"They should make this a course everyone has to take."

- Design Student

"They should make this a course everyone has to take."

- Design Student

Northwestern University

1.

​2.

Hybrid Certificate Course: Creative Branding & Design

Graphic/Web/Print Design and Production for the College

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1. Hybrid Certificate Course

I am currently faculty at the Masters School of Communication where I teach a course in Creative Branding & Design. It prepares students so that they may become more web and design savvy in their professional portfolios. The course was built around the deliverables they would need to launch their careers and therefore focused on logos, business cards, brochures, resume templates, website portfolios and document referred to as a 'leave behind', which is a highly designed one-sheet infographic that functions like an elevator pitch.

We taught them about color, typography, layout, and other basic principles of design. We specifically taught them how to use free online software and platforms such as Gravit, Canva, and Wix to pull it all together. 

We coached them on content and form and worked closely the School of Communication to keep our workshops relevant to what they were simultaneously learning in their classes. Students received a certificate upon completion.

An example of a lesson handout.

Approach and Analysis

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One of the many flyers we made to get students to sign up. Our most recent class had almost 70 enroll!

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As almost none of our students had any prior design experience, we knew that we couldn't make them make them masters in design in just ten workshops. We focused instead on some basic skills, and aimed to make it as fun, effective, and practical as possible while still generating work quickly.

Our classroom was diverse and included college students fresh out of undergrad to seasoned CEOs. We knew we needed to give them the individualized attention that was also contextually appropriate for the type of work that they did. It had to be professional, but it had to represent them, too.

Structuring and Style

This was designed as a hybrid course. We started off by creating an introductory video overview of the course so they could get a feel for both us and the coursework before they met us in person, while still giving them the direction and focus of the syllabus.

Prior to the first class, students sent us their current resumes, overviews, and related job-hunting assets. We provided them with thorough feedback and constructive critique so we would also get to know them before we met them in person. Bottom line is that we developed a structure, but had to be extremely flexible within that structure. 

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The Brag Board showcasing some of our students' logo designs. These are final designs critiqued and tweaked through our online forum.

Teaching Design to Non-Designers

The actual classes were a mix of lectures and workshops, also relied heavily on video communication, webcast critiques, and handouts we generated and posted online. We built a Wix site for the course materials with a forum to teach them how to make a Wix site - a sort of leading by example. The forum ended up being extremely useful, because not only were we giving them a critical assessment of their design work, but their classmates did too. We felt we succeeded in creating a vibrant, virtual classroom to augment the physical one. While all our students were new to the field, everyone came out with designs that they could actually use for their careers.

We've done about 6 different iterations of of this course, and it is constantly being revised as we figure out what works and what doesn't.

Assessment

It was a pass/fail class, but we mostly focused on assessing them in real-time with focused feedback and guidance so they could make high-quality deliverables for their job search that was looming. 

2. Graphic/Web/Print Design and Production for the College

In addition to the coursework, I was also responsible for creating professional-grade documents for their entire college. This included posters for other workshops, videos and PowerPoint documents for presentations, award plaques, the handbooks, catalogs and manuals for the students, and even an interactive timeline and digital archive for the 30-year anniversary of the college.

Essentially, I work as an in-house designer for the School of Communication, and the projects require me to be versatile, fast-working, and able to maintain university brand guidelines.

A 15-second flip through of the Capstone Manual students used as a guide for their time at Northwestern.

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To the right is landing page for the new Alumni Digital Archive, which features over 200 photos, news articles, videos, interviews, and publications from 1980 until now organized into an interactive timeline.

If you'd like, you can check out the timeline here.

It's pretty cool!