Classes

  • The Communication Leadership curriculum includes core courses and a variety of electives. All courses are 5 credits unless otherwise indicated. Use the search widget below to sort classes by degree track (MCDM, MCCN, track neutral) and by other attributes (credits, core requirements, etc.). Or view the latest version of our printed course guide here.

    Please view the University of Washington Academic Calendar for important dates, including quarter start and end dates, registration dates and deadlines, and campus holidays. Registration SLNs can be located on the Time Schedule.

COM 597: Analytics and Insights for Brands: Measuring Marketing Effectiveness (Myers) - 2018 Spring

MCDM Elective, Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Mondays, March 26th-June 4th (no class April 9th instead class will meet June 5th), 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 12415

Course Description: 

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of digital marketing analytics and driving insights on how to measure the efficacy and ROI of digital media. We will compare and evaluate some of the analytics tools on the market and learn how to perform a social landscape audit, establish KPIs (key performance indicators), set marketing goals, and determine methods for campaign performance tracking. We’ll deep dive into the components that comprise a monthly monitoring report, including managed channel (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) success metrics and KPI tracking, conversation themes, influencer identification, data insights, and listening & monitoring topics. We’ll examine the latest debates, tools, technologies, and social channels and their implications for social media analytics. We will further explore each channel used in digital marketing including paid, owned, and earned.

[Course Description +]

COM 583: Multimedia Storytelling: Immersive Production Studio (Macklin) - 2018 Spring

MCDM Elective
Tuesdays, March 27th-May 29th, 6-9:50pm | CMU 318E
Registration SLN: 12407

Course Description:

Emerging models of interactive and immersive (full & any screen, scrolling and responsive) storytelling are disrupting the ways we can reach and engage with our constituents. This course in Studio Production will have a deep concentration on the production aspects and development tools necessary to create Snow Fall-like immersive web stories. We will be coupling a critical look at these emerging models while working through the technical aspects of story creation and the implementation of web deveopment tools and platforms (HTML 5 & jQuery). This will be a project-based course through which students will acquire the strategy and skills to make informed designs about the development and use of immersive storytelling processes. Previous multimedia production and web development is not necessary, though a willingness to learn and play with the underlying technologies is a must.

Student Testimonial:

“This class blends multimedia storytelling and places it into a digital context. We used different mediums (video, text, photos, maps, and more,) to tell a story. Not only do we get to tell a story, but we also are guided in the technical aspects of video, photography, and web design. There are more practical skills actually used in this class than I can count on my fingers and toes! I really learned the importance of setting a scene. My previous degree is in filmmaking, and it seems like in longer-format storytelling (films, novels, etc) you can take more time building the landscape of a story. However, in digital storytelling, it is essential to get your visual ‘lede’ line – Having a map, photo, or video to set the scene of your story is essential to get your point across succinctly and clearly. Brevity is the soul of wit (and the internet). I really enjoyed that the class had both structure and freedom. We had a well defined storytelling goal to achieve for the class, but Scott opened up the way we told it to as many ways as we wanted to. This gave everyone the ability to choose which digital platforms to use and to perfect. While we all had to create a website, (with certain grade requirements – one video, photos, etc), it was up to us which web platform we used, and how much detail we put into individual aspects of the story. For instance, if a student wanted to really focus on good film, they could do that while selecting an easier web platform to plug their video into. Or, if a student wanted to really focus on building a detailed website, they could do that and be able to add shorter videos. The flexibility to work on your own strengths and interest in storytelling was really great.”

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Black Mirror: Exploring the Ethical Questions of New Technology (Pearce) - 2018 Spring

MCDM Elective, Meets Law and Ethics Core Requirement
Wednesdays, March 28th-May 30th, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 12423

Course Description:

Emergent technologies always have unintended consequences, which frequently result in unanticipated ethical dilemmas for consumers, businesses, organizations, governments, and society at large. This course provides students opportunities to explore these ethical dilemmas and understand how to mitigate them. Students will learn practical strategies for identifying and managing ethical issues at the intersection of human behavior and technology that can be applied across sectors. Using the British television anthology Black Mirror as an organizational base, this course will provide project-based learning opportunities for students interested in exploring the darker side of new technologies. (Netflix announced this summer that they would pick up Black Mirror for an original third season—a sign of the show’s influence and provocative approach.) Students interested in this course should note that Black Mirror is a speculative fiction future-based show with mature themes related to technology and society. Episodes are fascinating, but also disturbing, as the show features graphic content, often of a violent and sexual nature. Students are advised to take this under consideration before enrolling in the course, but also know that all episodes will be watched together in class as part of a facilitated discussion. This format is a pedagogical tool that transforms the viewing into a shared learning opportunity, in real time. Each Black Mirror episode taps into our unease about technology and will provide fruitful examples of ethical themes—and each episode is a superb platform for ethical debates. Also, please note that due to the design of this course with weekly group work that carries over into the next week, absences will be very difficult to overcome.

Student Testimonial:

“This class was fascinating. I took it because it fulfilled the law and ethics requirement for the Communication Leadership program, and I knew it would be more interesting than a typical law or ethics class and it was fun! Black Mirror is such an interesting series and one that you can talk about endlessly, but how Katie Price approached the content, the themes, and the way technology was involved was really fascinating. I so admired Katie’s teaching style and the discussions she encouraged us to participate in. I loved this class and recommend it to everyone, although I know it won’t be taught every year, consider yourself lucky if you can take it! You will learn so much and really find ways to approach an interesting and thought-proving series with a new light.”

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 520: The Future of Marketing: How Digital Media is Changing the Practice of Commercial and Consumer Engagement (Salkowitz) - 2018 Fall

MCDM Elective
Wednesdays, 9/26-12/5 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302
Registration SLN: 23689

Course Description:

Rapid evolution of digital media and technology continues to disrupt the business of marketing, making it essential for professionals in the field to keep abreast of trends in a number of areas. This class focuses on the technologies shaping marketing, advertising, media, public relations and communications in the 2-4 year horizon and explores strategies of successful marketing organizations, both digital and traditional. We will examine the impact of social media, mobility, big data, new content and rich media distribution technologies, multi-platform storytelling, apps, and other digital innovation on audience engagement. We will study how consumers and audience expectations are changing, and how marketers must shift their models to accommodate new realities and expectations. Finally, we will look at changes to the structures and processes that marketing organizations – corporate, agency or otherwise – can adopt to become resilient in the face of rapid change. This class assumes a general familiarity with the practices of digital marketing and digital technologies. It is recommended for marketing, advertising and commercial communications professionals interested in developments at the cutting edge of the field. We will offer a survey of techniques and practices, including case studies, readings from contemporary practitioners and thought leaders, and expert guest speakers.

Student Testimonial:

“The first day of class, Rob Salkowitz tells you that there is no crystal ball to predict the future of marketing. However, it really does feel like we were able to divine the future. Based around a technique called scenario planning, as a class and as groups, we looked at the future of technology (from 3D printing to Internet of Things), content/content creation, and a whole host of other things as they would relate to marketing in the future and to make predictions. It was a great class for thinking about trends and their influences and ways that marketers can stay ahead of the curve based on the knowledge that we have in-hand today.”

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 510: Aligning UX Design With User Psychology (Evans) - 2019 Winter

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Tuesdays, 1/8-3/12 | 6:00-9:50pm | SOCC 303
Registration SLN: 12624

Course Description: 

Designers, product marketers, and entrepreneurs will learn the psychological constrictions of attention, perception, memory, disposition, motivation, and social influence that determine whether or not customers will be receptive to their digital innovations. This will give their innovations an edge on what are increasingly competitive platforms such as apps, bots, in-car apps, augmented reality content). Students will learn…

  • The psychological processes determining users’ perception of, engagement with, and recommendation of digital innovations
  • Examples of interfaces before and after simple psychological alignments that vastly enhanced their effectiveness
  • How to identify, apply theory, and develop consulting or research recommendations based on psychological theory
  • Application to their own business interests. A deeper understanding of common digital interfaces such as conversion funnels, display advertisements, and mobile notifications.
  • A broader understanding of the human context of digital ventures, and the ethical differences between alignment and meeting needs vs. exploitation and unsustainable design approaches

Student Testimonial: 

“This course explores the fascinating relationship between UX design and human psychology. In his lessons, Professor David Evans describes the psychological constraints of attention, perception, memory, disposition, motivation, and social influence, and uses real-world examples to provide a deeper understanding of their role in user design. Students are assigned weekly assignments where they apply one of the psychological processes to an example of their choice. Additionally, this class includes an in-depth ethics discussion centered on human behavioral traits and whether UX designers meet user needs or exploit them. As a final deliverable, students write an ethics paper based on the discussions. As a whole, Aligning UX Design with User Psychology is beneficial beyond the classroom because David’s enjoyable teaching style ingrains the lessons in his students. At the very least, this class will draw awareness to your own behavioral traits and help identify when they are manipulated.”

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 520: Analytics and Insights for Brands: Measuring Marketing Effectiveness (TBD) - 2019 Autumn

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Wednesdays, 9/25-12/4 (no class 11/27) | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126

Course Description: 

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of digital marketing analytics and driving insights on how to measure the efficacy and ROI of digital media. We will compare and evaluate some of the analytics tools on the market and learn how to perform a social landscape audit, establish KPIs (key performance indicators), set marketing goals, and determine methods for campaign performance tracking. We’ll deep dive into the components that comprise a monthly monitoring report, including managed channel (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) success metrics and KPI tracking, conversation themes, influencer identification, data insights, and listening & monitoring topics. We’ll examine the latest debates, tools, technologies, and social channels and their implications for social media analytics. We will further explore each channel used in digital marketing including paid, owned, and earned.

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 512: User Research & UX Strategies (Levine) - 2019 Autumn

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Wednesdays, 9/25-12/4 (no class 11/27) | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 232

Course Description:

This course focuses on the design, implementation, and evaluation of user interfaces from a usability perspective. The aim of the class is to study the concepts, methods, and techniques of usability engineering, with a focus on the artifacts where user experience is essential. Historically, usability has covered aspects of efficiency, learnability, and ease of use. Today, a large number of other measures for success rely on elements such as playability, engagement, entertainment, immersion, and aesthetics.

The following concepts will be detailed with the expectation that by the end of the quarter, students will recognize the aspects of each of the following deliverables within Interface Design and User Research. At the completion of this course, students will have portfolio-ready, end-to-end work examples. The work examples are designed for students to demonstrate they can: understand basic principles of user interface design, implementation, and evaluation, design and conduct usability studies, select an appropriate evaluation method and articulating its advantages and disadvantages, establish useful test objectives, and prepare reports and presenting results.

 

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Communication Through Culture: Ethnographic Approaches to Understanding and Motivating Organizations and Communities (Philipsen) - 2016 Fall

MCCN Elective, Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Wednesdays, 9/28/16-12/7/16, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

Each organization and community has its unique “culture.” As technology has both enhanced and disrupted how we traditionally connect to each other, harnessing the culture within these specific social structures is an increasingly valuable strategy in the networked age. If we can discern the cultural foundation of an organization or community, we can interact with, and motivate its members more effectively and efficiently. In this course, you will learn how to determine the heart of a particular, localized culture of an organization (businesses, non-profits, civic entities) or community. Specifically, you will learn how to see the cultural values, rules, and symbols of a culture as vital resources for promoting successful collaboration within and across groups. This is a crucial undertaking for 21st century leaders who seek to inspire and transform through communication.

Student Testimonial: 

“Communicating Through Culture was the most unexpectedly rewarding class I ever took. When the quarter began, I had no idea what to expect, and I was leery of the plentiful, heavily academic readings listed in the syllabus. I ended up enjoying the class so much I was sad when the quarter ended! Lisa took an arguably esoteric subject matter (the ethnography of communication) and not only did she help me to understand it, but she bridged the gap between academia and industry. I came out of the course with a newly positive attitude toward research and a keen interest in knowing more about how people communicate.”

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Community and Media: Storytelling and Audience Engagement (Banel) - 2017 Winter

MCCN Elective
Thursdays, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302

Course Description:

This class is about putting smart, strategic and soulful storytelling to work to rise above the roar of everyday digital media. As professionals honing messages, sharing stories and conducting outreach to 21st century audiences, the ability to craft meaningful narratives that engage audiences and create real connections is more important than ever.  A deep understanding of the transformative power of engagement and connection throughout recent history is critical to mastering the skills necessary to become communications leaders in digital media. “Community and Media: Storytelling and Audience Engagement” is a hands-on, practical course designed to teach students storytelling skills, along with a fundamental strategic underpinning, to help create deep connections between storytellers and audiences.  Along the way, we’ll examine the history and context of 20th century media storytelling, and mine award-winning radio and TV programs for timeless audience engagement techniques and methods that worked in previous eras, but that are still relevant and effective in the digital era. We’ll also learn practical strategies from contemporary media professionals who are constantly navigating profound changes to the technology, economics, architecture and even the social consciousness of the modern media landscape. Through case studies and hands-on exercises with communications professionals, we’ll learn how to create engaging interactions with audiences, and powerful connections with each other and our communities.

Student Testimonial:

“The class was driven by conversational discussion of contemporary news as relative to media history, and as intersections with the readings assigned. Lengthy interviews with local-legend media producers brought venerable views and opinions of contemporary community media outlets–their struggles and successes. The final projects were explorations and research of media effects, students had wide leeway in choosing their content and presentation style.”

[Course Description +]

COM 597: The Law and Ethics of Community Building in Private, Public, and Nonprofit Entities (Tausch Lapora) - 2017 Spring

MCCN Elective, Meets Law and Ethics Requirement
Thursday, 3/27/17-6/2/17, 6-9:50pm | CMU 242

Course Description:

All organizations — private, public and non-profit — inevitably encounter legal and ethical challenges when building and engaging with their communities and networks. Leaders must be able to identify, anticipate, and problem solve issues such as how legal relationships are created and to whom legal and ethical duties are owed. They must also grapple with challenges such as how to balance privacy concerns with building an organization’s base, who owns specific content or ideas, and what advocacy strategies to employ when defining deliverables and implementing initiatives. This course considers and juxtaposes the legal and ethical realities of community building through a cross-sector approach. We will survey a wide array of case studies in which law and ethics may overlap, conflict, or be silent. We will engage in practical story exercises that maximize understanding of how law and ethics impact how organizations communicate to clients, customers, and constituencies. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to bring in legal and ethical issues from their professional experiences to enrich discussion of course topics such as legal relationships and duties, privacy, ownership, and making advocacy choices.

Student Testimonial:

“This course helped me to build a basic understanding of legal and ethical issues related to business and companies. I am very interested in intellectual property and how to protect trademarks and copyright. Thanks to this the class, I have developed a habit of checking every contract from digital services. Before the class, I just clicked “Agree.” I have developed the habit of asking for permission when I record interviewee’s for video or podcast production. Brenda is passionate and informed. She reads business news every day and researched about issues of ethics and law from the news and brought them to class as timely examples. You can feel her enthusiasm from her voice.I was so inspired by her that I even thought about getting a law degree!”

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Design + Content: An Introduction to UX and Content Strategy (Holmberg) - 2017 Fall

MCDM Elective, Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Mondays, 10/2-12/4, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

This course focuses on the fundamentals of both traditional user experience (UX) and content strategy, and seeks to build the overlapping skills and concepts needed to successfully design products and services for humans (otherwise known as the human-centered design process). Students will learn the foundations of both UX and content strategy, including user journeys and user research, content hierarchies, basic wireframing, principles of information architecture, basic prototyping and more, culminating in a creative strategy brief which encompasses both fields. The goal is to come away from the class with a holistic understanding of both UX and content strategy, and their relationship to one another.

Student Testimonial:

“From class activities to assignments to even the class slides, Dave crafts an optimal user experience for the student. He takes the time to provide useful, in-depth feedback on all assignments which enhances the learning experience considerably. The UX Content Strategy Playbook we created was an incredible way to learn the specifics of UX exercises we studied in class; I’m sure I’ll use it for years to come. The books Dave selected for class will serve as excellent resources down the road as well. This was definitely one of the best classes I’ve taken in the Comm Lead program.”

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Graphic Storytelling as Communication Platform (Salkowitz) - 2018 Spring

MCDM Elective
Saturdays, March 31, April 14, 28, May 12, and June 2, 9-5pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 12419

Course Description:

Understanding how to use words and pictures in combination to tell stories is a core competency for communicators in the digital era. This class will provide you with a solid understanding of the medium of sequential art and visual narrative (aka “comics”) and the practical ability to incorporate visual storytelling into traditional, digital, and transmedia projects in a variety of entertainment, business, education, social and journalistic scenarios. Why comics? Comics and sequential art have gone from the margins of popular culture to the center of a multi-billion dollar global industry and a respected art-form. Many of the most popular movies, television, videogames and transmedia projects are adapted from comics and/or depend heavily on storytelling styles that originated with this unique medium. Issues of digital distribution, adaptation and audience engagement that arise in today’s “comics culture” affect the future of publishing, technology, social media and gaming. Beyond the world of entertainment, the principles of visual narrative are becoming fundamental to all manner of storytelling projects, global initiatives and creative enterprises. This class will explore the history and potential of comics as a storytelling medium in the digital age in both a media studies and business dimension, incorporating both theory and practice. We will look at the anatomy of the medium in all its forms; study how comics are used in entertainment, literary, documentary, journalistic, educational, training and business communications contexts; examine the challenges of bringing comic-based subject matter to other media; explore the business issues associated with the explosion of comics in the wider culture; and create an original digital transmedia project incorporating the visual language of comics.

Student Testimonial:

“For the uninitiated in transmedia, it’s a crash course in visual storytelling and pop culture. For those familiar with transmedia, it offers a series of case studies in what you can do right or wrong in transmedia campaigns. The class definitely emphasizes comics, so while it’s not necessary to have an extensive knowledge of that format, it’s definitely for someone who’s curious about them. I was surprised to learn that a degree of visual abstraction can actually enhance storytelling. Rather than using a more precise visual format, such as photography or accurate illustrations of reality, using caricatures lets a person’s imagination fill in the gaps. I also found the study of the more formal aspects of comics to be very interesting. The all-day Saturday sessions went surprisingly fast. Rob does a great job of mixing up the class between discussion, lecture, guests, and video. Still, it’s not for the faint of heart, so if you’re going to take the class, plan on committing your Saturdays. You don’t want to miss a class.”

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 530: Multimedia Storytelling: Digital Distribution and the Story (Keller) - 2018 Fall

MCDM Elective
Mondays, 10/1-12/10 (no class on 11/12) | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302/126
Registration SLN: 23670

Course Description:

The landscape of web-distributed video can be broadly divided into three motifs: Entertainment, Newsgathering, and Business Communication. From YouTube to Vimeo, Netflix to Hulu, 12seconds.tv to Facebook, online video is a storytelling revolution. Or is it? How do storytelling choices affect message reception? Storytelling has been part of the human experience since the formation of language. Today, the technology that surrounds the “tell” of a story (the modes and channels of communication) directly shape the immersive experience felt by the viewer, while leveraging the lessons of narrative and myth. This course focuses on the decisions we make when we tell our stories. This course is both theoretical and practical. Students will be afforded the skills to create and distribute video stories. Additionally, students will be expected to display critical thinking around point of view, audience targeting, ROI success criteria, methodology, and production standards. Students are expected to exercise the craft of content creation while at the same time critically evaluating and deconstructing content they see in the marketplace.

Student Testimonial:

“Drew Keller’s Multimedia Storytelling class deftly weaves in the interconnected components of effective multimedia communication. Whether you are a novice or expert videographer, this class takes you to the next level by covering video syndication, platform selection, and monetization. In addition to perfectly balancing theory, guest lectures and hands on work, Drew went above and beyond by providing weekend tutorials on video composition, shooting and editing. He even provided 1:1 help during work!”

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 510: User Research & UX Strategies (Levine) - 2019 Winter

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Wednesdays, 1/9-3/13 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 22053

Course Description:

This course focuses on the design, implementation, and evaluation of user interfaces from a usability perspective. The aim of the course is to study the concepts, methods, and techniques of usability engineering, with a focus on the artifacts where user experience is essential. Historically, usability has covered aspects of efficiency, learnability, and ease of use. Today, a large number of other measures for success rely on elements such as playability, engagement, entertainment, immersion, and aesthetics.

Several concepts will be detailed with the expectation that by the end of the quarter, students will recognize the aspects of each of the following deliverables within Interface Design and User Research. At the completion of this course, students will have portfolio-ready, end-to-end work examples to demonstrate they can:

  • Understand basic principles of user interface design, implementation, and evaluation
  • Design and conduct usability studies
  • Select an appropriate evaluation method and articulating its advantages and disadvantages
  • Establish useful test objectives
  • Prepare reports and presenting results
[Course Description +]

COMMLD 530: Storytelling for Emergent Platforms (Macklin) - 2019 Spring

MCDM Elective
Tuesdays, 4/2/19-6/4/19 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 318E
Registration SLN: 12429

Course Description:

Emerging models of interactive and immersive (any screen, responsive, virtual & augmented reality) storytelling are disrupting the ways we can reach and engage with our constituents. This course in Emerging Platforms will have a deep concentration on the production aspects and development tools necessary to create immersive (VR / AR) experiences and Snow Fall like web stories. We will be coupling a critical look at these emerging models while working through the technical aspects of story creation and the implementation of media production tools and platforms. This will be a project-based course through which students will acquire the strategy and skills to make informed design, development and use of immersive storytelling processes. Previous multimedia production and web development is not necessary, though a willingness to learn and play with the underlying technologies is a must.

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 520: Communicating With Data (Fink) - 2019 Autumn

MCDM Elective
Tuesdays, 10/1-12/3 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 232

Course Description:

The world is growing increasingly reliant on collecting and analyzing data to inform colleagues and communities, to persuade them to take action and to help them make decisions. Because of this, the ability to communicate effectively with data is an important skill across nearly all disciplines. In this course, students will learn the foundations of visual analytics and build their skills in communicating using data. Throughout the term, we will explore concepts in decision-making, human perception, data analysis, storytelling and presenting as they apply to data-driven communication. Whether you’re an aspiring communications professional or data scientist, or you just want to learn effective ways of presenting data, this course will help you build a strong foundation in how to communicate with data and motivate people to  data.

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 522: The Future of Marketing (Salkowitz) - 2019 Autumn

MCDM Elective
Tuesdays, 10/1-12/3 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302

Course Description:

Rapid evolution of digital media and technology continues to disrupt the business of marketing, making it essential for professionals in the field to keep abreast of trends in a number of areas. This class focuses on the technologies shaping marketing, advertising, media, public relations and communications in the 2-4 year horizon and explores strategies of successful marketing organizations, both digital and traditional.

Student Testimonial:

“The first day of class, Rob Salkowitz tells you that there is no crystal ball to predict the future of marketing. However, it really does feel like we were able to divine the future. Based around a technique called scenario planning, as a class and as groups, we looked at the future of technology (from 3D printing to Internet of Things), content/content creation, and a whole host of other things as they would relate to marketing in the future and to make predictions. It was a great class for thinking about trends and their influences and ways that marketers can stay ahead of the curve based on the knowledge that we have in-hand today.”

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Building Successful Online Communities (Hill) - 2016 Fall

MCCN Elective
Mondays, 10/3/16-12/5/16 , 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302

Course Description:

Before Wikipedia was created, there were seven very similar attempts to build online collaborative encyclopedias. Before Facebook, there were dozens of very similar social networks. Why did Wikipedia and Facebook take off when so many similar sites struggled? Why do some attempts to build communities online lead to large thriving communities while most struggle to attract even a small group of users?

This class will begin with an introduction to several decades of research on computer-mediated communication and online communities to try and understand the building blocks of successful online communities. With this theoretical background in hand, every student will then apply this new understanding by helping to design, build, and improve a real online community.

Student Testimonial: 

Building Successful Online Communities focuses on the hearts and minds behind the screens. Using elements of social psychology, group dynamics, and more as guideposts, Mako showed us how online platforms can be configured to shape users’ behavior and stimulate growth. The course offered a refreshing mix of theory and pragmatism: the first half was dedicated to learning/practicing concepts (largely through Wikipedia exercises), while the second half allowed us to apply our knowledge as consultants for local organizations. Though class discussion was frequent, introverts shouldn’t worry—Mako’s enthusiasm helped ease conversation along. All CommLead students, regardless of track, should consider taking this course—its lessons on understanding and managing the human element of digital networks are invaluable for today’s communications professionals.

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Visual Communication (Faris) - 2017 Winter

MCCN Elective
Tuesday, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302

Course Description:

Images have a profound impact on our lives and have shaped our communities – from ancient cave drawings to today’s live broadcast of events around the globe. Today, visuals are our communication method of choice – with less time to spare and more content than ever coming our way, visuals are the most influential tool we can deploy. Visuals reach people at an emotional level motivating us to act on a cause, influencing our decisions, or convincing us to buy one product over another. From video to photography to infographics and data visualization, today’s visual options are seemingly endless. This class will explore the latest research about how the brain processes images, how to adapt a visual story for a multicultural audience, the use of emotions in pictures and video to persuade and motivate, and how to apply that knowledge strategically to communication and community engagement, whether for nonprofits, private or public sector work. Through interactive course work, thoughtful discussion and real world examples, students will walk away with the tools and knowledge for making their marketing and communication projects more visual and effective.

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Leadership and Teams (Philipsen) - 2017 Spring

MCCN Elective
Wednesdays, 3/27/17-6/2/17, 6-9:50pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

In this highly interactive course you will learn to notice, describe, and assess how formal and informal leaders organize and participate in workplace meetings in ways that enhance group creativity and effective problem solving. The course integrates the classic wisdom on effective leadership in workplace groups with the newest research on virtual teams, computer-assisted group problem solving, and the facilitative potential of leader communications. In the course you will learn and practice a research method and skill—the real-time analysis of leader behavior in work group interactions, and you will learn how this skill will enable you to enhance the creative and problem solving performance of workplace groups in which you participate and t hat you lead. Taking this course can help you develop your personal capacity as a constructive participant in work groups and teams. It can also provide you with research-based understandings of how various leadership communications can facilitate the effectiveness of work groups, as well as equip you to do qualitative real-time analyses of the functioning of work teams of which you are a member, observer, or facilitator. Finally, it will introduce you to methods of analyzing and assessing the role that groups can play in the work of particular networks, communities, or organizations, including the benefits and costs to an organization of work in groups.

Student Testimonial:

I really found this to be one of the most valuable courses yet that I have taken while in the CommLead program. Dr. Philipsen is a wonderful teacher and has an instruction style that resonates with me. He is a great listener and is deeply engaged in all aspects of in-class discussion. While he is approachable and laid-back, he asks incisive questions and elicits critical thought from all members of the class. The content of the course is especially pertinent for any CommLead students who are in or who anticipate being in positions of leadership in their respective fields. I learned a tremendous amount about different group discussion and creative work processes, and the science that serves as the foundation for those processes. There is so much from this class that is directly and immediately applicable to group interactions in professional settings. This course was fantastic, and I am a better leader because of it.

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Visual Communication (Faris) - 2018 Winter

MCCN Elective
Wednesdays, Jan 3rd-March 7th, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 242

Course Description:

Images have a profound impact on our lives and have shaped our communities – from ancient cave drawings to today’s live broadcast of events around the globe. Today, visuals are our communication method of choice – with less time to spare and more content than ever coming our way, visuals are the most influential tool we can deploy. Visuals reach people at an emotional level motivating us to act on a cause, influencing our decisions, or convincing us to buy one product over another. From video to photography to infographics and data visualization, today’s visual options are seemingly endless. This class will explore the latest research about how the brain processes images, how to adapt a visual story for a multicultural audience, the use of emotions in pictures and video to persuade and motivate, and how to apply that knowledge strategically to communication and community engagement, whether for nonprofits, private or public sector work. Through interactive course work, thoughtful discussion and real world examples, students will walk away with the tools and knowledge for making their marketing and communication projects more visual and effective.

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COM 586: Advanced Content Creation, Curation, and Optimization (Weaver) - 2018 Spring

MCDM Elective, Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Mondays, March 26th-June 4th, 6-9:50pm | CMU 242
Registration SLN: 12408

Course Description:

This course connects how brand storytelling connects to online experiences, merging the technical and editorial disciplines of content design to build foundations that serve cross-channel experience and future technologies. Building advanced skills in content strategy and information architecture, students will learn how to adapt methods and techniques for different contexts, channels, and platforms. This class focuses on the specialized skills and techniques that content designers bring to collaborative digital and user-centered design teams from understanding messaging to organizing information for internal and external facing systems.

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COMMLD 558: Law & Policy: Law of Digital Media, Interactive Media, and Content (Baker) - 2018 Fall

MCDM Elective | Meets Law & Ethics Core Requirement
Tuesdays, 10/2-12/4 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302
Registration SLN: 23671

Course Description:

The law of digital media, interactive media and social media has facilitated the growth of multimedia storytelling, interactivity, and the explosion of collaborative consumption. Understanding when and how one can remix, reuse, republish, and remake content is critical to any organization’s successful advertising, content creation, distribution, and publication. This course will explore the legal issues surrounding free expression, content production and publication, intellectual property (with a special emphasis on copyright and fair use), and advertising. This course is designed both as a stand-alone course to satisfy the law and policy requirement of the program and as a companion to the data security and privacy law course offered in the Fall, which focuses more on data usage, privacy and security, FTC regulatory issues and intellectual property issues around data and analytics.

Student Testimonial:

“Law & Policy is usually among the favorites of each cohort, and I completely understand that! Kraig is an incredibly knowledgeable professor who is detail oriented, and cares deeply about getting his students interested in the material. Law seems like a boring subject at first, but he makes sure that the material is tailored to the interests of each class and gives his students the freedom to adapt the course to their passions and learning styles. Also, this course is incredibly relevant to many questions we always have looming over our heads about copyright and content. This subject will continuously be relevant, and Kraig does a great job at making sure you’re confident in that.”

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COMMLD 580: Communication for Emergent Technologies (Bellinger) - 2019 Winter

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Requirement
Thursdays, 1/10-3/14 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 242
Registration SLN: 22058

Course Description:

This course is about dealing with the uncertainty of emerging technologies. While the course will not, unfortunately, provide students with a crystal ball capable of predicting all future impacts of a new technology, we will develop a set of questions and conceptual tools that will enable students to critically assess technologies in early periods of development and adoption, and we will explore strategies that students can use to help their organizations better plan for and adapt to technological change. Part of this will involve critically examining the narratives used to explain new technologies and their development: We will examine the theoretical assumptions underlying accounts of technological change, the limitations and liabilities of different theoretical perspectives, and the ways that these assumptions become integrated into expert commentary on new technologies. We will also, as a class, collaboratively develop a “toolbox” of key questions to ask about emerging technologies, precisely to aid in identifying the aspects of technological change that can be overlooked. And finally, we will review practical models for organizational strategy in the face of uncertain technological developments.

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COMMLD 530: Visual Storytelling: Graphic Storytelling as Communication Platform (Salkowitz) - 2019 Spring

MCDM Elective
Saturdays, 4/6, 4/27, 5/4, 5/18, 6/1 | 9:00am-4:50pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 12430

Course Description:

This course will provide you with a solid understanding of the medium of sequential art and visual narrative (aka “comics”) and the practical ability to incorporate visual storytelling into traditional, digital, and transmedia projects in a variety of entertainment, business, education, social and journalistic scenarios. Why comics? Comics and sequential art have gone from the margins of popular culture to the center of a multi-billion dollar global industry and a respected art-form. Many of the most popular movies, television, video games and transmedia projects are adapted from comics and/or depend heavily on storytelling styles that originated with this unique medium. Issues of digital distribution, adaptation and audience engagement that arise in today’s “comics culture” affect the future of publishing, technology, social media and gaming. Beyond the world of entertainment, the principles of visual narrative are becoming fundamental to all manner of storytelling projects, global initiatives and creative enterprises. This class will explore the history and potential of comics as a storytelling medium in the digital age in both a media studies and business dimension, incorporating both theory and practice.

Student Testimonial:

“For the uninitiated in transmedia, it’s a crash course in visual storytelling and pop culture. For those familiar with transmedia, it offers a series of case studies in what you can do right or wrong in transmedia campaigns. The class definitely emphasizes comics, so while it’s not necessary to have an extensive knowledge of that format, it’s definitely for someone who’s curious about them. I was surprised to learn that a degree of visual abstraction can actually enhance storytelling. Rather than using a more precise visual format, such as photography or accurate illustrations of reality, using caricatures lets a person’s imagination fill in the gaps. I also found the study of the more formal aspects of comics to be very interesting. The all-day Saturday sessions went surprisingly fast. Rob does a great job of mixing up the class between discussion, lecture, guests, and video. Still, it’s not for the faint of heart, so if you’re going to take the class, plan on committing your Saturdays. You don’t want to miss a class.”

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COMMLD 531: Foundations of Video Storytelling (Keller) - 2019 Autumn

MCDM Elective
Thursdays, 9/26-12/5 (no class 11/28) | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302

Course Description:

This course focuses on the decisions we make when we tell our stories. This course is both theoretical and practical. Students will be afforded the skills to create and distribute video stories. Additionally, students will be expected to display critical thinking around point of view, audience targeting, ROI success criteria, methodology, and production standards.

 

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COM 597: Community and Media: Storytelling and Audience Engagement (Banel) - 2018 Winter

MCCN Elective
Thursdays, Jan 11th-March 8th, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 242 (January 4th class has been cancelled, a makeup class is TBD)

Course Description:

This class is about putting smart, strategic and soulful storytelling to work to rise above the roar of everyday digital media. As professionals honing messages, sharing stories and conducting outreach to 21st century audiences, the ability to craft meaningful narratives that engage audiences and create real connections is more important than ever.  A deep understanding of the transformative power of engagement and connection throughout recent history is critical to mastering the skills necessary to become communications leaders in digital media. “Community and Media: Storytelling and Audience Engagement” is a hands-on, practical course designed to teach students storytelling skills, along with a fundamental strategic underpinning, to help create deep connections between storytellers and audiences.  Along the way, we’ll examine the history and context of 20th century media storytelling, and mine award-winning radio and TV programs for timeless audience engagement techniques and methods that worked in previous eras, but that are still relevant and effective in the digital era. We’ll also learn practical strategies from contemporary media professionals who are constantly navigating profound changes to the technology, economics, architecture and even the social consciousness of the modern media landscape. Through case studies and hands-on exercises with communications professionals, we’ll learn how to create engaging interactions with audiences, and powerful connections with each other and our communities.

Student Testimonial:

“The class was driven by conversational discussion of contemporary news as relative to media history, and as intersections with the readings assigned. Lengthy interviews with local-legend media producers brought venerable views and opinions of contemporary community media outlets–their struggles and successes. The final projects were explorations and research of media effects, students had wide leeway in choosing their content and presentation style.”

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COMMLD 520: Brand Matters (Captain) - 2018 Fall

MCCN Elective
Thursdays, 9/27-12/6 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 23687

This course would bring brand into focus and answer questions such as what is brand and why does it matter? How does an idea become a brand? How can a brand motivate a community or group to take action? How do you create a brand that triggers desired behaviors? Is a person a brand? How do brands stand out in this age of message inundation? What vehicles best communicate brand? What are the most popular brands on the planet and why? This is a timely topic because the media and messaging landscape is morphing so fast. In the era of skeptical consumers, today’s communicators must be savvy thinkers and shrewd creators of future brands.

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COMMLD 532: Advanced Video Storytelling (Chan) - 2019 Winter

MCDM Elective
Thursdays, 1/10-3/14 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302
Registration SLN: 22051

Course Description: 

From prehistoric cave paintings to Netflix binges, our innate attraction to stories defines us as a species. Yet as professional communication tools and techniques become more sophisticated, there’s a tendency to forget the fundamentals and lose sight of what makes storytelling such a persuasive tool.

This class will explore those fundamentals while practically tackling the relational challenges of storytelling: building trust with subjects and clients, telling the stories of others ethically, capturing authenticity without equipment getting in the way, and crafting a compelling narrative from sometimes messy real-life material. This coursework is designed to support students as they create high-value work in one of the most challenging but powerful modes of storytelling: human-driven documentary film. They’ll conceive of, research, shoot, edit, and create a distribution plan for a short, character-driven documentary on the subject of their choice, in partnership with a client. All the while, they’ll be considering deeply how story functions throughout our media and applying those lessons to their project.

This is an advanced course that will assume a basic knowledge of technical aspects of video production and editing, so a previous foundational MCDM storytelling class or equivalent technical experience is strongly recommended. Given that the emphasis of this course is on the interpersonal aspects of storytelling, that baseline technical familiarity will be vital to your success. While your technical skills will improve through the filmmaking process, this course is not a deep dive into the latest and greatest technology in filmmaking. It is a deep dive into the tried and true pillars of great storytelling. Contact instructor with any questions.

Student Testimonial:

“I can’t say enough good things about this class. [The instructors] are gifted educators and expert storytellers. As educators, I found them open and willing to engage many points of view with equal respect. That’s a rare talent. Their entry in the Seattle International Film Festival 2013 (Barzan) attests to the pedigree of their storytelling. They encouraged me to seek a challenging topic. In the few weeks we had in the class, they were mindful to remind the class to stay on pace. They grounded this advice in real-world experience. A big debt of thanks to Comm Lead for leveraging [the instructor’s] abilities and experience into a rewarding experience; the class was over all too quickly.”

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COMMLD 550: The Law and Ethics of Community Building in Private, Public, and Nonprofit Entities (Tausch Lapora) - 2019 Spring

MCCN Elective, Meets Law and Ethics Core Requirement
Wednesdays, 4/3/19-6/5/19 | 6:00-9:50pm | Room CMU 242
Registration SLN: 12432

Course Description:

All organizations — private, public and non-profit — inevitably encounter legal and ethical challenges when building and engaging with their communities and networks. Leaders must be able to identify, anticipate, and problem solve issues such as how legal relationships are created and to whom legal and ethical duties are owed. They must also grapple with challenges such as how to balance privacy concerns with building an organization’s base, who owns specific content or ideas, and what advocacy strategies to employ when defining deliverables and implementing initiatives. This course considers and juxtaposes the legal and ethical realities of community building through a cross-sector approach. We will survey a wide array of case studies in which law and ethics may overlap, conflict, or be silent. We will engage in practical story exercises that maximize understanding of how law and ethics impact how organizations communicate to clients, customers, and constituencies. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to bring in legal and ethical issues from their professional experiences to enrich discussion of course topics such as legal relationships and duties, privacy, ownership, and making advocacy choices.

Student Testimonial:

“This course helped me to build a basic understanding of legal and ethical issues related to business and companies. I am very interested in intellectual property and how to protect trademarks and copyright. Thanks to this the class, I have developed a habit of checking every contract from digital services. Before the class, I just clicked “Agree.” I have developed the habit of asking for permission when I record interviewee’s for video or podcast production. Brenda is passionate and informed. She reads business news every day and researched about issues of ethics and law from the news and brought them to class as timely examples. You can feel her enthusiasm from her voice.I was so inspired by her that I even thought about getting a law degree!”

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COMMLD 571: Communicating Ideas (Yasin) - 2019 Autumn

MCCN Elective | Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Tuesdays, 10/1-12/3 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

The way one produces, curates, and communicates ideas matter. Organizational and community leaders, academics, researchers and journalists produce ideas that help shape critical conversations that lead to varied forms of action and also change. This course examines how ideas shared on public platforms in different fields are structured, and what makes these ideas resonate–or not resonate–with audiences. Which communication techniques have the most impact on public discussion? What does the process of curating ideas entail? How can ideas be used to foster communities? This course hopes to train students as thoughtful leaders by introducing both practical and analytical skills behind thought leadership.

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COMMLD 530: Storytelling and Communication for Mission-Driven Organizations (Melograna) - 2019 Autumn

MCCN Elective
Mondays, 9/30-12/2 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

Nonprofits, NGOs, campaigns and social enterprises are driven by their desire to make the world a better place. As their storytellers, our job is to make sure their messages reach the right audiences and recruit those audiences to the cause. Keeping in mind that mission-driven organizations will often work on complex issues involving vulnerable populations, our job is to pursue this work within an ethical framework that centers the concerns and desires of the people whom our clients serve. Upon completing the course, students will be able to work with mission-driven organizations as their primary storytellers.

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COMMLD 570: Communicating Ideas: Strategies and Theories of Communities and Networks (Yasin) - 2018 Fall

MCCN Elective | Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Wednesdays, 9/26-12/5 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 23672

Course Description:

Thought leaders such as founders of organizations, researchers and journalists produce ideas that help shape critical conversations. This course examines how ideas produced by thought leaders and public intellectuals in different fields are structured, and what makes these ideas resonate–or not resonate–with audiences. What type of communication techniques these thought leaders develop that result in the impact of their ideas in public discussion? In doing so, the course hopes to train the students as thought leaders by introducing students to both practical and analytical skills necessary to become such a figure.  Throughout the quarter, each student, at least once, will facilitate a conversation in class about an idea produced by a key thought leader or public intellectual – designing an activity to engage crowds. Each student will also prepare a short public talk on a topic related to the class theme of communities and networks. In addition to preparing the talk, students will prepare written proposal for an article or a book based on their idea and will conduct research on the topic of their presentation.

This quarter we will survey key discussions about communities and networks. Today, both organizations and political actors are thinking deeply about the structure and value of contemporary communities and the power of online and offline networks both locally and globally. In order to determine key texts and ideas about this topic, I distributed a survey to key thought leaders, professionals and scholars in my own network soliciting their recommendations of recent discussions on this topic. The ideas we examine in class will be partly based on these recommendations and will include key books, popular and academic articles and talks on this subject by leading thought leaders and public scholars.

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COMMLD 543: Leadership Approaches to Equity Initiatives in Organizations (Ross) - 2019 Winter

MCCN Elective
Tuesdays, 1/8-3/12 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 242
Registration SLN: 22055

Course Description: 

This course challenges and supports students to develop deeper self-awareness, hone stronger skills for learning across difference, and prepare themselves as organizational change-makers for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

For better or worse, organizational change initiatives impact individuals, groups, organizations, and ultimately societies. Thus, courageous leaders throughout organizations must learn how to improve their relevant knowledge, skills, and awareness iteratively, in order to contribute effectively to genuine change-making. The course is designed to meet students where they are and coach them toward significant growth in self-awareness, skills, and understanding. Students learn collaboratively together in order to explore interconnections among the dimensions of our intersectional identities. Those who complete this course gain confidence in their ability to learn about uncomfortable topics and expand their understanding of the roles of individuals, groups, organizations, and societal structures in making real system change.

Student Testimonial:

This was THE BEST class! It was a complete eye-opener. We discussed some of the issues that are so prevalent in our daily lives but we choose to stay quiet and not discuss. Sarah pushes students to think deeper about our own behaviors towards self as well as others. Most of us found ourselves open up so much that by the end of the class, we were always longing for more discussions. The quarter went by too fast but did leave us with lot of learnings.

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