Something for everybody in the Spring course offerings

Planning for spring courses starts early with registration already underway. Catalog descriptions can be a bit cryptic, so we are going to share a bit more of our insider information on the elective courses we’re offering this spring.
If you find more enticing options than you can take in a semester, check the 2-year schedule on our website for a glimpse at when these courses will be offered again.

Information Graphics, taught by Professor Betty Oliver

Emphasizing principles of design, students learn different ways of displaying information in this course. We begin with a review of best practices for creating data graphs. You will study the use of comics as a means for social change, and you’ll create your own comic. Another challenging but fun assignment is creating a set of visual instructions that is easy to read and follow in any language. You will research special topics and design and create a professional “newspaper infographic,” followed by an in-depth study of the complex but exciting field of interactive news infographics. Students taking this course will need a working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Marketing Communication, taught by Professor Carol Barnum

Students with an interest in marketing communication, including marketing yourself for a job or consulting or business, really enjoy this course because it is so focused on products as deliverables. With a combination of individual and team projects, this course allows you to build your portfolio of products that reflect marketing communication in any medium. The team project is one selected by your team, in conjunction with a sponsor. The team chooses a not-for-profit organization in need of the talents and energies of the students to create a marketing plan and deliverables, one from each team member.
An online presentation to the sponsors on the last night of class is the highlight of the course, as the sponsors have always been thrilled at the results of the team’s work. With guest spots from some of the best marcom strategists in the business, the course provides the foundation to learn from each other and outside experts, while designing and creating marcom products.

Content Strategy, taught by Professor Laura Palmer

These days, you’ll hear more and more about content strategy, especially for web sites and other online platforms. Content strategy is a growing discipline that positions content as a business’s most significant asset. Through an ongoing cycle that includes development, analysis, presentation, measurement, evaluation and management, content strategists develop communication plans and create messages that meet both business goals and the needs of readers. Content strategists are also responsible for developing effective practices for search engine optimization; they also develop metadata and taxonomies to leverage findability
In this course, I focus on the current accepted practices of content strategy, but I add the element of using data—as derived from site analytics—to inform content decisions. This addition of analytics—or, data-driven rhetoric, as I call it—adds significant value to the content strategist’s job. With data, content strategists can make better assessments about the value of a site’s assets; as well, they have a quantitative metric for measuring the success of a strategic initiative.

Performance Technology, taught by Professor Keith Hopper

This atypical course is about getting people to get things done. It is the natural complement to Communications Project Management, also offered spring semester. Why don’t people do what they ought to do? Shall we train them again? These are the questions that open the class and by the end of the semester you will have some hard-nosed, time-tested tools to analyze workplace performance issues and make realistic interventions. You will ponder the astonishingly cogent thinking of the seminal thinkers in the field. Performance technology is the parent field of instructional design and if you are not sure why this would be, you must take this course. I am sometimes asked to name my favorite course. Pressed hard, I would answer Performance Technology. When I took this course in my graduate studies it was a life-changing event. I have not looked at the world in the same way since. The class concludes with a capstone presentation by a professional performance analyst from industry.

Communications Project Management, taught by Professor Keith Hopper

This highly refined course is the natural complement to Performance Technology, also offered spring semester. How do we get things done on time and according to specifications? Most projects fail. This sobering assessment ought to give us pause. This course introduces the fascinating and pragmatic word of Project Management and you will consider the great successes and the great failures in this arena. Just how did Henry J. Kaiser literally build liberty ships faster than they could be sunk? What went wrong with Mars Orbiter? You will learn the major phases in all professional projects and prepare the documents that accompany each. You will use the major software tool in Project Management. The course concludes with a capstone presentation by a professional project manager with a TCOM background.


About Dr. LP

I'm an assistant professor of information design and communication at SPSU in Marietta, GA. I'm teaching grad classes in information architecture, web design, writing across media, and practices of professional communication. My current interests focus on the future of technical communication and how it will include content strategy, curation, and integrated social media.
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