Visual Design – OLI

In this mini-course, students learn to analyze and produce effective printed documents, such as technical reports, proposals, and software documentation. To guide their learning, students are introduced to the basics of visual communication design and typography through a series of audio-visual explanations that describe and illustrate key concepts and vocabulary, self-assessments that verify the understanding, and hands-on exercises with individualized feedback that provide opportunities to try out what they learned.

The goal of this course is to introduce fundamental knowledge and skills associated with the design of documents. Rather than delivering prescriptive guidelines or domain-specific rules (which are unfortunately more frequently available to novice designers), this course focuses on introducing students to design principles that are applicable to a broad range of design problems. For instance, instead of presenting guidelines like “The same font should be used throughout the whole report, unless a second font is chosen for headings and tables” (Winckel, Hart, Behrend, & Kokkinn,, 2002, p. 5) or “Title [of a spreadsheet] must be centered and prominent” (Jeter, 2002), this course explains the principles that guide the selection of fonts and how visual hierarchy can be established by controlling visual variables.

These materials are available as an OLI course.

  • Open Learning Initiative (OLI) courses are designed by learning scientists at Carnegie Mellon University. They use data and research insights to develop, test, and improve OER course materials that effectively support learning.

This course is available at no cost to SUNY students.

Why Teach with Open Course Materials?