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Design education for the next generation

How School of Art at California State University Long Beach use Marvel to bring students up to speed with real industry tools.

“I often think about the fact that the people who will become my students in 2030 are now in elementary school. This new generation grows up on iPads, surrounded by screens, and they often take it for granted,” Sam Anvari, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at California State University Long Beach School of Art, tells us. “It definitely requires a different mindset to train and educate students for these things in the future.”

These native digital generations sparked Sam’s new technologies education initiative with alternative classes and workshops within the Graphic Design Program.

Sam worked with a fellow UX/UI designer, now designing for Google, to introduce a class on Mobile Design and one on Future Design, nicknamed 5D. When he was pulling together the course materials for these classes, Sam realized his need for a design and prototyping tool that would help students deliver projects but also introduce them to industry standards. That’s where Marvel came in.

Classes made for real world designers

For both of these new classes, it was Sam’s goal to introduce students to real life methods, processes and approaches in design by working on projects. To roll this out, he split the Mobile Design class into two – the first project focusing on iPhone design and the second project on Android. In these classes, students learn about product and document writing, drafting flow charts, branding, wireframing and UI design and design testing with prototyping.

The Marvel platform enables students to design and prototype solutions for both these devices, along with Apple TV which leveraged Sam’s decision to introduce students to the tool.

“In 2017 when 5D class started, Marvel offered software and solutions for Apple Watch and for Apple TV, so Marvel was ahead of the game at this point.”

5D Future Design is another project-based class where Sam poses problematic scenarios to students and asks them to provide design solutions. For example, designing the interface and user experience of self-driving vehicles – assuming that there will be no driver and no steering wheel.

As they would in work life situations, the students carry out research by visiting car shows, test driving cars and assessing the experience as it is right now. They follow up with user journey and empathy maps, write up three different scenarios – and then prototype two of those to deliver by the deadline.

Students used Marvel to create an interactive visual prototype with various scenarios to showcase their design thinking.

Introducing students to the tools of the future

For Sam, education in design is about preparing students for their careers, he says “The more they can show they know on their resume, the more appealing they become to job markets.”

“My philosophy is, as design thinkers, knowing various tools empowers you to make better design decisions and come up with pragmatic solutions for the problem at hand.”

For example, Sam uses Slack for class communication, submitting assignments and even posting lectures. “I’ve had many compliments over the years from graduates who told me that the design thinking strategy and software taught in the class has prepared them for a seamless transition to the industry after graduation. I think that’s the right way to train and educate for design.”

A lot of the students attending his mobile design class come from different majors, which posed some questions for Sam of how he would set them all up for success when coming from different levels of design experience. Marvel didn’t stand in the way of that success.

“It’s not a complicated process to teach students how to use Marvel, it usually takes about 30 minutes to explain how to work with it. I’ve never had any student get stuck in the process – it’s very intuitive and that’s why I appreciate and enjoy using it in class.”

“I think that Marvel’s learning curve for working with prototyping is really simple.”

Sam understands that when you want to get into the job market as an emerging graphic designer, there’s less chance of you finding a job where you end up just working with one or two people. Most of the time you have to work with a team, and in the team, there is always a marketing director, a programmer, and a project manager. That’s why he’s spearheaded these new workshops and classes.

“Just attending workshops on new technologies changes perspectives. When you introduce yourself to how these things work, you become a better team player. So, when you have to work with an engineer, or a marketing director, you can speak their language, you know their approach, and you can work confidently at the center of the team creating job security for yourself as a graphic designer.”

Sewer | Photographer | Writer for Marvel

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