Design solutions for real-world projects, powered by Chromebooks
With the steady adoption of Chromebooks, education leaders also recognized the need for solutions that would accelerate the use of design software solutions by STEM Academy students – while also working well on Chromebooks. itopia, which creates “virtual cloud labs” for students, was chosen to run Adobe tools such as Photoshop, as well as Autodesk AutoCAD and Revit.
Chromebooks and itopia are helping educators provide CUSD students with access to the kinds of solutions that well-funded school districts take for granted. “Technology helps us to exploit the gaps of resources that we have in our district,” Smith says.
With itopia on Chromebooks, educators and staff also benefit from the significantly reduced number of IT headaches involved with deploying and maintaining complex and IT resource-heavy software solutions.
“With our Mac lab, we have to engage IT even for minor issues – like doing a factory reset on computers,” Merto says. “But with itopia, we don’t have to wait for the technology department to figure things out. It gives us a lot more flexibility when we want students to have access to design applications right away. The support from itopia also gives us more time to spend with students, since we don’t need to spend time troubleshooting the solution.”
For Smith, who worked in engineering before turning to teaching, the combination of Chromebooks and itopia gives his students a pro-level experience of design tools. That means the students can be even more prepared to take on design tasks at the college level, or in their first jobs out of high school.
“I want my students to experience a real day on the job,” Smith says. “Because of Google and itopia, in the STEM Academy right now, I can mimic real engineering firm projects. When we fired up Autodesk’s AutoCAD program on Chromebooks and itopia, I saw no latency, even when I threw every task at it. That’s amazing to me.”
“Seeing the full Adobe Creative Suite running on school-issued Chromebooks illustrates the strong partnership that Google and Adobe have in enabling creativity in education,” says Jessica Naeve, head of product marketing at Adobe for Education. “It’s exciting to see itopia help Chromebook students run full-powered software.”
Students can also gain confidence in tackling real projects under the guidance of educators. Merto oversees these types of projects, such as design requests from the Chester chapter of the NAACP when event posters or new business cards are needed.
“If a job comes into our studio, students create a team, and they know the process to go through in order to gather the information – like doing the appropriate research, design, and providing the end results to the client,” Merto says. “So we’re using Adobe, itopia, and Chromebooks not only to make sure students can do the items on the CTE task list, but also to open ourselves up to helping our community.”