Miami Dade College Unleashes the Power of Adobe Certified Professional

Miami Dade College (MDC) has the largest undergraduate enrollment of any college or university in the country, serving over 165,000 students annually. They offer bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, certifications, and adult continuing education through eight campuses and several outreach centers. The MDC School of Entertainment and Design Technology serves over 2,700 students enrolled in nine programs ranging from a bachelor’s degree in Film and TV to an associate degree in Graphic Arts.

Tommy Demos is an Assistant Professor of Film, TV and Digital Production and Eric Cornish is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Arts Design at MDC. Demos and Cornish are both Adobe Education Leaders, a group made up of 196 professors and instructors across the world.

Through the Adobe Education Community, Demos and Cornish discovered the Adobe Certified Professional program, an industry-recognized credential offered through Certiport that verifies fundamental design skills in Adobe software including Adobe After Effects, Adobe Animate, Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Flash, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Premiere Pro.

“We heard about Adobe certification in a webinar on integrating third party certification into career pathways while we were on summer vacation,” said Demos. “When we learned about the Adobe Certified Professional certification and all of its benefits, we wanted to bring it to Miami Dade immediately.”

Integrating Adobe Industry Credentials into MDC Degree Programs

Demos and Cornish spent a few years researching and working on Adobe Certified Professional approval at the school-level. They started by consulting with campus administration and exploring how the Adobe certification would fit into college priorities.

“Obtaining Dean approval for Adobe Certified Professional certification was easy because getting students industry certified was a huge priority at the college,” said Demos. “Our Dean suggested we leverage Perkins funding or the TechHire grant to purchase Adobe Certified Professional certification exams.”

MDC became a Certiport Authorized Testing Center for convenient, on-campus testing. Demos and Cornish knew exam costs would need to be subsidized in order to make them affordable for students, so the first year of Adobe certification was paid for by a federal TechHire grant. They started with a model that allowed students to be reimbursed for the cost of the Adobe Certified Professional exam if they passed. The exams were offered as optional extra credit in several summer session courses in the MDC School of Entertainment and Design Technology including video editing, graphic design, and web authoring.

“We quickly realized optional Adobe certification did not work well. We knew we would need to integrate mandatory Adobe Certified Professional preparation, practice tests, and official exams into courses in order to get students certified,” said Cornish. “By incorporating preparation and exams into student coursework we could reinforce learning outcomes and program learning objectives.”

MDC piloted mandatory testing by making the Adobe certification exam the final exam in several courses for Fall semester. As the pilot semester concluded, they facilitated a workshop for full and part-time faculty to prepare them for Adobe Certified Professional integration the following Spring. They also changed the exam fee reimbursement model to a free first attempt model.

Adobe Certified Professional Success with a Supportive Ecosystem

Once the program was in place, the MDC School of Entertainment and Design Technology took several steps to ensure Adobe Certified Professional success. They teamed up with college leadership to create a collaborative space for students called the Digital Design Den with an open floor plan to encourage collaboration. They outfitted the space with some desktops, laptops and tablets and allowed students to bring their own devices. They encouraged student film festivals, faculty professional development workshops, and other outside activities to keep the creative flame burning.

“At first there was a little bit of hesitation from students asking, ‘Why do I need to be certified?’” said Cornish. “Once we got going, they understood that Adobe Certified Professional certification fills in the gaps in our instruction. We can only teach so much by trying to cover the material, but when we integrated Adobe certification, we were able to cover those gaps with hands-on learning.”

Students like David Rabinovitch, a sophomore at MDC, agree. “Every step of the way the professor, syllabus and curriculum all tied in together to make this process seamless. We took several practice exams and the moment I took the Adobe certification I felt comfortable doing it – I was prepared and ready.”

In the first year of the Adobe Certified Professional program at MDC, 204 certifications were earned. In the second school year that number went up to 253 certifications. Demos and Cornish have seen many benefits from offering Adobe certification, including students gaining confidence in their skillset and certification becoming a key asset on their resume. Zachary Debedout, an MDC Junior, said, “I have definitely had better opportunities with freelance work due to having the Adobe Certified Professional badges listed on my website. I’ve seen people trust my work more and trust that I would be able to use the tools they wanted me to use.”

Both Demos and Cornish say the best thing about Adobe Certified Professional certification is that is a stackable credential that students can earn as they progress from College Credit Certificate, to associate degree, to bachelor’s degree. Once students earn an Adobe Certified Professional certification, they are more confident and more likely to stay in their chosen degree program.

“The badge is like a pat on their back as they work toward a degree,” said Demos. “Let’s say you are a freshman who is a little bit unsure of your chosen degree path. You take a video editing or graphic design class and four months in you take and pass an industry-recognized certification that tells employers you are proficient in an industry standard software. That really makes a student feel good, it’s an early win in the academic process that keeps them engaged.”

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