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Advancer Education Series: An instructional and graphic design synergy

Brian Martin and Christine Adams
Electronic Studio Pty Ltd, Victoria
This paper outlines the research, development and production of the Advancer Education Series - a range of self paced learning programs for users of desktop publishing and CBT software. This paper explains the multi-disciplinary approach to design and production of Advancer Education Series as either step by step instructional printed work books, simple interactive guides, or comprehensive interactive multimedia programs.


The concept for Advancer originated from Electronic Studio Pty Ltd, a small Melbourne based computer education, marketing and publishing group. Electronic Studio Pty Ltd has provided professional training and consulting services to the graphic design and printing industry since 1988.

The conversion of complex software operations into easy to understand instructions for client use is Electronic Studio's primary business. Simple language is used to explain the use of computer hardware and software for the production of finished artwork in the design, publishing, pre-press and printing industry.

This information is delivered to clients in the form of on site training with the supply of technical summary notes for future reference. More recently these services have extended to include public relations, marketing and training consultants, educators, and technical and corporate publishers.

A thorough understanding of the principles of graphic, instructional and interface design, typography, publishing, pre-press and print production led to the establishment of Electronic Studio Pty Ltd. The success of the company has grown out of this understanding, the technical knowledge of computer publishing software products and the production processes involved. Complex software operations are explained through on site training programs that use projects currently in production at that site. Many processes are subtlely repeated until full understanding is achieved.

This project based approach is successful as the trainee can quickly see how the new technology can be applied to their job and employers start to me immediate returns on their investment.

Another important factor in the successful transition from traditional methods to new technology is the unlimited post training technical telephone support offered to clients as part of the company's services. This additional service is not expensive for the company as the demand for post training support usually drops dramatically to a very low level after a successful training course has been completed.

Advancer Education Series project

In early 1992, as a result of the success of this step by step, project based training approach, it was decided to commercialise this knowledge to broaden . the company's user base and publish this information in the open market. As computer publishing is very "internationalised" with only very small cultural differences between English speaking countries it is envisaged that the courses would also have export potential.

To reflect the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach in developing multimedia courseware, a team of specialists was formed to produce the Advancer Education Series including:

This multi-disciplinary approach has proved to be most successful with input from all members of the team contributing to the project during the research stages of development.

It was agreed that the project must be "content driven" and must be relevant to users needs otherwise the exercise would be a financial disaster. Because multimedia courseware is predominantly visual it is tempting to concentrate on the richness of the visual technology interface and treat the content as secondary. It was found that if the content was not fully developed, many hours of computer programming time could be wasted.

As a starting point, the aims of the education series were established, the topics to be covered determined, and then the publishing methods explored.

General aims


Publishing methods

Three techniques for publishing the courseware were determined once the aims were known:

Theme based tutorials

Based on the practical experience of using work based examples to educate clients, tutorials were developed using two fictitious companies. Apollo Press Pty Ltd and Axis Business Consulting have been used throughout the Advancer Education Series to address the practical production needs of people using desktop publishing software. Typical examples of products used within these companies are produced as pan of the tutorial exercises in the work books.


Macintosh Advancer

Self paced learning program developed to introduce the concepts of Macintosh System software to first time users. It is designed to be used in conjunction with the user guide supplied with Macintosh computers. Macintosh Advancer is published as a simple interactive electronic guide with prerecorded electronic demonstrations of the tutorials, and a printed work book.

Figure 1

Figure 1: A typical screen from Macintosh Advancer

XPress and PageMaker Advancer

Explores the major functions of Quark XPress of Aldus PageMaker through two easy to read, step by step work books. Nine tutorials roved how to creatively and practically use the program in a production environment. Each tutorial builds on the previous one. Basic exercises, a complete stationary program, a booklet, comprehensive business form, two colour newsletter and a four colour brochure, provide the vehicle for learning these page layout software programs.

Illustrator and FreeHand Advancer

Published as two printed work books with tutorial disks. Allows users to learn sequentially, at their own pace and is intended for anyone who wants to learn Adobe Illustrator or Aldus FreeHand effectively. The major functions of the program are explored in a work related way, through a series of thirteen tutorials which include clear, concise instructions and illustrations. Each tutorial build on the previous one, and culminates in the production of a four colour promotional poster.

Design Advancer

Desktop computers are now used by people in the business and education sectors to design documents and output them on laser printers. Previously this area has been the domain of print professionals. For the new technology to be used effectively there is a need for staff working in office environments to be retrained. Design Advancer is an interactive multimedia training program for people who have little or no prior knowledge of DTP and no formal training in graphic design or print production. Design Advancer also includes a printed work book.

Publishing Advancer

There has been a revolution in the printing industry since the introduction of electronic page makeup and digital imaging. The nature of the work performed by people in the print industry has changed, therefore job roles have gone through tremendous changes also. Publishing Advancer will update and enhance the skills of people working in advertising, graphic design, pre-press and printing, regardless of their prior computer knowledge. It is published as a comprehensive interactive multimedia program that consists of five learning modules.

Authorware Advancer

Explains the concepts of object oriented authoring, basic interface design, drawing and text tools, basic layering and a variety of interactions including text entry and key press within Authorware Professional. It also covers how to structure an interactive program, the use of Media Manager to reduce file sizes, links to external programs, student registration, scoring and testing and packaging and distribution. It is published as a work book and is accompanied by a tutorial disk.


Each product within the series has been, or will be, evaluated by testing it with typical users. Procedures will include both quantitative and qualitative evaluation. Quantitative evaluation will include achievement scores, learning times and costs. Qualitative evaluation will include surveying the opinions of users to determine if they enjoy using the interactive multimedia courseware; what they like/ dislike about the courseware and the printed material; and whether or not they believe that they worked effectively and efficiently. The results of this evaluation of products has been used to revise the first draft of the materials leading to the production of the final product.


Advancer Education Series is a new concept in learning computer software. The series has been developed for individuals and groups to learn computer design and publishing software economically, in their own time and at their own pace. Each course in the series is a self paced learning program, using simple language and fully illustrated, step by step instructions. The program can be repeated as many times as required by the user until full understanding is achieved. The integration of instructional and graphic design principles, together with a multi-disciplinary production team, has resulted in a unique Australian multimedia product range with export potential.

Figure 2

Figure 2:A typical Advancer work book page

Authors: Brian Martin, MA, ARIMT, TTTC,
Managing Director, Electronic Studio Ply. Ltd.
10 Apollo Court, Blackburn Vic 3130

Christine Adams, BA
Design Manager, Electronic Studio Ply Ltd.
10 Apollo Court, Blackburn Vic 3130
Tel: 03 894 2166 Fax: 03 979 3992

Please cite as: Martin, B. and Adams, C. (1994). Advancer Education Series: An instructional and graphic design synergy. In C. McBeath and R. Atkinson (Eds), Proceedings of the Second International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, 329-332. Perth, Western Australia, 23-28 January. Promaco Conventions. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/iims/1994/km/martin.html

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