When Adobe announced that it would soon stop selling boxed versions of its popular Creative Suite, including such classroom favorites as Photoshop, InDesign and Acrobat, in favor of a subscription-based model that allows customers to download the tools to their desktops through its Creative Cloud, the change elicited mixed responses from K–12 educators.
While some cheered the move as progressive and a good way for the company to get in front of an inevitable shift in the traditional software model toward more cloud-based services, others approached with caution. A story we published in May on Adobe’s Creative Cloud seemed to raise more questions for readers than it provided answers.
How much will the new service cost? Will there be special pricing for education customers? What about bandwidth? Will schools with limited or no Internet access still be able to use Adobe’s suite of tools in the classroom?
To answer these and other questions, we caught up with Johann Zimmern, Adobe’s worldwide education program manager.
“There is a lot of confusion in the market, primarily because the announcement is very fresh,” says Zimmern, who adds that Adobe is committed to working with its education customers to make the transition as easy as possible.
So what do K–12 schools that use Adobe’s products need to know about the switch to Creative Cloud?
1. Adobe Is Not Selling Software as a Service
Regarding concerns that Adobe’s shift to the cloud would eat up precious bandwidth and force schools to rethink how they download and use the company’s products, Zimmern says Adobe is not selling software as a service. “We are offering our desktop tools in the same manner as we have before,” he says.
Through the Adobe Licensing Web Site, or LWS, enterprise customers, including schools, can download multiple editions of the software, create an image and deploy the applications remotely to school-owned or leased machines across their network.
“So this really has nothing to do with whether kids have Internet access and can download software” at school, he says. Once administrators have downloaded the software packages from the cloud and deployed them, students could use the applications with or without an Internet connection. Though any upgrades or fixes would require connectivity and necessary bandwidth.
2. Special Pricing for Adobe Creative Cloud for Education
Adobe sells its products essentially two ways: to individuals, such as teachers and students, and to large enterprise customers, such as K–12 schools and universities.
Enterprise customers, such as K–12 schools, can purchase Adobe Creative Cloud applications through the company’s Enterprise Education Agreement, which is available from Adobe and through reseller channels. The services, which include the downloadable applications but not some of the more collaborative web-based tools available in the individual cloud package, are priced on a full-time equivalent faculty and staff calculation and available through a tiered pricing model that educators can access by contacting the company or a technology reseller, such as CDW.
The company also offers discounted access to Creative Cloud to individual students and teachers for use on their personal machines. Users 13 or older can sign up for the monthly service, which allows them to download Creative Cloud applications, such as Photoshop and InDesign, to their machines (students and teachers can sign up for the Creative Cloud for $19.99 per month, though prices are subject to change). Individual users also can access a range of collaborative online services through the Cloud, including online user communities, personal profile tools and more, Zimmern says.
3. Adobe Creative Cloud Applications Will Run on Local Machines, Not in the Cloud
Though the product is named Creative Cloud, Zimmern says the name is “a bit confusing.” School administrators will have to download the applications from the cloud. But once the tools are downloaded and deployed across the school’s network, they run locally on the desktop. Though schools will need bandwidth to download the products and run software updates, the applications themselves should not put additional stress on the network.
4. Adobe Has Taken Privacy Concerns, Including CIPA, COPA and FERPA Compliance, into Account
“In K–12, we realize that many schools and districts don’t want anything to do with the cloud,” says Zimmern. “They have locked down YouTube. They don’t allow kids to go on Facebook because of all of the Internet protection policies and legal issues that are in play.” To deal with these issues, Adobe says the K–12 version of Creative Cloud is not equipped with the same storage and access to collaborative online tools and resources that individual users have. Schools get a basic version that includes the applications only. “Until we fix that COPA and CIPA compliance question, offering access to those other services would be hard to do,” explains Zimmern.
5. Schools Don’t Have to Jump to the Cloud — Yet
Despite efforts to explain how the Adobe Creative Cloud works for education, Zimmern says the company realizes some large education customers will want to take their time and assess their own networks before making the switch. In the meantime, he says, K–12 customers can still purchase CS6 site licenses, which will continue to work as they have in the past. Though they will not be updated or upgraded beyond the current version. If schools want access to new tools and resources, the only way to get them will be through the cloud.
6. The Adobe Creative Cloud Is Going to Take Some Getting Used To
As more software providers move to the cloud, and schools are essentially asked to rent customized suites of tools as opposed to buying individually licensed products, Zimmern says administrators should begin looking at software as more of an operational expense.
“A lot schools used to use Perkins grants and other grant resources to purchase these tools,” he says. But that’s when software was viewed as a capital expenditure. That’s something to think about.