Project Design: How to get into industry education

For ISE this year I was approached by CEDIA to give their design documentation course. In order to do this I had to successfully complete the CEDIA presenter course, which meant a day out to the UK headquarters in St. Neots. Here I met Archimedia’s Peter Aylett and we sat down to learn about presenting methodologies, culminating in each of us giving a 10-minute presentation to the class.

The course I had to give at ISE would be three hours, which would be my baptism of fire, after just the ten minute presentation I gave during the presenter course. Luckily I had good previous experience of presenting as it was a key part of the five years I spent at university studying product design – yet I had never given an educational class before.

There was no need for me to worry about content – this was provided by CEDIA in the form of a slideshow (in fact it was quite the opposite as the slideshow I was given was actually for a day’s worth of training). This meant I would have to ruthlessly choose which content to ditch. This is where the head of education for CEDIA EMEA, Simon Buddle came in, giving me guidance on what he wanted the focus of this course to be. Simon also gave me some invaluable tips on how to capture the students’ interest from the beginning.

Learning how to engage with attendees

What I did have to work out would be how I would get the content to stick with people. I knew that if I just gave a dry slideshow based presentation about design documentation people would lose focus and the key points would be lost. However, I also knew that in a three hour course at ISE it would be pretty silly to try to get people doing hands on stuff on their own computers – not everyone would have AutoCAD pre-installed and there would be lots of time wasted on WiFi passwords before even getting to analysing the different levels of experience and skill in the room. This is where my CEDIA presenter training came in: we learned that the best way to get people to take in facts was through interaction between the students and the educator. So I decided to put in four interactive parts to the class where the students would work in groups to give answers to some simple questions.

  1. Make introductions

    First I wanted to scope out who we had in the room. Once I had introduced myself I then asked each person to give their name, where they were from and what industry segment they worked in. This became a bit of a game as I tallied up on the flip chart how many people we had from the residential, commercial and marine sectors to get people involved.

  2. Organise group tasks

    Once the introductions were done and we had gone through some basics about the importance of design I gave the groups ten minutes to come up with a list of benefits that design documentation provides. I then presented my list and asked each group to give me their feedback, all the time looking to see if anyone had answers that I hadn't thought of. I wrote all of these up on the flip chart for possible future inclusion in the presentation.

    Then halfway through the class we arrived at the section about schematic drawings. I highlighted that there are two ways a schematic can be drawn: System by system (where the whole job is represented on a single page and the systems are split out one per page) and Room by room (where each room is presented in its entirety on a single page). I once again tried to engage with the class by getting them to list all the pros and cons of each method of producing schematics. Again, when they'd had 10 minutes thinking and discussion time I presented my list and we compared each groups’ answers. It was interesting to see the broad spread of answers …and pleasing to see there were quite a few I didn't even have on my list!

  3. Validate the learning

    The final question was for me to validate the learning. I did this with an exercise asking each individual to fill out a Gantt chart with the main project phases down the Y axis and the documentation required for each phase across the X axis so they could see how much they’d learned.


Naturally, before I gave the course I was a bit nervous as I wasn't sure if the ideas I had for the interactivity would work for the course. But they did, and the feedback was very encouraging – so much so that I can’t waiting to give another course soon, and would recommend it to anyone pondering doing it themselves.

Keith Jones studied Product Design at Central St. Martins where he graduated in 1996. Since then Keith worked in numerous high end audio outlets, culminating in owning and running his own AV installation company from 2001-2008. After a career break he started Jones designs in August 2009 which has recently morphed into a Ltd. company called designflow, with his business partner Kelly Ashforth. Designflow aims to increase awareness of design in AV and help installers win jobs and create proper documentation for them.