Technical Prowess


overall goal for vcu advertising
We have the opportunity to make a huge, positive impact on students’ lives and on the community. Inspire students to reach their full potential. Strive to provide the best ad education (for the money).

how to help students learn
The VCU Advertising curriculum favors:
• using hands-on learning over textbook learning.
• giving many opportunities for feedback instead of one or two big assignments.
• assessing learning on projects instead of using tests.
• sharpening thinking skills over technical skills.
• having a practical focus instead of theoretical focus.
• giving assignments that build on previous learning over knowledge pools.
• enforcing a rigorous course instead of a cakewalk.
• providing authentic challenges that are experienced in the profession instead of busy work.

technical prowess sets a good foundation
Tech Pro is the only technical or software course in our curriculum, and it is a required course for all Creative Ad majors. Students may have no prior experience with Adobe software or Macintosh computers. After Tech Pro, students take craft-level courses where they will learn copywriting and art direction. To be successful in their future courses, students must learn the software programs in Tech Pro.

what students should learn in technical prowess
Primary goal:  For students to gain a working knowledge of InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. InDesign should get a little more attention (like one week more) as compared to the Photoshop and Illustrator.
Secondary goal:  For students to learn the basics of layout design.

how should students learn in technical prowess
• projects that require a lot of time working at the computer in the software programs.
• three or more projects per software program.
• opportunities to receive feedback on projects and to make revisions to the work.
• projects that require using multiple software programs.

grade with honesty, accuracy, and fairness
We strive for excellence by creating a rigorous learning environment. Please set high standards, and you’ll see that the students will do impressive work. A good rule of thumb for grading is:
• 10 – 20% of the work is exceptional = A.
• 15 – 25% of the work is above average = B.
• 25 – 50% of the work is average = C.
• 10 – 20 % of the work is below average = D.
• 0 – 10% of the work is poor = F.

the syllabus should describe and inspire
• Incorporate these teaching guidelines into the syllabus and into the projects.
• After reading the syllabus, students should feel inspired to want to take your class and want to learn.
• Develop a course calendar with dates for tests and projects deadlines.

mark your calendar for success
Before Day 1:  Design the course. Write the syllabus. Develop the course calendar (search “vcu academic calendar” for days the university is closed). Create the assignments.
Day 1 or before:  Distribute the syllabus. Blackboard makes it easy — no need to print multiple copies of the syllabus. Email the syllabus to Francis Lynch (in the MASC main office) at She needs to keep a copy.
Week 4:  In class, talk about why Tech Pro is important. Discuss the design of the course and what students should learn in the class. Show how Tech Pro connects with the profession and with the rest of the VCU Ad curriculum. Tell your story (your learning experiences, your day-to-day professional life, your passions, and your avocations).
Week 6:  Reach out to students who are not engaged in the course. Encourage them to have a dialogue with you. Show that you care about them and their success.
Week 8:  The midpoint. Ask for anonymous feedback on the course and your teaching of it. Find out what students like and what is most challenging. See what things students want to learn.
Week 14:  Ask students to reflect on the course. What unexpected things did they learn?  What was most valuable? What was the least useful? What was most challenging? How will they use the learning in the future? Discuss these things with the class.
Week 15:  Celebrate the successes of the experience. Check the VCU academic calendar for when grades are due on eServices.


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