UTSA hosts executive roundtable on digital literacy and creativity

March 9, 2023
Academic Strategic Communications
UTSA hosts executive roundtable on digital literacy and creativity

Academic Innovation Vice Provost Melissa Vito chats with Brittany Araujo before she and other UTSA students led a panel discussion during the Adobe Higher Education Executive Roundtable.

UTSA hosted an Adobe Higher Education Executive Roundtable at San Pedro I, home of the School of Data Science, where participants explored how Adobe Creative Cloud tools can build transformative experiences that promote student engagement, creativity, and critical thinking.

During the roundtable, the Adobe team and a dozen representatives from large and small colleges and universities heard from UTSA leaders, faculty and students about the impact of Adobe tools on UTSA student success.

“At UTSA, we work closely with faculty to integrate the use of Adobe Creative Suite tools into curricula, and it’s led to measurable student success,” said Melissa Vito, vice provost of academic innovation, an academic support division within Academic Affairs. “When faculty build these tools into their lessons and course assignments, students strengthen their digital literacy, demonstrate their knowledge of the subject matter and build skills highly valued in the workforce.”

UTSA was one of three institutions studied for the 2021 report, Improving Student Outcomes: The Impact of Creative Skills on College and Career. The report noted that UTSA’s work with faculty contributed to the deepest evidence of impact on students’ academic success and retention among the schools in the study. In addition, it found that UTSA students in courses that utilized Adobe Creative Cloud tools performed better than their peers. For example, all undergrads in courses that integrated Creative Cloud tools earned .23 higher average course grades and 4.5% more A/B grades than equally matched students in non-Creative Cloud courses.

Chris Packham, professor in the College of Sciences’ Department of Physics and Astronomy, said that innovative tools from Adobe as well as V/R technology helped him help inspire and foster creativity among the next generation of scientists and engineers. Packham is one of the researchers who are analyzing images from the James Webb Space Telescope. During his roundtable presentation, he demonstrated how he used Adobe Photoshop to get a clearer picture of astronomical phenomena. He also said that Adobe Creative Cloud tools allowed him to turn ‘somewhat esoteric concepts’ into virtual environments and more engaging course materials.

Attendees heard first-hand from UTSA students about how Adobe transformed their studies. It also helped them gain an advantage when applying for scholarships and networking at career fairs.

“When you go to UTSA, you have the opportunity to try something that’s beyond what you would normally expect out of an education,” said Carson Cowan, a sophomore accounting major at the Carlos Alvarez College of Business. “It increases your ability to think creatively, critically - it really broadens your horizons and your ability to express yourself."

"I couldn’t imagine not having access to Adobe," Cowan added.

UTSA is relatively unique among other campuses. The university makes Adobe Creative Cloud tools available for its entire student body at no additional cost. Additionally, UTSA has a dedicated Adobe Specialist, Willie Schaefer, who provides on-site and virtual training for faculty and students.

“To have a human being just answer your questions quickly and being able to interpret what you’re asking, it’s so invaluable,” said Brittany Araujo, a graduate student seeking a Master of Science in Architecture at the UTSA Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design. “Willie is great to work with because he cares about what you’re interested in getting out of the position that will help you later in your career.”

Schaefer often leads workshops and special events in the Adobe Creative Corner in the new Academic Innovation Center on UTSA’s Main Campus. During the sessions, he helps faculty and students leverage Adobe tools in their curriculum, course work and careers.

UTSA was the first four-year university in Texas and only one of 26 universities in the United States when it joined the Adobe Creative Campus community in 2019. Since then, the number of Adobe Creative Campuses has grown to 67. As a result of its approach, is looked to as an for how an Adobe Creative Campus can further energize and advance its students’ creativity, digital literacy and academic success.