Course Syllabus


Course Information

Visual messages are everywhere. We use them to communicate ideas and emotions quickly. They can simplify the explanation of a process and enhance your text and verbal communication. In this workshop-style course, you will examine the research behind visual communication practices as well as apply visual design principles to projects of your choosing.

Course Goals

This is a one-credit course. When you have completed the class, you will be able to:

  • Evaluate and critique visual communication.
  • Design effective visual messaging.
  • Use digital tools to create graphic elements.

Class Meetings

  • Visual Communication for Non-Designers
  • Monday, 8th period (3:00 - 3:50)
  • 200 Bryant Space Science Center
  • And via Zoom - Access Zoom meetings and recordings through the left menu


The required textbook for this course is The Non-Designer’s Design Book (4th edition) by Robin Williams (not the late comedian).

  • ISBN-10: 0133966151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0133966152
  • An e-book version will be cheaper and is perfectly fine for this course.
  • Additional readings will be available in Canvas.

Required Equipment & Software

In order to complete class assignments, you will need access to a reliable computer. You may select from the following software programs:

  • Canva (free, unless you opt to purchase a template)
  • GIMP (free, you may use PhotoShop if you prefer)
  • PowerPoint (available through UF at no cost, you may use GoogleSlides or Keynote if you prefer)
  • Serif Affinity Suite (available through UF Apps at no cost)


Instructor:  Jennifer Smith

  • Please use the Canvas email tool to contact me! (Expect a response within 24 hours.)
  • Office Hours: M 7th and 9th periods (before and after class) and by appointment.
  • Office hour Zoom Link goes here!
  • You can message me via Canvas chat during my office hours.

General Questions

General course questions (if not asked in class) may be posted on the Course Questions Discussion Forum.  It may save you time to do a keyword search for your topic to see if someone else has already asked your question. Remember to subscribe to your post so that you will be e-mailed when it receives a response. 

Grades or Personal Issues

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you run into trouble. Some of the tools we are using can be a bit tricky. A quick message to me can save you time and frustration.

Email me within Canvas using the inbox in the menu to the left. You are welcome to use the telephone (352.294.0810), talk with me during the hours before or after class, or set up an appointment.

The Canvas Chat tool is available for you to connect with classmates or me.  See the office hours above for times when I am available.

Netiquette - Communication Courtesy

You are expected to contribute to the ongoing constructive feedback that is an essential part of the learning process. All members of the class are expected to follow rules of common courtesy in all email messages, threaded discussions, and chats. It is the goal of this course to provide a safe place to discuss personal issues in a constructive manner. View the Class Etiquette guide for details.


The course assignments are designed to be flexible to fit your personal goals. You have the option to suggest an alternate assignment one week prior to the mock-up deadline. View the rubrics within Canvas for the specific grading details for each assignment.

Purpose and Overview

The table below will give you an overview of the points, level-up opportunities, and expected learning that you will gain from each assignment.

Assignment Evaluate Design Tools Points Level Up
Jamboards (5 + 1) X 150 30
1 - Ad redesign X X X 100
2 - Flyer X X 160 30
3 - Infographic X X 225 30
4 - Story X X 310 50
Participation (6 + 1) X 120 20
Subtotal 1065 160
Grand Total 1225  

Jamboards (Jb)

We'll use Google Jamboards to collect and share design examples and research for our projects. Each Jamboard is worth 30 points. Five are "required" for the basic grade of "B." There is one additional Jamboard opportunity for you to "level up" your grade (+30 points).

Project 1 - Ad Redesign

In order to try out design tools, we'll take an existing poorly designed ad and redesign it so that it does a better job of meeting the communication and design principles we have discussed thus far. This warm-up project will earn 100 points. There is no level-up option on this one.

Project 2 - Flyer

Use a template to incorporate “C-R-A-P” principles into a flyer or presentation of your choice to earn 160 points. A preliminary mock-up will provide you with an opportunity to give and receive feedback. Level up your grade by creating your own template (+30 points).

Project 3 - Infographic

Create an infographic that explains information and statistics about a topic. A preliminary mock-up will provide you with an opportunity to give and receive feedback. Use a template to earn 225 points. Level up your grade by creating your own design from scratch (+30 points).

Project 4 - Tell a Story 

Choose one of the provided folk tales and tell the story through the use of shapes, color, and position. Use your choice of digital tools (310 points) and/or level up by creating a physical "art" book (+50 points).

Participation & Feedback 

Over the course of the semester, you will have 7 opportunities (6 required plus 1 level-up) to earn 20 participation points for:

  • Being attentive and present in class.
  • Doing the assigned readings or videos prior to class.
  • Providing helpful feedback to your peers.
    • At least four substantive and helpful comments per class meeting are required.
    • See the Class Etiquette page for guidance on giving a helpful critique.

Weekly Deadlines

  • This class meets via Zoom and in-person Mondays from 3:00 - 3:50 (8th period).
  • Sessions will be recorded, although participation points will not be awarded for missed classes.
  • All course work is due at 11:59 p.m. the night before class meetings (Sunday).
  • See the Course Summary below for specific deadlines for each assignment.


The grading in this course is likely to be different than what you are used to. Because this course is designed for non-designers, you will not be graded on quality. Rather, you will receive points for simply making a good-faith effort to do the work. Completion of all assignments and completing the checklist/rubric of requirements will earn a course grade of B (856 points). To earn the available points, you must:

  • Complete the assignment prior to the deadline listed in the course summary below.
  • Meet the requirements described in the checklist/rubric.
  • Most assignments contain an option to "level up" for additional points to achieve a higher grade. 
  • Incomplete assignments will reduce points below the level of a B grade.

Grading Scale

Grade Scale Grade Scale
1151 points = A 906 points = C
1102 points = A- 857 points = C-
1065 points = B+ 820 points = D+
1029 points = B 784 points = D
980 points = B- 747 points  = D-
943 points = C+ 756 points and below = E


Please contact me via the Canvas inbox (in the menu to the far left) if you have questions about how any of the UF policies listed below apply to this course.

Academic Support

  • Career Connections Center, Reitz Union, 352.392.1601. Career assistance and counseling.
  • Library Support, Various ways to receive assistance with respect to using the libraries or finding resources.
  • Teaching Center, Broward Hall, 352.392.2010 or 352.392.6420. General study skills and tutoring.
  • Writing Studio, 2215 Turlington Hall, 352.846.1138. Help with brainstorming, formatting, and writing papers.

Disability Support & Accommodation

Students with disabilities who experience learning barriers and would like to request academic accommodations should connect with the Disability Resource Center by visiting our Get Started page. It is important for students to share their accommodation letter with their instructor and discuss their access needs, as early as possible in the semester.

I am committed to providing a quality learning experience to all students in this course. Please do not delay in requesting any assistance you may need.

Late Assignments

All work is due at 11:59 Sundays. Work that is turned in late will lose the "on-time" points. The final is due on the official final day and time but you are welcome to turn it in early.

See the Registrar’s website for further information on University Attendance Policies.

  1. In the case of late work due to participation in an official university activity, observance of a religious holiday, the performance of military duty, or any other conflict (e.g., jury duty) that the student knows about in advance of the scheduled assignment, the student is required to notify me of the conflict before the assignment is due, and if possible at the start of the semester.
  2. For all other assignments, the students will not be granted an extension or be permitted to make up the assignment without an acceptable reason, such as an illness or serious family emergencies, in accordance with university policies on absences.
  3. In the event of technical issues, all requests for time extension MUST be accompanied by a ticket number from the Help Desk. Any requests for extension must be submitted within 24 hours of the incident through e-mail within the Canvas inbox.

Course Evaluation

I will be asking for feedback regarding specific assignments via the Canvas survey tool.

Please provide professional and respectful feedback on the quality of instruction in this course by completing course evaluations online via GatorEvals. Guidance on how to give feedback in a professional and respectful manner is available at You will be notified when the evaluation period opens and can complete evaluations through the email they receive from GatorEvals, in their Canvas course menu under GatorEvals, or via Summaries of course evaluation results are available to you at


Our class sessions may be audio-visually recorded for students in the class to refer back and for enrolled students who are unable to attend live. Students who participate with their camera engaged or utilize a profile image are agreeing to have their video or image recorded.  If you are unwilling to consent to have your profile or video image recorded, be sure to keep your camera off and do not use a profile image. Likewise, students who un-mute during class and participate orally are agreeing to have their voices recorded.  If you are not willing to consent to have your voice recorded during class, you will need to keep your mute button activated and communicate exclusively using the "chat" feature, which allows students to type questions and comments live. The chat will not be recorded or shared. As in all courses, unauthorized recording and unauthorized sharing of recorded materials are prohibited.

Get Help!

Please reach out for assistance if you need it! The earlier, the better!


For technical difficulties for e-Learning in Canvas, please contact the UF Help Desk at:

Any requests for extensions due to technical issues MUST be accompanied by the ticket number received from LSS when the problem was reported to them. The ticket number will document the time and date of the problem. You MUST e-mail me within 24 hours of the technical difficulty if you wish to request an extension.

Academic Resources

Course Summary:

Date Details Due