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Information Design and Communication (IDC) Courses

Transition Courses

The Graduate Review Committee or your faculty advisor may recommend this preparatory work before you begin your graduate program in IDC, IID, or any master's program at SPSU.

Our 5000-level transition courses, offered each Fall and Spring semester, can help you succeed in graduate school by preparing you for the type of work you'll do at the 6000-level. With these classes, you'll enhance your current competencies in writing, graphics and research.

Remember, if you're a currently registered SPSU graduate student in another department at the university, these courses are also open to you. Please consult with your faculty adviser for more information.


IDC 5001 Writing in the Professions

3 credits

Introduction to the conventions of professional written discourse for graduate-level work. The course reviews grammar, style and writing for students who demonstrate limited writing skills or for students without writing-intensive undergrad degrees. Assignments focus on typical genres of business communication including professional emails, memos, letters, and proposals. The course concludes with a white paper and a professional presentation. Students in any graduate program at SPSU can benefit from this course.


IDC 5002 Graphics in the Professions

3 credits

For students without page layout or graphic backgrounds, this course in an introduction to the conventions of professional graphics and document layout for graduate-level work. Course reviews industry standard page layout and graphic application skills such as initial setting up of documents, creating styles, adding graphics and graphic elements. Assignments will include creating and manipulating elementary digital graphics, changing color modes, resolving resolution issues, and choosing correct file formats. Students will develop an understanding different types of graphs and how to create them and when to use them. Copyright issues are also covered. This course will help any graduate student at SPSU produce better documents.


LIBR 5001 Research Skills in the Professions

1 credit

This course is an introduction to current practices in digital research. LIBR 5001 supports students enrolled in all graduate programs offered at SPSU, and as such, it's interdisciplinary in nature. The course focuses on the needs of students returning to graduate-level studies and offers opportunities to explore the variety of digital research options from academic libraries and beyond: Web, databases, catalogs, etc. Students will develop search strategies and adapt them to different search systems, evaluate and analyze both search systems and sources, verify topic selections, and study citation style guidelines.

Note: This course does not include writing instruction or research methodologies.

Foundation Courses

Students in the MSc programs in Information Design & Communication (IDC) and Information & Instructional Design (IID) begin with these 3 foundation courses, which we offer each Fall and Spring semester.

IID students will take 1 additional Foundation Course: IDC 6135 Web Site Design.


IDC 6001 Professional Practices of Communication

3 credit hours

Overview of technical writing and editing. Emphasis on drafting and editing many documents that reflect the variety of writing done in the field of professional communication. Both experienced and inexperienced writers will benefit from this course, which must be taken the first semester of enrollment in the master's program.

Students must successfully pass IDC 6001 before continuing with the MS IDC or IID degrees.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • define the iterative process of writing and editing;
  • write various technical and business documents using the principles of English composition;
  • revise their work based on reader feedback; and
  • analyze the information needs of readers.

IDC 6002 Information Design

3 credit hours

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6001, IDC 6030

Study of the main design elements in information products with an emphasis on rhetorical and theoretical underpinnings for design decisions. Students work on designing and redesigning products in various media. Should be taken as soon as possible after admission.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • analyze documents using gestalt and rhetorical principles;
  • create documents using gestalt and rhetorical principles;
  • collaboratively and effectively analyze and redesign documents in various contexts; and
  • effectively synthesize information from an external authority and present this synthesis effectively.

IDC 6030 Visual Design Strategy

3 credit hours

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6001

Application of fundamental priniples of graphic design to professional communication. Students without solid background in graphics and page layout applications are encouraged to take IDC 5002 before IDC 6030.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • understand design principles and know how to apply them to graphs and print documents;
  • know how to create, scan, manipulate, edit, and appropriately use digital bitmapped images;
  • use design principles to competently and skillfully plan, design, lay out, and produce within a desktop publishing application graphs, one-page documents, spreads, and creative resumes; and
  • research issues relating to the application of design principles to technical communication.

IDC 6135 Web Site Design

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001, IDC 6030, and one of the following: IDC 6005, IDC 6180, IDC 6010, IDC 6040

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6002

Foundation Course for Information & Instructional Design (IID) students only. Information Design & Communication students may take this course as an Elective Course.

Advanced theoretical study and application of best practices for the design and delivery of information on the World Wide Web. Students learn the fundamentals of HTML, use of HTML authoring tools, Web content writing and editing, page layout, design of Web graphics and multimedia elements, and Web site architecture and content management. Students work individually and in teams to design and develop Web sites. Some classroom instruction is provided in basic HTML and XHTML coding, the composition of cascading style sheets, and the use of Dreamweaver. Course includes a theory and research component.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • evaluate websites for their usability;
  • use design principles develop Web-based user interfaces; and
  • use industry-standard software to develop and publish a standards-compliant website.

IDC 6005 Visual Thinking

3 credit hours

Course examines principles of effective visual communication. Students analyze visual artifacts, select visual representations for key concepts, and identify appropriate visual forms for different information structures.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • describe the principles of visual perception;
  • apply "left-brain," or analytic, and "right-brain," or holistic, thinking in various communications contexts; and
  • visualize information structures.

IDC 6010 Writing Across Media

3 credit hours

Course examines rhetorical, structural, and stylistic requirements of various communications media. Topics include writing for the Web, narrative design, and document engineering.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • know which type of delivery media to use for different types of information;
  • modify their writing styles according to the conventions of various media; and
  • revise information created for one medium to be delivered in another.

IDC 6035 Information Graphics

3 credit hours

Process and product of visual representation and display of information utilizing advanced techniques to produce infographics. Must have working knowledge of PhotoShop and Illustrator.


IDC 6042 Applied Digital Graphics

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001 and IDC 6030

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6002

Students develop competency in complex digital image editing for information design and communication. Students complete practical graphics projects using typography and digital illustrations.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • edit complex digital raster images for print and web documents;
  • apply design principles to complex raster images in production of print and web documents;
  • identify importance and uses of raster images in different field of information design and communication;
  • edit complex digital vector images for print and web documents;
  • apply design principles to complex vector images in production of print and web documents; and
  • identify importance and uses of vector images in different fields of information design and communication.

IDC 6045 Foundations of Multimedia

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001 and IDC 6030

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6002

A study of the foundations of multimedia including theory, planning, scripting, storyboarding, and production. Students will submit research work on the theory of multimedia. This course is double-listed for both undergraduate and graduate students. Graduate students will be required to complete additional work that emphasizes theory and research over application. Thus they must demonstrate a higher level of learning than undergraduates. MSIDC students who took TCOM 4045 Foundations of Multimedia as undergraduates may not count IDC 6045 for credit toward their graduate degree.

TRADITIONAL: in-class only.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • identify, describe, and apply the major skills and tools involved in the typical multimedia development process, including planning, scripting, storyboarding, production, and evaluation;
  • experience the application of multimedia theory, tools, and techniques to a project in technical communication; and
  • experience a collaborative, project-based learning exercise in multimedia development.

IDC 6050 Applied Multimedia

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001, IDC 6002, IDC 6030, IDC 6045

Course introduces and applies the literature, tools, and techniques of professional multimedia. Includes major online course elements. Students will choose a project in technical communication and apply the major phases of multimedia: definition, planning, execution, and closing. Topics of emphasis include communication skills, multimedia software tools, and project team dynamics.


IDC 6060 Global Communication Strategies

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001 and IDC 6030

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6002

Focuses on issues affecting global communication. Reading in culture and international communication give students the research and theory to make strategic decisions regarding the design of communication production in international contexts.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • understand cultural differences and their effect on communication strategies;
  • identify specific cultural values reflected in documents; and
  • apply analyze and create documents in different cultural contexts.

IDC6070 User Documentation

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • design a documentation plan;
  • be familiar with a page design application such as FrameMaker;
  • apply principles of effective user design to user documentation projects;
  • apply the principles of structured writing to user documents; and
  • know how to analyze tasks for the purpose of creating effective user documentation.

IDC 6080 Professional Oral Presentations

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001 and IDC 6030

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6002

Course designed to enhance students' presentation skills in a technical and business environment. Students practice various speech types such as briefings, interviews, formal technical presentations, panels, and impromptu presentations. Course also includes an overview of communication theory as it applies to oral presentations.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • communicate to an audience using effective delivery techniques;
  • communicate to an audience using effective organizational strategies; and
  • communicate to an audience using effective graphic and visual support.

IDC 6090 Medical Communication

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001 and IDC 6030

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6002

Course examines the scope of medical communication, with emphasis on opportunities for technical communication professionals. Students will analyze, edit, and revise various medical document types, such as medical research abstracts, patient education materials, professional medical training documents, medical advertisements, and pharmaceutical package inserts. Students will independently study medical terminology and develop a portfolio of medical writing samples.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • demonstrate a working familiarity with medical terminology;
  • identify and describe the place of the technical writer in the medical industry;
  • engage in a body of research spanning scientific inquiry and health care delivery;
  • prepare a portfolio of writing projects in the field of medical communications; and
  • identify the primary publications, professional resources, and professional organizations in the field of medical communications.

IDC 6120 Usability Testing

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001 and IDC 6030

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6002

Study of the relevant research and practical application of usability testing as part of product development. Includes strategies for planning, conducting, and analyzing a test. Teams will perform tests and report results from an actual test in a usability lab (note: link to http://www.spsu.edu/usability/index.htm). HYBRID: online and lab.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • collaborate effectively as a team to plan and conduct a usability test;
  • analyze the results of a usability test; and
  • communicate those results both orally and in writing.

IDC6130 Online Documentation

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • understand best practices in help design;
  • be more aware of how different users have different questions when they interact with a help system;
  • write help topics that answer specific user questions;
  • design a help system that contains user-oriented content and is accessible, easy to navigate, consistent in its look-and-feel, and visually engaging; and
  • be familiar with different outlets for online documentation such as Web-based applications and online communities.

IDC 6135 Web Site Design

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001, IDC 6030, and one of the following: IDC 6005, IDC 6180, IDC 6010, IDC 6040

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6002

Advanced theoretical study and application of best practices for the design and delivery of information on the World Wide Web. Students learn the fundamentals of HTML, use of HTML authoring tools, Web content writing and editing, page layout, design of Web graphics and multimedia elements, and Web site architecture and content management. Students work individually and in teams to design and develop Web sites. Some classroom instruction is provided in basic HTML and XHTML coding, the composition of cascading style sheets, and the use of Dreamweaver. Course includes a theory and research component.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • evaluate websites for their usability;
  • use design principles develop Web-based user interfaces; and
  • use industry-standard software to develop and publish a standards-compliant website.

IDC 6140 Instructional Systems Design

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001 and IDC 6030

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6002

Course introduces and applies the literature, tools, and techniques of systematic instructional design. Includes substantial online course elements. Students will study major models of instructional design and apply them to develop and refine a unit of instruction. The course addresses the literature and theory underlying formal instructional development-particularly cognitive psychology-and provides practice in goal analysis, team instructional development, formative evaluation, and evaluation.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • describe the major elements in instructional systems design theory, and the structure of instructional systems design as a professional field of practice;
  • experience the application of instructional systems design theory, tools, and techniques to a real or simulated workplace instructional need;
  • identify the primary publications and professional resources in the field of instructional systems design; and
  • perform productively and collaboratively on an instructional design team.

IDC 6145 Performance Technology

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001 and IDC 6030

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6002

Course introduces and applies the literature, tools, and techniques of performance technology. The performance technologist analyzes and solves human productivity and efficiency problems in the workplace. Students will examine major models of performance improvement, and adapt and apply them to simulated corporate productivity challenges, and to real opportunities in their own work experience. This highly participatory course is a natural complement to graduate courses in instructional design and instructional technology.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • experience the application of performance technology theory, tools, and techniques to a real or simulated workplace performance gap;
  • describe the major elements in performance technology theory, and the structure of performance technology as a professional field of practice;
  • identify the primary publications and professional resources in the field of performance technology; and
  • create performance improvement instruments for specific workplace needs.

IDC 6150 Marketing Communication

3 credit hours

Prerequisites:IDC 6001 and IDC 6030

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6002

Strategies for planning and implementing a marketing plan for a sponsored project. Students also develop individual assignments for self-promotion and white papers.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • identify and understand the rhetorical issues that affect the design of marketing communication documents;
  • redesign marketing communication documents to address these issues; and
  • possess a portfolio that effectively markets their abilities to potential clients or employers.

IDC 6155 Online Instructional Development

3 credit hours

Prerequisites:IDC 6140

Course explores online instructional development and deployment in higher education and corporate arenas, addressing issues of pedagogy, current and emerging technologies, marketing, design, and evaluation. Students will create, deploy and evaluate online instructional modules in a variety of online technologies.

Course outcomes


IDC6160 Rhetoric: History, Theory, and Practice

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • be familiar with rhetorical texts and documents;
  • identify the ways in which the foundations and theories of ancient rhetoric connect with contemporary rhetorical issues and contexts;
  • discuss contemporary language issues;
  • understand cultural ideologies and commonplaces;
  • critically respond to peer texts as trained rhetoricians;
  • possess rhetorical awareness; and
  • analyze rhetorical situations.

IDC6170 Video Production

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • understand the fundamentals of video production;
  • write, direct, photograph, and edit fiction and non-fiction video projects; and
  • identify the craft and mechanics of visual storytelling which transcend media formats.

IDC 6175 Digital Rhetoric

3 credit hours

Course provides students with a foundation in rhetoric as a study of argument, persuasion, and convention. In particular, the course focuses on rhetorical practice within a digital environment. Students will develop strong digital literacy skills to help them analyze both audience and content of new media. They will explore how a medium creates assumptions for its users, and how these media interact with one another in a larger social context. Through case studies and applied projects, students will learn to integrate digital rhetoric into the practices of professional and technical communication.


IDC 6180 Information Architecture

3 credit hours

Course examines key concepts involved in communicating information in complex Web environments. Topics include audience analysis, organizational schemas, labeling, and navigation.

Course outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  • analyze and map existing information structures;
  • conduct user research to identify key information needs;
  • design easily navigable information architectures; and
  • communicate information-architecture designs in a formal document.

IDC 6210 Business Analysis

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001, IDC 6002, and IDC 6030 or permission of instructor

This course focuses on problem definition, stakeholder analyses and communication strategies to support interface development. Business analysis fundamentals, requirements planning, analysis and documentation are covered.


IDC 6220 Mobile User Experience

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001, IDC 6002, and IDC 6030 or permission of instructor

Introduction to how user experience design, evaluation, and documentation influence the mobile design lifecycle. Coursework involves case studies and project work to build student portfolios.


IDC 6240 Content Strategy

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001, IDC 6002, and IDC 6030

An introduction to the practices and processes of developing, implementing, assessing, and refining content for strategic and brand marketing.


IDC 6901-6903 Special Topics

Variable credit ñ 1 to 3 hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001 and IDC 6030

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6002

A course on a special topic of Importance and relevance to the field of technical and professional communication not covered in the graduate curriculum. Offered when needed.


IDC 7503 Independent Study

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: IDC 6001 and IDC 6030

Co- or Prerequisite: IDC 6002

A directed study for a graduate student who wishes to pursue a special interest in technical and professional communication not covered in the curriculum. The student submits to the IDC Graduate Program Coordinator a proposal that clearly defines the course of study and the benefits to be obtained. The proposal must be submitted at least one semester prior to registration for independent study hours. Once the proposal is approved, the student is assigned a faculty advisor and registers for 3 credit hours.

For more information on the Independent Study, see the Student Guide to Independent Study.


IDC 7601-7603 Master's Internship

Variable credit ñ 1 to 3 hours

Prerequisites: Approval of the Graduate Programs Director is required prior to any internship. Completion of 27 hours of IDC coursework or consent of the department chair, confirmation of approved internship.

Students will be assigned a faculty member to act as Internship Supervisor. Course provides student with hands-on experience in technical communication in a professional environment. Work should be typical of technical communicators. Work may be either an extended project or a variety of shorter assignments. (Total of 6 hours of Master's Internship required.)

For more information on the Master's Internship, see the Student Internship Guide.


IDC 7801-7803 Master's Thesis

Variable credit ñ 1 to 3 hours

Prerequisites: Completion of 30 hours of IDC coursework or consent of the department chair, approval of thesis proposal.

Intensive research project that results in a formal written thesis. Usually flows from an area of interest discovered by the student in early stages of the MSIDC program or through work experience. Thesis work will be closely supervised by the student's advisor. Students may enroll for a maximum of 3 hours per term for thesis credit, with exceptions at the discretion of the department chair. (Total of 6 hours of Master's Thesis required.)

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