Serif in Education

From design through to development – making ideas a reality!

Through the course of people’s everyday working life and their careers, there are hundreds of decisions that have to be made and hundreds of obstacles that have to be overcome in their job role. If you take the time to watch the videos from the National Theatre about their set design you will see that rather than just thinking up a story, there are a plethora of people involved in moving a concept forward into an achievable, and ultimately cost effective, design reality:

There is a designer on a show who usually collaborates with the director to create the world of the play. The designer then works with the production manager and creative team to turn their designs into a stage reality (often making a model box of the set for the team to work from and designs for the costumes). The process from delivery of the finished set model through to build is overseen by the production manager. And then there is a set build, a technical rehearsal, the actors…the list goes on!

But at what point in your school life do you begin to understand that simply having a great idea and putting that idea into practice are two different things?

A local company was recently advertising for a job role, as Head Graphic Designer.  The candidates, as part of the interview process, were asked to partake in a simple design task to show their skills, which was to design a monthly printed newsletter for the company.  As part of the task, they were each given the same design brief which included, amongst other things, a budget for the project.  When the candidates returned, each of them presented their work – each piece was graphically fantastic as was expected.  But when asked what the cost of the project would amount to, not one of the interviewees could answer.

Considering that budget is a major part of any company’s marketing plan and strategy, this could have been a catastrophe had the project been a real life example. The candidates had not considered printing costs, timescales, how the design would best suit the delivery of the project (for example, does it fit correctly into a standard sized envelope to save on postage costs), or how the design would in fact be delivered to the printer who would be printing the design. In fact, they had only considered one element of the design process – and that was the graphic design!

As we discussed in the first paragraph with the National Theatre, there are more processes in getting something to market or up and running than just design.  But are there tools available that can help teach this to students?

At Serif, PagePlus X7 was developed not only for students to create the traditional print brochures and flyers, but to produce interactive documents like PDFs and multimedia eBooks, for sharing on screen and utilising the latest technologies. Importantly, every pupil can ensure their final work is business-standard with tools for proofreading and checking digital publishing compatibility for PDF, HTML, and eBook output.  Students can also import data from databases to merge information for personalised letters and labels, from programmes such as Excel, Outlook, or Access, teaching them the skills necessary to create their own mailings.

The Computing curriculum from Sept 2014 aims to “reform qualifications and the curriculum to better prepare pupils for life after school.” In fact, as part of KS3 Computing, students are encouraged to “undertake creative projects that involve selecting, using, and combining multiple applications, preferably across a range of devices, to achieve challenging goals, including collecting and analysing data and meeting the needs of known users.”  And by KS4, all pupils must “have the opportunity to study aspects of information technology and computer science at sufficient depth to allow them to progress to higher levels of study or to a professional career.”

The world is changing and it is encouraging that today’s students will, by working towards the Computing curriculum, be equipped enough to understand how to match their projects to the users’ needs and take that into their professional career. But also with the help of packages and tools such as PagePlus X7 they can themselves take the step towards making their project a reality – a little different from what was indeed found by this company whilst they were recruiting!