How Two Friends from Levi9 and SoftServe Orginized a Design Course for Students

07 Mar, 2017

Students of the Bachelor’s Program Internet of Things are constantly getting new opportunities for learning. Earlier they were working on real projects with IT professionals from Lviv companies, and now some of them are participating in the free design course organized by Taras Shypka (SoftServe) and Dmytro Orlyk (Levi9). We have visited their course and learned what made the organizers volunteer in the sphere of education.

This course has started as nothing like a group course. Dmytro has decided he needed to improve his design skills, and Taras happened to be not only a skilled professional but also a great teacher. Gradually they were joined by friends who also wanted to learn more about design – that is how the two decided that teaching students won’t be a bad idea.

“Back in the day, Oleksandr Lisovskyi invited me to IoT Lab by Microsoft. Also, I used to work at SoftServe and knew Zenoviy Veres who contributed to the IoT degree program. I got the idea to unite these two IoT groups. I offered him my help with design and learned that there are already 50 students at the program, so it all got pretty serious” – tells Dmytro.

This is how Dmytro and Taras decided to invest their efforts in teaching students: Taras is teaching and Dmytro is doing all the organizational work. Meanwhile, SoftServe and Levi9 are provinding them with rooms to hold the classes.

In total, there 5 students from the IoT program at the course, who were chosen on the basis of competition: they had to create infographics illustrating somebody’s biography. Among similar works, there were few done appropriately:

“Our idea was not just to take people. We wanted people who can do something. There was a hand-drawn work – a photo of the drawing. You could see that this person really strives for something. Other cases showed that guys good at programming also have a nice taste. They can easily grow as multidisciplinary personalities” – says Taras.
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According to Taras, the aim of the course is the following: for at least three people out of eight to become designers and start getting paid for their work. The ultimate goal will be achieved when in the future every student will move in the direction of the design. By the way, Taras has a 7-year teaching experience and in this time he taught more than 2 thousand students. There 30 senior designers and 5 art directors among them. Statistics of the last 5 years shows that 100% of the course graduates are employed.

What is the secret of Taras’s teaching style? Simplicity and equal treatment of all students.

“I’m just a person who learned design a bit earlier. So I can’t be treating others as the privileged one” – he thinks.

This course is slightly different – there is a lot of improvisation. Taras says he doesn’t know how long exactly the course will last, and there is no exact program, only specific topics which have to be discussed. Before each session, Taras thoroughly prepares in order to cover the topic as deeply as possible. The course is mostly designed not to show the tools, but to develop a taste. For instance, one of the classes was devoted to fonts – their types and evolution.

“For some people taste means an ability to combine two colours, for others – to subtly feel a certain style. Everybody has their own limits, but it certainly can be taught. My favorite example is one of the recent home assignments I gave students: I asked them to make collections – 50 logos, 50 sites. This is a very delicate mechanics which always works. It’s like saving pictures you like on your laptop. Later, you open the folder and understand that they are all the same. In a good sense. This is exactly what your taste is. And then you just learn how to work with it, how to develop it”.
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After the course, students will have a chance to apply their theoretical skills in practice – to work on a real project at IoT Lab already together with mentors. It is still unknown whether the course will be repeated, but there certainly will be other volunteering projects. Taras enjoys doing them – it’s interesting and fun. In the meantime, Dmytro emphasizes the importance of volunteering:

“It is not the only volunteering activity I’m involved in. Many of my colleagues ask: why are you doing this? In reality, all of this boils to the fact that during the war there are a lot of people sacrificing many things. When you can’t be doing the same due to health problems, then you can do anything you are good at. I can do these things, and if they are useful to five people who will later become designers and, maybe, will promote Ukraine in the world, then it’s great”.

Dmytro hopes that more people will engage in similar initiatives and maybe start such courses at their companies.

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