Adobe said that soft skills such as critical thinking, creativity and team collaboration are becoming increasingly important in the 21st Century.

Speaking at the company's Adult Education Forum in KL, Adobe's worldwide education vice president, Peter Isaacson, cited a literacy report by US-based Society for Human Resource Management in 2006. The study used data drawn from human resource professionals, and showed that skills such as teamwork collaboration, critical thinking, effective communication and creativity will grow even more in importance in the next five years. 74-78 per cent of the HR professionals surveyed, demanded these skills from new recruits.

Isaacson said that Asian countries like Singapore that have allocated eight percent or more of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to technology literacy, compared to a worldwide average of six percent in rest of the world.

"The nature of work has changed in the last 10 years and today's schedule is now more compacted and comprises more non-routine tasks that demand skills on top of technological literacy," said Isaacson.

Digital natives

A complex set of platforms have caused students to become multi-taskers, faced with multiple channels of information, said Isaacson. "'Digital natives' is the latest description that refers to young people and how they consume digital information as a natural part of life, as opposed to a learned skill."

This poses a problem for educators, he told the forum audience, made up of Malaysian educators including representatives from the education ministries.

"Emotional truancy is a byproduct of this emerging behavior. This means the student is present but not involved in the learning. Classrooms need to introduce information in more appropriate, personalized interactive ways to digital natives," he said.

The solution, according to the company, consists of forming an education environment that is a virtual collaborative distributed framework and allows students to both personalize as well as be more innovative during the process of learning, said Adobe APAC education director, John Treloar (picture).

Treloar said Adobe has the tools that can help educators provide the required learning environment such as Buzzword, Connect, Acrobat, Dreamweaver and Presenter.

The other important aspect, continued Isaacson, is for Adobe to provide curriculum and professional development support, which is critical to ensuring successful learning. The company also offers certified courses to education leaders and professionals.

Growing in Malaysia

Adobe is doing "extremely well in Malaysia, having grown 30 pe rcent in 2007, and expects to grow at a rate of 60 percent in 2008, one of the highest in the world," said Isaacson.

Treloar said the education market is the company's biggest vertical market.

He explained that Adobe has been working closely with the Malaysian ministry of education. This was to deliver digital communication solutions in order to improve digital literacy across the Malaysian market.

"For example, in 2007 full licenses of our Presenter software suite have been made available to around 60,000 teacher laptops. Web products and Acrobat will follow in 2008 as an extension of the Smart School initiative throughout the country," Isaacson added.

"Providing a product is not sufficient: curriculum and professional development support to teachers is essential. The ministry has access to many of our regional technical professionals."