The Importance of Communicating Visually Adobe Stock in Education

Stock imagery has become an essential part of visual communication in design and in businesses large and small, used in everything from company websites and advertising, to financial reports and mobile applications. It’s affordable and can help bring just the right image into a communication piece. Four years ago, Adobe introduced a new service, Adobe Stock, to our customers, giving them access to millions of high-quality visual assets, instantly. From a commercial perspective, Adobe Stock has been very successful.

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You might wonder how can Stock content can fuel university digital literacy initiatives...

Well, let me ask you a couple questions: Have you ever wished that your students used some imagery to help better communicate their ideas, projects or research? If they do use images, have you ever questioned where students find the images they use? Or ever hoped they were of better quality? We think that Adobe Stock is beneficial to students and faculty as well, even with all the free content (or content of questionable origin) that can be found online. Read through this Adobe Spark Page to learn more on how giving access to Adobe Stock to students and faculty can be beneficial to them, and help them communicate faster, visually.

“Pictures and photographs implicitly convey a narrative— and that makes them ideal prompts for generating new short story ideas.” —Ginny Wiehardt, Photographs as Creative Writing Prompts, 2017

Idea: You can use a picture as a writing prompt in a solo exercise or with a class or writing group. If doing the exercise in a group, you can either have everyone use the same picture (which can be a great way to illustrate differences and similarities), or you can have a selection of unique images for each writer.

The Research

In the academic world, use of stock assets is actually quite common.

Faculty & Staff Usage

According to a report by Edelman Intelligence, faculty and staff already use a wide variety of stock asset types, predominantly for presentations (for teaching and for colleagues), lecture design and research reports. Of those surveyed, use of vector graphics, photographs, video and illustrations ranged from 50% to 86%.

However, this usage is spread across a variety of different stock providers, at different price points and likely different levels of usage rights. This can be problematic from a budgeting perspective and also is a concern when it comes to knowing if images being used have the proper release and usage rights.

Student Usage

While students generally have less awareness of stock providers, they do rely heavily on search engines like Google for both inspiration and as a way to find images to use in course presentations, reports and projects.

However, finding content that is diverse/inclusive as well as honest and relatable is a challenge.

Of the students surveyed by Edelmen, use of photos and illustrations ranged from 54-89%, with video usage over 40%. A significant proportion of the students surveyed were majors in Biology/Life sciences/Health & Medicine, Business and Computer Science/Engineering.

The Risks of "Free" Images

While imagery found through search engines or free services can be easy to find, it can also present problems.

Imagery found online can be subject to vague and/or very limited usage rights and permissions, which presents a risk when that content is published or shared.

According to faculty surveyed, a significant challenge is getting students to use approved stock services instead, often because they are not aware of the process of finding and licensing content.

Imagery found through search engines or free services can also present quality issues. Often the imagery found is not of suitable resolution for printing, for example.

It can also be challenging to ascertain correct attribution for this work.

Digital Literacy

It’s often thought that because students have ”grown up digitally,” they are innately skilled in using technology to tell a story. That could indeed be the case for some, but not for all.
  • Developing student thought process of connecting images to the written word.
  • Sourcing professional- grade imagery helps students create a more impactful message.
  • Access to templates across the campus offers a head start on project designs.

How does one communicate visually? When is an image or video clip more appropriate than a paragraph? Understanding and employing the dynamic attraction of visuals to support text and vice-versa is critical today in many forms of communication.

Sourcing professional-grade imagery helps students create a more impactful message.

Adobe Stock and digital storytelling

Thoughtful curation of imagery that resonates with the audience is critical for effective communication.

Everyone needs to communicate visually.

The right visual can communicate more effectively, and sourcing the right visual asset can be faster than creating it. Add to this the fact that not everyone is comfortable with their own photographic or illustrative skills. Sourcing the perfect image can be more expedient and more effective than inserting a poorly composed photograph or ill-conceived drawing.

Ours is a visual world, and images can often convey a concept or illustrate a technique, practice, or research finding more completely than just words. Choosing images that resonate with the audience is critical to effective communication.

If your goal is to generate awareness, emotional response, or acquire funding, images can ignite these actions.

Adobe Stock plays a significant role in digital storytelling, making it easier not only for students to become inspired, but also to learn about visual context, the importance of copyright and licensing of content, sourcing (or creating) the right assets for a project, and gaining assistance in developing eye-catching, professional-level presentation material.

The New Normal

So much of our lifestyle, the way we work and play, has changed.

With the current global situation, everyone's routine has changed; we are often working and learning from home, part of remote classrooms.

More than ever before, it's critical that visuals (stills, video, illustrations) be a conscious part of how we create our messaging. But capturing those visuals has also become far more difficult; it's not easy - sometimes not even possible - to plan or execute a photo shoot, thanks to pandemic restrictions.

Engaging, dynamic stock assets can fill that gap.

Adobe Stock and young entrepreneurs

Build personal and global brand through sophisticated use of high-quality images.

For all the reasons discussed so far, it’s clear that visual literacy is closely tied to digital literacy. As students move through their lives at school, encouraged to become creators, communicators, and self-starters, to plot their own destiny and success, many of them could find themselves coming up with their own ideas for a product or service to market to others. These fledgling entrepreneurs often find the support they need in small business incubators that are part of their school.

Creating a business proposal to generate funding or awareness will likely require images, illustrations, and even video footage. Accessing high-quality visual assets without concern for usage permission or copyright infringement can be key for a start-up entrepreneur, especially one with limited financial resources.

Real-World Student Examples

Below are just a few examples of student projects both before and after the student gained access to Adobe Stock and Creative Cloud tools.

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UTE Youth Storytellers

In the words of Tony Sams, Newmedia Project Specialist at the University of Utah:

"In the past, pre-covid, the Ute storytelling workshops used Adobe Spark to tell and annotate personal narratives with Page, Post, and Video. To document the process, we created a Spark Page and featured in-person show and tell. Martha Macomber is the direct liaison to the Ute Tribe and has continued to work on storytelling throughout this crazy year."

Using Adobe Spark, these younger students had the opportunity to share very personal stories without the concern of also learning software. Note the use of narration, stock imagery and other "found art" is used extensively to help tell their stories more effectively.

What is Adobe Stock?

Simply put, Adobe Stock contains millions of top-quality, royalty-free assets

Sourcing the perfect asset—right from within Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere, Adobe Spark, and many other Adobe mobile apps is a huge timesaver.

All through this presentation, you’ve seen examples of the quality and variety of photographs available through Adobe Stock. But Adobe Stock is far more than just photographs.

Video & Motion Graphics

The service also offers millions of HD and 4K video assets, and we continue to grow that collection every day both through individual contributors—who can now submit directly through Adobe Premiere Pro—and through strategic partnerships that we’ve developed and continue to develop.

Whether you shoot video yourself and just need some extra B-roll footage to add context to your project, or don’t shoot video at all and need some impactful visuals to support your research, Adobe Stock is an excellent resource.


There’s no need to fear the “blank canvas” syndrome ever again, either! Starter templates allow staff, students, and teachers to jump-start projects, accelerating the creative thinking process and assisting in creating top-notch, storytelling visuals.

If you need to jump-start a project or if you’re in a massive time crunch, we’ve introduced layout templates in native Adobe file formats. Templates are currently available for Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. But stay tuned—there's more to come.

3D Assets

Our content goes beyond images. It also includes industry-standard 3D source files including 3D model, lights, and materials. These files can be used not only in our new product, Adobe Dimension—which is aimed at making 3D accessible and effortless for any designer—but also in any program that supports .OBJ, .EXR, or .MDL files.

From retail and packaging design, to location product photography (without needing to be on location), you can easily license Adobe Stock 3D models, lights, materials, and even location photographs, right from within Adobe Dimension.


Adding music to a presentation creates another level of emotional impact for an audience. Adobe Stock gives you access to thousands of professionally created music tracks over a range of genres. They could be added to video projects, Powerpoint presentations, even the easy to use Spark Video will accept audio from Adobe Stock.

Audio is tightly integrated within Premiere Pro. You can search, preview, download and licence audio content right within the newly redesigned Essential Sound Panel of Premiere Pro.

Searching for, and previewing audio in Premiere Pro is easy thanks to the updated Essential Sound Panel. You can even preview audio in sync with your footage!


Seamless Integration with Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Stock search and licensing is integrated directly into Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Dimension, Spark and our full range of mobile apps.

Take, for example, InDesign.

There’s a CC Libraries panel with an Adobe Stock preview image. And where that Adobe Stock asset is placed in the layout, there’s an icon right on the image frame that you can click to license that image and keep moving forward in the design and production process at all times.

More on Adobe Stock integration with Creative Cloud

Inspiration to create the right image—or the perfect image itself—is only a search term away.

Seamless Integration with Microsoft PowerPoint

The Adobe Stock add-in is free to download in the Microsoft Office store, giving access to search and place Stock images directly in PowerPoint.

Of course, limiting this goodness to Adobe Creative Cloud and Photoshop users would be restricting Adobe Stock from the millions of Microsoft PowerPoint users who want relief from the horrible clip-art of yesteryear.

For them, Adobe introduced an Adobe Stock add-in, which is free to download from the Microsoft Office store.

When logged into this add-in with an Adobe ID, a user has full access to search and place Adobe Stock images directly in PowerPoint.

Integration into Microsoft tools and Google Slides means students can tell their story from anywhere.

Adobe Stock Contributor Program

Adobe is always looking for quality assets to add to its ever-expanding Adobe Stock collection, and this is where you or your students come in—the Adobe Stock contributor program.

Imagine earning income while you sleep—that’s what’s possible by contributing your photography, video, illustrations, or 3D assets to Adobe Stock. You’re potentially earning money for content that might normally sit on a hard drive. You can add content as often as you like. Adobe has made the process of contributing content incredibly easy. You can upload content from the Adobe Stock contributor site, or directly from Adobe Lightroom Classic, Adobe Bridge, or Adobe mobile apps such as Photoshop Mix and Photoshop Fix. Machine learning and AI, in the form of Adobe Sensei, helps to categorize your work and even add search keywords to your uploaded files.

This is yet another way to build and extend your personal brand. And because all Adobe Stock content is vetted before being accepted for sale, you know that only your best work, with the best chance for sale, is being added. You always retain ownership of your work, and can compete in a global marketplace. You can even market your Adobe Stock portfolio on social media, using a simple URL.

Adobe Stock - Summary

Digital literacy

  • Source professional-grade imagery to create a more impactful message.
  • Access to starter templates.
  • Compete in a global marketplace.
  • Build your personal brand.

Creative Cloud integration

  • Search and license seamlessly within Adobe desktop apps.
  • Open directly in Adobe apps from web searches.
  • NEW image-based search and aesthetic filtering powered by Adobe Sensei.

World-class collection

  • 180 million+ assets including images, vector art, videos, 3D, templates, and motion graphics.
  • Premium content and Reuters Editorial Collection.
  • NEW motion graphic templates.

Easy contribution workflow

  • Easy to sign up
  • Upload content from: Mobile apps
  • Adobe Bridge CC
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC
  • Adobe Stock website
“The true purpose of technology in the classroom should be to change the way we teach, not to digitize what we already do.” - Matthew Lynch, The Tech Edvocate
Created By
Jim Babbage


Created with images by Westend61 - "Portrait of smiling young man standing in front of bookshelves at home with digital tablet" • Kawee - "Asian school male teacher working from home teaching online math subject to student studying from home. Man using camera to record his live in internet. Remote education class during covid19 pandemic." • kohanova1991 - "Operator while working with a large professional camera" • OneClic - "Professional microphone with voice waveform on dark background, sound recording"All images courtesy of Adobe Stock and its contributors.