Integrating Creativity into the Classroom — One Teacher at a Time!

realworldready-01 This is one article in a series on addressing the need employers have for real-world ready workers. What do real-world skills look like? How can science and math combine with creativity in the classroom? Find out how mentoring is helping prepare a generation of coders who are ready to innovate and problem solve in “Launching the Next Generation of Coders.”

It’s no longer enough for recent graduates to job hunt by just sending off resumes listing their accomplishments, degrees, and awards. Potential employers want to fill their offices with people who can think creatively and communicate well in today’s digital world. Instead of a single sheet of paper, it’s often demonstrating real skills in action — a video shown to a community group, a website for a side business, or an online portfolio — that can help land the dream job.

However, with fixed schedules and overcrowded classrooms, educators often struggle to include projects and instruction that help students build a portfolio showing the real-world application of their learned skills.

“We need to rethink how teachers are prepared and supported, as well as how schools can support creativity,” says Tacy Trowbridge, global education program lead at Adobe. “One of the solutions is creating opportunities and spaces that inspire creativity. Students benefit and learn critical life skills by experimenting, failing, and learning from mistakes, while engaging in activities that don’t have just one answer or outcome.”

Adobe Education Exchange — A Community of 300,000+ Educators

For the past six years, the Adobe Education Exchange has helped bridge the gap between the creative skills taught in schools and how to use those skills to be real-world ready. Through the program’s interactive online platform, as well as free training and resources, educators can learn best practices from Adobe and collaborate with more than 300,000 peers around the world. The Exchange includes more than 10,000 education resources ranging from lesson plans to a three-year digital media curricula created by Adobe Education Leaders and other members of the Exchange.

Recently, a teacher in Clark County, Nevada, was asked to teach web design. He didn’t know where to start, so he came to the Adobe Education Exchange. Other teachers on the Exchange quickly responded to his questions and provided him with a curriculum, advice, and ideas. He then had the tools he needed to help his students learn to effectively communicate through web design. Another teacher, Mike Skocko, from Valhalla High School in El Cahon, California, shared his ideas on gamifying web design classes. His posts are generating thousands of comments and inspiring other teachers to use those ideas to further engage and teach students through gamification.

“Our goal is to make it possible for an educator to come to the Exchange, to be inspired, and to refine their teaching in a way that prepares students to be creative problem solvers and to be able to communicate their ideas in our increasingly digital and visual world,” says Tacy.

Educators Growing Real-World Ready Students Through Digital Communications Skills

To provide inspiration, the Adobe Education Exchange also highlights the institutions and educators who are helping to bridge the creativity gap. For example, at Mason High School in Ohio, creativity and digital communications are integrated throughout the entire curriculum. In another high school, teachers assign reports in the form of infographics and videos, instead of as a traditional essay.

Some of the most popular assignments shared on the Exchange are those that help students gain audiences and real-world experience — like creating marketing collateral for a non-profit or local business. This level of sharing goes beyond how to use tools, to how tools can be used to help students build their own portfolios. Then, when they head to college or the workforce the student can say with confidence, “These are the types of projects I’ve worked on in the past, and here are their successful outcomes.”

Educators are eager to learn from each other but often don’t have access to a wide range of proven resources. Tacy outlines that this problem is solved by the Adobe Education Exchange because, “It is a place to highlight models of success and to showcase what’s really working for students.”

Along with the shared curricula, stories, and resources, the Exchange also now offers 16 free training courses each year. The first training is on digital storytelling and helps educators learn how to engage students through creative projects. The courses are designed to bring together communities of educators and provide them with opportunities to practice and explore ways to further develop their skills. Since teachers in many school districts lack training on integrating creativity into the curriculum, the training courses can significantly boost the learning, experience, and real-world ready preparation of the students.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to support educators teaching the next generation,” says Tacy. “It is critical that students are prepared for success as they tackle real challenges. The Adobe Education Exchange is making a positive difference in the way teachers teach and in the way students successfully prepare for their futures.”