Love ’em or hate ’em, student evaluations of teaching (SETs) are here to stay. Parts <a href="https://www.teachingprofessor.com/free-article/its-time-to-discuss-student-evaluations-bias-with-our-students-seriously/" target="_blank"...
Online faculty have numerous options for creating graphic, video, and website content. But Adobe Spark stands out as a single system that can create all three types of content. Spark is really three systems in one—Spark Post for graphics, Spark Video for videos, and Spark Page for websites—and the all-in-one design has numerous advantages over using different apps for different purposes. One is ease of integration across media types. Everything the user creates is in a single library that can be drawn from for any of the media types. The user can create a graphic in Post and use it in a video without leaving the system. The user can also integrate the videos they create into a website. Additionally, because the basic functions are similar across the three apps, the user does not need to learn three very different systems. This ease of use can be especially helpful for student projects where software training is often an issue. Students need learn only one system to make nearly all types of media.
Like all “freemium” systems, Spark’s free account allows the user to get started and is fine for simple uses and student projects. Instructors, however, may want to pay $120 for the annual premium license once they see its benefits for course design. Spark is also easy to navigate and fairly intuitive. In particular, it provides templates to get the user started, allowing anyone to create attractive content without any computer design experience. Plus, Spark provides a place to host and share content so that faculty and students do not need to worry about compatibility with their school’s LMS or lack of access to hosting options. All the user needs to do is share a URL to give others access to their creation.
While Spark is not as well-known as other systems, it has a loyal following among users and a wide range of applications for education.
Spark Post allows users to easily combine photos with text, animations, shapes, and colors to create striking images ideal for introducing a topic. Once in Spark Post, the user first picks the type of graphic they are creating, such as a poster, flier, ad, or social media post. The user is then given upwards of 100 different examples of the type of graphic to choose from. These examples serve as a customizable template for creating a work.
After choosing a template, the user personalizes it by swapping out the original elements for their own. They might start by changing the image to one they have uploaded or found through the built-in image search function that connects to repositories of thousands of copyright-free images. The user also swaps out the text and other elements. Everything can be resized, modified, and moved around to experiment with different designs. Best of all, the user can also choose between pre-set layouts, fonts, and color combinations by clicking a button and having their creation automatically reformatted in line with the choice. The user can also choose among formats optimized for different platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The user can also start with a blank canvas if they wish.
Take a look at this short tutorial from Jarrad Gleim on how to use Spark Post to make classroom projects.
Video is becoming the go-to method for many types of communication, and while there are many video formats, digital storytelling is ideal for conveying complex ideas. Instead of shooting a live video, the user builds a video on their computer by combining video, graphics, and other elements to tell a story. Spark Video is perfect for this use. It is a great way to deliver a lesson online, and it makes for an excellent assignment that requires students to develop a kind of mini-documentary to explain a concept.
As with Spark Post, the user begins by choosing from different templates, including a trailer to publicize an event, a tutorial, a lesson, and a campaign for a cause. The user then builds the video in slides, which resemble PowerPoint slides in that they are canvases on which the user places the visual elements of their story. The user can click a green microphone icon at the bottom of each slide record their narration for it. This will cause the slide to display for as long as the narration runs. The user can create as many slides as they want, and at the end the system will merge them into a single, continuous video.
Take a look at this video by Richard Byrne on how to use Spark Video.
While website design seems daunting, Spark Page makes it easy. Once again the user starts by choosing a template and is then walked though the process of adding visual and sound elements to build the page. Here the integration of image, video, and web design apps into one system is especially helpful as the student can add images and videos created through the other two systems.
Essentially, Spark Page provides a series of rectangular boxes that the user loads with content. Each box is a canvas stretching horizontally across the page. The page scrolls up and down through as many boxes as the user chooses to add. For instance, if the page is a student project about the events that led to the Chernobyl disaster, each page can be devoted to one event to create a timeline. The student can put an image or graphic representing the event in each box, along with text, links, or a video. This allows the viewer to navigate their way through the story.
Spark Page also includes a Glideshow format that creates movement on the page by drawing elements in and out of the screen as the user scrolls through the content. This adds an attractive, professional-looking element that helps capture the viewer’s attention and imagination. Take a look at this tutorial from Kelsey Greenwell on how to create a Glideshow in Adobe Spark.
If you use graphics, videos, or webpages in your teaching or would like to do so, Adobe Spark is an excellent system for getting started. The templates not only make design easy but also provide numerous ideas that broaden your thinking about how to teach concepts in a digital medium. Give it a try for free and see where it takes you!