Software Access for Marketing Students

To: Dr. George E. Ebbs, Academic Dean of the Luter School of Business

CC: Pamela F. Pringle, Director of the Luter School of Business

From: Chris Townley – Marketing

Subject: Software Access for Marketing Students

After my completion of the marketing program course selection here at Christopher Newport University, I can ultimately say that I am ready to face the professional world to become a marketing professional. The Luter School of Business, with its prestigious AACSB accreditation, has hand-selected a specific set of courses and professors that it believes will push its students to excellence in the best way possible. I have trekked my way through this program and I have persevered through every obstacle. Having been through it, though, I can now say that there is one select obstacle that presents itself as particularly trying: Adobe editing software. It is an integral part of being a marketing major here at CNU and is also a necessary skill in most marketing workplaces. For being such an important set of tools that requires such an enormous skill set to operate, I do not believe that the current level of access is adequate enough for complete success.

Abstract

Marketing majors will participate in a number of real-world cases and be involved in the creation of multiple integrated marketing campaigns. Those cases and campaigns all involve the production of creative materials. These creative materials span from logos to websites and beyond. Marketing majors are even encouraged to take the Digital Marketing elective with Dr. Hettche, which is based around the digital creation of marketing materials and a website. Digital art and design is an underlying integral part of every marketing major’s life. Yet, there are not many design resources available to them. Access and the knowledge base for design software, whether it be Illustrator, InDesign, or even just Microsoft Publisher, is imperative for the marketing major. In a marketing major’s senior set of classes, one may receive a small introduction to some of the Adobe platforms but after that you are sent out into the jungle on your own. Set out to fight the masses for a select number of computers available and left alone with hundreds of editing tools in a single design window. If one is an art student, you have access to computer labs full of what you need. This includes the software and someone who can take you through it step by step. Marketing majors attempt to battle the design world through trial by fire. After much deliberation, research, and interviews of the parties involved, it has become apparent that it is best to adjust the current levels of access and instruction for Adobe editing software for marketing students. With this information I have come to the conclusion that it is best to set up a software discount program for Christopher Newport students so they can access Adobe software at a lower cost. I also recommend that a digital lab be created on campus that can be a place of congregation and access for students.

Keywords: marketing, adobe, access, business, software, digital, success

The following study will shed light on the current successes and frustrations of Adobe software access. The purpose of this narrative study is analyze the role that editing software plays in the lives of marketing majors and how the lack of access to that software has hindered the marketing program here at Christopher Newport University. The data for this study will be collected through personal narration and interviews of involved/interested parties. As a marketing major I have personal insight and related experiences with the use and instruction of Adobe editing software in and out of my classes. Two marketing professors, both who require the use of the software discussed within their courses, were interviewed. The director of media services for Christopher Newport University’s Trible Library was also asked to comment and was given a similar series of questions to discuss thoroughly.

Upon recollection of my personal experiences and the compilation and analysis of professional opinions there are a select number of solutions and recommendations to resolve the current access and comprehension difficulty:

– Student trial/access to Adobe editing creative suite.

– The creation of a digital lab on campus where these programs are available.

This study was conducted using the narrative form of data collection and explanation. More specifically, a personal experience story and an oral history gathered from others were combined to draw conclusions and make recommendations. The personal experiences are my own and cover the 2 years of my time here at Christopher Newport in the Luter School of Business. By definition, a narrative is “understood as a spoken or written text giving an account of an event/action or series of events/actions, chronologically connected.”

  1. I recalled my personal experiences while in the Luter School of Business marketing program.
  2. I interviewed Dr. Lisa Spiller, Dr. Matthew Hettche, and Mr. Johnnie Gray
  3. I researched the relative and projected logistics of the proposed recommendations

Data

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 9.49.56 PM

This visualization represents the key words used in the data I collected and gathered from interviews and questionnaires related to the access and the importance of Adobe software.

I completed my marketing major program requirements this past spring and will graduate early with my BSBA in Marketing this fall. There are three classes within the marketing major that require the use of Adobe programs; Digital Marketing (MKTG 330), Integrated Marketing Communications (MKTG 460), and Interactive Marketing Strategy (MKTG 470W). While in the midst of the marketing program, you take the two consecutive advanced courses, Marketing 460 and Marketing 470W with integrated campaigns that directly require the use of Adobe software. Dr. Lisa Spiller, who teaches both Marketing 460 and Marketing 470W, said that design is an integral part of not only the classes she teaches but of the marketing world. When enrolled in her classes, I had numerous assignments involving Adobe programs due throughout the semester. Two class periods in Marketing 460 are dedicated to instruction on how to use these programs. Johnnie Gray, the Director of Media Services, doesn’t believe that “an hour of demonstration takes the place of hours of hands on use” and I personally and wholeheartedly agree. There are two locations on campus where marketing students can use Adobe software; the media center and one of the classrooms in the Luter School of Business building. The media center closes at 9pm most evenings and the classroom closes at 11pm. This would seem sufficient if it were not for the sheer complication of actually using these spaces. The media center only has a small number of computers with Adobe installed and they are often in use by other students for simple computing purposes rather than the software itself. The classroom in Luter typically has a number of lectures held within it throughout the day and is also often filled with other students. These programs take time to navigate and even more time to master. To submit forth our best effort and display our creativity to our best abilities, we need the tools and access that are necessary.

A digital lab located on campus could serve multiple purposes. It could be a space of productivity and collaboration for all students enrolled at CNU regardless of their major field of study. The reported prices for digital labs with a wide array of software made available range from $10,000 to $200,000 or even upwards of a million dollars. That can be intimidating. I am not suggesting a new building or an entirely new facility. I am recommending, at a minimum, a small digital lab space with editing capable software suites within it that students are given public access to. Through an Adobe Campus Agreement, which is common in the United States, the computers in a new digital lab could obtain all of the Adobe editing suite for free. Johnnie Gray spoke on the matter as follows when asked if he would support a digital lab of this nature:

“In the Media Center, we have done what we can to help students have access to Adobe products, but because of space and cost, we have been limited.  I would like to see a central lab, open to everyone with Adobe software.  It makes sense to me that we would have something like that.”

Student downloads and software bundles are no stranger to college campuses and bookstores. Microsoft Office 365 is offered for free to all students at CNU. Hundreds of campuses across the country and even high schools have sponsored software purchases from distributors. These sponsorship programs are a way for students to receive and download advanced software at a lower price point than retail. Students could download Adobe to their personal computers and lesson the stress on the select areas on campus where it is available.

 

References

“Adobe Campus Agreement: No Cost Software for University-owned Computers.” Adobe Campus Agreement: No Cost Software for University-owned Computers. University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2 Oct. 2012. Web. 12 Nov. 2015. <https://www.it.umass.edu/support/software/adobe-campus-agreement-no-cost-software-faculty-staff&gt;.

“Catalogs & Handbooks.” Catalogs & Handbooks. Christopher Newport University, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 12 Nov. 2015. <http://cnu.edu/public/&gt;.

Hoag, Trevor. “Narrative Study.” 1engl353fall2015. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2015. <http://1engl353fall2015.pbworks.com/w/page/99881925/Narrative&gt;.

Maron, Nancy L., and Sarah Pickle. “Understanding Digital Humanities.” (2012): n. pag. Sr.ithaka.org. Ithaka, 18 June 2014. Web. 12 Nov. 2015. <http://www.sr.ithaka.org/wp-content/mig/SR_Supporting_Digital_Humanities_20140618f.pdf&gt;.

Appendix

Questionnaire questions and responses with interview notes.

Johnnie Gray: Director of Media Services

What emphasis would you place on the use of Adobe software within marketing classes here at CNU?

I feel that getting basic knowledge of the Design Suite from Adobe prepares a student for real world application.  Web design and publication design are crucial knowledge and the Adobe programs can help with obtaining those skills and being useful for future employment in the marketing sector.

How important is the use of Adobe software to students in general?

Not all students would be motivated to take advantage of learning Adobe programs.  I think if a student saw how it is applicable to real world tasks, they would get more out of it.  Pairing up with companies in the community is a great way to get experience and show how these things are used.

What instruction/demonstrations about how to use these programs do you provide?

Occasionally, the Media Center will teach quick 1 hour sessions on Photoshop and Illustrator.  Although we do help with InDesign occasionally.  I have taught Photoshop to CNU staff and faculty before from beginning to intermediate skill sets.

Do you believe this instruction/demonstration to be sufficient? Why or why not?

To be honest, I don’t think an hour of demonstration takes the place of hours of hands on use.  To truly be effective, an instructor would need to demonstrate and check on the progress of the students at various stages.  For instance, when I was teaching staff in a lab setting, I would stop and make sure everyone was on the same task.  There were always one or two students that were lagging behind and one gave up and just decided to watch another.  I would individually guide each student to the outcome.

Would you support a CNU sponsored access to Adobe software for students?

Absolutely.  I know that other universities have programs that provide software to students free or for a small fee.  Just like we provide Microsoft Office 360 to students for free, we could also provide a subsidized version of Adobe Design or Adobe Master Suite.  I know that the Fine Arts department is now using Adobe Premiere and After Effects now. I have discussed with IT the option of a site license for Adobe for staff and faculty.   We used to have a site license for CS3 but then the prices went up and that was no longer feasible.  Now it is a price per installation that is charged to the account of the department requesting it.  IT still seeks a site license but it has still not be negotiated in a way that would make it appeal to those in charge.  There was talk of buying 50 licenses and as a user logs in, it will pull from the pool of serial keys and enable it to work.  That way, if certain computers never have the program used, it wouldn’t go to waste and would only be activated as needed.

Would you support a digital lab to be made public that has access to Adobe software?

Yes.  In the Media Center, we have done what we can to help students have access to Adobe products, but because of space and cost, we have been limited.  I would like to see a central lab, open to everyone with Adobe software.  It makes sense to me that we would have something like that.

Do you have any other personal opinions on the matter of Adobe software within the marketing major? If so please explain. (Any related opinion or observation helps)

I think that to be a modern job candidate, you should have design skills and have basic knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.  I feel it gives a student a leg up on other candidates that don’t have that experience.  I feel that many times, it is assumed that students coming out of college have digital design skills when they really are inadequate.

Dr. Matthew Hettche: Marketing Professor

  • Teaches the Digital Marketing elective within the marketing major course options
  • Provides an introduction to Adobe software
  • Has assignments in class that require use of Adobe
  • “There is one classroom in Luter that has computers with adobe loaded on it and I believe the media center has a few computers too.” This classroom is used all day for lectures and closes with the building at 11pm
  • GIMP, a free imagery editing suite, is a simplified version of Adobe Photoshop and is free but doesn’t have anywhere near the capabilities or tools that Adobe provides

Dr. Lisa Spiller: Marketing Professor

  • Brings in Johnnie Gray for Adobe lessons starting marketing student’s senior year. He comes in two different times to explain Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe is integrated into all of her upper level classes’ major campaigns
  • “Design is an integral part of not only the classes I teach but of the marketing world”
  • Discusses use of software in her book (her textbook has multiple editions that have been kept up to date with technology and design)
  • This particular semester of marketing seniors has multiple projects completed using particular Adobe programs due every few weeks
  • Questionnaire:

What emphasis would you place on the use of Adobe software within marketing classes here at CNU?  Strong emphasis in some; moderate in others.

How important is the use of Adobe software to students taking your classes? Critical to MKTG 460; important for MKTG 470.

What instruction/demonstrations about how to use these programs do students receive/witness in your classes? Two complete class periods–each with one lecture on using InDesign and Photoshop (respectively).

Do you believe this instruction/demonstration to be sufficient? Why or why not? It depends on the degree of familiarity the student previously has with the software.

Would you support a CNU sponsored access to Adobe software for students? Yes

Would you support a digital lab to be made public that has access to Adobe software? Yes

Do you have any other personal opinions on the matter of Adobe software within the marketing major? If so, please explain.  I believe that all marketing students should have familiarity with Adobe software as many potential employers offering career positions in marketing will expect as much.

Personal Experience: Marketing Student

  • I completed my marketing major program requirements this past spring and will graduate early with my BSBA in Marketing this fall
  • There are 3 classes within the marketing major that require the use of Adobe programs
    • Digital Marketing (MKTG 330): Includes some instruction
    • Integrated Marketing Communications (MKTG 460)
    • Interactive Marketing Strategy (MKTG 470W)
  • Digital marketing is not a requirement; I chose to take this course for further software exposure
    • There is no set/required instruction on how to use these programs
  • One classroom in Luter has adobe software
    • It is often busy with class and/or closed
  • Media Center has a handful computers with Adobe but they are typically taken due to limited seating and other students
    • Only the Apple computers have the software that is activated
  • The art department of the Ferguson center has at least one Apple Mac computer lab with full Adobe and editing capabilities but you have to be registered for one of the classes that uses that room to access it.
    • Student ID access into the room during selected hours
  • The school does not have any software bundle or discount program for students, not even for Fine Arts majors
  • We lack instruction and direction with this advanced software
  • Access is limited so the amount of effort and productivity towards assigned tasks is hindered
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