It’s been a very interesting couple of weeks for Adobe on the Education front, and I wanted to share out some reflections on what we’re hearing from education innovators around the world. Two weeks ago, I spent 6 days across Sydney, Australia, and Singapore, where I had the chance to meet with several hundred education leaders from across the Asia Pacific region as part of the Adobe Education Leaders Forum. Discussions focused on the transformation of the academic landscape and how three key technologies – cloud, devices, and social — can empower educators to deliver richer and more impactful classroom experiences. Social, for example, is now being woven into the very fabric of learning and education apps in ways that increase collaboration and student outcomes – the adoption of Edmodo in Australia is a great example here. And many countries are looking to deploy “one tablet per child” approaches across both Android and iOS platforms to help engage students.
During the Forum in Singapore, I talked about this digital revolution in education and how I believe it is a reflection of the changing world. Today’s workplace is radically different from how it was years ago. Workforce globalization is making people increasingly reliant on digital tools to communicate and collaborate with peers, and employers expect the people they hire to be digitally savvy right from the start. On any given day at Adobe, it’s expected and normal that projects are global, pulling in key talents from across the globe to collaborate on key initiatives and find new ways to solve business problems. In this environment, companies hiring recent graduates are looking for future employees that think creatively, and have a fresh, new approach to problem solving.
So, it was no surprise to hear from leaders at the event how both higher education universities and K-12 schools from Singapore, Korea, India, and Australia are re-inventing their approach to how education is delivered, and finding new ways to foster and support creative thinking with their students. According to a March 2012 survey across more than 500 educators in Asia Pacific, more than 80% of respondents think that creativity is critical for the modern curriculum. The educators I met with in Asia Pacific presented their ideas on how technology can play a huge role in unleashing both student and faculty creativity. It was broadly agreed that, “students expect to get their learning on any device, at any time, from any location,” and that technology is key to helping students be inspired, show off their work and connect with communities around the world. Additionally, social apps figured prominently in the discussion, with apps like flavors.me, or the new integration of Facebook photos into Adobe’s Photoshop Touch app.
Back here in Silicon Valley, one organization that illustrates the above is Globaloria, a national program that teaches kids how to design and program their own STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) games using Adobe Flash. Last week, the Adobe Education team hosted Globaloria at Adobe headquarters, along with students and educators from two San Jose, California, middle schools, Christopher Elementary and Herman Intermediate School, plus the Boys & Girls Club of Silicon Valley. Together, we had a chance to celebrate the accomplishments of students as well as share insight into a future of where their skills will be valuable.
The students presented games they had designed using Adobe Flash. Their projects were just awesome, and definitely my favorite part of the event. Their games not only teach technology skills and digital storyboarding, but also are pulling in key concepts to educate math, science, or key issues facing society. The games were really well thought out and some were based on current issues, such as a game called “Bertha’s BIG Adventure,” a game about the challenges of adolescent obesity created by “Team Salad” from Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley. Other presentations were: “Journey of Gladius,” a real story of the Roman Gladiators; “Multiplying Integers-Math Racing” and a game titled “Space Adventures,” that dealt with science and astronomy. View all the photos from the day here.
To close, there was one consistent theme across both APAC and Silicon Valley – it’s the need to provide our educators with the resources, training, and tools to take real advantage of these social, cloud, and device technologies. So much more is needed here. We’re getting started in a lot of cool ways with the Adobe Education Exchange and welcome your ideas and feedback on how we can do a better job. Reach me at @jon_perera on Twitter!