Adobe updates alter student access

Over the summer, students received an e-mail from Director of Information Technology Jonathan Leamon explaining the new terms of Adobe’s licensing agreements with institutions of higher education and the general public.

In a shift from its old licensing approach, Adobe now leases its software. This means that Adobe software now ceases to function if customers stop paying a fee. Because of this, students will only be able to access Adobe under the College’s lease. Accordingly, students now only have free access to applications formerly included in what was known as the Adobe Creative Suite on College-owned computers located in libraries, labs or studios. Those with previously installed versions of Adobe Creative Suite applications on personal computers experienced a shutdown of these applications before the semester began. Students who need their own software will have to lease it directly from Adobe at discounted prices for students and educators. Applications that were previously included in the Adobe Creative Suite are part of a new package called Adobe Creative Cloud.

The Office for Information Technology (OIT) had limited notice about the software changes before they took effect, so its main priority was to minimize the disruption for as many people as possible. According to Leamon, the new agreement actually affords the College more licenses. This means that now the focus will be turned to installing Adobe software as well as teaching staff and faculty how to use it. To aid this purpose, OIT offers an online training program on the new systems, which was created by Lynda.com. The level of student adjustment will vary depending on whether the student’s courses put much emphasis on its use.

“It’s impossible for us to know, though, how many classes use Adobe indirectly,” Leamon said. Discovering exactly which courses need to make adjustments will undoubtedly be a year-long process, but OIT has already gone to lengths to ensure that students have options.

“With more and more software moving to the Cloud and being sold on a similar subscription basis, I’m sure the marketers at Adobe thought there was enough precedence that customers would accept it, especially given how few real competitors there are to Adobe’s core products,” said Leamon. “The bottom line for us is that the change is something that was initiated by Adobe that we can’t avoid.”

The company has no official explanation for the change, but the switch will benefit Adobe financially as it requires users to update their Adobe products. Under the previous model, Adobe’s customers often used the same software for years, even when the company made newer versions available. Their new system ensures that customers, like the College, continue to purchase software from Adobe based on the leasing process. While this ensures users have the latest software, it impacts OIT’s provision of Adobe products.

OIT has recently made a few minor developments in the issue, the most important being that they signed and returned the final contract with Adobe/NERCOMP. OIT also runs a frequently updated timetable on the projected length of the transition from Adobe Creative Suite to Adobe Cloud on its website. However, open source and other lower cost alternatives are still on the table, and the College is investigating the possibility of replacing Adobe on a campus-wide scale within the next few years.

“We’re not sure yet what impact all this will have on the industry as a whole [and] whether competing products will begin to emerge as standards,” Leamon said. “Our long-term goal is to support the needs of the whole community in a sustainable and responsive way.”