Learning new skills to spark creativity

To succeed in a rapidly changing digital, visual world, students need to be creative problem-solvers and lifelong learners, and to master new forms of communication, says Tacy Trowbridge, head of Adobe’s Global Education Programmes team

Schools and universities have a problem. A 2016 YouGov survey asked whether it’s better for young people to go to university or straight to work. 38 per cent said it’s better to find work compared with 28 per cent defending the university route. Even among adults who have a degree, only a third would recommend it.

Employers struggle to find recent graduates prepared with the right skills for success. A poll asking “Are students ready for today’s dynamic workplace?” revealed that seven in ten employers say no.

So what’s going on? Actually, the data is clear. What students and employers want is greater creativity, current communication skills and technical competence.

In a dynamic world, where today’s youth will end up in careers and jobs that haven’t been invented yet, we need to foster skills which allow young people to adapt and thrive, no matter their role or the tools they use.

Video editing, image creation and digital design are vital literacy skills for all

When companies were asked “What skills are most essential for new hires?” the most common responses were technical skills, creativity, and the ability to communicate through digital and visual media.

But the skills students and employers need aren’t being taught widely enough.

To improve education, schools need to go beyond teaching traditional skills and make fostering creativity, preparing lifelong learners and developing digital communication a priority, changing both what is taught and how to teach it.

Today, communication is changing – video editing, image creation and digital design are vital literacy skills for all. We need to support educators with school environments that foster learning with the right tools and the right opportunities.

Early in my career as an English and history teacher for 12 to 16 year olds in California, I took a digital storytelling workshop that changed my approach to teaching. I realised it was no longer sufficient to focus primarily on traditional essay formats. My students needed additional skills and tools to communicate in an increasingly digital, visual and noisy world.

Now at Adobe, I’ve seen many ways students around the world benefit from using today’s tools to learn and demonstrate their knowledge.
English students make movies. History students create infographics to share research. Mathematics students print 3D models. Pre-medical students use visual tools to analyse MRI segmentation images. And art students learn graphic design.

Graduates with digital skills possess big advantages over their peers. Imagine business school graduates who tell effective stories through brief videos. Imagine biology graduates who build animations to explain complex research. Imagine students who build apps to solve real-world problems.

We can help. The Adobe Education Exchange, where 320,000 educators come to learn, find inspiration and share ideas, is free to join and use.

Last year, Adobe released a free web-based tool, Adobe Spark, a quick and easy way to create beautiful content that tells powerful stories. Teachers appreciate Spark too – it’s simple and intuitive to use and lets them focus on what is most important.
The Adobe Education Exchange contains examples of Spark in classrooms and tutorials to help educators get started.

It’s a challenge to keep up with the demands placed on education, but we need to adapt. Let’s start by developing creativity and modern communication skills. We can prepare creative, dynamic students with the ability to thrive, no matter what careers they chose.

Join our community of creative educators and explore 10,000-plus free learning resources at edex.adobe.com

Also found in Education sponsored