Webinar 5 - Giving people the clever tools they need.

Join us for our 5th webinar, as we’ll be exploring smart technology and how to integrate digital creation tools into the curriculum. 

In this shot of pedagogical inspiration, we’ll be exploring the best-in-class digital creation tools to help students succeed. Hosted by Wonkhe director of partnerships Aaron Porter and Adobe pedagogical evangelist Mark Andrews. We’ll also be hearing from students and recent graduates for the first time this series.

Empowering HE students & educators with the digital tools they need

This article is part of the Education Espresso series hosted by Adobe pedagogical evangelist Mark Andrews and Wonkhe’s Director of Partnerships, Aaron Carter. Contributors include Rachel Dodd, Senior Lecturer in Digital Journalism at Teesside University, and recent graduates, Mimi Harmer and Jean Sarunporn.


Many of us are motivated to work in education for two reasons: our students and pedagogy. Right now, we’re at an interesting intersection between human creativity and ingenuity, and also best-in-class digital creation tools.


Teachers and lecturers across higher education are integrating digital literacy into their teaching practice, and that has increased in the last couple of years as one of the side-effects of remote and hybrid learning. Rachel Dodd, Senior Lecturer in Digital Journalism at Teesside University, tells us about her experiences using digital tools with her media students.

Taking the step from presentation slides to digital creativity

Rachel says: “It all started when we were required to do hybrid teaching, and we were always on screen. Teesside had become an Adobe Creative Campus, which offered a range of new applications, and I was also getting presentation fatigue. That was my catalyst for using Adobe Creative Cloud Suite products in my teaching.

“I created a very simple exercise in Adobe Spark (which is now called Adobe Express), to build a web page. Students were using phones, iPads and a whole range of different technologies to access learning. It was a really inclusive way to make learning accessible to everybody, bringing in a range of visuals and resources for scaffolding, and giving students a basic structure for producing digital content.

“My students then started using their web page as a building block towards more summative pieces of work, incorporating video and getting far more sophisticated very quickly, using more products across the Adobe portfolio. It was a really successful way for students to work with this range of technology.

“It's widely accepted that learning happens in an active learning-by-doing mode. And that's exactly what we were doing - putting theory into practice using digital tools and techniques. But it's one thing to give students the tools, and it's another to show them how to use them. I wanted to encourage students to experiment. I also created a model that layers the use of Adobe tools and provides a clear structure for students to work within, reflecting the workplace environment and giving students a very real experience of what to expect.”

What Rachel’s students said

Rachel’s students were enthusiastic about working with Adobe products and becoming more digitally literate, but also about learning within a creative environment that mimics the real world.


They liked having a clear, structured approach to their module, as it gave them not only a sense of orientation in comparison to their peers, but they also always knew what they needed to do next. They could use feedback in a timely way because they got it during the creation process rather than afterwards, and using Adobe products meant that they could improve, tweak and develop their work before they handed it in.

Having digital tools vs. using digital tools in higher education

One of the things that we hear a lot in higher education is that there are great digital and creative tools available, but people's willingness to use them is a little varied. This applies to both educators and students - but what’s the answer? How do we encourage people to make the most of the tools available to them, especially those that will benefit them in the future?


Rachel says: “I think part of it is about going on that journey with both of those audiences. With my students, I wasn't preaching using Adobe, I was using Adobe to create the teaching materials that they were learning from. So they saw me using them, and of course I also gave them advice and suggestions. Similarly with colleagues, you can’t just give someone a tool and expect them to use it. If you gave me the world's best drill, I wouldn’t know how to change the battery or the drill bit, so I wouldn’t use it. But if you showed me how to use it, I'll be able to do it myself.”

How digital literacy empowers students as they take their first career steps

Recent graduates, Mimi Harmer and Jean Sarunporn, use digital tools in their workplaces. Having had a foundational structure of digital tools throughout their education, they are well-placed to tell us how this is benefitting them in their careers.


Jean says: “I’ve used Adobe products from a very young age, and I’ve learnt a lot of skills. Not just video editing and animation, but in my current job as a marketing specialist, I can use softer skills I’ve learned; things like creative thinking, presenting my work in a way that stands out and using visualisation because I work with a lot of data that’s complicated to understand. I also get to use my storytelling skills when I’m pitching for new client projects.”


Mimi is a composer, digital producer and music teacher. She says: “I have three main pillars: music, education and digital. I'm very interested in how we can use digital tools to widen access and participation, to create new subgenres of art and to utilise both within education. I acquired my digital literacy from the opportunities I had within the curriculum, where I was allowed to explore and to take creative risks. I learned by doing, and from having collaboration opportunities - it was about having access to software and the facilities to experiment and learn from others.”


Both Jean and Mimi demonstrate the importance of role modelling in their education. They have both been given the opportunity and encouragement to experiment, collaborate and learn from others (and their own mistakes) - and ultimately, their digital literacy is empowering them to make great strides in their budding careers.

Click here to watch the webinar this article is based on.