The Importance of the Graphic Designer in Distance Education

The Communication Professional Importance of Graphic in Distance Education


This article discusses the importance of graphic communication professionals (graphic designer) in Computer Science in Education Mediated by digital technology and distance, as they transform into visual language and abstract concepts paraserem physical products used in multimedia and Internet programs. It also discusses arevolução the graphical interface, some of its benefits and some of their ills. It also discusses the inversion of values observed in educational software whose appearance competes with the content. Finally presents case studies in which the talent of graphic communications professional has introduced a remarkable value to the subject matter (demos of the programs available at: It concludes that the modernization of educational material production form is not excluding the graphical dacomunicação professionals, making their increasingly important work.


With the advent of graphical user interfaces, computer prodigiously extended the field of work of graphic decomunicação professionals, called graphics designeres. These professionals are increasingly valued in the computing market, as are the responsáveispor create the visual identity of the programs. They turn into linguagemvisual abstract concepts and physical products for use multimedia or the Internet emprogramas.

In this article we will discuss the graphical dainterface phenomenon that generated a real revolution in computing. Deal, then the multimedia programs available on CD-ROM ouna Internet, which should be developed by professionals comunicaçãográfica because what you see is a real inversion of values, in which the appearance competes with the content. We conclude with the study of some cases in which the sensitivity and competence of the graphic communications professional was the big difference.

Graphic interface

In the mid-80s, the Macintosh standard computers – Apple Computer Inc.- introduced an environment that proved to be very intuitive and friendly. He had a user interface that replaced the arid commands written on a black screen by iconographic representations that, when clicked, accessed these commands. Over time the vast majority of operating systems migrated to this pattern, making room for graphic communication and, consequently, for professionals who master their secrets.

This environment established with the user graphical chamadainterface or GUI (Graphical User Interface) (Meirelles, 1994). It changed the computer so that virtually all applications and Internet services migrated to the new environment.

One can make an analogy of GUI contrasting a grocery store with a supermarket. To purchase products at a grocery store, the consumer needs to prepare in advance for purchases, planned their needs and relating them on paper. Then he asks the clerk these products, usually in the same order in which they are in the relationship. In the supermarket, the consumer enters the area reserved for the shelves and walking his cart, see the product you want to buy, pick them and put them in the cart. This practice hides a devantagens cast and other disadvantages. Not part of the scope of this paper to discuss them, but we should mention that in the case of the supermarket, the customer does not need to prepare properly before you go shopping and just to see and buy products, as a rule, need not and not acquire otherwise.

The use of graphical user interfaces in computer programs, especially in education programs, led, in our view, a paradox, because it is anchored in the ability to communicate ideas through drawings, geometric shapes, colors, fonts, faces, shapes, layouts, icons, photographs, diagrams, maps etc. However they have been developed, with exceptions for computer users who are selected more for suashabilidades in mastering computer applications than for its competênciaem graphically communicate ideas or facts. As in the supermarket analogy, you do not prepare in advance to perform a task and eventually incorporating the effects work that would not be necessary, or, on the contrary, become excessive acting as distractors. Pfromm Netto drew attention to this fact: “If the purpose of the film is to teach, it is essential to produce it as a teaching tool / learning and not as a mere example decinema ‘artistic.'” (Pfromm NETTO, 1998). Of course, this observation was directed to producers of educational programs for TV, but its relevance is also timely for producers of educational materials available in any media.

Not to mention the simple migration from other languages without proper adaptation to hypermedium as if each vehicle has its own language, the computer is no different. In fact, this phenomenon has been playing every time a language migrates from one medium to another. Arlindo Machado said: “… the machines succumb in the hands of the production staff who do nothing but fill them with ‘content’ of previous media, repeating in new languages solutions already crystallized in older languages.” (MACHADO, 1996).

The official, naturally most widespread category, is a kind of ‘prosthesis’ of the machine (it is an extension of the machine and not the other way), charge to activate its mechanisms and put it into operation, so that it can fulfill program for which it was designed.

For instance, what you see is the addition of such texts which were printed in the middle. The graphics features are implemented more as tools for dealing with these texts, usually immense, that as his replacement. And that when they are not used for free, hindering the acquisition of knowledge covered by them, such as adding watermarks, for example, which makes the already “difficult to read on the computer screen” (STEFANELLI, 1997) in a real sacrifice.

This, quite distressing when tratade information or entertainment programs, it is a real chaos in educational programs, for the so-called “computer users”, and rarely master the graphic languages, also cross dress is conteudistas, forgetting if the teachings of Pfromm NETTO: “the whole vast range of materials and audiovisual equipment mobilized to educate depends, to produce results that translate into learning effect, good quality and durable, a great combination of synergetic working professionals with different skills: (a) professionals who master the multiple processes and technical and artistic means necessary for the planning and production of educational materials – directors, producers, scriptwriters, camera operators, audio operators, sound engineers, set designers, illuminators etc .; (b) experts responsible for the quality of the content to be taught / learned; (c) experts who devolve the psychoeducational orientation of production, according to the principles and originated from research rules about how humans learn, retain and apply what they have learned . ” (Pfromm NETTO, 1998). What you see is a profusion of false concepts treated as axioms; images that if, in theory, should support the text, having nothing to do with them; free animations competing with the content handled by a source of distraction; sources, which are fine for titles, become unreadable long paragraphs; texts, whose colors instead of harmonizing with the background contrast or blend with these; and not end up ornaments and purposeless artificiality.

In contrast, we observe the true graphic communications professionals whose presence is increasingly multidisciplinary teams necessáriaem production programs, present to advise or develop interfaces that really fulfill their role of being a “support” for the content.

Case study

The designer graphics are responsible for the creation of a visual identity for multimedia projects; creating interfaces, icons, transforming abstract concepts into visual language, designing physical products that will be used in simulations, relevant creating animations and scanning drawings and photos. These true artists are leading the computer to a new aesthetic standard in the transmission of complex messages through graphic images.

From this point on we will describe some graphical environments created by the Group of Multimedia and Interactive Languages Research Center of New Communication Technologies Applied to Education -The School of the Future at the University of São Paulo, at the request of the Hospitality Institute, for use in educational programs and training of professionals for the hotel industry, restaurants and tourism. Also participating in this effort the Federal Center of Technological Education of São Paulo – CEFET-SP and TTS Consultants – Rio Ltda.

The first is a graphical environment in which the competence of the graphic designer was the big difference: the Front Desk. This work was developed to empower people with basic education, to play the role of receptionist hotels, the acquisition of knowledge and attitudes. In this project, the talent and the quality of the designer were put to the test every challenge, because from the beginning we specify that the interface should provide the elegance interacting notions and refinement. Therefore, the graphic designer Maurice Pirillo has created an interface in which the colors, fonts, icons and all other details working in this direction.

This program covers nearly two dozen subjects and each of them could be described as a graphic quality reference. However, two of them cannot fail to be mentioned, since they really  overcame all expectations.

One of these issues is dealing with the basic rules of cleanliness and personal presentation. It is a delicate subject and, at the same time as important require very careful handling. While it could suscetibilizar those with the basic principles of hygiene, it could not be addressed by a program that aims to address the human relationship.

Therefore we have created an environment in which, in a playful way to interact with the renowned game “view the doll.” The graphic artist Mauricio Pirillo created a little asexual and raceless doll. At the same time, added an icon cast that, when clicked, trigger narrations containing the basic rules of hygiene or neuro-linguistic programming tips (Screen 1 – environment interface “View the Doll” – Front Desk).

This doll comes on a bare canvas, surrounded by icons featuring clothing, bathing, shoes among others. It podese wear as the interactor click on them. Together with these actions the doll changes its facial expression, starting with an almost expressionless face, until it reaches a smile that touches the euphoria.

Screen 1 – environment interface “View the Doll” – Front Desk
(Click the button: external appearance)

This same unit was used in training waiter project, which will be addressed then and had the same objectives and strategies, but this time it turns into a costumed boy as a waiter (Screen 2 – Environment Interface “View the Doll” – Attendance at Restaurant Waiter and Serving Art Well).

O Garçom e a Arte de Servir Bem - apresentação pessoal - Interface do ambiente "Vista a Boneca" - Atendimento no Restaurante

Screen 2 – Environment Interface “View the Doll” – Service at Restaurant

Another example of competence was given in creating icons que suggest abstract notions. They Were used in the subject “Telephone Answering” and give access to knowledge and attitudes necessary for a receptionist to answer the phone properly. By clicking them, the interactor will have access to: the narration with the content to be acquired; the clip que demonstrates an example of a professional receptionist enquiry.c performing this procedure; the counter example of the same receptionist performing an improper procedure without cartoons or character replacement, allowing the interactor to realize the subtlety between right and wrong in dealing with his fellow (Screen 3 – Environment Interface “Telephone Service” – Front Desk).

Interface do ambiente Atendimento Telefônico - Front Desk

Screen 3 – Environment Interface “Telephone Service” – Front Desk

Another work in the graphic quality should be mentioned is used as a trainer for the practice of organizing a table in a restaurant, the mise-en-place called. This environment allows an interacting know acorreta disposal tableware, like the silverware, crystal and crockery. It also allows to practice their housekeeping by dragging and dropping their graphical representations to the appropriate location, thus demonstrating that beyond the knowledge of his position, interacting also acquires habilidadede position them, reducing the risk of breaking them. This environment is part of a program that aims to train people with basic training to work as waiters in restaurants of any category (Screen 4 – Environmental Interface trainer for mise-en-place – Service in the restaurant).

For both the graphic designer produced geometric designs in the shape of silverware, plates, cups, napkins, American towel, salt and pepper. These illustrations are in vector format to allow to be moved freely through the screen without interfering with each other.

This environment allows the interactor to apply a rotation in all the cutlery, so interacting can get used to the subtle difference in size between the main cutlery and dessert or entry. It has another feature: the, a mouse click, make visible a template that allows the interactor, beyond the practice of positioning the right tools, get used to the aesthetics of the symmetrical positioning.

As previously alluded to this environment is used for the practice of mise-en-place. However, with some modifications in the program algorithm, it is also used in evaluating the performance of empowering. If this drop his knife and fork in an unsuitable location, the program replaces in its place of origin and informs the assessment database that the error occurred. This allows remotely, a supervisor assesses the progress of learning. This database archives the number of errors committed by the interactor every time you entered the evaluation module. This solution was implemented so that the supervisor can evaluate, in addition to skills, the perseverance of interacting.

These environments are contained in a larger module, where the interacting see a number of photos and -scanned handled by designer- of mise-en-places suitable for various occasions and types of services offered by various restaurants. In this module the interactor also sees a film, scanned, edited and handled by the designer, which shows the preparation of a mise-en-place done by a professional. The purpose of this film is to demonstrate the care and hygiene that this professional must have when touching utensils.

Screen 4 – Environmental Interface trainer for mise-en-place – Atendimentono Restaurant
drag and drop the items to the correct position

This program contains other environments where the talent and the graphic designer’s work formed a synergistic effect with the content. For example, in service of a table, the waiter should go especially to one of its occupants, called the host, and must serve all following a policy priority in attendance. To provide an environment where the interactor could acquire this knowledge, practice them and, ultimately, be evaluated, the graphic designer created a cast of characters that synchronized with the narration: are presented; corretado demonstrate the service sequence, the various possible conditions; They make your requests and to be served, smile. Another dozen effects that add learning a playful aspect could be listed (Screen 5 – Environment Interface: Priority Service – Service in the restaurant).

Interface do ambiente: Prioridade no Atendimento - Atendimento no Restaurante - prática serviço de mesa

Screen 5 – Environment Interface: Priority Service – Service in restaurant

To complete this case study described here an educational program for the acquisition of knowledge and skills inherent to the geometric design, it is intended for students of second and third degree, your goal is to study the plane geometrical figures -which can be drawn with ruler aid and compass- and solids whose faces form these figures -The Geometric Design in Multimedia. In this program the perception of designer allowed the acquisition of abstract concepts in a playful and eloquently.

Alexander Romiszowski divides human knowledge into two categories: factual knowledge and conceptual knowledge; These, in turn, are also divided into two categories: principles and concepts; Finally, these are also divided into two categories: concrete concepts and abstract concepts (Diagram 1 – Categorization of Human Knowledge). The main difference between concrete and abstract concepts is that the former can be transmitted through concrete examples and the learner uses his senses to acquire them. However, for the transmission of abstract concepts it is necessary to use the language and the abstraction capacity of the learner (ROMISZOWSKI, 1981). The author exemplifies using the concrete concepts ‘red’, ‘green’, ‘blue’ or the difference between ‘orange’ and ‘red’. According to his studies, the apprentice can appropriate these concepts through his senses, using his life experience.

But the abstract concept ‘color’ will only be seized if the learner and the instructor to master a common language. In this case-as in all cases of communication and CONCEPTS of education is necessary to present a number of appropriate examples. However, the examples that will lead the student to take ownership of the abstract concept ‘color’ are other concepts ‘concrete’ seized previously, like red and orange.

To explain the concept of “color” the instructor needs verbally cite the examples and the student must have acquired previously the meaning of these words. According Romiszowski to teach the abstract concept ‘color’, no good point to red things, blue or any other color, or so-little mention color examples verbally to an apprentice who has not previously acquired the understanding of these words. This concept only makes sense if the student know the concrete examples and master the language used to put it all together.

Diagram 1 – Categorization of Human Knowledge

In the Geometric Design in Multimedia were used animations produced in “3D” – graphic language – as a partial substitute for verbal language. For example – without prejudice to axioms and postulates – it is possible to adduce the concrete concepts: point, line, cone, plane among others and later, using the animations with language, lead the learner to abstract the abstract concepts of the conic curves – Points belonging to both the cone and the plane that the section (Screen 6 – Interface of the environment: CurvesCônicas – Geometric Drawing in Multimedia).

Screen 6 environmental -Interface: Conical Curves – Geometric Design in Multimedia

It is clear that the fundamentals of Geometry are not just concrete, but concepts, however, using the principles of ‘Categorization of Human Knowledge’, combined with the technical competence and aesthetic sense of the graphic designer, provided a synergy between the technique And art without prejudice to the contents.


During this work, we demonstrated importance of involving graphic communications professionals in projetosde educational programs that can be delivered on CD-ROM or the Internet. We discussed some details of the migration of interfaces of the operating systems and the ASCII interface applications for the graphic interface that, on one sidebrought the advantage of making the most affordable computer, on the other hand brought the disadvantage away, an hour, several members dasequipes important production materials multimediatic.

We also discuss some of the excesses, in our view, give it more importance to the fetishes of technology that the treaty content. But as is natural in any technology, it is essential to learn to use it competently, Gildo Montenegro said: “I have nothing against Computer despite early excesses, natural and reparable …” (MONTENEGRO, 1987). Excesses perhaps part of this learning, but the awareness of the graphic community of its importance in this process is necessary.

We end with a case study on the technical competence of the graphic designer has created an art that is not submitted or exceeded the content, true starlet of teaching, but harmonized with this generating real synergy.

Eduardo Stefanelli

Engenheiro por profissão, professor por vocação