Program helps individual students buy Adobe Suite for remote learning

February 27, 2021

by Menel Raach, Staff Writer

The multimedia department at Berkeley City College (BCC) has faced a range of challenges since the COVID pandemic hit, including being able to afford Adobe Premiere Pro, a video editing software, for all multimedia students this spring semester. Multimedia online classes required more funds for multimedia software that is essential for the courses. 

Before entering the era, students were able to use those software in lab classes. Decisions regarding setting aside funds for Adobe Premiere Pro subscriptions at no cost to students were challenging for the college, as they might affect other resources.  

“We’re a public institution, so budgets for other things, for classes or for teaching assistants or other resources are going to be cut because we have to give Adobe Suite,” said Rachel Mercy Simpson, a professor in the multimedia arts department and a supervisor of the video strand at Berkeley City College. 

When the Peralta Community College District announced in March it would cancel in-person classes and move to online instruction, the BCC multimedia department entered a period of significant educational and funding challenges, such as providing media equipment to all the students enrolled in production classes. 

Professor Simpson pointed out that the BCC multimedia department was not aware of the high demand for Adobe Premiere Pro amongst production students. In the past, before online classes, students who needed access to the editing software could only get it via attending a lab in person. Simpson also explained that the department didn’t realize that many students will need the software, which costs around $240 to $600 per year, for the multiple apps included in the program. “I think we’ve had issues with the rollout because I don’t think [the BCC multimedia department] realized how popular that would be amongst our students. And so they had to go out and find more funding because more people requested it,” Simpson said.

With the software’s high demand, the BCC multimedia department decided to get more funds and offer this expensive software to the students who have financial needs. “What’s really important is that we help students who have a financial need. And that we prioritize those people who have the greatest need and for whom it’s the hardest,” Simpson said. 

BCC’s multimedia department has already given free software subscriptions to 100 students who responded to a survey to prove that they cannot afford the software by themselves. Professor Simpson mentioned that all the students who requested and qualified for the Adobe Suite have been receiving it.

“This is the first time ever the college has helped students purchase individual subscriptions in the 18 years I’ve taught at BCC,” Simpson said.

Simpson also explained that there are discount sites from Adobe and CollegeBuys, where resident and international students can pay only 40 dollars for six months.

Another obstacle has been that previously, multimedia students were only able to borrow the equipment for three days. But during COVID, that policy has become a “real problem for our production classes,” Simpson said.

Despite the initial scarcity of production resources, Joya L. Chavarin, interim dean of math, science, business, career education (CE) and applied technology, and department chairs Natalie Newman and Mary Clarke-Miller obtained California CARES Act grant money, which funded 100 video camera tripods and lighting kits. Professor Simpson said this grant has been a big relief because it will allow students who are taking production classes to borrow media equipment for the entire semester. 

“The fact that they went to this effort, and they were able to get that money and get that equipment is just transformative,” Simpson said.

“I have never seen our college, the Peralta District, strive to think about how they can support students in every way possible like they are doing now.”