Technology in the Classroom: Yearbook Design a la Web 2.0

Filed under: design, education, technology, web 2.0 — d April 28, 2007 @ 11:06 am

Today I had a wonderful, long conversation with the yearbook teacher and webmaster for one of our schools. Mostly it was polite complaining about how the people in charge just don't "get it" about marketing, customer service, and technology. Well, and leadership, if you ask me.

In our conversations about wanting to buy a content management system for her school's website, she decided to show me the website that her class uses to design their yearbook. Yes, they design their entire yearbook within a web-based application. So long, InDesign, these kids are designing in 100% dee-licious Web 2.0.

The site is called Yearbook Avenue and is a service of Jostens (who probably published my yearbooks, too, way back in the day). Unfortunately there isn't a demo login you can get access to unless you give them a call. So instead I've taken a few screencaps:

Jostens Yearbook Avenue

(Click for full size) 

The site is much more powerful than I thought a web-based print layout application could be. The yearbook teacher gives each student in the class their own login account and from any computer on campus or at home they can work on the pages to which they are assigned. A number of students can work on it at the same time. The teacher has the ability to lock and unlock pages to specific users. She can even add virtual sticky notes on a page to tell a student what they need to edit!

One might think, "Yeah, but InDesign really will always be better." Sure, it might be. But this comes pretty darn close to the functionality of InDesign and Quark. And the built-in content/photo management system can't be beat, especially since the teacher and students can work on the book from any computer and at any time. The teacher told me she used to stay in her classroom until 10 pm working on grading students' layouts in InDesign. Not anymore. She now does that from the comfort of her home.

Photo management

Photos can be uploaded and managed by students from any computer. There is also an area for community members to upload school-related photos if they like. This school has nearly 5,000 images uploaded. Even better, when placing an image into a layout, the application will automatically tell you if the photo does not have a high-enough resolution for print. No worries about crappy cellphone camera photos at 72 dpi.

 Yearbook Avenue


Printing and Previewing

For proofing purposes, students can easily make a PDF of the layout with the click of a button. They can also view a "virtual" book and literally flip through the pages to get a feel for how it will look when printed and bound.


Yearbook Avenue

All-in-all this is a fantastic application. It is a great example of how technology, and Web 2.0 in particular, can be used in the classroom. And while I'm on the subject, why do I call this Web 2.0? Honestly, I'm not quite sure what Web 2.0 really is. I'll look it up tonight perhaps. But its starting to crystalize in my mind that Web 2.0 is the trend of web-based applications replacing software applications: Google documents replacing Microsoft Word, Flickr replacing iPhoto, and Yearbook Avenue replacing InDesign (at least for yearbooks).

Maybe I'm wrong, but this is certainly an exciting trend!



  1. MyAvatars 0.2


    A while ago when Google Documents was was out and Calendar was to be released, I was thinking "huey, give us a presentation tool and some print layout app and the world will be a better place". Google is soon to present the first one, and you just showed me the latter.

    What about bleed and CMYK converting and things like that? Is the application taking care of everything?

    Consider yourself bookmarked.

    Comment by Asgeir Hoem — May 1, 2007 @ 2:08 am

  2. MyAvatars 0.2

    Yeah man, this looks just like a complete desktop app. Being collaborative makes it killer! :)

    Comment by Kevin — May 1, 2007 @ 7:13 pm

  3. MyAvatars 0.2

    Looks great. I am leading a yearbook class now. Unfortunately, this proprietary. They do it for the money. It would be nice if Jostens gave some lighter version for free for the sake of education. I live in a place that Jostens does not service, and have no access to their great resources.

    I am willing to pay, but there is no way to do it.

    Comment by Richard — August 18, 2008 @ 5:44 am

  4. MyAvatars 0.2

    I know this post is pretty old but I couldn't resist commenting.

    As the editor of the yearbook staff at my school I am very familiar with this program. In fact our Jostens rep actually participated in the creation of this program.

    I wanted to answer a previous commenter's question any converting or editing of images must be done before uploading and only .jpg and .tiff images can be uploaded.

    Even with all the pluses (it's a lot cheaper) the online provides I find it to be a big pain in the neck especially the the dpi thing. I spent 1/4 of my time changing dpi on pictures people submitted to us.

    Comment by Alison — August 20, 2008 @ 9:02 pm

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