Brand me! Creating a cohesive (and creative!) look and feel for your online course using free graphic tools

Workshop Session 1

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Brief Abstract

Online courses can be text-heavy, bland, and sometimes, boring. Building engaging graphics provides visual appeal and polish, and cues students to important information. This workshop will introduce you to free online tools (that don't require a graphic arts degree!) for creating an innovative brand for your course. 


BA and MA in Composition, CSU, Chico PhD, Rhetoric & Communication, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute I teach communication and writing courses at Mt. San Jacinto College in California, where I am the Training and Development Coordinator for @ONE, a non-profit serving California Community Colleges. I'm a graduate of the OLC certificate program, and I'm a QM Certified Peer Reviewer.
Anna Stirling is currently the Director of @ONE. The @ONE Project specializes in preparing faculty for teaching online effectively through a development program based on nationally recognized standards for online teaching quality. She previously taught computer applications and introduction courses for the CIS department at Mt. San Jacinto College. In addition to teaching online for MSJC, she worked as an instructional designer on the Crafting an Effective Writer MOOC in 2013. Anna has a BS in Management Information Systems from CSU San Marcos, and a MS in Instructional Design for Online Learning from Capella University.

Extended Abstract

Graphics, when done well, support student engagement and learning, but faculty don't always have the skills or resources to develop the visual content of their courses. Innovative and easy to use online tools, however, are providing free design tools for even the most artisticly-challenged instructors! This workshop will introduce participants to several free tools that will allow them to create customized graphics for their courses. 

Just as important as the tools, however, is the design training that will prevent a graphic train wreck! In the workshop, we'll provide some targeted advice to participants to help them design graphics that are elegant and cohesive, and that work across a variety of platforms, including mobile devices. We'll explore:

  • limiting color to create a "brand" for your course
  • manipulating images
  • including text in images and graphics
  • creating unit banners to signal transitions in the course
  • creating banners or graphics to signal assignments or activities
  • creating infographics to support student learning

Online teaching and learning does not have to be boring and bland. Add some spark to your course by creating your own academic brand!