Skip to main content

Digital Literacy using Adobe Spark!

Guest Blogger: Phillip Timcheck

Phillip Timcheck is an Instructor, Division of Nursing at Winston-Salem State University.

In many courses that I have instructed, a culminating presentation near the end of the course tends to be the go-to as an evaluation piece. Often times, students are given instructions to pick a topic from the course, create a PowerPoint or poster presentation, and present based upon guidelines from the instructor. After maintaining this same or similar set-up for years, this past Fall I decided to make a change through the use of Adobe Spark. Using this product significantly supports the initiative to improve digital literacy at Winston-Salem State University. If you are unfamiliar with this product, I suggest you check out the link below. A brief video really speaks volumes for how you can use this in your classroom.

Adobe Spark

Before I go further,  if you haven’t heard, all faculty, staff and students have licenses to the entire Adobe Creative Campus suite of digital creation tools, for FREE!  This is part of the digital literacy initiative support and co-sponsored by CITI and IT. Students can access Adobe CC through their student portal, but faculty need to request activation by submitting a RAMSupport ticket.  Adobe Spark is a free tool, whether or not you have an Adobe CC license but faculty and students should use their WSSU credential to log in to Spark.

The Redesign

When undergoing the end-of-course presentation re-design, I had two major areas of concern:

  1. How can I make sure students are able to use the product and to use it effectively?
  2. In what way can I redesign my rubric to best support student success?

Product Education for Students

Any time I introduce new technology into the classroom, I always have concern on how students will receive it. In regards to Adobe Spark, I had spent some time exploring its offerings and found it to be rather intuitive. Because of this, I figured student adoption wouldn’t be too overbearing. Of course when I first introduced the product, I asked my class how many of them had heard of Adobe Spark. 100% had NOT! Yet, I reassured them that the product was pretty easy to use and once they started to use it, they would probably prefer it over creating another PowerPoint or poster.

To make sure students were able to access the product properly and to showcase basic functions, I invited Mr. James Russell from the university Media Production Lab to provide a brief in-service to the class. For my class, this in-service took at most 30 minutes of class time; however, for smaller class (my class had approximately 80 students), the introduction to Spark can occur even faster. Mr. Russell would be the best to ask concerning this, but I anticipate he can showcase the product in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. His visitation to my class was excellent! All students were able to gain access and start using the product right away. If you plan to use Abode Spark, I highly suggest you engage the Media Production Lab to introduce the product to your students. Not only does this give a great entrance to the product, but the Media Production Lab can offer support if students need technical assistance.

Rubric Redesign

As Adobe Spark was a new presentation modality for my students, I spent considerable time deciding how to redesign my rubric for the presentation to best support student success. I decided it was most appropriate to be as descriptive as possible with the project description and with each evaluation criterion. In this way, the students could “check the boxes” when assessing if their project fit the rubric. This approach also allowed me to be as transparent as possible when evaluating student presentations as I could specifically circle or note in which areas students were successful and in which areas students were deficient. I suggest you check with colleagues who may have already utilized Spark in the classroom to help you create a rubric that is functional for your course (shout-out to Cecile Yancu for helping me out!). If you would like a copy of what I used in my course, feel free to reach out to me (

Closing Remarks

I was extremely pleased at how well Adobe Spark was received by the students and how much more interactive their presentations were. With such visual appeal and video integration capability, I am glad I made the change. Student feedback for the product also appeared to be positive, which is always a plus!

I hope you consider implementing Adobe Spark in your course as it is truly a great way to support digital literacy. Make sure to look for the upcoming Digital Literacy Spark workshops from CITI!