COMM-202-01 – Spring 2015 – C Building 111 – Monday – 9:45 am – 1:00 pm

Course Website:

Professor Najlah Feanny Hicks –

Ramapo College of New Jersey, School of Contemporary Arts

4 Credits, Pre-Requisites: COMM-204 and COMM-219

Syllabus, Spring 2015


This class introduces students the tools and techniques used to create digital and interactive media. Students learn the basic tenets of graphic design inclusive of composition, style, form, color and balance and how to integrate these principles into their work to produce effective web and other digital design projects. It will cover: the fundamental principals of digital media and design; the basics of manipulating digital images and designing for the web. Students will explore these topics through hands-on assignments and through readings to contextualize the history of the medium. Creative assignments will use the web to explore a variety of conceptual themes in art and design. In addition to technical knowledge, students will focus on project development and critical assessment of each other’s work. This course is recommended for any student who wants to work in digital media, and is required for students in the Design and Interactive Media concentration in Communication Arts.


By completing a series of technical and creative assignments, students will gain technical mastery over the basic elements of digital media. This lays the groundwork for further explorations in the field. Students will be able to: use digital cameras to capture digital images; use Photoshop to manipulate digital images; use HTML and CSS to create basic web sites. More importantly, they will begin to learn fundamental problem-solving techniques, understand style, be able to analyze and critique a design, be able to brainstorm to solve design problems and develop editing and portfolio building skills.


Your Ramapo College email address ( will be used to communicate with you about all course-related matters. Please check it regularly.


You will need the following materials for the class:

  • An external hard drive or Flash drive with at least an 16GB capacity. You are responsible for your files. You should consider the purchase of an external hard drive. I also recommend you back your data up on a second drive on on another computer.
  • Notebook to use as a design journal.
  • NOTE: You are required to purchase a web -hosting account for this class. The recommended provider is Bluehost but you can choose any hosting  provider.


  Weekly take-home technical assignments

  2 major creative assignments

  Reading and critical writing

  Creation and maintenance of blog

Weekly Schedule

1. Intro to course/Photoshop/Design basics

2. Digital image basics

3. Color and tone adjustment

4. Vector tools

5. Selections

6. Masking and layers

7. Preparing images for inkjet and offset printing

8. Web intro: links and file structure

9. Information architecture

10. CSS and type

11. Using templates and multi-page sites

12. Preparing images for the web

13. FTP basics

14. Supervised work-time

Final Grade

Your final grade will be based on:
Attendance and class participation: 10%
Quizzes: 20%
Weekly Assignments 30%
Major creative projects: 40%

Course Enrichment Component

This course will include a minimum of five (5) hours of unmonitored appropriate experience outside the classroom.


Attendance and class participation are essential elements of this course. Each class gives unique and valuable information not available in the readings. As such, any missed class will affect your grade. There are fifteen attendance points in the final grade. You get one point for showing up on time and participating in each class. If you are late, you do not receive the point. You will lose two attendance points for one missed class and an additional three points for a second missed class. Missing three classes will result in failure of the course. If you miss a class, you are still responsible for handing in the assignment and completing the readings. Refer to the companion web site for the class and contact me before the next class to get caught up. Please refer to College Closing/Special Announcement Number: 201-236-2902 for school closings.

Incomplete grades are given only in the case of documented illness or family emergency. They must be requested in writing, along with a schedule of when missing assignments will be handed in, on or before the date for doing so.

Preparation & Participation

During each class, I expect you to contribute to discussion and critique in a meaningful way. Please turn off your cell phones, and any other electronic devices that vibrate or make noise. Please also refrain from sending emails, surfing the web or IM’ing friends during class. Students who do so will be asked to leave. Please be prompt, and return from breaks on time. You are expected to read and engage the reading each week. You don’t need to understand each and every word, but you should come to class having done the reading, and prepared to discuss it intelligently. BEING ON FACEBOOK DURING CLASS IS CONSIDERED NOT PARTICIPATING. Students caught doing so will be asked to leave. Please be prompt, and return from breaks on time. You are expected to read and engage the reading each week. You don’t need to understand each and every word, but you should come to class having done the reading, and prepared to discuss it intelligently.


Creative assignments will be graded based on a rubric to be distributed in class. Individual assignment’s may have additional rubrics distributed along with them. You must deliver your file, named properly, by the start of class to get credit. Misnamed or late assignments will not count. It is easy to fall behind in this course, and we will only move faster as the semester progresses. Please contact me if you feel you are falling behind so we can work together to get you caught up.

Grades are given on a scale of 0 – 100:

F 00-65

Failing. Doesn’ t meet minimum standards. No technical competence. Lacks any concept or idea.

D 66-70

Barely acceptable. Many technical errors. Project is incomplete. No original thought. 

C 70-79

Below average but meets expectations. More technical errors than expected. Doesn’ t use full range of tools. Doesn’ t address concepts in a meaningful way. 

B 80-89

Above average. Exceeds expectations. Few technical errors. Uses a variety of tools. Demonstrates awareness of theoretical concepts.

A- 90-96

Very good. No technical errors. Demonstrates awareness and thorough exploration of theoretical concepts.

A+ 97-100

Outstanding. No technical errors. Uses tools at a professional level. Demonstrates understanding and exploration of theoretical concepts. Highly original thoughts.

Incomplete grades are given only in the case of family emergency or documented illness which interferes with your completion of the course .You must submit the required paperwork to me according to the college’ s deadline. You must also submit to me a written list of work, which is missing, and a timetable of when the work will be completed. Students with a documented disability should contact me to discuss accommodations.

Policy on Academic Integrity

Students are expected to read and understand Ramapo College’ s Academic Integrity Policy, which can be found in the Ramapo College Catalog. Members of the Ramapo College community are expected to be honest and forthright in their academic endeavors. Students who are suspected of violating this policy will be referred to the Office of the Provost.

Students with Disabilities

If you need course adaptation or accommodations because of a disability that has been documented with the Office of Specialized Services, please make an appointment with me.

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Ramapo College Adjunct Assistant Professor Najlah Hicks