School’s in Session: Kendall College of Art and Design Students Partner
with School Zone for Real-World Design Experience


Grand Haven, Michigan – October 14, 2010 – School Zone Publishing Company is offering a group of students from Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University an extra lesson in real-world digital design this semester – thanks to the creative team at School Zone.

The Grand Haven-based publisher, which is the world’s leader in educational software for children, is partnering with an advanced team of 15 Kendall students as they explore what it takes to design, produce and bring new products profitably to market. As part of the course, students will work individually and then in teams to develop new concepts for flash cards, educational software, workbook or iPad App – with School Zone design professionals mentoring each step of the process.

“We were delighted when Kendall approached us with the idea to provide a very hands-on experience to their digital media students,” said Barbara Peacock, managing director of School Zone and a Kendall graduate. “Over the years, we have developed and refined an approach that ensures our award-winning educational products will resonate with children, parents, teachers – and retailers.

“In our interaction with Kendall students, we have already begun exploring what it takes to go from idea to retail shelf. Key to this process is to balance art and innovation with practicality and return on investment. We must be smart in how we develop and introduce new products so that at the end of the day, we have fun, educational products at a price point that parents and retailers find attractive.”

The Kendall students made a trip to School Zone shortly after classes began to hear from CEO Jonathan Hoffman, Peacock and her design team just how the process works. Students had a long list of questions when they sat down – from the graphic styles that appeal to children to the need to balance education and entertainment to taboo subject matter for the younger set.

They have also begun defining their initial products, building off School Zone’s successful formula for new product development. Kendall students are exploring a wide number of genres and adding their own unique flavor – for example, software ninjas who slice sushi rolls to teach fractions to miners who blast rocks by correctly answering basic addition and subtraction questions.

They are finding out that making “easy” products isn’t always so, well, easy.

“Partnering with School Zone is giving our students an extraordinary opportunity to see what it takes to work at a studio entirely focused on the children’s market,” said Susan Bonner, an assistant professor of digital media at Kendall College. “With help, we have begun exploring how digital imaging and digital media work together with branding, marketing and placement strategies.

“We appreciate this opportunity to see how the design principles and techniques we have learned in the classroom need to adapt to meet the demands of the marketplace.”

Kendall students will polish their concepts over the coming weeks, presenting ideas to School Zone on Nov. 1. School Zone product developers will evaluate all concepts, selecting five designs to move forward. The Kendall students will then collaborate on one of the five teams, with a final round of judging on Dec. 1. Peacock and her team will pick the winning product, which School Zone may opt to introduce next year.

About School Zone
Based in Grand Haven, Michigan, School Zone Publishing Company is a leading publisher of educational materials for children, including workbooks, flash cards, software and downloadable apps for Mac and PC platforms. School Zone has more than 60 educational software titles, making it the world’s leader in educational software for children. School Zone also publishes 250 workbook and flashcard titles. For more information, visit www.schoolzone.com.

About Kendall College of Art and Design
As a part of Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design offers programs that prepare the college's graduates for professional lives as artists and designers. Kendall’s undergraduate programs include art education, art history, digital media, fine arts, furniture design, graphic design, illustration, industrial design, interior design, metals/jewelry, painting, photography, and sculpture and functional art. Kendall also offers the MFA in Fine Arts and the MBA with a Concentration in Design and Innovation Management. Kendall is an active community partner and annually provides over 2,000 children and adults the opportunity to pursue courses in art and design through a richly varied continuing studies program. www.kcad.edu