Visual Comunication
Theory & Practice


In Spring of 2012 I was asked to direct the graduate “bootcamp” introduction to graphic design class, you’ll see much of the same material presented in this document and tenure file course folder. This course teaches in six weeks what undergrads learn in an entire semester. The pace is exceptional but aided by the fact that all instructors are with their respective students 10+ hours each week in a small lab environment, aided by a teaching assistant. 

The nature of this intense immersive environment is communal. This has created an ideal environment to test new technologies, in-class exercises and general curriculum changes before moving them into the undergrad version of this course: GRA217, Introduction to Graphic Design. GRA217 often has 6+ sections, affecting hundreds of students.


  • View the class blog at 
  • Get an overview of my student evaluations in Teaching > Introduction > Evaluations Overview 
  • 2012, my first year of teaching the graduate “boot camp” version of Introduction To Graphic Design, GRA217. 
  • Act as director of the program and hire/lead a team of six instructors and six instructional assistants. 
  • Led the evolution of the course curriculum to focus on digital distribution models and technology. 
  • Used this course as an incubator for new ideas. 
  • Created a Dropbox shared folder or “GRA217 Warehouse” for all GRA217 & GRA617 instructors to draw and share course materials. 
  • Created online shared Google Docs folder to easily revise project materials, including lectures and assignments.



  • Graduate level class 
  • Six week “boot camp” introduction to graphic design 
  • Group lecture of all sections, often totaling 100+ students 
  • Technology taught: Adobe Creative Cloud applications



  • To make you aware of the way you visually perceive the messages around you and tools that shape those messages. 
  • To give you the vocabulary used to describe the visual presentation of effective communication. Even if you don’t become a designer, you are likely to work with them. Knowing the language will help you to be much more effective. 
  • To foster your ability to critically analyze visual messages. Any job as an effective communicator is enhanced by the ability to explicitly understand and critique the power of visual and verbal messages. 
  • To provide hands-on expertise in the software used by design and communication professionals.



One of my greatest accomplishments in this course has been in leading the curriculum evolution. When I came to Newhouse we were very print focused in GRA617 and we are now heavily digitally leaning. With the reduction of one major project (logo design), students and instructors alike have the bandwidth to tackle the constantly changing technology of the communications industry. 

Gradual Introduction of Interactive Concepts and Tools 

The initial question of the other GRA instructors was how to address the need to educate our students in the ever changing area of digital publishing while not overwhelming them. After using the summer graduate version of this course (Visual Communication Theory & Practice) as a laboratory, we decided to gradually introduce the concepts and technologies of digital content publication. These ideas are introduced incrementally and result in the tablet publication project, thereby weaving old and new concepts seamlessly.


Résumé & Wordmark Project 

We address the psychology of interaction alongside the introduction of basic Adobe InDesign interactive tools, specifically hyperlinks. In addition, each student is required to hyperlink her/his résumé to her/his LinkedIn profile. We also encourage the development of an online social identity system to begin the process of having an online professional presence. 


Poster Project

The poster project is where we introduce the concept of duo-orientation design for tablets. This is a common function while viewing most tablet based publications (such as Wired); the design changes depending on how the device is being held, vertically or horizontally. We also introduce the psychology behind how content is viewed depending on where the user is physically and how the design needs to shift to meet those changes.


User Interface 

This project now includes the concepts of information architecture, web publication technologies and usability on the web. 


Tablet Publication Project

This is where previous lessons in communicating digitally come together with new ones about touch interaction and the technologies of the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite or DPS. The Adobe DPS is the most widely used publication technology in the world. The final result is a working, duo-orientation, tablet publication that is then shared via a free Adobe ID with anyone having access to an iPad.