Software Donation Expands Opportunities to Broaden Skillsets of Digital Media Students

Jaime De Vega, digital media program lecturer, created a poster that is displayed in the corporate office of Xerox.

The University of Houston Digital Media program prepares technologically perceptive leaders for this multi-faceted and ever-changing profession. Students gain competencies in various graphic-related technologies and develop a broad background in leadership and supervision in one of the largest industries in the United States.  With the accelerating integration of print and digital media, it has become increasingly important for students to emerge with top skills and knowledge about the cutting-edge advances in the technology.

The software platform, XMPie® by Xerox Corporation, integrates the world of print and digital media to make it easier to create and produce personalized, multi-channel personalized business communications.  Through an agreement with the University of Houston, it is now available to College of Technology digital media students with free access to a valuable full suite of tools. A typical installation of XMPie can cost into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per digital media lab workstation.

Dr. Jerry Waite, professor and coordinator of the University of Houston Digital Media program said, “There is an increasing demand for trained transmedia professionals. Access to XMPie is tremendously valuable for our students and its use will be a fundamental key to our becoming the transmedia marketing hub. XMPie will evolve into a powerful teaching tool for media personalization.”

The agreement was steered by digital media program advisory board members, Andy and Julie Plata, who own the OutputLinks Communications Group (OLGroup). Their consulting firm provides data-driven messaging platforms and communication support to technology professionals and businesses.

Andy and Julie Plata, OLGroup chief executive officers, shared their viewpoint about the importance of XMPie to digital media education.

What was your role in this XMPie agreement?

OLGroup: Companies tend to be cautious about donating product to schools and non-profits due to the time and resources required for transaction communications and support. The founder and president of XMPie, Jacob Aizikowitz, expressed such a concern when we approached him about the donation. Therefore, we made it our responsibility to serve as the liaison between XMPie and the University of Houston for all the contracting, installation, training, and follow-on interaction with the XMPie group and Xerox.

What is the biggest value and impact that this will make on the education of UH digital media students?

OLGroup: The mission statement for the UH digital media program guides graduates toward having the ability to plan, manage and assist in executing an optimal mix of transmedia platforms for an employer’s, or client’s specific message objectives. XMPie provides the tools to achieve the vision for the program. XMPie provides one of the communications industry’s most powerful cross-media, one-to-one marketing suites. The donated software and training will enable students to create highly sophisticated one-to-one media campaigns across a combination of print, packaging, eMedia, e-commerce, photography, and video platforms. Think about how transmedia campaigns for commercial campaign enterprises like Batman encompass print (posters and direct mail), packaging (McDonald's packaging), eMedia (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media), e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, in addition to photography and video platforms. Not many people have the proven, real-world, applied skills across all media disciplines. With their XMPie experiences, the University of Houston digital media graduates will have those rare and in-demand skills.

What difference will this make in the graphic communication industry?

OLGroup: The future is challenging to many North American university graphic arts programs. Well-trained professionals are vital to the graphic communications industry. The UH digital media program attracts digitally focused, social media savvy students with most likely less appreciation for print media.  XMPie software will allow them to empower their video and eMedia projects while becoming aware of the power of print as a strategic component of the transmedia mix needed to maximize the impact of their projects.  We have met students who used the XMPie software and professed an entirely new understanding and respect for print after entering the program. The graphic arts industry cannot survive on print alone. We need to master the full transmedia mix to be relevant to today’s brand owners. UH’s digital media graduates can use their XMPie experiences to help printers better serve today’s buyers with a full array of media platforms.

How were you driven to be involved with the University of Houston Digital Media Program?

OLGroup: As printing industry professionals with more than 150 scholarships awarded to students around the world, we are invested deeply in graphic arts education. However, we have grown concerned about a decline in print-based university education. In an effort to reverse that trend, we chose to support the University of Houston Digital Media program’s initiative to reinvent how students are introduced to and educated about print.

Students in the digital media program are talking about the about the value of XMPie to their careers.