Adobe Fellows @ Berkeley: Creativity Across the Curriculum

How do we leverage creative tools to support teaching and learning in ways that foster public understanding, amplify diverse voices, and empower students?

Group shot of first cohort of Adobe Fellows, October 2018 

Adobe Fellows @ Berkeley is a pilot program that aims to incorporate digital design tools into the Berkeley academic experience in meaningful, intentional ways that enhance teaching and learning and strengthen the university's public mission. The program is a collaboration between the American Cultures (AC) Center and Academic Innovation Studio, with strong support from Digital Learning Services, Educational Technology Services, and the Library.

In many AC courses, creative projects are central to "lifting" the analytical work of the classroom into broader circulation. The AC curriculum serves as a nexus for socially, personally, and politically meaningful work as well as interdisciplinary connections and collaborations. It is also a home and navigation system for underrepresented students, who traditionally have less access to technology and opportunities for creative production. 

The goals of the Adobe Fellows program are to:

  • support faculty in deepening and enhancing course assignments through the critical use of creative tools
  • help students become "empowered producers" and see themselves as effective change makers
  • and better leverage the university's existing investment in Adobe software, which is paid for by student fees

The program is organized around several critical gaps and opportunities:

  • the content of AC courses is particularly well-suited for narrative rendering, artistic exploration, community engagement, and public dissemination
  • instructors need ideas and support to integrate technology into their courses in ways that support (not detract from) their learning goals
  • students are hungry to learn digital literacy skills but aren't given meaningful opportunities within the curriculum
  • although software access is universal, usage is unevenly distributed 

Our model is a multi-pronged approach that involves working closely with faculty cohorts and providing near-peer support for students.
(click to enlarge graphic) 

Diagram of Adobe Fellows model, showing types of support offered to instructors and students

On the faculty side, this includes monthly meetings, one-on-one consultations, co-developing resources around related needs (such as grading rubrics, copyright, accessibility, creative process), and topic-driven workshops that serve both the cohort and the larger campus. On the student side, we are creating a pipeline for students in AC courses to develop their creative, technical and mentoring chops by assisting instructors and other students.

Our first cohort of 13 instructors was drawn from a range of departments across campus, representing different class sizes, levels of comfort/familiarity with technology, teaching styles, and types of assignments. (click to enlarge graphic)

Graphic showing departments and thumbnails of Adobe Fellows first cohort

Our new cohort (2019-2020) includes faculty from History, Ethnic Studies, Chicano Studies, Labor Studies, Integrative Biology, Global Studies, Comparative Literature, as well as Theater, Dance, & Performance Studies.

Through this holistic approach, we hope to foster local expertise at multiple levels, develop a model of responsive support for the campus around purpose-driven creative activity, and provide critical infrastructure and ground-tested resources to animate campus-wide initiatives such as the Discovery Experience and Digital Learning.

For more information, please contact Jean Cheng (jeancheng@) and Victoria Robinson (victoriarobbi@) or adobefellows@berkeley.edu

Additional background about this program (Adobe Spark presentation): https://spark.adobe.com/page/6nbe2FJqyjpGb/

(photos from the October 3, 2018 Adobe Fellows kick-off meeting)