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Making it digital

Printed materials are not ‘built’ in the same sense and do not have an underlying programmed structure. Get the foundations of a digital media project wrong and it impinges on the whole project, including budgets and schedules.

Once the resource has been ‘built’ it is crucial that it is tested. This is because whilst it may work on a single computer configuration it may not work properly on other configurations, networks and platforms. A printed resource will look the same in every instance, a digital resource may not (through different sized screens, different resolutions, displaying differences in colours, etc.)

Crucially though, a printed resource will sit and strut its stuff endlessly whilst a digital resource may crash in certain circumstances. This becomes more likely as more demands are made on it e.g. new digital platforms like mobiles, handhelds, digital TV, broadband TV, new means of delivery like whiteboards, standards to consider for interactions with VLEs, MLEs and the like.

A digital media resource that doesn’t do its stuff is its death. If it is not robust, crashes regularly or is hard to navigate, it will not be used.

With so many configurations, platforms, possible incompatibilities, and so many things that could go wrong, this testing requires specialist expertise and significant hardware resources.

It is because this testing is so crucial that we at Vivid have formed a close relationship with Epicentre to ensure not just that the testing of Vivid products is carried out comprehensively but that we are able to work closely with them in identifying (and therefore resolving) the root cause of any issues that may be discovered. It is also a great asset that we are situated literally ‘over the road’ from Epicentre in Brighton.


Conclusion

The fact that specialist skills, knowledge and experience are required for the production of digital media resources does not exclude members of paper-based design and production teams from having a role in the digital world.

However, as said earlier, this does mean taking on new skills and recognising the skills and expertise of those currently involved in the world of digital media for education.

What is certain is that we are now truly in a digital world and that publishers need to find their position in this world. Different publishers will choose different ways of undertaking the challenge this undoubtedly presents. At Vivid we believe that our 20+ years experience of producing digital resources for education places us in a unique position to help publishers find a way in this world; a way that is appropriate to them and that makes sense to their businesses and crucially to their profitability.

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