The use of design software in schools, including graphics and multimedia, is no longer restricted to the art and ICT departments. It is used across subjects and departments and is one of the key technologies a school will use. So what should you look for when it comes to choosing this software for your school? Corel EMEA Sales and Marketing VP Brett Denly runs through some of the most important considerations.
There was once a time in education when ICT was restricted to ICT lessons – not anymore. Pupils use computers as a matter of course (some schools even have iPads for use in classes) and a variety of software packages, from word processing to design software, are used every day across a range of subjects.
So choosing which technology to use is not a decision to be made lightly, particularly when it comes to design software. When you are weighing up your options there are a number of considerations to take on-board – these are the most important.
Ease of use
Whilst many students’ capacity to get the hang of using technology is an on-going source of bemusement to their parents, it is by no means the case that they can all jump on any software package and be up and running within minutes. That’s why it is so important for whichever graphics and multimedia software you choose to be easy to use and intuitive, so that students can get to grips with carrying out practical tasks in lessons rather than struggling to master the basics.
Training is also of paramount importance. This can come in many shapes and sizes, including video tutorials, printed ‘how to’ guides, online demos and user communities and can be used either when a teacher is planning a lesson or as a resource for pupils during lessons. Either way, the training needs to be straightforward and effective, ensuring you get the support you need in the format most suitable, which should absolutely include social media and the ability to pose questions on Twitter or Facebook.
Budget is of course one of the major factors when considering any software for use in education. There are a number of graphics and multimedia software options available free of charge but the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ rings particularly true here. The free software is invariably not as good as something you pay for, lacking usability and functionality, and frequently lacks testing, quality assurance and customer support. It also lacks the help, support and training that can be so valuable when lesson-planning.
Some of the costs of design software can be offset if that software is used for a school’s own needs, whether that is editing video content for the website or designing a school magazine. But the direct price of a software package is not always as it seems and you need to be aware of the hidden costs that come with some software packages.
There are a number of hidden costs associated with graphics and multimedia software. Many vendors impose restrictions on the number of computers that can run their software and insist on usage reporting as well. Not only can this be time consuming but is often complex for IT administrators and to add computers can be costly.
A cross curricular site license, where upgrades are free is the most appropriate approach, protecting a school’s software investment and addressing the needs of most subjects thus maximising ICT budget.
The volume of applications one can use design software for is incredible, from editing videos and photo / image manipulation, to creating bespoke animations and PDF creation and editing. All this and we haven’t mentioned some of the more core applications such as illustration, design & digital painting.
It is nigh on impossible that you will find one package that does everything (and certainly not to the desired standard) so you need to select a supplier that has a range of products to meet your needs.
The future workplace
Graphics and multimedia software products are great for pupils to express their creativity and develop expertise across a wide range of subjects including design and technology, digital art, 2D & 3D CAD, technical graphics, and photo and video editing. They are also perfect for adding an exciting multimedia dimension to any lesson.
But given the prevalence of graphics and multimedia in the workplace, the right software package can also play a major role in preparing for working life, adding skills that can be utilised in a variety of roles in design and creative industries including film, games, advertising, consumer goods, photography, fashion, aerospace and manufacturing.
This means your pupils will be completing tasks and assignments on formats compatible with industry-standard outputs, and the skills they are learning can even enhance future career prospects, another important factor to consider when making your decision.
For information on Corel’s software for schools, please visit www.corel.co.uk/education or call 01628 589 847.