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Winston-Salem State University to build new digital space with $1 million grant from Adobe

When Wanda White first saw the Adobe Digital Space at Clemson University a year or so ago, she knew Winston-Salem State University should have one.

And now the university will. Adobe recently announced a $1 million grant to WSSU for the creation of a digital space on campus, part of Adobe’s new Anchor School Program.

“When I saw Clemson’s (digital) lab, it was a showcase. I was like ‘I want one of those’,” said White, the director of the Center for Innovative and Transformative Instruction at WSSU. “They had this space given to them by Adobe, and I inquired how we could get one.”

WSSU was already an Adobe partner. The university has been an Adobe Creative Campus since 2018, which means WSSU provides for students to use Adobe Creative Cloud products at no cost to them while enrolled as students. Another plus to being an Adobe Creative Campus is that faculty and staff receive access to the tools and free training on Adobe products.

Wanda White
Dr. Wanda White, director of the Center for Innovative and Transformative Instruction at WSSU

The grant will be used to convert tentatively the second floor of the C.G. O’Kelly Library on the WSSU campus or another designated area into a large digital space. The grant will also fund personnel training, faculty development and equipment. 

“This space will not look like a regular classroom,” White said of the Adobe digital lab, which is expected to open in the fall of 2023. “It will be a digital lab, a learning space that will serve students, faculty and staff and we are discussing how we could include people from the East Winston-Salem area in it. It’s going to be a place where faculty can work with students on projects, where students can create and do simulations.”

White said Adobe gives the university almost total autonomy in setting up the lab and digital literacy programming.

“Their definition is pretty open-ended. It is for digital literacy, that it will include equipment and space for digital innovations and simulations.”

In a press release announcing the award, Adobe said its Anchor School Program gives (Adobe) the opportunity to partner with universities to develop unique solutions that expose students to careers in tech and prepare them with the creativity and digital skills of the future.

White said the impact of the Anchor School Program is going to be far-reaching.

“Digital skills are necessary skills. We used to call it a soft skill, but now it’s necessary. When you have this on a resume, it sets you apart,” said White. “Digital fluency will definitely change career paths and success for our students. When they walk across the stage as seniors, they will have been immersed in it for four years. It definitely gives them an edge when it comes to digital literacy.”

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