SJSU Recognized as Adobe Creative Campus

A female and make student smile while admiring graphic design posters lined up on the wall.

Students look at graphic design posters on the wall prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Jim Gensheimer / San José State University.

San José State University has been named an Adobe Creative Campus for its commitment to using technology to provide students with a transformative path to success.

SJSU is among a select group of colleges and universities Adobe identified as higher education innovators actively advancing digital literacy skills across the curriculum. By making Adobe Creative Cloud available to its students, SJSU provides creative and persuasive digital communication tools that will give them an edge in the competitive modern workplace.

“San José State is honored to be recognized by Adobe as a Creative Campus,” said Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Vincent J. Del Casino Jr. “There is nothing more important in today’s world than creative and digital literacy. By providing our students with access to these creative software tools, we can enable them to do wonderful things in the digital world, but also to gain expertise at productive collaboration. Being named an Adobe Creative Campus is one of the many puzzle pieces we are putting in place to ensure that SJSU students can take advantage of as many opportunities as possible.”

SJSU students have access to all the Adobe Creative Cloud apps and services at no additional cost. Universal access to these industry leading communication tools is part of SJSU’s endeavor to prioritize equity and inclusion, leveling the playing field in the classroom. By becoming proficient in the software used every day by so many employers, SJSU students can gain valuable experience and soft skills to better demonstrate their digital literacy capabilities when entering the job market.

There are more than 20 Adobe Creative Cloud applications that students can practice with every day, including InDesign, Photoshop, Premiere Rush and Illustrator—leading industry standard applications across the curriculum used by many employers where SJSU students will be working.

“Digital literacy and fluency are quickly becoming core competencies for employment opportunities on an international scale,” said Sebastian Distefano, director, education strategic development. “One of the most effective ways academic institutions can ensure their students become digitally literate and fluent before they enter the competitive workforce is through early and frequent exposure to creative tools. We are delighted that San José State University has embraced Adobe Creative Cloud, as students will now have the tools they need to seamlessly unlock their creativity and share their stories in more visually compelling ways. As a result, students of all majors can nurture the fundamental soft skills that will be critical to success in their future careers.”

As an Adobe Creative Campus, San Jose State University will also have access to peer-to-peer collaboration with other Adobe Creative Campus institutions, support for driving student adoption in the classroom, and thought leadership opportunities within the global higher education community.

John Delacruz Named as a 2020 Adobe Master Teacher

Professor John Delacruz gestures with his hands while teaching his class.

John Delacruz teaches a course prior to COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Jim Gensheimer / San José State University

Associate Professor John Delacruz was included as one of Adobe’s inaugural Master Teachers, one of 35 educators in K-12 and higher education selected from across the globe. The program recognizes pedagogical expertise, educational innovation, and a commitment by “master teachers” to share their best practices, insights, and curricular materials with educators across the globe. The summer program included a professional learning community within the cohort, training on instructional design and professional curriculum writing, and a badge to share on professional profiles.

An experienced educator in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Delacruz is responsible for the Creative Track of San José State’s advertising program. The fellowship recognizes his expertise in using Adobe Creative Cloud in his teaching, his ongoing development of industry and education partnerships, and his success guiding student collaborative projects nationally and internationally.

Delacruz said, “The collaboration tools, Adobe Creative Cloud, that I’m using in the classroom now are the collaboration tools that they’re going to be using when they get out into the working world.”

Last spring, in Delacruz’s senior capstone course in design for advertising, students created awareness campaigns for a local business or local nonprofit organization. Using the Adobe Creative Cloud, students make real-world advertising creative projects and pitch them to real clients. Delacruz said the projects his seniors did in class matched how they will work once they start their jobs.

“For a lot of my students, this is such a big taste of the real world,” Delacruz said. “They’re learning a bunch of digital tools they’re going to have to use to move forward. They get to present orally, they ideate and collaborate in teams, and they work through a problem using critical thinking and understanding user groups and people.

“Adobe Creative Cloud is what industries are built on,” he said. “Even in this online moment, our students are learning skills that are really going to help them in the workplace.”

Delacruz has been a campus and statewide leader in using Adobe communication tools to augment his teaching. Last year, SJSU hosted a unique virtual Adobe Creative Jam with participants from seven other California State Universities.

All of these partnering initiatives are part of the connection that becoming an Adobe Creative Campus brings with it. SJSU collaboration with other Adobe Creative Campus institutions is designed to foster the sharing of ideas and innovations that expand digital literacy on the path to student success.

SJSU Students Shine at Adobe Creative Jam

Donna Caldwell, a senior solutions consultant, leads the Adobe XD bootcamp for students who competed in the Adobe Creative Jam April 18, 2019. Photo by Robert C. Bain

Donna Caldwell, a senior solutions consultant, leads the Adobe XD bootcamp for students who competed in the Adobe Creative Jam April 18, 2019. Photo by Robert C. Bain

More than 100 San Jose State University students from a mix of disciplines and majors participated in Adobe’s Creative Jam April 18, at the company’s headquarters in downtown San Jose. The annual event allows students to gather to hear from design professionals, receive a portfolio review and compete in a live design challenge.

The 35 students who participated in the Creative Jam competition arrived at 3 p.m. for a deep, but quick tutorial on Adobe XD, a tool that allows users to design, prototype for websites and mobile apps. The tool is focused on allowing collaboration and creating user experience. By 4 p.m., students were divided into seven interdisciplinary design teams and challenged to create an app to help people digitally detox.

A team of SJSU students received the Judges' Award at the 2019 Adobe Creative Jam April 18 for designing a prototype of an app to help people digitally detox. Photo by Nathaniel Agot

A team of SJSU students received the Judges’ Award at the 2019 Adobe Creative Jam April 18 for designing a prototype of an app to help people digitally detox. Photo by Nathaniel Agot

A team of four including two graphic design students, a marketing major, a city and regional planning major, and a journalism and mass communications major approached the competition by designing an app to help people find a way to connect when they are together.

“As a group we noticed that when you hang out, people stare at their phones together,” said Sonam Dhanjal, a graphic design major. “We wanted to create an app that would be more like playtime—hanging out together and doing fun things. That’s the essence of how our app design started.”

Graphic design students Dhanjal and Christine Park said one of the biggest challenges was that they only had 30 minutes to create the visuals. Of the students, only one had used Adobe XD before the competition.

“The biggest takeaway is that we should always be creative and just keep creating,” said Amber Tsai, a business marketing major. “When you are working with people that you’ve never met before, you could build off of it with the energy your group has.”

The Adobe Creative Jam Judges Panel poses for a photo after selecting a winning prototype. Photo by Nanzi Muro.

The Adobe Creative Jam Judges Panel poses for a photo after selecting a winning prototype. Photo by Nanzi Muro.

All seven teams presented their prototypes to a panel of judges that included SJSU Associate Professor of advertising John Delacruz; Mel Day, a visiting lecturer in Art and Art History; Assistant Professor of graphic design Yoon Chung Han; Assistant Professor of media design Tina Korani; and Shannon Rhodes, an experience designer at Adobe.

The panel of judges selected their app “Challenge Accepted” for Judge’s Award. The app encourages groups of friends to accept dares they complete offline such as dance with no music for one minute, hold a funny face for 30 seconds, or other activities.

The other team to receive an award included five students from four majors.

Team Detox received the Audience Choice Award at the Adobe Creative Jam on April 18, 2019.

Team Detox received the Audience Choice Award at the Adobe Creative Jam on April 18, 2019. Photo by Nanzi Muro

“I was really happy to meet my teammates,” said Nhat Nguyen, a software engineering major who joined with a journalism and mass communication major, an economics major and two graphic design majors. “We found this synergy and it felt like a team and I really liked that aspect. We all worked well together and if someone didn’t know what to do, we said it out loud.”

With one hour to develop, design and prototype an app, the students divvied up the work with someone keeping track of time, someone in charge of design and someone in charge or prototyping.

“The hardest part of the competition is that the prompt was digital detoxing, but we were still creating an app,” said Jennifer Lopez, a graphic design major. “We wanted to get them away from social media and out of their regular phone usage to do some other activities.”

The team ultimately won the Audience Choice Award when they presented their app at the end of the evening.

“The biggest take away is that we learned from our teammates,” said Hoi Shan Cheung, a journalism and mass communications major. “The collaboration was really exciting.”

Their “detox” app idea creates a prompt to users that it is time to take a break from social media or online activity, asks them how much time they want to spend offline and offers option of activities such as meditating, breathing exercises or drawing.

While some students were engaged in the design competition, others signed up for a 30-minute, one-on-one portfolio review with design experts. Following the design competition and review, the students listened to presentations from two keynote speakers, Susan Wu, who as worked at CloudNOW, and Sariah Sizemore, a wellness trainer and coach who shared her thoughts on the mental and emotional implications of a reliance on digital products.

All the students on the two winning teams received a year’s subscription to the complete Adobe Creative Cloud suite and all competitors received a three-month subscription to Adobe Stock.

The planning committee for the event included Jennifer Redd, director of eCampus, Debra Caires, computer science lecturer, James Morgan, digital media art lecturer and Korani. View prototypes of all teams as well as more photos from the event online.

eCampus student assistant Thewodros Kebede contributed to this report.