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Free Creative Cloud offers an ‘essential’ boost in workplace

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  • October 07, 2019

rep adobe 550pxBeginning Oct. 1, UAB students have free access to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. The software — including industry standard programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere and Dreamweaver — was formerly available to students at a 60 percent discount for $19.99 per month. UAB now is designated as an Adobe Creative Campus under a new contract with Adobe that was jointly negotiated by UAB and the University of Alabama.

The financial savings from the agreement are significant, but the enhanced access to leading digital creative tools will have even more wide-ranging impacts, noted UAB Chief Information Officer Curtis Carver Jr., Ph.D. “The digital literacy skills students can develop through Creative Cloud will give them a competitive advantage in their academic success and their career searches,” Carver said.


More than coding

The American Library Association defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.”

“There is a lot of emphasis on coding, but we need to highlight that digital literacy also applies to other skills and disciplines that tie in to the technology ecosystem,” said Deon Gordon, president and CEO of TechBirmingham, which helps to recruit and retain tech talent and entrepreneurs in the region. For example, every online business needs content writers, photographers and videographers, marketing, user interaction/experience and analytics experts in addition to coders, Gordon said. “And much of that work is done using Adobe tools.”


Creative Cloud for faculty, staff

UAB faculty and staff can request one of a limited number of free Creative Cloud licenses through UAB IT. All students, faculty and staff now have free access to Adobe Acrobat Pro, which allows users to add and remove pages, rotate pages and create forms in PDFs.

‘An essential platform’

Jeffrey Bacha, Ph.D., teaches digital document design, information architecture and professional and technical writing as an associate professor in the Department of English. “Technical writers do more than just write,” he explained. “They create a lot of user documentation, policy and procedures manuals, how-to videos and more. At a software company, a technical writer may get handed a bunch of screenshots and their job is to turn that into a full instruction manual. Our work has gone digital, and Adobe Creative Cloud is an essential platform for our students to learn.”

While students had access to Creative Cloud in the Department of English computer lab, having the software on their own computers will be a leap forward, Bacha noted.


60 seconds or less

In his Developing Digital Documents class, Bacha has students begin by designing business cards and letterhead in Adobe Illustrator before transferring their creations to Adobe InDesign for printing. They learn typography, design and layout skills with the goal of creating documents that users “can read in 60 seconds or less,” Bacha said. Their final project is to write, design and lay out their own zine, then work with a local printer to get it published.

Learn Adobe Creative Cloud

UAB IT will be working with Career Services, Student Involvement and other UAB units to offer students more information on specific topics such as building an interactive resume or creating an event flyer with Adobe tools.

Faculty and staff can take advantage of free video training courses in Creative Cloud and dozens of other software packages as part of the university’s membership in the LinkedIn Learning platform.

In a different class, Bacha covers HTML, CSS and other skills needed to build websites using Adobe Dreamweaver and edit video. “Making instructional videos is increasingly part of a technical writer’s essential skillset,” Bacha said. “We had a graduate recently who was hired at a local car-parts-manufacturing facility primarily because he know how to slice together video.”

Some of these tasks “you can figure out how to do in Word, or with free programs, but it is incredibly difficult to do it effectively that way,” Bacha continued. “And many things you just can’t do at all. Having access to this platform will definitely make our students more competitive when they graduate and start looking for jobs.”

Gordon agreed. “Everybody is not going to be a programmer, nor should we expect them to be, but everyone needs to bring some digital literacy skills to the table in today’s job market,” he said. “And digital creative skills in particular are highly sought after. This is a great example of UAB’s role in helping to prepare students for new career pathways.”

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud and see answers to frequently asked questions at