Join Adobe's educators on Twitter for advice and win a Creative Cloud subscription
Are schools more free to innovate? Not according to one of the UK's most innovative educators, Chris Geary, when he took part in Adobe's UK Creative Week event over the summer. Depressingly, he suggested that adults "pare down" options for children in institutional settings like schools.
That's one reason why this website is so pleased to host three Twitter teacher "surgeries" on creativity, which continue on Wednesday (November 14) with Animation. They tap into the expertise of Adobe's own teacher community and participants get the chance to win a one-year subscription to Creative Cloud Student and Teacher Edition, a creative hothouse that includes apps as well as space for your work (worth around £200).
Students get free online Adobe Generation courses that carry accreditation
The other two @AdobeUKEdu Twitter “surgeries” are on Animation (November 14, 6.30pm) and Imaging/Photography (November 21, 6.30pm). All the sessions are being supported by teachers from Adobe’s own education community, the Adobe Education Leaders, and educators like Roxana Hadad who have created free new online courses for students, which incorporate accreditation, for the three subjects covered in our surgeries (see the innovative roots of the games design course in this Futurelab article: “Welcome to the ‘zone of optimal challenge’”).
You can find out more about these new online courses on the Adobe Generation website (hence the hashtag #AdobeGen for the Twitter chats). The courses take students just an hour a week for nine weeks and there is validation – all students get certificates on completion. There's even an online graduation ceremony!
They can be done entirely online in students' own time, and even without teacher involvement, but they are certainly an invaluable complement to any classroom and any school. The courses are also great for teachers looking to learn more about digital skills and how to integrate them into their own lessons.
While the UK Adobe Education Leaders are certainly technically proficient – and with Adobe products – their primary focus is always on the teaching and learning, particularly on helping young people develop the skills they will need to build their careers in the creative industries. And the key questions they face in their pioneering work are what they will help explore in our Twitter "surgeries".
'Institutions generate institutional behaviour' warning
For some time Adobe has been concerned about the role of creativity in the curriculum and the prospects of learners acquiring the skills they need for the creative industries. That was the motivation for the radical new courses and for the Adobe UK Creative Week at which Chris Geary, former head of the pioneering New Line Learning school in Kent gave his gloomy prognosis.
Asked by Agent4change.net whether the structural changes enacted by education secretary Michael Gove MP, along with the promised new freedoms for headteachers, would make innovation easier for UK schools, Chris Geary replied that they certainly would not. Schools would be driven by much the same motors and then financial restraints would come into play. He also warned of the 'default' conservatism of institutions: "I think that institutions generate institutional behaviour... Adults in institutional settings pare down the options for children and that is a real problem."
Ironically, Chris Geary is now more free to work on innovative learning projects with schools from here to China than he ever was in his own school. Adobe's own research into creativity – The State of Create – reveals matching deep-rooted public concern. People in the UK place a high value on creativity, with more than three quarters (78 per cent) agreeing that creativity is key to economic growth and 67 per cent thinking that being creative is valuable to society. Yet only a third (35 per cent) feel they are living up to their creative potential.
Creativity for learning supported by revolution in mobile technology
Adobe's drive to support creativity in and out of schools has been amplified by tremendously powerful new technological developments – particularly the revolution in mobile devices. There are now at least three new platforms for digital tablets, and Adobe has powerful new apps on two of them already (Apple and Android).
Take a program like Photoshop for example. This is a standard for graphics in the creative industries and has a hand in virtually every image you can see on this website. The corresponding tablet app, Photoshop Touch, might not have all the features of its big sibling, but it's still an incredibly powerful tool. Tests on this site have produced some exciting progress in our own capabilities and the most astonishing aspect of it all is that this app only costs £6.99. Which means that learners with access to digital tablets will not be reliant on their schools for access to these tools.
When you add cloud technologies into the mix you start to understand the potential. Adobe's Creative Cloud is not just a place to store creations. It combines access to software tools to develop them and it's a place for collaboration. The screenshot at the top of this page is this site's experimental Creative Cloud. The images range from family shots to website artwork but all have been subject to collaboration and the ideas which come from that. It wasn't just an exercise but a natural outcome of this kind of working. (The Creative Cloud Teacher Edition gives access to 20Gbs of online space and ALL the software tools which are consistently updated as new features become available.)
It's very difficult to predict exactly where all this will take learners and teachers and schools but the implications are massive, and it's why I hope the conversations with Adobe and its Adobe Education Leaders can help spread the word. Join us to progress the conversation, and put yourself in the frame for winning a year's free subscription to the Creative Cloud Teacher Edition.
Adobe and Agent4change.net Twitter “surgeries” are all at 6.30pm:
November 7, Games Design
November 14, Animation
(November 21, Imaging/Photography
Simply log into Twitter and look for the hashtag #AdobeGen
Also look for @AdobeUKEdu and @merlinjohn
Adobe's report into creativity: The State of Create