Industry education: rapid delivery

I’ve met with a number of digital production companies in the past couple of weeks and one message seems to be coming through loud and clear: educators do not generally train students to cope with the demands of fast turnaround, delivery-focused production. These employers would prefer courses with multiple delivery items delivered in a series of rapid turnaround, collaborative exercises. In this way students get the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and build their skills in working spontaneously under pressure.

I agree that this can be a problem with educational institutions teaching media production-based courses. There has been widespread criticism of this by various sectors of the digital industry through the Digital Content Action Agenda process.  But while this may be the best outcome for employers we also need to recognise that we are educators not production companies and we need to provide opportunities for students to learn, absorb knowledge, research and reflect on their process. So it’s more a matter of putting balance into courses in order to accommodate both requirements.

Creative projects given long time lines have a tendency to get bogged down if the energy of the process isn’t maintained. This is where the services of a skilled producer comes into play – to keep things moving so that the vision of the project is maintained over the devil of the detail. I’d maintain that a good education program should also be structured in this way so that it maintains energy and momentum.
The LAMP (Laboratory of Advanced Media Production) workshops we have been running for the past year are the best examples I’ve experienced of an ‘energised’ educational program. The process is rapid and demanding but clearly focused on the important aspects of the creative process. Any media production process is necessarily complex and maintaining focus on the aspects that ‘make a difference’ is a necessity to motivate a team. Rapid development of ideas, time for reflection and iteration of this process is a model well suited to the digital production process. If we are to prepare students for this world we need to move away from protracted linear processes and encourage cyclic, non-linear creative structures.

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