The Adobe Digital School Collection inspires student creativity and productivity.
Last fall, Adobe released a bundle of creative software and productivity tools that aims to engage students more actively in the learning process and to help educators teach them 21st century skills across all subjects. The assortment of applications, dubbed the Adobe Digital School Collection, gives students the means to express what they have learned in class using photos, video, audio, web content and media-rich documents.
I installed all five software applications on a desktop computer in less than an hour. I then spent several days noodling around with the various tools in this impressive collection and came away from the experience with one overarching thought: I wish I'd had this when I was a student.
The Adobe Digital School Collection packages five applications in a single cross-platform solution.
- Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 makes it easy for novice users to organize, touch up and share their digital photos. But it's also sophisticated enough to give users who want to perform more advanced edits and effects room to grow. Better still, its powerful image manipulation tools won't require a week of in-service training to learn.
With Photoshop Elements, teachers and students can be very creative, very quickly. I imported an image, removed the red eye, spot-healed a few imperfections and added a caption in less than two minutes.
- Adobe Premiere Elements 9 includes plenty of effects and transitions, such as keyframing, chroma keying, picture-in-picture, instant movie themes, audio editing and auto-tagging.
When I launched the application, it automatically recognized the Flip Video camcorder I had attached to my computer and organized my video clips. Ten minutes later, I had trimmed and assembled several different clips and added a title.
- Adobe Soundbooth CS5 is a great tool for students and teachers who wish to create their own audio presentations and podcasts. Soundbooth has an extensive array of audio tools and sound-sweetening effects, ranging from “EQ” (the process of adjusting the balance between frequency components within an electronic signal) to “Sci-Fi,” which imitates the sound of imaginary aliens.
The software also allows students to save their work in the most popular audio file formats, among them Waveform Audio File Format, MP3 and Audio Interchange File Format. With just a few quick clicks, I recorded a brief monologue and applied a “telephone” effect, which mimics the sound of voice signals transmitted by phone.
It's important to note that Adobe discontinued the development and sale of Soundbooth in April. Based on Adobe's recent updates to its Creative Suite line, new versions of Adobe Digital School Collection likely will include Adobe Audition, an audio postproduction toolset for Mac and Windows, instead.
- Adobe Contribute CS5 is a web publishing and website management tool that integrates authoring, reviewing and publishing in a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor. In a few steps, teachers and students can post and publish content to district, school or classroom websites and blogs.
Contribute's intuitive menu made it easy for me to create a web page, add a table, insert and resize an image, type some text and add a few links. I even previewed my page and tested the links in my Safari browser. If your school already has an Internet Information Services web server hosted on site or by a local partner, it's easy to publish your work with a single click.
Although it's possible to create a website from scratch using Contribute, I wouldn't recommend it. The software's primary purpose is to manage prebuilt websites. (Adobe Dreamweaver is a better choice for more in-depth web development.)
- Adobe Acrobat X Pro presents a platform through which learners can quickly and easily create their own e-portfolios to showcase their work. Such portfolios might include student galleries, teacher resource sites, collaborative project portfolios or research presentations.
The “Create PDF Portfolio” function offers a choice of five portfolio layouts. I selected “Freeform,” which arranges files as scattered thumbnails that users can then order as they choose. Adding files was quick and easy with Acrobat's large “Add Files” button.
Why It Works for IT
Making these applications available to both Windows and Mac OS users simplifies their deployment, training and use in the multiplatform environments that are common to schools. Adobe also provides free teaching resources, which are available through the Adobe Education Exchange portal (edexchange.adobe.com). The web-based community gives educators who register a place to access and share peer-created and -reviewed teaching and learning resources.
And because Adobe is one of the most recognized names in media creation, there's no shortage of online tutorials and free video lessons for users who want to do more with the Adobe Digital School Collection.
The Adobe Digital School Collection is a bundle, not a suite, so don't expect a true round-trip experience among the individual applications. The main advantage of a suite is the ability to import projects from one to another. For example, within the Microsoft Office suite, users can embed an Excel spreadsheet in a Word document. In a bundle, users lose such cross-application functionality.
It's also worth noting that Adobe Contribute CS5 doesn't work with all web-hosting and file-hosting servers. Visit kb2.adobe.com/cps/406/kb406569.html to see if the server technologies your school uses are incompatible or will have trouble making connections.