Oak View Middle students earn Photoshop certification

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 6:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 6:12 p.m.

About 50 Alachua County technology students recently earned qualifications for entry-level graphic design jobs — at the tender ages of 12 to 14.

Oak View Middle School this year became the first middle school in the county to offer industry certifications in Adobe Photoshop.

“We really wanted to give our kids some access to things that will help them when they go to get jobs,” said Jessica Campbell, who teaches a technology class for seventh-graders in the school’s academic and technology magnet program.

Of the 85 seventh- and eighth-graders who last month took the industry certification test for Adobe Photoshop, 54 passed and became Adobe certified associates.

Campbell said the certification shows potential employers or college graphic design programs that the students have a strong working knowledge of the software.

In the past, the magnet classes offered a survey of technology, teaching Microsoft Office, Mac programs such as iMovie and Garage Band, and some light HTML and programming skills, Campbell said.

But this past fall, Campbell and Jeff Davis, who teaches technology to sixth- and eighth-graders in the magnet, went looking for something to add to their curriculum that could potentially help their students work with technology in high school.

With help from the district, Oak View bought the Adobe Creative Suite 6, a software bundle that comes with several programs for multimedia design.

The software cost $8,800, said Dave Edwards, director of career/technical education for Alachua County Public Schools.

Starting halfway through January, magnet students were able to learn such Adobe programs as Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Illustrator and Flash.

“Jeff and I were kind of learning along with the kids,” Campbell said.

Along with buying the software itself, Oak View got a license to offer certification testing to an unlimited number of students for one year.

The only certification that was available this year was Photoshop, but Campbell said Oak View hopes to offer certifications in the more advanced computer graphics programs Illustrator and Dreamweaver in the coming year.

Edwards said an Adobe certification will begin at Howard Bishop Middle School in the fall.

Industry certification programs already exist at all of the high schools in the district, and Edwards said he hopes to expand industry certification programs into more middle schools as soon as finances permit.

“It makes an awful lot of sense,” he said. “It’s a whole new way of looking at how we educate people.”

In addition to computer graphics skills that students could use for a side job during high school, Campbell said learning the programs helped her students understand complicated problem solving.

“Cognitively, it’s amazing the skills they learn as they’re using the software,” she said. “Just as a learning experience, not even with the software itself, I think it helps them grow as learners.”

Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or erin.jester@gainesville.com.

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