With over 80,000 undergraduate and graduate students, the University of Barcelona is the largest university in Catalonia and the second largest university in Spain. With 19 faculties and schools, and more than 5000 professors, the University of Barcelona ranks among the top 200 universities in the world.

For over twenty years, the University of Barcelona has incorporated digital tools in the curriculum of educational courses. The aim is to provide basic design knowledge to teachers of the future to enable them to prepare working materials and create graphical as well as interactive resources. In short, the objective is to provide them with tools to successfully address the needs of the future where education will increasingly be based on digital media.

The Faculty of Teacher Education, which trains preschool, elementary school and high-school teachers, has been working with a wide range of design and visualisation software since 1994. A core element on the curriculum is CorelDRAW Graphics Suite.

From origami to vectorisation with CorelDRAW

"It all began with curiosity," explained Ángeles Ruiz, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Teacher Education and user of the software since release 2. "We needed to create origami graphics for students. To begin with, we worked with AutoCAD and coordinates, but that was very complicated. Then we came across CorelDRAW and discovered that we could do far more than we had considered possible."

Visual Arts subjects such as "Digital Literacy for teachers" or "Pen, Pencil and Computer" make intensive use of CorelDRAW. The design tool is used to create the graphics, which are then exported to image processing software or interactive multimedia platforms. "We do all drawing tasks with Corel because it affords the user complete control over his design with the help of Bezier curves, which are very easy to work with," said Ángeles Ruiz. "Another amazing tool is the vectorisation feature, which is beyond comparison."

Other key factors are the versatility of the software and the fast learning curve, because students do not intend to become designers, but to deploy vector-based drawing programs during their future work in schools. "We train teachers," Ruiz added, "and these programs enable students to create drawings even without knowing how to draw, in a simple manner based on visualisation. The results are versatile elements, recognisable and useful to the work done by teachers."

A long-lasting relationship with the educational community

The choice of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite as an element in the training of future teachers is not only justified by the degree of control over the design or the ease of usage. The commercial factor is also of vital importance, especially in times when shoestring budgets are the order of the day and each investment needs to be scrutinised with a magnifying glass.

The University of Barcelona has a centralised purchasing department for all commonly-used resources and analyses the different sourcing options for investment, management, and licencing to decide what is best for the university. When it comes to software, the ICT department makes an annual economic assessment to check whether it is beneficial to keep the number of licences, i.e. if the use of certain software justifies the investment. The first set of Corel licences acquired by the University of Barcelona date back to 1994, when it rolled out WordPerfect, then still a Novell product. The university began acquiring single-user CorelDRAW licences in 1996 and after reaching a significant volume in 1999, it switched over to the Campus contract, which offers great value. The enduring relationship bears testimony to the fact that Corel's policy towards the education community makes the partnership easy.

Licences to educate

"For quite some time, Corel has been very receptive to the idea of providing unlimited licences for educational purposes at universities", reflected Monserrat Martínez, Head of Personal Computing of the ICT department and one of the people responsible for monitoring and evaluating IT resources at the University of Barcelona. "This has really helped the product to multiply. The University of Barcelona considers it as a product to be for general use and, as such, its costs are not passed on to the user. Moreover, the price is very competitive compared to similar packages that do not offer campus licences and can only be purchased as single-user licences."

An annual saving of up to 400% has been achieved when the Campus licence is compared to the purchase of single-user licences of similar software. Being an unlimited licence, it is always ready for installation and deployment with no need for extra paperwork and includes prompt and complimentary upgrades to new releases during the contract period. In fact, the University of Barcelona estimates that approximately 285 workstations around the campus use the suite.

"It is a solution that offers a far more attractive price-performance ratio than alternative solutions," Martínez added. "I think Corel considers educational organisations to be an area worth investing in, where it is not essential to generate big business with licences. It has worked very well."

A long-term bet

This commitment to education has always been a long-term policy for Corel. Each year, more than 800 students graduate as preschool and elementary school teachers from the University of Barcelona. They face challenging times, but it is precisely in difficult environments that support for educational organisations is crucial, as they constitute the basis for any meaningful future. It is not only a matter of providing a larger population of students and teachers with access to tools for everyday work that are of high quality, useful and versatile. It is also important that these tools can be used with a wide range of cost-effective hardware platforms, such as PCs, which are available in almost all schools and universities around the world.

An acceptable cost, versatility and sensitivity to the educational environment are the reasons that the University of Barcelona has opted for Corel for over twenty years. It has been a longterm partnership that keeps education at the forefront.