Okay Class, Everyone Take Your Phones Out: Transforming a distraction into a learning tool by integrating the development of a mobile application solution into class assignments

Primary author: Cynthia Williams
Co-author(s): Chris Cooney; Lisa Johnson-Shull; Karen Weathermon

Primary college/unit: WSU Creative Corridor, Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement
Campus: Pullman


Teaching academic success skills using an innovative project that aligns with the digital world students regularly inhabit is a challenge. To explore the value of a digital literacy project in developing college and career skills, over 300 freshman students enrolled in 15 sections of UNIV 104 participated in WSU’s first in-curriculum Adobe Creative Jam project in October 2019.
Using a theme from WSU’s Common Reading book Refuge, students were assigned the Adobe App Project. Over a two-week period, small teams researched a problem associated with “relocation.” Each team identified a problem and those impacted to create a human-centered, mobile application solution using Adobe XD. Teams presented their design solution in class for peer judging, resulting in 28 semi-finalist teams submitting their design solutions to Adobe for professional judging. Eleven teams were selected by Adobe to present their design solutions at the Adobe WSU Fall Creative Jam Competition.
At the end of the Fall 2019 semester, 276 students were surveyed to determine whether their participation in the Adobe App Project had improved their critical thinking skills, their ability to explore ideas using digital design tools, and their acquisition of other specific college and career skills. The survey response rate was 76.8%, with 26.7% wanting to improve their Adobe XD skills and 21.6 % indicating an interest in working with a mentor to develop app-based solutions. Overall >65% agreed their college and career skills had improved as a result of their participation in the Adobe App Project.