Case Study: Helping Students Prepare for Real-World Jobs

Helping students prepare for real-world jobs

In today’s digital domain, experts agree that students learn best when they are actively engaged in the learning process and are presented with appropriate opportunities for success. That premise is a cornerstone belief at Winter Park Tech (WPT), a Central Florida center for technical career education, where students master exceptional design, print and Web publishing skills.                                                                         

With an eye toward preparing students for the workplace, WPT technical training programs focus around career clusters of business, information technology, arts and design, and health science. In addition to 26 career certificate programs, WPT also offers a continuous schedule of academic courses for high school credit and adult education. When students complete the WPT digital design program, they are equipped with exceptional technical and marketable skills that today’s employers seek.

“Most high schools don’t have in-depth technical training programs. Some may offer an introduction course and that’s all,” says Betty Jones, assistant director at WPT. “As a post-secondary technical center, we offer students an industry-standard immersion in the technical field of their choice. They are here three hours a day focusing on their chosen concentration.”                                                                                               

The digital design program at WPT uses a core curriculum centered on Adobe Creative Suite 2 software —Adobe Photoshop CS2, Illustrator CS2, In Design CS2, Acrobat 7.0 Professional and Dream weaver 8. According to Carol Jackson, digital design instructor at WPT, “We use Adobe products because they are the industry standard and are so smoothly integrated with each other; the workflow comes as second nature.”

DUAL ENROLLMENT MODEL

Florida high school students are in the envious position of having a dual enrollment option at Florida post-secondary technical centers, providing them the opportunity to take elective courses at technical centers while obtaining the required academic courses to graduate at their local high schools. Immersed in real world scenarios, students are able to test drive future career options in programs like computer systems technology or digital design, while earning high school elective credit.

Carol Jackson’s digital design program at WPT focuses on student learning and career preparation using Adobe tools. Students working in teams use all the tools in Adobe Creative Suite 2 to complete practical, community-based projects for local nonprofits and businesses, including brochures, ads, menus and all manner of print collateral. Students learn design principles, prepress production, layout and illustration as well as client communication, budgeting, reviews and approvals.

According to Jackson, students benefit tremendously by using a wide range of Adobe software to bring projects to fruition. Toward the end of the 1,200-hour individualized program, they design personal portfolio Websites to showcase their work to future employers.

“Our industry partners expect our students to have a good understanding of Web based communication as well as print production,” says Jackson.

STUDENT ENGAGEMENT

“It’s amazing to watch our students mature and blossom as they move through the curriculum,” says Jackson, who attributes much of students’ growth to the fact that the program’s teamwork approach to projects mirrors work habits in the real workplace. Typically, a team of students will begin a project by interviewing the client and establishing a budget. The team will then design the project, follow the review and approval process with the client, and supervise final production.

For example, a team of students developed a promotional plan for a community health and- wellness fair that called for a newspaper ad, a full-color poster and a flyer. However, in the midst of the project, the budget was revised. Quickly, the students reworked their layouts using In Design, re cropped images using Photoshop software, and output new deliverables.
“With Adobe tools, the students could easily rethink the project, repurpose existing assets to fulfill the project’s goal, and still keep the client happy,” says Jackson. “[And] learning how Adobe PDF files fit into real world workflows is like learning the ABC’s for our students.”

Adobe digital communication solutions make it possible for facilities like WPT to thrive, opening new avenues for student learning and achievement while providing tangible benefits to the community. As graduates complete the program at WPT and become employed in the industry, they are invited to attend advisory board meetings to provide feedback along with fellow community professionals. This continuous review process helps WPT staff revise the program to meet industry needs and requirements.

“Clearly, our program is about successfully preparing students for the future. Using integrated software from Adobe makes meeting our goals so much easier,” says Jackson.

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