Thursday, May 15, 2014

Design Beautiful Graphic Layouts with Google Drawings, iWork Pages, or Word

A great question came in today from one an SDW staff member that has been asked been by many of our teachers.  We would like to offer some suggested solutions.

What tool is available to SDW staff to create graphic layouts, watermarks, and detailed layouts for projects such as flyers, posters, handouts with graphics, and other similar projects?

There are many tools available to do this type of work, but here are three that would be the recommendation of the Instructional Technology Coordinator team.

Google Apps: Drawing
This tool is one of the less commonly utilized tools in the Google Apps world, but it offers some of the
flexibility in design and layout that many users crave for unique projects.  It is comparable to Microsoft Publisher, but with the ease of use and collaborative tools that make Google Docs so powerful.  The Google Drawing canvas can be resized to be an entire handout, or they can be used to make small icons and infographics that can be placed into a Google Doc, Site, or Slides presentation.  A flexible tool with a knack for easy distribution, it is definitely worth a look.  The beauty is, once you know how to edit in Google Docs, using this web-based software is a breeze.  The bad news -- it does not function well on the iPad (today), so it is not highly recommended for student use on iPads at this point.

See a video of Google Drawings in Action.

Apple iWork - Pages 
Wave 1 and 2 staff and students will have this program available to them early next year. Wave 3 staff and students can install the app for free today from the App stores.  Available on both the Mac and iPad, this is a mixture of artistic design, ease of use, and word processing all in one tool.  It is highly recommended for most design projects, but even it has limitations (today) related to collaboration and sharing.  However, the user interface (especially on the iPad app) is difficult to beat in terms of simplicity and developing a professional looking end product.

See a video demoing Pages on the iPad.

Microsoft Office: Word 
While it has its limitations with certain projects and layouts, Word is a familiar, comfortable tool for many users.  However, it certainly can do the job and is available to staff on both the PC and Mac. It would be a good choice, but perhaps not the most flexible choice of the three.

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