s looking to foster creativity in their classrooms?

Talk to your students. Tailor your lessons and projects so they incorporate things that your students enjoy. Always try to find a way to bring a student’s idea to fruition.

Adobe: Any last thoughts—comments from students, tips and tricks, what’s next?

Bonner: I cannot wait to use my new laptop and Adobe Creative Cloud! I am always looking for ways to expand and build upon our graphic design course offerings, so I’m hoping that exposure to some new software can help with that. I’m very excited to use Muse! Also, I will continue to add to my Creativity in Education board on Pinterest by adding new resources and student work, so stay tuned!

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