Open Education Online may be compensated by course providers.

25 Visual Communication Courses You Can Audit For Free - Open Education Online

25 Visual Communication Courses You Can Audit For Free

Visual Communication is the representation of ideas and concepts meaningfully through graphics and images. There are many different types of content under the umbrella of visual communication where infographic, motion pictures, interactive content, etc. are just a few.

Following are 25 courses for students, creative professionals, beginners, artists who would like to learn about different aspects of visual communication. From graphic design, typography, visual elements of UI and the history of visual communication, there is something for everyone in this list.

Introduction to Imagemaking

This beginner’s course is a part of the Graphic Design Specialization being offered by the California Institute of Arts. The course can be completed in approximately 14 hours and will help students learn about image-making which is an exciting area in graphic design. In this course, students will learn about the different materials and techniques used in image-making and will also be equipped to create their image books. On completion of the course, students will be able to make informed decisions in the field, use correct vocabulary, and create their own designs using visual representations.

3D Data Visualization for Science Communication

This online course emphasizes on scientific communication for beginners and will help students acquire visual literacy. The course is being offered by the University of Illinois and can be completed in approximately 32 hours. Through this course, students will be able to understand how to interpret visual scientific data and also create their own representations. Amongst several topics, students will learn what makes scientific visualizations cinematic, how to appeal to broader audiences, and how to work with image-making software.

Graphic Design

This course is a part of a four-course series being offered by the University of Colorado Boulder. The course is a beginner’s level course and can be completed in approximately 29 hours. In this course, students will understand the importance of visual communication in attracting audiences and building relationships in businesses. Students will learn how to create visual representations, tips, and tricks of the trade and understand how to survive and keep growing in this trade.

Seeing Through Photographs

This course is aimed at making students visually literate and helping them understand the difference between seeing and understanding a piece of art. The course is an offering of The Museum of Modern Art and can be completed in 15 hours. The course is an amalgamation of art, history and photography. Students will learn to differentiate between photographs and photographic images while also understanding the importance of context. They will also understand the role of photography in this changing culture and the importance of innovation in photography.

Fundamentals of Graphic Design

This course is also a part of the Graphic Design Specialization mentioned above and is being offered by the California Institute of Arts. This course will equip students with all the basic skills that come into play in different areas of graphic design. Over 15 hours students will learn about different techniques and principles used in graphic designing and understand the fundamentals of colors. Students will learn how to create their own images and play with different aspects that comprise a visual image.

Visual Presentation

This online course will help students understand the importance of visual elements in communication. The course is being offered by the Rochester Institute of Technology and can be completed in approximately 3 weeks. In this course, students will learn how to apply the basics of visual designs at work, understanding visual hierarchy and other text to image relationships. Since this course revolves around business communication, it will also help students understand how to represent quantitative data in the form of images and the related best practices.

Camera Control

This course is a part of the Photography Basics and Beyond Specialization being offered by the Michigan State University. The individual course can be completed in approximately 12 hours. In this course, students will begin by learning the different elements of camera control. Students will understand the importance of time in photography and cover different concepts like light metering, exposure modes, lens options, and shutter speeds.

Principles of Photo Composition and Digital Image Post Production

This online course is also a part of the Photography Specialization mentioned in the previous course which is being offered by Michigan State University. Over 15 hours, students will understand the different design elements that are used in creating images. The course covers smartphones as well as professional cameras and helps students learn post-photography image management using different software and applications.

Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR Specialization

This specialization is an offering by the Michigan State University and is a complete package for anyone interested in learning in detail about photography. The specialization comprises 5 courses that cover every aspect of photography right from technical aspects of the camera, its controls to post-photography image management and sharing. Irrespective of whether students own a professional camera or a smartphone, students will learn about composing and creating creative images that can be used for different purposes.

Design and Making Infographics

This online course revolves around infographics and how they can be best utilized. The course is being offered by Michigan State University and can be completed in approximately 14 hours. In this course, students will learn how to create infographics, visually represent data and how to merge all the elements of an infographic to make it look good. Students will also learn how to spot data in stories and how to effectively operate the Adobe Illustrator for creating these infographics. The course includes a project where students get the chance to apply their learnings to practical uses.

Essential Design Principles for Tableau

This course is a part of a five series course in Data Visualization for Tableau. The course is an offering of the University of California, Davis, and can be completed in approximately 13 hours. Students need to have knowledge of Tableau for this course and understand the basics of data visualization. In this course, students will learn to determine whether a visualization is effective or ineffective and how to improve an ineffective one. Students will also learn how to create appealing visualizations for different target audiences. Some topics that will be covered include visual perception, cognitive load, exploratory analysis, and best practices.

IMAGE | ABILITY – Visualizing the Unimaginable

This introductory course in communication is aimed at helping students become better visual communicators by presenting their ideas and thoughts visually. The course is being offered by the Delft University of Technology and can be completed in approximately 6 weeks. In this course, students will learn how to explain difficult concepts through images. Students will also learn how to research and create diagrams, metaphors, and conceptual images from ideas.

Ideas from the History of Graphic Design

This beginner’s course in design will help students understand the history of graphic design while focusing on four themes from the history of design. The course is a part of the Graphic Design Specialization being offered by the California Institute of Arts and can be completed in approximately 9 hours. This course brings together art, history, graphic arts, and graphic design. In this course, students will learn about the emergence of design as a recognized practice while also learning how graphic design got radicalized. After completing this course, students will have a wholesome understanding of art and design and will be able to make informed design choices.

Graphic Elements of Design: Color Theory and Image Formats

This online course is a part of a four-course specialization about graphic design elements for beginners. This course is being offered by the University of Colorado Boulder and can be completed in 12 hours. Beginning with color theory, students will learn to differentiate between color options. Students will learn to categorize different image tiles and also understand their usage. Through this course, students will also gain a better understanding of logo, logo designs, and what constitutes ideal logo designs and their elements.

Building Digital Media Using Graphic Design in Google Slide

This online course is a short 90-minute course that will take on a project approach and help students understand some basics of graphic design. The course will help students develop marketing skills, digital marketing skills, and graphic designing as well. Students will learn to understand their audience, take a step-by-step approach, understand color theory, typography as well as page layout. Students will have an understanding of how to convey messages using fonts, imagery and colors.

The Language of Design: Form and Meaning

This course looks at design in the context of critique and explains its importance in the process of design. The course is being offered by the California Institute of Arts and can be completed in approximately 8 hours. In this course, students will develop a vocabulary and a Critique framework that will help students communicate better in this context. This course is mainly about the language used in the design world and will help students, teachers, professionals, practicing designers communicate effectively with their peers and in teams.

Use Canva to Create Social Media and Marketing Designs

This course is a guided introduction to the use of Canva for beginners to create social media posts and content designs. The course can be completed in 2 hours and will help students understand how to operate Canva. Students will learn about the different dimensions that work best for different social media platforms, how to alter backgrounds, and how to add images or graphics relevant to their businesses on a blank canvas.

Brand New Brand

This online course is the final part of the Graphic Design Specialization being offered by the California Institute of Arts. In this course, students will create an imaginary brand and will get the chance to apply theoretical knowledge to practical uses. In this course, over 23 hours, students will be taken through the entire process of design right from ideation to presentation. Students will demonstrate their learning, visual research, and development skills through the creation of a brand development guide.

Visualization for Data Journalism

This online course will teach students how to represent large amounts of data through graphs like renowned publications. The course is being offered by the University of Illinois and can be completed in approximately 19 hours. Beginning with the history of visualization in journalism, students will learn about the emerging trends, various types of charts, and the pros and cons of each one of them. Students will look at examples of data visualization and learn how to integrate visualizations into narratives.

Introduction to Graphic Illustration

Basic drawing skills and an understanding of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are prerequisites for taking this course. The course is being offered by the Cornish College of Arts and can be completed in approximately 50 hours. In this course, students will learn how to distribute, translate, and produce their own visual ideas. Students will learn about the role of visual illustrations in the market and understand how art and ideas can be integrated to come up with appealing pieces of graphic illustrations.

Introduction to Graphic Design History

Through this course, students will gain an in-depth understanding of how the graphic design evolved to become what it is today. The course is being offered by the Institute College of Art and can be completed in 42 hours. In this course, students will cover everything related to graphic design, from letters, typefaces, fonts to posters and brands. Students will learn how artists, poets, architects and painters shook the world through their work. They will also look at the concept of a unified civilization brought together by neutral typefaces, international fonts, and global brands.

Textual Elements of Design: Fonts, Typography, and Spacing

This beginner’s course is a part of a specialization being offered for non-designers trying their hand at graphic design. The course is being offered by the University of Colorado Boulder and can be completed in approximately 13 hours. In this course, students will learn to understand the similarities and differences in the concepts of fonts, typography, and text while also learning about their history and evolution. Students will learn about different aspects of textual elements in design and will cover topics like tracking, kerning, alignment, spacing, and manipulating text.

Digital Drawings: Points, Lines and Curves

This course revolves around Adobe, Design Architecture, Rhino3D, and Architecture. The course is being offered by the UNLV College of Fine Arts and can be completed in approximately 4 hours. The course is a part of the program, Fundamentals of Digital Design and Architecture. In this course, students will learn to create complex designs and be introduced to Rhino3D and Adobe Illustrator. Students will gain a better understanding of points, lines, and curves that form the foundations of digital drawing. Students will also learn about easy design tools and ideas such as geometric operations, graphic compositional principles, to visual hierarchies with line weights, tone, and poché in this course.

Visual Elements of User Interface Design

This course is a part of a four-course series in UI / UX Design Specialization being offered by the California Institute of Arts. It will take approximately 16 hours to complete the course during which students will learn what a user interface is and the role of a designer in it. Students will understand the role of color, imagery, and fonts in design to make it meaningful. Towards the end of the course, students will be able to design a static screen-based interface and will learn the key elements of a clean, consistent, and intuitive interface design.

Graphic Design Elements for Non-Designers

This is an online specialization in graphic design for non-beginners that will help them understand the different elements that constitute graphic design. The program is being offered by the University of Colorado Boulder and can be completed in approximately 4 months. In this course, students will learn about the conceptual designs concerning design projects and will analyze the different concepts to apply in business settings. Students will learn how to create foundational creative projects like business cards, brochure ads, websites, and manuals. Post completion of the course, students will also be able to communicate better with graphic designers and creative professionals.

The language of instruction for all the courses mentioned above is English while transcripts may be available in different languages. While most of the courses mentioned above are available for free for auditing, some of them may require a fee for enrollment. Financial aid is also available for some of these courses.