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 583: Multimedia Storytelling: Digital Distribution and the Story (Keller) - 2017-2018 Winter

MCDM Elective
Mondays, Jan 8th-March 5th, 6:00-9:50pm, one class on January 27th | CMU 242

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!”

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COM 597: Connecting Through Words: The Art & Science of Text-Based Marketing (Schiller) - 2017-2018 Spring

Track Neutral, 3 Credits
Saturdays, April 21, May 5, 19, 9-5pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 12416

Course Description: 

This advanced marketing writing class is designed for students who can already write well, but want formal training in persuasive copywriting techniques – the kind that drive people to call, buy, join, or sign-­‐up. If you’ve ever agonized over finding just the right words to achieve your goals, this class is designed to get you there faster. It introduces some of the most effective and well-­‐tested methods used by professional storytellers to outsell and outrun the constantly changing market. Students will learn how to use techniques based in psychological research to get measurable lift in subject line open rates, landing page conversion rates, app store downloads, and more. Using a combination of readings, case studies and practical writing assignments students will learn the art and science of creating top-­‐performing marketing text.

Student Testimonial:

“This course was one of the most valuable classes I’ve taken while in the program. Carol ensured that the readings and assignments were directly applicable to our own careers and the ideas I brought back to my boss made me look great at work. I wondered if a full-day class about copywriting would be too long, but Carol’s lessons were lively and interesting, and I found that the day moved along very quickly. In short, I found this class to have tremendous value and I highly recommend it.”

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COMMLD 537: Principles of Storytelling for Organizations, Business, and Movements (Kessler) - 2018-2019 Winter

Track Neutral
Saturdays, 1/12, 1/19, 2/2, 2/16, 3/2 | 9:00am-5:00pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 22049

Course Description:

Thinking Story is a foundational class that focuses on the art and craft of nonfiction storytelling to communicate ideas and emotion, build relationships and community, promote change and inspire action. The class reflects the need in all sectors for superb storytelling. The class explores, investigates and discusses the elements of narrative — what makes a story a story – and looks at examples of nonfiction storytelling across media (text, sound, still image, moving image and multimedia combinations). This platform-agnostic, birds-eye view of story is about learning how to reframe/ reconceptualize “information” and “report” as story, how to locate the small story that illuminates the larger issue, and what it takes to produce such work. At its heart, the class is about learning how to conceptualize issues, topics, brands, and ideas as narratives. Students will learn to “think story,” to pinpoint, pitch and gather material for the production of original, compelling and persuasive content.

Student Testimonial:

“Storytelling is THE foundational skill every student must have a deep understanding of in order to succeed in the Comm. Lead program. Take this course if you want to learn how to craft a captivating story, if you want to be challenged, and if you want to improve as a writer, researcher, and interviewer. Thinking Story shows students how much thought is required to create an entertaining, purposeful, and persuasive story. The assigned reading, viewing, and listening materials are a combination of interesting examples of storytelling and long form nonfiction, intended to introduce students to the idea that humans are “wired for story.” Each assignment builds on the next, leading up to the final deliverable, a storyboard of the narrative you researched and developed all quarter. Professor Kessler asks her students to choose topics that are important and of interest to them. The work you will produce in Thinking Story feels more like a passion project rather than tasks you must complete. I recommend this class for all students in the program!”

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COM 573: Advanced User Research and UX Strategies (Morrill-McClure) - 2016-2017 Winter

MCDM Elective, Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Wednesdays, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

What makes interactive experiences compelling and how are they designed? This course analyzes existing interfaces, discussing what makes them effective, and provides an overview of tools and theories that guide user experience designers in their practice. Students will be introduced to information architecture (wireframes, sitemaps), information design (information graphics) and visual design (composition, typography, composition, color) and encouraged to apply their learning towards practical design assignments. Our focus is on computer interfaces but is not limited to its traditional “keyboard/mouse/monitor” triangle, as we will also discuss innovative consumer products such as Kinect. The course “Foundational User Centered Design” will provide good foundation for discussion in this class but is not required. A basic understanding of Adobe Creative Suite software, CSS or Visio is helpful, but not necessary for success in this course.

Student Testimonial: 

From this course, I learnt theories and tools help UX designers in their practice. I have applied different UX research methods, such as creating personas, designing wireframes, etc. Moreover, this course gave me a concrete idea of how to become a UX designer and what I should pursue more in the future.

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COMMLD 535: Foundations of Audio Storytelling (Partnow) - 2019-2020 Winter

Track Neutral Elective
Thursdays, 1/9-3/12 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302

Course Description: 

Whether gathered around a radio in a living room or walking plugged in with headphones, the medium of audio storytelling has always offered the opportunity to build mindset-shifting community around content. This course traces the evolution of audio storytelling from radio to podcasting that links to communities for various purposes: to educate, to entertain, and to inspire action — and the new golden age of podcasting that we find ourselves in means that audio storytelling has the potential for broad reach and powerful impact. Consideration is given to the core characteristics of strong storytelling, observed through an auditory filter. Class materials are twinned with a selection of cross-sector guest speakers who bring their own craft perspective. Students will experiment with designing their own short audio pieces.

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COMMLD 543: Leadership Approaches to Equity Initiatives in Organizations (Ross) - 2018-2019 Summer

MCCN Elective
Wednesdays 6/26-8/21 | 6:00-9:50pm | DEN 258
Registration SLN: 10910

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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COM 597: Distributed and Diverse Teams: Leading and Communicating with Impact (Chang) - 2017-2018 Summer

Track Neutral
Saturdays 6/23, 6/30, 8/4, 8/11 I 9:00am-5:00pm | CMU 302
Registration SLN: 14484

Course Description:

Through this practical and applied course, students will build their leadership and communication effectiveness to work in distributed teams at the global, national or local levels. With increasing inter-connectedness that builds larger and more complex teams and also reduces face/face time of those teams, competencies in distributed leadership are a rapidly evolving must-have set in any professional context but especially in ther field of communications. And yet opportunities to sharpen those nuanced skills remain less than optimal. Enrolled students will embark on a full-immersion experience by working in distributed teams using a combination of relevant practical materials and readings, ongoing team and individual assignments, personal self-reflection and improved self-awareness and the planning and execution of a class-wise exercise such as a strategy retreat or Hackathon. Topics covered will include project planning, goal setting, managing through direct and indirect influence and communicating with impact over the e-highways. Distributed team technology will anchor the students together as they move through coursework that will help them to stretch, struggle and succeed. By the end of the course, students will be able to not only recognize their progression but will also be able to more effectively articulate the related competencies using terminology and language relevant for professional pursuits.

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COM 597: Advanced Content Strategy and the Future of Communication (Holmberg) - 2016-2017 Spring

MCDM Elective, Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Mondays, 3/27/17-6/5/17, 6-9:50pm | COM 126

Course Description:

This course will focus on advanced content strategy, in two senses of “advanced”: both as the next level of the skills taught in the intro courses, and as next wave content strategy as it relates to the advancement of emerging technologies. We will therefore build off of skills learned in the foundational content strategy courses, while looking simultaneously toward the future of the discipline and the hypothetical technologies of tomorrow.

For the advanced skills, we will take deeper dives into some of the core content strategy skills, including journey mapping, information architecture, and teardowns. Our goal with these tools will be to focus on the strategy which informs how we build products that solve real user problems.

We will also look “beyond the screen” to apply these content strategy tools to the Internet of Things, VR, AR, and more future technologies. But to understand the opportunities and challenges these new technologies bring, we will peer into to the future through the lens of science fiction. Science fiction both predicts and influences future technology; for example, in the 1960s Star Trek communicators foreshadowed the flip phones of the 1990s, and video chat existed in 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey long before Skype in the 2000s. Because sci-fi explores the human side of technological advancements—especially how people live and interact with these technologies—looking at several science fiction examples will help us think through tomorrow’s user challenges today.

This course will assume you have a basic understanding and familiarity with content strategy principles, so previous experience with content strategy, such as the completion of either COM 585: Multi-platform Content Strategy: A Practical Approach to Immersive & Responsive Content or COM 597: Design + Content: Introduction to UX Content Strategy is recommended (but not required).

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COMMLD 521: Digital Media Branding and Marketing (Mottola) - 2020-2021 Winter

MCDM Elective | 5 Credits
Thursdays 1/7-3/11 | 6:00pm – 9:50pm | Online

Course Description:

This course is designed for students that will be utilizing their MCDM education and experience in the marketing arenas in businesses and organizations (including non-profits) or in leadership functions where an understanding of marketing is an important skill. The focus on the course will be on how to best utilize digital media vehicles along with more traditional forms of communications and advertising (and other marketing or Research and Development functions). Because of the ever changing nature of the advertising world with the advances and acceptances of digital media platforms, we will showcase industry “heavy hitters” from local marketing and advertising agencies to discuss the trends and issues the industry faces, using real life situations to explore alternatives and solutions. We will also explore how new media can be used with traditional channels of distribution (clicks and bricks), as well as in the R & D functions by encouraging and mining information from current and potential customers. Students that have not had a basic marketing class will be assigned pre-course supplemental readings and we will do a quick review at our first session so that everyone has a common understanding of the subject before we move into the more cutting edge concepts.

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COMMLD 570: Communication and Teams in Organizations: Leading with Impact (Chang) - Fall 2017-2018

Track Neutral
Thursdays, 9/27-11/15 (8 sessions) | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302
Registration SLN: 23728

Course Description:

The workplace is increasingly connected and diverse, where teams and leaders work face to face, virtually or in hybrid teams with multiple audiences, clients, customers or suppliers. In this complex setting, responsive and adaptable leadership and communication skills are core competencies to create business and team effectiveness, not just from the organizationally designated “leader” but for anyone involved. And yet the technical skill building and conceptual internalization required to build –and demonstrate — those competencies can feel elusive and difficult to learn, articulate and track. This course is for anyone who says: “I want to become a better leader and communicate more effectively in this diversifying workplace.” In this course, students will advance their ability to generate clear technical communication results, team effectiveness and thought leadership through improved leadership communication competencies. They will do this by using a very practical, hands-on approach to applying various approaches, projects and tools to the workplace, diving into better understanding their own worldviews that shape how they engage with and react to teams, and bringing more explicit articulation to their leadership competencies. By the end of this course, students will be better equipped to provide leadership to and within teams, to articulate and measure their leadership growth and competencies, and to translate it all into a clear and compelling narrative.

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COM 597: Measuring Marketing Effectiveness: Analytics and Insights for Brands (Myers) - 2016-2017 Summer

MCDM Elective, Meets Research Requirement
Mondays, 6/19-8/14, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126
Please note this class will not meet on July 3 but will instead add a class on Tuesday, July 11, 6:00-9:50pm in 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.

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COMMLD 520: Brand Values and Creativity in Marketing Communications (Howard) - 2018-2019 Winter

Track Neutral
Tuesdays, 1/8-3/12 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302
Registration SLN: 22050

Course Description:

This course will take a close up look at corporate brand values in marketing communications today. Brand values should be timeless and unchanging, but in a constantly fluctuating business environment, is this goal even possible? While high volume video advertising and A/B testing is exploding, paradoxically, messaging of corporate brand values is oftentimes minimized. Marketing today is comprised of ever-changing algorithms, transactional communications, and confusing narratives.Should creativity play a bigger role in storytelling in today’s marketplace? Do customers even know what the companies they make purchases from actually stand for values-wise? Does it matter? How can companies still connect emotionally with consumers? Students will conceive of, research, shoot, edit, and create a marketing film for a company of their choice. All the while, they’ll be considering deeply how emotion, story, and marketing message function in a project that resonates with the consumer while also reinforcing a company’s belief system.

 

 

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COM 583: Advanced Narrative Multimedia Storytelling (Stonehill) - Fall 2016-2017

MCDM Elective
Thursdays, 9/28-12/7, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302

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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COM 597: Design + Content: Introduction to UX Content Strategy (Holmberg) - Fall 2015-2016

MCDM Elective, Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Mondays, 10/3/16-12/5/16, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

The role of the content strategist requires an understanding of the fundamentals of both traditional UX and content strategy, and this class seeks to build the overlapping skills and concepts needed to succeed in this role, whether as a dedicated content strategist or if it’s just one part of the work. Students will learn the foundations of both UX and content strategy, including user journeys and user research, content hierarchies, basic wireframing, principles of IA, 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.”

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