Technology is Key to Unleashing Creativity in the Classroom

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.

Addressing the group in APAC

Addressing the group in APAC

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, 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.

Globaloria students present their Flash games

Globaloria students present their Flash games

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!


  1. David Potter

    Hi Jon,

    Enjoyed the post and agree that technology in classrooms worldwide is unleashing amazing creativity. We’ve seen this for 24 years through iEARN, especially over the past six years with our partnership with Adobe Youth Voices. The recent evaluation of the program clearly shows its impact:

    You don’t mention this explicitly in your post, but there is incredible opportunities now to link APAC and Silicon Valley schools, like the ones working with Globaloria. We’re excited by the creativity that will be released when all US classrooms are linked with partners abroad.


    Dave Potter

  2. Amber Oliver

    Hi Jon,

    Thanks for a great and insightful post.

    We at the World Wide Workshop completely agree that a challenge and success of the 21st century is conceptualizing and supporting learning as an anywhere/anytime/all the time activity for invention, creation, creativity and collaboration. This is what we are trying to do with Globaloria and why we are so appreciative of the support and collaboration with Adobe.

    The April 4th STEM inspiration event was amazing, and demonstrated true leadership.

    Thank you!
    World Wide Workshop, creators of Globaloria

Jon Perera

As vice president of product management for the Adobe Document Cloud, Jon Perera leads the company's strategy and roadmap for the PDF portfolio of Adobe – this includes Reader, Acrobat DC, and the SaaS offers across both consumer and enterprise segments. He also leads customer success for the enterprise e-sign services. He previously led the Adobe Education business, the company's largest vertical. Across more than twenty years in the software industry, Perera has held a variety of marketing, technical and field positions. He joined Adobe from Microsoft, where he last held the position of general manager of the company’s Academic Programs group. He also served as general manager of business operations for Microsoft’s international headquarters in Paris, France. He was one of the company’s first product managers on Windows NT, which led to innovations including Active Directory, .NET, and more; and he led the go to market for Microsoft’s middleware strategy across SQL Server, .NET, and Visual Studio. Perera has also served on the board of the Technology Access Foundation, which is working to help children of color in public schools become college-ready for the STEM-related fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. He holds a bachelors degree in Literature from Wesleyan University.

Jon Perera