Adobe Creative Cloud Express (formerly Adobe Spark) is a free, low barrier to entry tool that anyone can use. Registering for a free account using any of a number of quick sign-up options allows anyone to quickly spin up projects that autosave, and are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. There are a number of great things to say about this product, of which a few pedagogically important ones are below.
Adobe has taken some of the most common workflows for tools like Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator and boiled them down into automated workflows in the online Express interface. These are very handy for anyone working on creative projects. Need to remove the background from behind someone? Use Express. No more learning Photoshop to accomplish this one task! Other tasks of note include resizing and cropping images and videos, quickly creating gifs from images, and converting file types, just to name a few.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Express tool is the ability to remix existing images, infographics, flyers, and logos. What this means, from a practical perspective, is that users can quickly get to creating interesting content without having to necessarily worry about the major graphic design elements.
For students, this means focusing on content and less on the tool as a vehicle for that content. While having graphic design skills is a valuable asset, there are times when content should be the primary focus of the assignment – and this is where Express can really shine. Infographics take minutes, not hours, and do not require a deep knowledge of Illustrator or charts generated using R. Want students to work on something more creative? Album or Book covers can similarly be created with little effort. All of these are mixed through a drag and drop interface that has built in assistance for color theming and sizing.
The other really great aspect of Express is the built in collaboration. One click invites allow others to collaborate in real time on projects with you. For students, this means easy editing in a way that they are familiar with – as the functionality is just like Google Docs. Similarly, it’s easy to create templates within Express to allow others to quickly create derivative works. Have an idea for a basic poster and want students to riff on a theme? Create a template and share it with them! They can then publish online and share a link with you, or save it to a Google Drive folder of their choosing.
Express takes the technical piece out of many of the design elements for projects. While sometimes valuable, for those that are seeking to represent content in new and creative ways without investing huge amounts of time in learning design tools, Express makes content generation accessible.
If you need additional help integrating Adobe Express into your class, or would like to explore additional resources, we’re happy to assist. Please contact the Learning and Applied Innovation Team at ITSHelp@colgate.edu