Want to know what we’re covering this semester? It’s in the syllabus. (Okay, there’s more than the syllabus, but it’s a good place to start).

Note: I updated policies on attendance and tokens on March 22, 2024, in response to student feedback from my midcourse evaluation. I’ve never taught a course this large with first-year students, and their responses gave me some insights on improving my Specifications Grading format. Visit my Specifications Grading website for resources and to learn more.

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Syllabus How this course works

Creating With Artificial Intelligence: 
Shaping the Future

CCA 190, Spring 2024, presented by Dennis Cheatham

Hello! Welcome to the future.

“Speaking human really well will matter more than speaking machine in this next chapter.” —John Maeda, Design in Tech Report 2023, SXSW, March 12, 2023.

Do you want to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create the future in personal and potentially far-reaching ways? You’re in the right place. During our time together, we’ll inspect, use, and apply various Generative AI tools representing a new era of human-computer interaction. AI technologies (shorthand for large language models, deep learning, or machine learning) are increasingly embedded in human societies and impact daily activities. Learning how and when to use AI is fundamental. By the end of our time together, you’ll complete a Miami Plan Signature Inquiry requirement in the Technology, Information, and Society Topic Area. AI technologies are already reshaping every corner of society, shaping how people interact with one another and with knowledge. Together, we’ll learn to use AI to shape and anticipate the future these technologies will make possible. I’m delighted you’re here to learn along with me.

Like many paradigm-shifting technological advances of the past, some champion AI as ushering in a new age of prosperity, while others simultaneously vilify it as a threat to humanity. AI is identifying ways to address environmental challenges (United Nations Environment Programme, 2022) and its decoding cures for diseases (Nia, N. G., Kaplanoglu, E., & Nasab, A., 2023). AI also misidentifies people of color via facial recognition, perpetuates bias (Najibi, A., 2020; Small, Z., 2023), and assists bad actors who operate phishing scams and hack peoples’ online accounts (Rogers, 2023). AI can be used for good and for ill. When using these technologies, we must anticipate the intended and unintended consequences of our actions.

This course will focus on generative AI—tools that synthesize and “create” writing, images, source code, video, and other outputs based on how these technologies are “trained.” The ethics and use of generative AI technologies are a contentious space. Some claim that generative AI will destroy creativity and jobs. Others tout these technologies will usher in a new era of innovation—augmenting human capabilities and amplifying our ability to think, reason, and innovate (Mollick, 2023). Many organizations and leaders, including UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, warn that we need guidelines for acceptable generative AI use to reduce harm to ourselves and those around us (UNESCO, 2023). We’ll explore and create people-driven guidelines together as we use generative AI this semester.
Let’s shape the future together, shall we?

Why Are We Doing This?

AI technologies are becoming essential tools in every sector of society, from weekly meal planning to curing “incurable” diseases. To future-proof your endeavors and reduce the chance of harming other living beings and our collective environment—ya gotta know how to create and anticipate the effects of generative AI use.

Official Bulletin Description

A hands-on approach that explores Generative AI tools and the implications of their use in immediate and long-term scopes. Learners will use current Generative AI tools to develop skills and responsible use habits through actively creating images, stories, source code, professional materials, and life hacks. Through project work, learners will integrate Causal Layered Analysis and human-centered design processes with generative AI to develop foresight abilities for ideal futures when addressing Wicked Problems impacting local and global communities.

Course Prerequisites and Requirements

No prerequisites. Experience in art, music, creative writing, or writing source code is optional.

Learning Outcomes

Every activity during this course will have a learning objective. Some activities will have one learning objective, and others will have several. To know what to focus on when completing the work, look closely at the objective and the activity’s instructions.

Course Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, you’ll be able to:

  • Align AI Outcomes With Stakeholder Needs: Use generative AI tools to create outcomes that match stakeholder needs.
  • Create Detailed AI Outcomes: Create outcomes with generative AI tools with a high degree of formal and functional detail.
  • Use AI Ethically: Demonstrate ethical use of generative AI tools.
  • Anticipate AI Consequences: Analyze AI’s intended and unintended consequences at varying scopes.
  • Identify Assumptions in Wicked Problems: Identify assumptions that underlie wicked problems.

Miami Plan Pillars Outcomes

This Miami Plan Signature Inquiry course is underpinned by four pillars that inform what and how you’ll learn.

Civic-Mindedness and Social Engagement

Our most significant activity in this course is using AI to dissect complex social issues, anticipate unintended consequences, and produce possible solutions for these wicked problems. By combining design thinking with strategic planning methods, amplified by Generative AI, you’ll have the skills to address issues your community faces in the future when you leave Miami.

Critical and Integrative Thinking

Generative AI puts the power of millions of bits of data in your pocket, but it cannot reason. It does not know “good style” or how well a designed outcome matches a stakeholder’s needs. In this course, you’ll strengthen your critical thinking skills by iteratively evaluating what Generative AI produces and determining if its products are useful, useful, or desirable for the intended need.

Collaboration and Innovation

We will create together with Generative AI and each other all semester. By the end of the semester, you will develop not only skills for producing a range of outcomes with Generative AI but also an expanded skillset for imagining many possible futures it can make possible. Through group work experiences and sharing, you’ll develop the social and emotional intelligence necessary when co-creating the future with various stakeholders.

Communication and Expression

Generative AI amplifies expression by reducing technical barriers. Complex imagery, source code, and fiction that once required specialized knowledge are now accessible to a new generation of creators. This course will apply Generative AI to enhance your ability to formulate and share outcomes that express your thinking across various media, especially those you may never have tried before.

Signature Inquiry Learning Outcomes

As a Miami Plan Signature Inquiry Course, Creating With Artificial Intelligence: Shaping the Future is designed to encourage exploring new content outside your major study area. You’ll see your major or minor through new lenses in this course—through the eyes of a rapidly evolving technology colored by design creativity and innovation. This course is an adventure of discovery with a few unique features because it’s a Signature Inquiry Course, such as…

Learn By Doing

We’ll make a lot of stuff with Generative AI this semester. Like a design studio, we’ll create outcomes, share them, and then iterate and improve them. You will make things and learn technologies and methods by using them. Be prepared to discuss, share, and collaborate using the tools we learn in class. If there’s a Generative AI tool you want to try beyond our course, there’s room for that, too.

Make Transdisciplinary Discoveries

Design is a way of thinking, not an exclusive discipline. Everyone can design. You’ll learn to make new connections between your disciplinary area of study and others by integrating concepts from your major with design methodologies, Futures Studies, and Generative AI. Be prepared to sample arts, sciences, humanities, and beyond in this course.

Explore Unexpected Sources

Humans have long dreamt of a day when computers would amplify our abilities, and those projections are rapidly coming true with the rapid emergence of AI. During our time together, you’ll dig into documentaries, fiction, popular culture, personal accounts, and scientific texts to triangulate how societies perceive AI’s past and future.

Synthesize And Share What’s Next

Generative AI puts the connections between hundreds of billions of words, images, videos, and other media at your fingertips. But alone, it is useless. This semester, you’ll learn to use Generative AI to create various outputs and then compile them into a cohesive story to share what it means and why it matters.

About the Course and this Syllabus

This syllabus page contains all the information you’ll need to use this course. Read it once and then come back when you need it. Pro tip: Use Command-F or Control-F to search for the content you’re looking for.

Course Meetings

Format Credits Meeting Place Days Times
Face-to-Face 3 Credit Hours 158 Hughes Laboratories Monday & Wednesday 2:50-4:10 p.m. Eastern

How to Get in Touch With Me

Dennis Cheatham Office Hours
Associate Professor, Communication Design
ETBD Affiliate Faculty

223 Hiestand Hall
Miami UniversityOxford, Ohio
Tuesdays, 1-3 p.m. Eastern (one-on-one office hours)
Sign up for an appointment

If you’d like to meet at a different time, please ask, and I’ll do my best to make it work.

Please allow for a 24-hour response period for all emails. I may not reply to messages on weekends. If you have to miss a class, I may not be able to give feedback until the next class meeting or activity.

My Commitment to People

People don’t get to choose where or under what circumstances they were born or their characteristics and makeup. But often, they are judged, labeled, and treated differently by society because of their makeup. People in some communities and cultures learn prejudices and believe that others who think, look, feel, or act differently are undesirable—that they do not belong or are even less than human. Some laws and systems we live within today exclude certain people. Racist, ageist, and sexist attitudes prevent people from being treated justly and from being given opportunities to live the lives they want to live. I am committed to actively dismantling power structures and systems that reduce or hold people down because of their makeup or background.

I am committed to universal learning and have designed our course to be as supportive as possible. As your instructor, I am in a position of power in planning our activities and the feedback I give, including grades. By taking my class, you trust me to be fair, honest, and helpful for your growth. I am committed to using my position to help you grow. It is the responsibility of any parent, teacher, or leader to do so, and I take this very seriously. Being fair to you and creating an enriching and equitable environment weighs heavily on me. Thank you for trusting me.

Like you, I am a learner. I continue to learn my own unchallenged biases and ideals, and through experience, I am growing to be a more effective ally and equitable citizen. This process is still at work in me—every day. If I make a mistake using a term, name, or pronoun that does not match your preference or misunderstand or misrepresent a people group, please tell me—and please know that I don’t mean to harm.

Practice tolerance and respect for others’ ideas in discussions, critiques, and other feedback sessions. Be mindful of these differences—we all come from various experiences. This class is a safe space for all people. I will not allow behavior that belittles others, including bigotry, racism, ageism, and sexism. I am honored that you chose to share your life with me. I am committed to your growth and a future that is a place in which we all want to live.

If you encounter a concerning incident, visit the Miami University Office of Transformational and Inclusive Excellence reporting webpage to report an incident.

Materials We’ll Use

Required Texts


Recommended Texts


Required Software/Subscriptions

Heads Up: Many tools require account creation.

  • OpenAI: ChatGPT-3.5 (Free)
  • OpenAI: DALL•E 2 ($15 one-time cost)
  • Stable Diffusion XL (Free; see recommended below)
  • Bing Chat (Free)
  • Midjourney (After the trial period of 25 queries, $10 per month)
  • Anthropic: Claude 2 (Free)
  • AIVA (Free, limited personal use)
  • Soundful (Free, limited personal use)
  • Otter.ai  (Free, limited personal use)
  • Runway Gen-2  (Free, limited personal use)
  • Google Bard (Free)
  • Fathom (Free)
  • Discord (Free)

Recommended Software/Subscriptions

Feel free to use any software to complete assignments, but I highly recommend the following. Make sure to get student pricing when available.

Required Equipment

  • Internet access
  • A computer (laptop preferred)

Recommended Equipment

  • A camera (can be on a computer, tablet, or smartphone)
  • Microphone or headset (many internal microphones do not record high-quality audio)
  • Software to record your screen, voice, and image

Totally Optional Software That Would Rock in This Course

No pressure. If ya got ‘em, you can use and explore ‘em.

  • Stable Diffusion XL Pro ($9 per month)
  • Runway Gen-2  ($15 per month)
  • Adobe Firefly (requires Creative Cloud subscription)
  • Grammarly, Specifically GrammarlyGO (various subscription plans)
  • Google Meet: Duet AI (if you can get in on the preview)
  • Canary Mail (subscription required)
  • Spark Mail (subscription required)
  • Jasper (various subscription plans)
  • Visual Studio Code (Free)
  • Amazon CodeWhisperer (Free with an account)
  • GitHub Copilot (various subscription plans)

How to Succeed in This Course

My priority as your mentor is to create an environment where all learners have the best conditions for growth. In this course, we’ll learn skills you’ll need in your career and beyond. In this course, you can expect.

  • A place for everyone: Wherever you come from and wherever you’re headed, you are welcome here.
  • Meaningful work: The assigned work in this course will support your development as a designer. I will only invite you to do work worth your time and effort.
  • Openness about the course: I genuinely want to know how the course is going for you—so I can improve it. Please feel free to be open about how I can better help you achieve your goals.
  • Opportunities to explore: This is where you can try new things without fear of failure. Have a fantastic idea that may not fly? Try it!
  • Authentic feedback without judgment: Most learning in this course will come from class discussions about the work. I will give feedback to help you develop knowledge, thinking, and skills. This feedback is not about you as a person—it’s only about the work to support your development as a designer.
  • Clarity: I strive to provide clear, timely instructions so you’ll know what I am inviting you to do and when it’s due.

Your success will depend on a few things:

  • Engagement: Many activities in this course depend on active participation through feedback and asking questions.
  • Exploration and persistence: The most successful ideas usually appear on the nineteenth or ninetieth try. Explore many different approaches and keep revising and refining the work.
  • Stay on top of things: Good time and task management will help you stay on the journey as we learn together this semester.
  • Patience: With yourself, with others, and with me. We are all learners on a journey. We all make missteps sometimes.

Based on my experience, you’ll succeed in the course and beyond if you can do these things.

How This Course is Structured

Face-to-Face This class is a face-to-face, studio-based course. This course’s class meetings will take place in Oxford unless otherwise indicated by the instructor. I may require you to participate in some field trips and off-site research. Discussions and design reviews will take up most of the scheduled class time. Expect to spend 2-3 hours a week per course credit hour to complete your work outside of class. The demands of studio work mean that time spent in class will be double the number of credit hours earned.

Main Topics

This course is divided into modules.

  • Thinking and Feeling Machines: Develop an AI vocabulary and explore how films, television, and writing have envisioned artificial intelligence. AI terminology, history, concepts, hopes, dreams, and fears.
  • Brains Behaving Badly: Explore what happens when people and computers behave (and misbehave). AI jobs and losses, deep fakes, ethics, bad actors, representation, bias, AI hallucination, AI shortfalls
  • Creating with Artificial Intelligence: Use various generative AI tools to learn how they work and what they can do. Using the tools iteratively: prompts, inputs, revisions, getting what you want, and finding what you didn’t know was possible.
  • Wicked Problems: Learn methods to dissect sociotechnical problems across the spectrum. Societal and personal challenges, design thinking, Causal Layered Analysis, activity-centered design, human-centered design, sustainable innovation, and business models, rapid prototyping with AI
  • You Are the Future: Use generative AI and human-centered design to create more preferable futures. Bringing it all together: self-selected projects, optional group projects for those pursuing an A.
  • The New Everyday: Explore who humans are and could become in an era when our abilities are augmented with Generative AI tools that can spark discoveries and expand abilities, with careful attention to how Generative AI should “fit into” our daily lives and society.

The Flow of a Typical Week

Most work in this course will occur during weekdays unless we have a scheduled travel experience or field trip.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

Class Meeting

Project Presentations

Let’s Talk About… Due

In-Class Demonstration and Design Review/Discussion

No work due

Class Meeting

Let’s Talk About… Discussion

Assignments Due

In-Class Demonstration and Design Review/Discussion


No work due No work due No work due No work due

Weekly Activities

All in-class activities, such as lectures, discussions, and presentation slides, are linked to each week’s “This Week” Canvas pages located in Modules. Want to know what we’re doing in class and how many assignments are left in the semester? Check this week’s “This Week.”

Semester Schedule

Here’s an overview of modules and activities during our semester together. Some dates may change during the semester, so refer to assignments in Canvas for up-to-the-minute information.

Week Module Weeklies Projects Activities
Wk 1
Jan 29-Feb 2
01. Thinking and Feeling Machines Reflection Reading: Thinking and Feeling Machines
Wk 2
Feb 5-9
Discussion: Let’s Talk About… Assignment: Thinking and Feeling Machines
Wk 3
Feb 12-16
02. Brains Behaving Badly Reflection

Reading: (Mis)Behavior?

Assignment: Brains Behaving Badly

Wk 4
Feb 19-23
03. Creating with Artificial Intelligence Discussion: Let’s Talk About…
Wk 5
Feb 26-Mar 1
Reflection Reading: Creating with AI
Wk 6
Mar 4-8
Discussion: Let’s Talk About…
Wk 7
Mar 11-15

Assignment: Using Generative AI Tools: Image

Assignment: Using Generative AI Tools: Lifehack

Assignment: Using Generative AI Tools: Professional Writing

Assignment: Using Generative AI Tools: Sound or Video

Assignment: Using Generative AI Tools: Story

Wk 8
Mar 18-22
04. Wicked Problems Discussion: Let’s Talk About…

Token Cache: Eclipse Watching

Reading: Wicked Problems

Wk 9
Mar 25-29
Spring Break
Wk 10
Apr 1-5

Experience Booster: Bonus Generative AI Tool

Experience Booster: Bonus Generative AI Tool

Assignment: Wicked Problems

Wk 11
Apr 8-12
05. You Are The Future Discussion: Let’s Talk About…

Reading: Imagining Futures

Assignment: By The Numbers Reading Response

Wk 12
Apr 15-19
Wk 13
Apr 22-26
Discussion: Let’s Talk About…

Project: Humans+ (Group Project)

Project: You Are the Future

Experience Booster: Project: Humans+

Experience Booster: You Are the Future

Task: Final Revisions Due

Wk 14
Apr 29-May 3
Reflection Presentation: Humans+
Wk 15
May 6-10
Discussion: Let’s Talk About…

Reading: People+AI

Assignment: Making the Future

May 13-19

Assignments and Grades: A Different Approach

Grades will work differently in this course than you may have experienced. I have implemented an alternative grading system called Specifications Grading to give you more control of your learning experience, to mirror how professional practice “the real world” works, and to focus us all on growth instead of numerical grade values. While I must report a grade to the university at the end of the semester, there are more useful ways to get feedback than number grades. I mean, what’s the difference between an 83.4 and an 85.1, really?

In most careers, tasks such as writing a movie script, welding a joint that holds 100 kilograms, or designing a smartphone app require repetition to accomplish success. Many rounds of revisions lead to a successful product, such as the script for Everything Everywhere All at Once, a welded joint on a stadium seat in Goggin Ice Center that holds a fan who is celebrating a goal, or Google Maps. Very few people are skilled enough to complete a task on the tenth try successfully, but most need many attempts to succeed. The grading system for this course will allow us to focus on the revisions and feedback necessary to achieve success that adds up to inspiring work and discovery.

Here are a few highlights of the grading system for this course.
  • Assignments have no point values: No partial credit, averaging, or grade weighting.
  • Every assignment includes detailed instructions: I will give specifications for each activity, describing successful work. I’ll carefully review the work turned in and give feedback on whether it succeeded in reaching the goal or is “not done yet.” Work that’s missing components will be returned “Incomplete.”
  • You’ll get feedback on work before turning it in: We will review and discuss almost every class assignment—sometimes multiple times—before you turn it in for feedback in Canvas.
  • You’ll get specific feedback on what to “fix”: After I review your work, in most cases, you’ll receive detailed feedback that will help you know what changes to make so it gets closer to meeting the goal of being successful work.
  • Work can be revised and turned in repeatedly: On most work, you’ll have a chance to retry the assignment if needed, get more feedback, and continue to improve until it reaches the goal of “success.”
  • No late work: Anything turned in late cannot earn completion credit.
  • Spend a Token to recover if you miss a deadline: Each student will start with tokens they can “spend” if they miss an assignment deadline. More details below.
  • Choose your own adventure final grade: Do the work that matches the grade you want to earn. Want an A? You’ll do the most work. Want a C? You can do less work than those going for an A.

You’ll get to select from available assignments and project work for the semester, depending on how deeply you want to explore course content. The final course grade is based on how many learning tasks you select and complete in each “Assignment Bundle” by the end of the semester. See the table below for how this works.

An assignment will not count toward the semester grade unless “Success” has been achieved for all learning outcomes.

Over the semester, you’ll develop knowledge, thinking, and skills through revisions and feedback to improve and achieve new heights! I’ve provided specific guidance below on how it works, and we’ll discuss it in class when we meet and as a video in the course introductory materials. Please ask me if you have questions or are unsure of—I’m happy to help!

Assignment Bundles

This course has five types (Bundles) of assignments. The final grade I’ll report at the end of the semester will reflect how many assignments you complete in each bundle. The bundles are:

Project Work

Significant assignments with many parts. You’ll combine all the knowledge, skills, and thinking in these projects. Project Work is the work with the most freedom in the course, where you will practice the design process from start to finish.


Focused assignments that help you develop abilities that combine with other skills. Think of these assignments as LEGO bricks—they require selecting the suitable methods for the job and configuring them to achieve intended outcomes. Throughout your career or endeavors, keep retooling and upgrading your skills.


Heavy-thinking synthesis assignments where you develop new ideas from disparate sources. These experiences often involve watching, reading, and writing to produce arguments, stories, or proposals. In these assignments, show off how you invent.


These assignments are activities we do almost every week in class, such as discussions and weekly reflections. They mark the time of the semester as places where we discuss work, share ideas, and reflect on the experience to make sense of what we are learning together.

Experience Boosters

Through these experiential activities, you’ll engage all the senses and “plus” other coursework. Those who select the most adventurous semester journey will do many Experience Boosters. Some Boosters may hold Token caches.

How Work Will Be Evaluated

Each assignment is evaluated in these ways:

Type Basis for Grading What’s Recorded in Canvas
Project Work Meets the specification Success, Not done yet, or Incomplete
Methods Meets the specification Success, Not done yet, or Incomplete
Synthesizers Meets the specification Success, Not done yet, or Incomplete
Experience Boosters Meets the specification Success, Not done yet, or Incomplete
Weeklies Meets the specification Success or Incomplete
Attendance Present in class on time

Course Grades

This is where our course format looks most different from traditionally graded courses. According to the table below, I will report the final course grade to the university. Each row indicates the minimum number of assignment completions needed to earn a desired grade. To earn the grade you wish, complete all the requirements listed in the row for that grade. The numbers in parentheses are the total number of assignments planned for that assignment bundle. I will update the course grade table if any numbers change during the semester.

Semester Grade Project Work (2) Methods (7) Synthesizers (4) Weeklies (15) Experience Boosters (4) Attendance
A 2 7 4 13 4 4 or fewer unexcused absences
B 1 6 3 12 2 4 or fewer unexcused absences
C 1 5 3 11 0 5 unexcused absences
D 1 4 2 10 0 6 unexcused absences


A grade of “F” is reported if the requirements for a “D” are not met in any bundle.

Grades Example: If Shane wanted to earn a “B” in the class, they would only complete the requirements in the “B” row above. As long as they earned a completion for all assignments that add up to a “B,” they would make a “B.” Shane could ignore all of the requirements for the “A” row. If Shane completed all of the requirements for a “B” but fell short and did the “C” level of Weeklies, then the final grade would be a “C.”

Notice how each row builds on the one below it. Someone working to earn a “C” would complete all of the “D” requirements plus a little more. Students who pursue the “A” adventure would meet all of the “D,” “C,” “B,” and “A” requirements. If someone pursues the “A” level journey but falls short but still completes all of the “B” requirements, they would earn a “B” in the course.

Use the Grades tab in Canvas to track your progress as you complete assignments. Each assignment will be displayed as complete or incomplete in the grade book. Once work meets the specification (Success), the grade book will show a checkmark for that assignment. If there’s an “X” in the gradebook, the assignment is incomplete and does not earn credit (yet). More on that in a sec.

Plus and Minus Grades

To earn a “plus” grade (e.g. “B+”) end the semester with all the tokens you started with (see Tokens below). The only way to earn a “minus” grade is for “Incomplete” performance on group work. See details about Group Participation Evaluations in these assignments in our course.


Because learning requires feedback and revisions—we get stronger the more tries we have to learn content—you can revise or reattempt most assignments you turn in without penalty until it meets the Success measure for each of its learning outcomes. Not all work can be revised, and there’s a final deadline for all revisions. Keep reading for the deets:

Bundle Revisions allowed When How to revise and turn in
Project Work Unlimited Until the Final Revision Date Canvas assignments
Methods Unlimited Until the Final Revision Date Canvas assignments
Synthesizers Unlimited Until the Final Revision Date Canvas assignments
Experience Boosters Unlimited Until the Final Revision Date Canvas assignments
Weeklies No revisions allowed Canvas assignments

Final Revision Date

The first class day of Week 13 listed in this course is the last day to turn in revisions for coursework assigned before that date. This semester, April 22, 2024, is the Final Revision Date. Any work initially due before the Final Revision Date must be revised before the Final Revision Date. Assignments due after the Final Revision Date may be revised until the course’s final exam date. See assignment details for rules.

Note: If you turn in revisions right before the Final Revision Date, you will not have time to make another revision. Turn revisions in early so you have the best chance of getting a completion.

Due Dates and Times

“Canvas Time” deadlines are due at the time indicated in Canvas. This time is calculated based on the time zone where you are located. Class meeting times will always be in “Canvas Time.” For example, if we have a meeting at 8 p.m. Eastern, the meeting will take place at 5 p.m. for learners in the Pacific time zone.

Set your time zone in Canvas so Canvas Time displays correctly. Visit the How do I set a time zone in my user account as a student? page to learn how.

“Local Time” deadlines are due at 11:59 p.m. in the time zone where you are physically located.

If you live in a time zone west of Oxford, Ohio, your “Local Time” deadline will be later than the 11:59 p.m. time shown in Canvas. Ignore Canvas’s “late” notice. As long as you turn in work before 11:59 p.m. in your local time, you will not be penalized for late work.

  • For students who live in Oxford, Ohio, “Local Time” and “Canvas Time” are the same.
  • If we are traveling as a class (Destination Weekend, Walt Disney World, etc.), “Local Time” is wherever we are located.

Should you travel to another time zone when turning in work before the “Local Time” deadline, alert the instructor ahead of time to avoid a penalty.

No Late Work

All work is initially due at the time shown in Canvas for each assignment. Late work will not be accepted and will earn an evaluation of “Incomplete” with no opportunity for revisions. The “Incomplete” evaluation goes into effect as soon as work is turned in late.

All work turned in on time is eligible for revisions except for Weekls assignments.

Late work penalty examples:

Due Date Work Turned In Feedback Result
September 2 at 11:59 p.m. September 2 at 3 p.m. “Success”, “Not Done Yet”, or “Incomplete”: Work is eligible for revisions.
March 15 at 2:40 p.m. (beginning of class) March 15 at 3:00 p.m. “Incomplete”: Work is not eligible for revisions.
October 3 at 11:59 p.m. October 4 at 12:00 a.m. “Incomplete”: Work is not eligible for revisions.

The easiest way to avoid late work is to use a token. More on that, below.


Life happens, and sometimes you need help to bend the rules. That’s where tokens come in. Each student will receive three virtual tokens, indicated in the Canvas Gradebook. You may use tokens for the following:

  1. Recover an assignment that missed the deadline: Upon using a token, one assignment can be turned in even though it missed the deadline. All group members must spend a token to extend a group project deadline.

To spend a token, add a comment to any Canvas assignment before the assignment deadline to extend the due date. I will remove tokens from the Canvas Grade Book after students spend them. Tokens are non-transferable and have no value in my other courses. Tokens can not be used to extend the Final Revision Date. Please do not eat the tokens; they are not chocolate (though that would be cool).

Saving Tokens and Plus Grades

Miami University’s grade point system allows students to earn “plus” and “minus” grades. You can earn a “plus” with the letter grade I report by ending the semester with the same number of tokens you started with. In other words, if you complete the semester with three tokens, your letter grade will be “plussed” because you never missed a deadline or did extra work to earn more tokens. Spend wisely!

Earning More Tokens

There may be opportunities to earn tokens throughout the semester. Stay tuned!

Multiple Intelligences (PACES)

It’s important for people to develop their “intelligence” in various ways—and people are “intelligent” in ways beyond “book smarts.” No one excels at every intelligence type all of the time. We are all learners and are always growing—myself included! This course will develop the following intelligence types.

More about PACES is available on my Multiple Intelligences for Design Overview page.

Attendance Expectations

The Policy Library states that students are expected to attend all scheduled class meetings. Should they be absent, students are responsible for the material covered in the missed class.

Attendance and Grades

Attendance is factored into determining the semester grade for this course. Students can miss a few class meetings for any reason with no penalty. However, missing class meetings beyond this number will affect the final grade.

Excused Absences

Excused absences do not affect the semester grade, but not every absence is excused.

Miami University recognizes that students may have religious observances, military training obligations, pregnancy, or related conditions, including recovery from childbirth, that conflict with class sessions. I will provide accommodations for completing missed work when you are absent due to military training, religious observance, or pregnancy. I will also excuse student-athletes and student performers from class when necessary for school-sponsored athletic events.

Students must send me written notification at least one week before the requested absence, noting the event that prohibits class attendance and the date(s) that will be missed.

I will excuse absences due to health conditions when it is unsafe or unhealthy for you to attend class. This includes contagious illnesses, surgeries, and medical appointments. These absences are excused only if you notify me in writing before the class meeting. A doctor’s note or written excuse is appreciated and may be required in these cases.

Late Arrivals

Please arrive on time and do not leave class early. If you arrive late, please ensure I know you were present. Notify me at the end of class that you arrived late. Three late arrivals equals one unexcused absence, which may affect the final grade.

Recording Attendance

My record of your attendance is available in Canvas. If I do not input your attendance correctly, please contact me as soon as you notice the error so I can correct it.

Attendance for Online or Hybrid Courses

Attendance requirements for courses with online or hybrid formats may not involve synchronous meetings. These courses shift focus from “in-class minutes” to “time spent on tasks.” All activities in these courses must be completed to meet the “time spent on task” requirement for credit. Required, in-person meetings in hybrid courses and synchronous video chat meetings in online classes may have point values related to them, and missing these required meetings may impact student grades. It is essential to pay close attention to course schedules to determine attendance requirements every week.

Synchronous Video Meetings

We may meet via video chat several times this semester. Students are not required to turn on their cameras during our video meetings. Feel free to do so if you would instead communicate using just your voice for these meetings.

Inclement Weather

In case of a significant weather event, check your email daily for announcements about changes to the class. Our meetings will only be canceled if the university closes.

Generative AI

My short policy is: if I can tell you used Generative AI for a final project outcome that’s not an AI assignment, my work evaluation will not be positive. If the content in the work you produce clearly is not yours without citation, that’s a plagiarism issue (and in the field, your client may get sued for it). Use Generative AI wisely as a tool for enhancing your abilities.

Generative AI is allowed in this course under each assignment’s parameters. Some assignments will ask you to specify when and how you used AI to supplement your work. Generative AI is an important tool for you to know how to use. Like any tool, it has appropriate and inappropriate uses. AI also has limitations. AI output is not always accurate, may be contradictory, may be biased, may be overly vague, and may not be current. AI has been known to “make stuff up,” mainly quotes and sources. Let’s learn how to use this tool together in ways that do not undermine your learning or cause academic dishonesty issues.

Academic Integrity and Honesty

Plagiarism is literary or artistic theft. It is the false assumption of authorship, the wrongful act of taking the product of another person’s mind and presenting it as one’s own. Copying someone else’s writing or design, intact or with minor changes, and adding one’s name to the result constitutes plagiarism. Assignments must be your work unless they are specifically group projects. It is unlawful and unethical to copy work found elsewhere, such as a social networking site, and make a “close copy” or only make slight changes and present it as one’s work.

At times, designers will use content like photography created by someone else. In these cases, credit the original content owner/producer if such use is allowed by law. Evidence of plagiarism can lead to failure of the project and possibly dismissal from the class with an F grade. Visit the Miami University Academic Integrity website for complete information regarding academic integrity.

Plagiarism is literary or artistic theft. It is the false assumption of authorship, the wrongful act of taking the product of another person’s mind and presenting it as one’s own. Copying someone else’s writing or art, intact or with minor changes, and adding one’s name to the result constitutes plagiarism. Assignments must be your work unless they are specifically group projects. At times, designers will use content like photography created by someone else. In these cases, credit the original content owner/producer if such use is allowed by law. It is unlawful and unethical to copy work found elsewhere, such as a social networking site, and make a “close copy” or only make slight changes and present it as one’s work. Evidence of plagiarism can lead to failure of the project and possibly dismissal from the class with a grade of F. Visit the Miami University Academic Integrity website for complete information regarding academic integrity.

Any suspected instances of academic dishonesty will be handled under Miami University’s Academic Integrity policy found in Part 1, Chapter 5 of the Student Handbook. Please review this policy and note that a lack of knowledge or understanding of the appropriate academic conduct is not an excuse for committing academic dishonesty. Please ask if you have questions about how to complete an assignment or what could constitute academic dishonesty for a particular assignment.

Accommodating Disabilities

If you are a student with a physical, learning, medical and/or psychiatric disability and feel that you may need a reasonable accommodation to fulfill the essential functions of the course listed in this syllabus, please get in touch with the Miller Center for Student Disability Services at 513-529-1541 (V/TTY), located in the Shriver Center, Room 304.

Current SDS registered students should request accommodations according to SDS procedure. You are strongly encouraged to request and discuss your accommodations needs during the first 1-2 weeks of the semester.

If your accommodation plan requires extended time for all activities, I will extend deadlines for every activity for the entire semester. If the accommodation plan extends time only when needed, you must inform me before the assignment deadline, and I will gladly extend the due date.

Mental or Emotional Distress

If you experience mental or emotional distress, I encourage you to call Student Counseling Service (513-529-4634). The Community and Counseling and Crisis Center (844-427-4747) has a 24-hour hotline for emergencies outside of business hours.

Computer Failures

I cannot make deadline exceptions if your computer fails. Use Dropbox, Google Drive, or another cloud-based storage method to keep copies of working files to reduce the chance of losing work due to a computer failure. A portable hard drive paired with a backup solution for periodic comprehensive backups can help you recover from hardware failures when they happen.

Course Evaluations

You’re invited to complete an evaluation of faculty performance at the end of the semester. I am very interested in the feedback I get from students as I continually improve my teaching. I consider completing this short survey an essential part of your participation in this class, as it is your opportunity to share your thoughts on how I can improve the learning experience. You will be notified of the dates for the administration of the student evaluation of faculty by the university.


Course materials provided to you, including presentations, tests, outlines, and similar materials, are copyright-protected by the faculty member(s) teaching this course. You may make copies of course materials for your personal use. Please do not copy, reproduce, or electronically transmit any course materials to any person or company for commercial or other purposes without the faculty member’s express permission.

Out of respect for fellow learners, please ask before recording video or audio in this class.

Policy Library

Each Miami University student is entitled to certain rights and responsibilities associated with higher education institutions. Please take time to familiarize yourself with the Miami University Policy Library. This class adheres to all standards set out in the Policy Library. the Miami University Policy Library website to learn more.


I may make adjustments/changes to the course syllabus to correct errors and maintain its accuracy. I will notify you if I make such changes.


Thanks to these inspiring educators for writing and guidance about Specifications Grading and for challenging me to write a syllabus that’s not so professory. I’m growing and learning, and their work has helped me immensely.

  • David Largent, Associate Lecturer of Computer Science at Ball State University
  • Abagail Noyce, Research Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Jesse Stommel, Teaching Assistant Professor at the University of Denver
  • Robert Talbert, Professor of Mathematics at Grand Valley State University


Maeda, J. (2023, March 12). 2023 Design in Tech Report: Design and Artificial Intelligence. John Maeda | Design in Tech Report. https://designintech.report/sxsw2023/

Mollick, E. (2023, August 13). Automating creativity. One Useful Thing. https://www.oneusefulthing.org/p/automating-creativity

Nia, N. G., Kaplanoglu, E., & Nasab, A. (2023). Evaluation of artificial intelligence techniques in disease diagnosis and prediction. Discover Artificial Intelligence, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1007/s44163-023-00049-5

Najibi, A. (2020, October 24). Racial Discrimination in Face Recognition Technology. Science in the News: Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2020/racial-discrimination-in-face-recognition-technology/

Rogers, R. (2023, June 3). How AI Protects (and Attacks) Your Inbox. WIRED. https://www.wired.com/story/how-ai-protects-inbox-phishing/

Small, Z. (2023, July 5). Black Artists Say A.I. Shows Bias, With Algorithms Erasing Their History. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/04/arts/design/black-artists-bias-ai.html

UNESCO. (2023). Guidance for generative AI in education and research. UNESCO. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000386693

United Nations Environment Programme. (2022, November 7). How artificial intelligence is helping tackle environmental challenges. United Nations Environment Programme. https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/how-artificial-intelligence-helping-tackle-environmental-challenges  

Dennis Cheatham

Associate Professor, Communication Design

Miami University

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