Interactive media and graphic design students in Kris Isaacson’s Design Studio class at Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud learned that the best way to learn is to connect face-to face-with a client. Sometimes connecting with clients is the learning experience in school. Set aside the skill set; set aside the technology, and sometimes it’s the communication process itself that matters most.
Students took on the task of re-designing a professional brochure for the nonprofit organization Connect, an education initiative “to inspire intentional public action to create healthy relationships.”
Originally created by volunteers, the brochure was rather plain and “kind of thrown together everywhere,” noted student Carolyn Mohawk. The goal was to revamp it and create an attention-grabbing piece.
Connect coordinator, Debra Schroeder, met with the students and Isaacson to explain the organization’s purpose, pass along notes and logos, and answer any questions about the process.
“It was nice to see the client,” Mohawk said. “We were throwing ideas back and forth. It’s nice to get immediate feedback.”
Tina Rodenwald, another student earning her interactive media and graphic design degree, served as account manager on the project. She agrees that meeting with the client upfront is an important step in the design process.
“You get a sense of what’s about,” Tina said. “It made [the project] easy.”
The process went smoothly, Schoeder added. “When I went to give the presentation, I was met by one of the students who guided me to the classroom, demonstrating hospitality. Their questions were to the point and well thought out. All requirements in the use of the logo and colors were met and integrated nicely into the final product.”
Isaacson reflected that Schroeder is a “dynamo,” and helped create synergy around the project during their meeting.
That’s not to say that the project was without its challenges. One of the students on the project withdrew from school, and her duties had to be taken over by the others while meeting the deadline. It caused stress, explained Mohawk, but, “I just got in the right mindset. I worked a lot on the weekends.”
Isaacson explained that even the shift in manpower is part of the learning process. “The students discovered the importance of teamwork and [how] to pick up the pieces,” she said.
In the professional world, she added, clients change their mind or a product is delayed or canceled. “You’ve put all this work into it, and now it’s going nowhere,” she said.
Isaacson feels confident that the students stepped up to the challenge and met it head-on.
In the end, Rodenwald couldn’t be happier about the experience with clients in a real-world context.
“It’s fun and more hands-on than other classes,” she concluded. “There are products at the end!”
Knowing that it is an actual client project “means a lot more” than a simulation, Rodenwald added. It’s what the whole lesson is about.
In the end analysis, it is always about the client’s satisfaction. The students are gratified to know that Schroeder and the Connect committee were happy with the product.
“The final brochure has a professional look that is ‘bright and tight,’” commented Schroeder. “Members of the Advisory Committee were pleased with the result.”
She added, “I have worked with other college groups on similar projects before. This group certainly required the least amount of my time and produced a better product.”
We call that satisfaction!