There are more than a few trainee teachers who feel their subject could be better taught. But there aren't many who set about creating a highly professional multimedia pack which tries to solve the problem. That's what trainee teacher Darrin Stevens did.
A second-year part-time PGCE student at the Bishop Burton College annexe of Huddersfield University, Stevens has compiled an introduction to design, reprographics and print that includes a thoroughly professional spiral bound booklet and two training CD-Roms. One contains lessons and worksheets in Adobe PDF format, the other delineates the print process in a 10-minute QuickTime movie and uses presentation tools such as flow charts, 3D animations and split-screen representations. If this is what he's producing as a trainee teacher, it's tempting to speculate about what sort of learning tools he'll be creating when he's in the classroom full time.
The basis of the project, says Stevens, is to "make students aware of the packaging and print that is around them, as well as the implications that packaging has on their lives". It took a year to complete with financial assistance from Hull Education Action Zone, the help of a fellow student and the involvement of RealDesign, a local print and media production company.
Hopefully, this is only the beginning. In September, Stevens gave a presentation to Hull Education Action Zone. Its members were hugely impressed and recognised the potential of the project for multimedia teaching. Mark Pinchbeck of Hull EAZ enthused about "the quality of the finished product, the meticulous attention to detail and appropriate use of the video and animation sequence to demonstrate complex processes and principles".
Leo Sietniekas of The Institute of Learning at Hull University described the finished article as "a complete learning package for the printing process with learning objectives, video, stills and hugely innovative and interactive CDs".
The 18 lesson plans lay out in clear sequential order the industrial processes that are involved when a print requisition is made. Each lesson is defined in terms of Aims and Objectives, Task, Teaching Method and Resources, and every step of the process - from initial contact with the sales department through to production director, studio, digital despatch, quality control and printing - is well supported by visual aids and work sheets.
The final section of the project is a glossary explaining the key components of modern industrial printing techniques.
Ken Markham of Hull Learning Services believes "the material produced provides for a wide range of teaching and learning styles to be used and will provide a significant extra resource for use in all Hull schools as part of their GCSE graphic design technology lessons". Initially, Stevens and Hull EAZ are supplying the pack free to 20 secondary schools but they could soon find themselves in a bidding war. Such has been the enthusiasm within the industry, specifically from the GPMU (Graphical, Paper and Media Union), that plans are being made to introduce the learning module to print workers, many of whom, Stevens points out, "work in one department for many years and are not aware what happens to their part of the project when they have finished". A meeting has also been scheduled with the education wing of the BPIF (British Printing Industries Federation).
Darrin Stevens can be contacted by interested teachers or EAZs at: EAZ@darrinstevens.co.uk