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ASU instructor leverages Adobe Creative Cloud to develop students’ storytelling skills

BY TETTLEMA – MAY 19, 2021

As part of ASU’s Digital Backpack, the Adobe Creative Cloud is a creation tool for students across many disciplines. Its use prepares them for a number of professional settings that set the suite, which includes software like Spark, Photoshop, Premiere and more, as the gold standard.

In fact, nearly every industry prioritizes the ability to use Adobe Creative Cloud and its various software. The UTO Newsroom spoke with ASU faculty member Christina Carrasquilla, a senior lecturer in Graphic Information Technology (GIT), to learn more about how the Adobe Creative Cloud, and Adobe Spark in particular, is being used to offer hands-on learning experience.

Students majoring in GIT study the use and development of the technology behind graphic design. “Our ultimate goal for our major is to create cross-media designers,” Carrasquilla explained. To start students down that path, she worked with UTO’s Learning Experience team to get them working with the Adobe Creative Cloud. “The whole Adobe suite is considered the professional tool,” Carrasquilla said.

A look at the interface behind Adobe Spark, presented during an Innovation Quarter workshop with Carrasquilla

So how is that tool leveraged? Carrasquilla clarified how the GIT program exists within the ASU community. “One of the great things about ASU is that there are so many disciplines and they overlap a lot,” she said. This major, for example, brings together the core concepts behind graphic design and computer science, using not only creative tools but also developing the appropriate output technology, from print materials to web presences.

Adobe Spark is one tool in the wide array of software within the Adobe Creative Cloud. “It’s our entry point to talk about design,” Carrasquilla said. Spark provides a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) interface that allows users to create graphics, videos, presentations and web pages through a web browser. Its drag-and-drop design and accessibility is an easy way for students to get thinking about GIT, Carrasquilla explained, and it brings them to the more intensive interfaces and possibilities of Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere and more.

An example of a web page designed in Adobe Spark for Carrasquilla’s Innovation Quarter workshop

It is important for Carrasquilla to create a holistic approach to Adobe Creative Cloud. “Some of our students are lucky enough to come from high school programs that use Adobe products,” she explained, but recognized that many have scattershot experience with them. Spark is a way for them to get comfortable with core principles because “we have to prepare them with the tools that they are actually going to use in industry,” Carrasquilla added.

“One of the other ways we use Adobe Spark is for the essential skill of telling your story,” she said, moving beyond technical considerations. Regardless of where they go with their career, any student needs to be able to tell their story, often visually, whether it’s with a pitch meeting, resume, business site and more. Carrasquilla was even able to take the opportunity to bring these skills to a wider audience, outside her ASU Sync classroom. For ASU’s Innovation Quarter, held earlier this year, she hosted a series of workshops that taught attendees how to use Spark, making it clear that it is truly accessible to anyone.

Carrasquilla has brought her Adobe instruction outside of the ASU community as well. In a volunteer capacity for the Phoenix App Camp for Girls, Spark served the goal of providing young girls with the framework to develop applications for phones and beyond. “We were really trying to teach them the whole process overall and make it feel accessible,” Carrasquilla explained, and Spark quickly allowed the girls to envision the design of their app, before having to move on to coding and other considerations.

Carrasquilla’s application of the Adobe Creative Cloud, and especially Spark, make clear the innovative mode in which ASU and its faculty, students and staff operate. The learning experience behind the suite was facilitated by the instructor in a way that doesn’t just address the immediate technical skills of a course, but also the major-wide path and “soft skills” of storytelling in a professional career.

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